Archive for October, 2011

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A DINOSAUR CHRISTMAS – NEW PAGE

October 22, 2011

Here’s a new page I’ve been working on for “A Dinosaur Christmas.” It will certainly be an exciting challenge to color. I am hoping that the various light sources will lead the viewer’s eye around the way I want it to.

CLICK TO MAKE BIGGER – MORE PICTURES FROM A DINOSAUR CHRISTMAS ON THE “ILLUSTRATION” PAGE.

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BOY BOT & BOY DUMMY

October 22, 2011

Here is a LINK TO THE DUMMY I’VE BEEN WORKING ON FOR BOY BOY & BOY Once on the first page, keep clicking “NEXT” to go through the story.

This project is a wordless and colorless picture book idea. I like the idea of telling a story strictly through pictures and have greatly enjoyed wordless picture books for a long time: the “A Boy, A Dog and A Frog” series by Mercer Mayer as well as the amazing works of David Wiesner “Free Fall,” “Tuesday” and “Flotsam.”

I’d finished some drawings for Boy Bot & Boy a while ago. I penciled and inked them and then showed them to some friends for notes. I’d find myself often agreeing with these notes and needing to go back and redo the entire image. I therefore decided to complete the whole book by making a dummy out of notecards.

Getting criticism on the dummy in notecard form is much more efficient as I can make changes very easily. I’ve been slowly completing pencil drawings from the notecards and updating the images in the online dummy. Once all the pencils are done, I will return to the inking.

I find it’s important to play around with the images and leave them rough since they are all I have to tell the story. I can’t suddenly add a few words to make things clearer.

I’ve also been experimenting with building some of the objects that are in the story with Google’s 3d program, Sketchup. I then position the object as I need it in any panel print it out and then trace it. One of the biggest problems with sequential storytelling is to make sure things are consistent. By creating the object in 3D, I ensure that it doesn’t change shape or size.

Some of the drawings in the dummy are very, very rough, but I hope they can still effectively tell the story.


BB&B

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UNDERGROUND LIFE DRAWING

October 22, 2011

In Los Angeles, all of October is THE BIG DRAW month – a wide variety of drawing events taking place all throughout LA and Orange County. However, the enthusiasm for drawing in LA is not limited to these 31 days. There has been an explosion of drawing in LA that’s been growing for a while now. I have to say that it’s exciting to watch and, when possible, to be a part of it.

Every Thursday night at Casey’s Pub downtown, professional and amateur artists socialize and sketch at THE ORIGINAL DRINK AND DRAW SOCIAL CLUB. The group was founded by comic book artist professionals and it’s simply thrilling to overhear commiseration about the industry and watch the speed and effortlessness of these drawing pros as they sketch whatever pops into their minds.

I recently attended the similarly-named DRINKING AND DRAWING, an one-off animation party where artists had ten minutes to animate 8 frames of a cartoon, which would continue with the next artist. The place was absolutely packed and the drawings were great.

drinkinganddrawing


What was really taken off in LA, however, is life drawing. At the center of the current life drawing movement are two groups. DR. SKETCHYand GALLERY GIRLS.

Dr. Sketchy is a worldwide phenomenon and the LA branch is certainly filled with a ton of atmosphere. One of the two monthly LA Dr. Sketchy meetings takes place in a big warehouse, downtown. You are greeted at a loading dock and are brought up a freight elevator to the gallery. The whole thing feels like an “Eyes Wide Shut” party, except no one’s having sex and the attendees aren’t millionaires. Gallery Girls is run by model, Jennifer Fabos Patton, who really strives to come up with interesting themes for the drawing sessions: “Nymphs and Satyrs” “Persian Princess” “Liquid Sky” (yes, the movie) and “Cosplay.”

There is a palpable excitement to these events and it feels like it’s growing. The “scene” is quite hip and happening and I think there are three reasons why.

