Richard Gehr casts his eyes to the gutter this week in the Village Voice and finds (besides Tim’s own Gorey find) Monster Men Bureiko Lullaby. He notes that “By depicting human behavior at its worst, Nemoto recalibrates the limits of what we can bear to consider on a page of comics.” Damn straight. I have to admit, aside from my own publisher-like needs, as a critic I feel like Monster Men was criminally overlooked in 2008. With the release of this book and Hanakuma’s Tokyo Zombie we’ve gotten our first North American look at two of the seminal alternative Japanese graphics novels of the last 20 years. There have been anthologies, but never full length works. It’s a funny thing — but perhaps not unexpected — as though Jimbo and Black Hole were released in another language and more or less ignored. What do these two books say about the form? And lurking in the background is that both emerge from King Terry‘s formulation of Heta-Uma as a valid way to make comics — that this bad/good style is arguably a dominant one in the Japanese underground is worthy of notice. Terry, in fact, has packaged both artists works, and designed the North American Nemoto book as well. As far as I can tell, he’s exerted an influence similar to that of Art Spiegelman (editor/packager/mentor) on the Raw generation. I hope there’s room for more material, but I wonder if the sales will make it feasible. They’re not easy reads (well, Hanakuma is easier than Nemoto, but still…) Remember, there’s a trove of material corresponding to our own 30-odd year history of alternative comics, and a tiny, tiny fraction of it has been shown here. I imagine Top Shelf’s Ax anthology will help remedy that, and of course the mighty D&Q continues to shine light on unseen parts of Manga history. Anyhow, all of this is to say that I’d selfishly love to see an article about all of this by a writer far better informed than I am. So, get on it already!