1. There are a lot of gifted artists in Hollywood – artists who work in animation, special effects, comic books and video games. These artists generally got to where they are because their work demonstrated technical proficiency. It’s not difficult for anyone to understand why they’re “good.” While much of the world of art isn’t necessarily about daughtsmanship, the LA drawing scene is overflowing with talent primarily based in representational skill.

2. I don’t know any other way to put this. Unlike art school, there is no shortage of attractive models in LA. These models are very willing to show up when there is even a little bit of money involved. This, in turn, results in many artists flocking to these events.

3. LA knows how to throw a party. I went to a Sketch Theatre drawing event at the Gnomon School of Visual Effects, which took place in a large hangar. There were refreshments, two podiums, about six models posing and a DJ blasting music. The entire place was packed – artists were seated everywhere, some drawing on computer tablets set up right next to people with drawing boards. During the third pose, the DJ stopped spinning the music and a live band took over and began rocking out. I had just moved from my chair to the floor and was not far from the music. Although there was not much kinetic activity in the room, it was a very powerful moment. And I was not the only person motivated by the excitement of the situation. I looked at the drawing of the person on the floor next to me and was blown away by it. It was only the next morning that I learned I’d been drawing next to acclaimed artist, ROBERT VARGAS, known for “bringing fine art to street art.”

I can’t wait to go to the next one.

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GEOF DARROW INTERVIEW

October 21, 2011

The interview I conducted with multiple Eisner award winning artist GEOF DARROW for Super 7, was posted on their BLOG. This was, however, a very abridged version. The full transcript is below.

TF: We’re very excited about the launch of Taoking at the New York Comic-Con. I guess what we want to know is what was your introduction to Japanese monsters? How did you first get into them?

GD: Oh, Godzilla. I saw, at the theater, “Godzilla vs. King Kong” actually. Because I grew up in a small town that didn’t have many movie theaters, and, you know, Godzilla, the Toho stuff was like, you know, B pictures and those didn’t play in the main theater. They generally played in the drive ins. And my parents never wanted to go to the drive in. And the only one that played in a theater was “Godzilla vs. King Kong.” I mean, I’d known of him before because, I think, I’d seen him in “Famous Monsters” but that was the first one (film) I ever saw.

TF: Was there anything on TV, or was this in the theater primarily?

GD: Yeah, yeah, I remember watching Godzilla vs. .. “Gigantis the Fire Monster,” they called it, on somebody’s TV set. Because we had three tv stations in my area, and a neighbor was able to pick one up from the neighboring town. And I remember going over there on a Saturday afternoon to watch that one. And it was, like, real fuzzy but I could still see it

TF: Did you really connect with this stuff so strongly, instantaneously?

GD: Oh Yeah, yeah because I loved dinosaurs. I mean, my aunt was so concerned that I knew all the names back then. She thought I should see a psychiatrist because “He’s too obsessed with dinosaurs.”

I remember going to see “The Lost World” by Irwin Allen. And I think, I guess, the first dinosaur movie that really touched me was “Dinosaurus!,” which I thought was fantastic. My parents took me to go see that one.

TF: When they started showing up on TV, did you get more and more into them? Do you start seeking out information about Japanese monsters? Because, you know, there was really limited exposure

GD: They really hardly showed them where I was at. Like I said, it was, by American standards, a very small town. They would just run whatever was on the network. But there weren’t any independent stations that had time to fill. So I saw very few, except the ones I mentioned – until I actually, finally was able to drive a car. And then, I think the first one I saw after that was, I think, “Destroy All Monsters.” I actually took my father to take me in to see that. It was a miracle that he took me.

TF: What was that experience like? I mean, that must have been like drinking from the firehose.

GD: Yeah, but I lot of them, I hadn’t seen. Like Minya (Manda) or whatever that thing was from. I can’t remember I think it’s from I don’t know which ones it from “Latitude Zero” or one of those. (It’s actually from “Atragon”) I didn’t know what the hell that monster was. I mean, I only knew the main ones, you know. The giant spider, Spiga, I think they called him. And some of those I was like “Where the hell did these come from?” but yeah, I mean it was amazing to see them, but, at the same time, I was a little taken aback because Godzilla had become kind of… he just wasn’t the fire-breather he was in the beginning.

TF Sure.

GD: He became a little domesticated.

TF: Right.

GD: But, I mean, I really liked it.

TF: Where you drawing these monsters as you were seeing the movies?

GD: Well not so much. I remember being really taken by…because when “King Kong vs. Godzilla” came out, Aurora released those two model kits.

TF: Right.

GD: I bought that one. I mean, because I thought it was amazing. And I was very disappointed in the theater that, you know, King Kong won. Because I was like “No way. No way that that goofy thing could ever beat, you know, Godzilla.” And so I bought the model kit. Saved up got the model kit. Used to play with it all the time. And I, I don’t know. I’ve always been drawing dinosaurs and stuff like you know fighting airplanes and tanks and stuff. I’m sure I must have drawn Godzilla once.

TF: So did you have a lot of Dinosaur toys as well?

GD: Well, yeah I… but there really was only one and that was the Marx Dinosaur Playset.

TF: Right

GD: And that was about it. Sinclair. Sinclair gas stations. Their logo was a dinosaur. And once a year they would have a premium that you could get. And it was generally like an inflatable beach toy of a dinosaur. And I remember, you know, for getting passing grades in school, my parents would buy me the premium from Sinclair. I would play with them, but they were so big that – they were kind of corny. They were cartoon-y. Not like the stuff you can get now.

TF: So you had the Godzilla Aurora model kit. When did you get your next Godzilla toy?

Did you ever get really into collecting Japanese monster toys? Even as an adult?

GD: Oh yeah, I’ve got a bunch of them. As I became a little known, I have some fans in Japan and friends. And they would just send them to me. I’ve got, you know, a lot of them. I mean, Probably not by Arthur Adams standards. But I don’t know if you know who he is.

TF: He’s really into that? He’s got a significant collection?

GD: Oh my God, yeah. Yeah. He’s amazing. He just did three amazing covers for IDW. He did one of Rodan and one of Angillas. One of – I don’t know what the other one is. I don’t know the name. It’s one of the ones that I don’t know. He’s in one of the ones with…. I think he was in the one. God what is it? The one with Jet Jaguar?

TF: Megalon or Gaigan?

GD: Something like Megalon. No, not Megalon. No, not Gaigan. Very strange looking one. It was a later one. But anyway, beautiful drawing. (The monster in question is Titanosaurus – “From Terror of Mechagodzilla” and seen in the center of the Art Adams covers below that Darrow is describing)

art adams

TF: So you started getting stuff from fans in Japan?

GD: Yeah and I would buy things when I saw them. I remember when they came out with those “Shogun Warrior” things, but you might not remember those. (Anyone who knows me should get a laugh out of this) They did one of Godzilla, which I just thought “I refuse to buy.this.” I just thought it was ridiculous. I don’t know , I think. I don’t know if his fist shot off.

TF Well there is a Japanese version of that which is a completely different sculpt.

GD: Oh really?

TF Mattel brought that toy over and sort of messed it up. Some people sort of think that it’s sort of beautifully ugly, but…

GD: Oh yeah, yeah. I think it’s funny now. But back then, I mean I remember getting Raydeen

and a lot of those, because I got into the robots and stuff. I was into Ultraman. Because when I moved to Chicago at art school they had independent stations here and they just started showing

“Ultraman” and “Space Giants” and “Johnny Sokko” and they also had “Speed Racer” and I had never seen any of those things. I was like “wow.”

TF: And are you still fond of those shows now?

GD: Oh Very much so. I remember I introduced my daughter to them. And I remember going over to a toy show – I was living over there. I went to a toy show. I don’t know what the actor’s name is, but he played Moroboshi Dan, who was Ultra Seven. And he was there and I remember watching him because he walked right by me and I was like “Wow that’s Moroboshi Dan.” Yeah, I still love all that stuff. I still collect stuff.

TF: When you say you collect stuff is it just stuff that you think it looks cool?

GD: Yeah.

TF: So it’s not like a checklist thing? “I have this holy grail. I know it’s rare I know it’s tough to find…”

GD: No not so much. I mean, I don’t know. I got so much stuff and I just buy stuff that’s cool. Sometimes I’ll buy things where I don’t know what the hell they are when I’m over there but they are just so beautifully sculpted. Those little gashapon things, which I think are fantastic. Some of the…. There’s just a lot of stuff. I mean, they’ve got so much stuff over there that it’s mind-boggling

I finally just had to stop. Because it’s just too much. I don’t know where to put it all. I’ve got stuff still in boxes and I don’t what what to do with it. But it’s so cool to look at.

TF: That’s a high class problem. Having Too much stuff.

GD: Yeah.

TF: With monster vinyl toys there are sort of two schools of aesthetics:

The older, sort of, Bullmark and Marusan toys are much more simple in design and

then you’ve got the Bandai which are more realistic and more detailed-looking. Do you have a preference towards either sort of look, the vintage or the modern?

GD: No not really. I mean I like them both. I bet if I were a kid, I’d probably go for the Bandai stuff because I’d want the stuff that looked just like the monster, but I love the simplicity of the Bullmark stuff. I mean I remember I got into buying the robots when they first started to come out. Because I was working as an art agent and I’d occasionally get to go on these business trips. And I went to San Francisco. And I went into a toy store there and they had, you know, I guess they call him Voltron here. But you had to like buy five of these toys and they’d call came together to make this one robot

TF: Yeah, they’d gattai together.

GD: Yeah. I think, I guess those were made by, I guess, they were made by Bandai. They were metal and they weighed a ton. And they were expensive. And I was like “Wow.” I’d buy a piece at a time and I still have those but I thought those were just… . And I wasn’t into collecting toys at those points but I was just so amazed by the engineering of it.

TF: Those are very popular today.

GD: Yeah. But back then, I had never seen anything like it Because the American stuff was.. I don’t know. I’m not a big a fan of the Mego stuff. I just… I admire the goofiness of it. But beyond that…

Probably because I’d talk to people in Japan and it was amazing how many of them preferred the American toys to the Japanese ones. I was like “Man, you guys got us beat hands down.”

TF: I guess the grass is always greener. What are some of your favorite toys that you’ve gotten from Japan? Is that combining Chogokin toy that you mentioned in San Francisco up there? How about monster toys? Which are some of your favorites?

GD: Well I mean, Just what ever I like a lot of these, you know they come up

I mean they come up with Godzilla gashapon things and they are these beautiful little scenes. They come in these boxes – you know those hidden boxes. What are they called? You don’t know what you’re getting and you have to buy a whole case to get them all. But, you know, they’ve got scenes of Godzilla breaking into a nuclear reactor or smashing Tokyo Tower. And those things are so well made. They are just beautiful little sculptures.

TF: Do you use any of your toys for reference for your drawings?

GD: Oh yeah. Yeah. I was just working on some cover for IDW I remember I used…. Well, when actually when I was working “The Big Guy” – when I was working on what became known as Taoking – well, he actually had no name in Big Guy. I was looking at a Kaiyodo dinosaur kit, because I like them. Those things are so beautiful sculptured.

TF: So that was sort of the basis of Taoking?

GD: Yeah. I was looking at some like, I would look at one dinosaur for arms and another one for legs, and I just kind of mixed them all together and kind of tried to come with something that I thought was kind of goofy-looking

TF: Was it difficult matching the details from panel to panel? To remember this horn tilts this way or..

GD: I played it pretty loose. I kind of went with the Japanese – what I consider I think is the Japanese way of doing things. I mean, they’ve got the guy in the suit, but the scale changes. You know, sometimes Godzilla is smaller so you can have a human in a shot so he’s not too tiny. And I would I think the size of that monster (Taoking) kind of shrinked – depending on what I needed to get him into frame. I did the same thing with the main characters Big Guy. I made him big enough so you could see him against the monster. I mean, you know, it’s just a comic book.

TF: What did you think of the Big Guy toys that came out by Bandai when the TV series was on?

DG: Yeah, I liked them. I was living overseas when that show came out and I’ve only ever seen one episode of this thing

TF: Which one?

DG: The first one. I went to San Diego (Comic-Con) and they premiered an episode. I think it’s the first one.

TF: Right. And Taoking is in that one.

DG: I don’t know. I don’t even remember, to be quite frank. I thought they did a good job. I did a few monster designs for them. And I remember telling them I wanted a theme song. And I remember humming to the producer, making up lyrics for what I thought the theme song should be.

po
(DESIGN FOR “PO THE OBLITERATOR” WHO DID APPEAR IN AN EPISODE)

You know, what they wanted to do at that point – there were no theme songs in cartoon shows and I wanted there to be one. And they actually listened to me.

TF: So the theme song is close to what you thought it should be?

DG: Yeah. I thought they did a great job. They had a sort of Russian chorus kind of a thing. Going on I thought it was great.

TF: Are you aware that they were planning on releasing a toy of one of the villain robots called Argo? That was never released as far as I know.

DG: Yeah. Yeah. That one looked cool. Well they didn’t because it was so badly…uh, well,

it’s a whole long story of why. There was a battle between the network and the producers over.. and they kind of buried the show after about, I don’t know, 3 or 4 episodes And then they just yanked it. And Bandai was none too happy because they had this whole line of toys and there was no show to support it. So they gave up and I don’t blame them. And they were very, probably very angry.

TF: Do you know what happened to the prototype of Argo?

GD: I’ve never seen anything. I mean, even those toys. I mean, when you’re working on a show like that the studio is always “Oh don’t worry we’re going to keep you in the loop and give you all this stuff.” And as soon as it gets going, they don’t want to know you beyond anything. I mean, they never gave me anything. I had to go out and buy the toys.

TF: Wow.

GD: The same thing with….I think it was Wendy’s or one of them. They did, you know, Happy Meal toys. And my family went out and bought some. And I’ve got them. I’ve got a bunch of them because people gave them to me. But, once again, the studio, they don’t care once they’ve got what they want. The say “Adios.”

TF: Is there any chance of more comic books of Big Guy and Rusty?

DG: Eh, I don’t know. Maybe. Maybe. I just – the reason I stopped doing it was because…I got tired of drawing of… I mean, I wanted to draw people.

TF: Instead of windows?

DG: Well, the Big Guy, well it’s very hard-edged. And not quite as flexible.

TF: is that part the reason for “Shaolin Cowboy?” It’s all outside?

DG: Yeah and I just like that stuff. The thing I’m the biggest fan is probably Japanese movies.

I mean Japanese, you know, Jidaigeki and Chanbara movies. I mean, I had seen as a kid, on TV, once again, “The Seven Samurai” and I was just “Holy smokes.” And I’ve got a huge collection of that kind of stuff, like, posters and things.

TF: I’ve seen a lot of original art of Shaolin Cowboy fighting Japanese licensed characters.

GD: Yeah, I do drawings to take conventions to sell. For the longest time I was making monsters up, which I still do on occasion, and I thought “Oh, I can actually draw Godzilla. Who cares?” I’m not, As long as I’m not actually, you know, printing them, I’m okay.

TF: You recently did a cover of Godzilla for the new comic book, which was just beautiful with all those dinosaurs and trees everywhere.

GD: Yeah. Yeah. I did the first one and I did the last one in that miniseries. Because I actually wanted to do it because I wanted to draw him in Tokyo.

TF: Is the last issue in Tokyo?

GD: Yeah, I actually wanted to do him, like, destroying Tokyo and smashing buildings. And between the time the earthquake hit – I didn’t have it in my heart to show him smashing buildings because it seemed to close to reality. So I did draw him, but he’s just kind of -you don’t see him smashing any buildings.

TF: In talking about Godzilla, how do you think he would do in a fight against Taoking? Who would win?

GD: Oh, Godzilla would kill him – destroy him. BUT, but Taoking would regenerate himself. It’d be like, he’d constantly be trying, but he couldn’t beat Godzilla. Nobody could beat Godzilla…. except maybe, my other, probably, I don’t know, maybe even my favorite monster is Gamera. Gamera is so funny and great and surreal. Actually the later – the new movies – I thought were really good.

TF: Do you know that a fan made a fourth movie to pick up where the third movie left off?

GD: Wow.

TF: With all those Gyaos descending on Gamera. And it’s never shown. But It’s called “Gamera 4: Truth” and it has, like, an albino Gyaos and it’s like 40 minutes long, but it’s apparently great.

But Daei won’t let him make any money off it so it was only shown for free in a few theaters in Japan.

GD: Yeah, I’d love to see that. I mean, I think I met the girl, who I think is Steven Segal’s…

TF: Daughter.

GD: Yeah, I met her in Japan a couple of times.

TF: Do you like drawing monsters or robots more? Or is it a tie?

GD: Monsters are easier, but I like drawing them both.

TF: And what’s coming up? I know there was talk for a long time of a Shaolin Cowboy animated series and I heard that some work had started on that. Is there any hope of that or is that just stalled out at this point?

GD: It’s stalled out. Two years down the toilet. That’s showbiz

TF: And how about a trade paperback for Shaolin Cowboy? I see a lot of people are hunting for individual issues online.

GD: That’s a whole another story that I can’t really talk about.

TF: Fair enough.

GD: (Laughing )With the movie, things became extremely complicated. And those issues that I did of Shaolin Cowboy, I don’t know what will ever happen with them all I know is that they will probably have nothing to do with me.

TF: Understood. Well thank you for talking with us, we’re very excited about the release of this toy at the New York Comic Con

GD: It’s a beautiful toy

TF: I heard the sculptor also made a realistic version.

GD: Yeah, I saw that in the background, which I thought was great. Just seems crazy.

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MANGA, SCANSLATIONS AND MEDIA CONSUMPTION TOLERANCE RATES

October 19, 2011

In spending time thinking about the theme of my theme sketchbook, “evil giant robots,” I’ve wanted to seek out some highly regarded examples. Evil Giant Robots are not something that people often think about as a category but, arguably, the master of making malevolent, gigantic bots would be the late manga artist, KEN ISHIKAWA. Ishikawa was part of Dynamic Productions, a giant company which saw great success in the 1970s. The figurehead of the company is the legendary GO NAGAI, known the world over as the creator of MAZINGER Z, DEVILMAN and GRANDIZER. In discussing the creation of Mazinger Z, Go Nagai mentions that he gave Ishikawa the chore of designing the enemy “kikaiju” that Mazinger would fight. These robot beasts were indeed very memorable and Ishikawa’s contribution to Mazinger Z is significant. However, Ishikawa really took center stage with the manga of GETTER ROBO, an idea he came up with with Go Nagai, but one he wrote and drew himself. The manga of Getter Robo really gave Ishikawa a chance to shine, especially in the field of enemy robots.

Evil_Robot

Getter Robo led directly into a sequel, GETTER ROBO G. The enemy of Getter Robo was the DINOSAUR EMPIRE, led by EMPEROR GORE. Emperor Gore would send “Mechasauruses” against the Getter team – distinctly reptilian mechanical beasts that sometimes appeared to be biomechanical cyborgs. The threat in Getter Robo G was the HYAKKI EMPIRE, aka the “Hundred Demon Empire.” The robots that they would send out against Getter Robo G were called “Mecha Oni,” wonderfully designed demon-robots, which were always horned.
Mechasaurus
hyakkiempire

Devil King
The Getter Robo G TV show was translated into English and shown as STARVENGERS in the United States. I saw these episodes as a kid and felt that the Mecha Oni were some of the best-looking evil robots I’d ever seen. The designs were relentlessly innovative, beautiful and scary. The impact they had on me made me recently want to track down some Manga of Getter Robo G. Anime based on manga is often not a direct translation and can feature vastly different storylines, character backgrounds and, yes, enemy robots.

I found a set of three Getter G manga on Yahoo, Japan and won the auction at a reasonable price – which became less reasonable due to a sucky exchange rate and overseas shipping costs.

When they arrived, I was really blown away. I couldn’t read them, but the page layouts truly put the “dynamic” in Dynamic Productions. And there were, of course, tons of beautiful enemy robots. Swarms of Mechasauruses and Mecha Oni appeared with great regularity and it was clear that Ishikawa simply loved drawing this stuff.

For a short while, I felt very wise that I had made this purchase. Then I found out that the entire Getter manga series had already been scanslated (scanned in and then translated from Japanese to English) and was available online for free. This gave me a chance to appreciate the Getter saga on a whole new level – I could actually follow the story. Reading these manga scanslations was a very eye-opening experience for me. The process led me to some interesting conclusions, not just about Getter Robo, but about the internet and media consumption in general.

The pacing of the storytelling in the Getter manga is very different than that of the TV series. Super Robot TV shows of the 70s were very formulaic. A hero robot would defeat an enemy robot at the end of each and every episode, usually after losing to him earlier. This simplistic formula was something that production companies could not only get away with, but was essentially demanded by the viewership. Unlike an age where one can blast through an entire season on a DVD boxed set, older TV shows were viewed one week apart. Even if an episode was a carbon copy of the one that preceded it as well as the one that followed it, this wasn’t a liability because of the full week of life that viewers had between viewings. In fact, if this formula is not followed, viewers would be outraged. An episode spent solely on character development which would make the action to come in subsequent episodes more meaningful is something that was not acceptable due to the specific nature in which TV was consumed when these shows were being made.

Manga is an art which is consumed in an entirely different manner. Many, many pages are read at once and the direction the story goes throughout the course of hundreds of pages is often filled with detours. Numerous pages are spent without a whole lot happening.

In his groundbreaking book “Understanding Comics,” Scott McCloud discusses how manga have far more “aspect to aspect” panel transitions than American comic books. “Most often used to establish a mood or a sense of place, time seems to stand still in these quiet, contemplative combinations.” He explains one reason why: “Japanese comics first appear in enormous anthology titles where the pressure isn’t as great on any one installment to show a lot ‘happening.’”

This is true with the Getter manga, and the pacing is completely different from the TV show. Unlike the anime, there is a strong overlap between Getter Robo and Getter Robo G, with the Hyakki Empire showing up long before the Dinosaur Empire is defeated. Characters go off and do things for many pages that have little to do with the main plot.

The unforeseen result of this pacing is that manga is incredibly, unexpectedly internet-friendly. It was surprisingly easy for me to blast through Getter Robo scanslations, stopping and starting again whenever I felt like it. Because the story wasn’t dense with plot, I never felt confused when I’d pick up where I left off.

This in not unlike podcasts. Prior to the podcast explosion, it was not at all clear that the length of podcast episodes was not a factor. People listen to podcasts whenever they have the time: in the car, at the gym, at work when the boss isn’t looking… Even with DV-Rs today, TV demands that you sit in front of your (probably high-def and very big) TV while you consume programs. Being a captive in that space in order to watch means that people will sit there for only so long.

Reading online manga feels completely unrestricted. The long, but not complex story arcs dovetail in very well with the busy lives people lead today.

When I look at the world of hard-copy picture books, I see an escalation of pictures. Things like THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET by BRIAN SELZNICK or THE ARRIVAL by SHAUN TAN, I can’t help but wonder if there will be an explosion of the number of pictures in stories that are told with pictures.

One of the biggest discoveries of my reading the manga of the Getter Saga is that the story did not end with Getter Robo G. In 1990, Ken Ishikawa, wrote and illustrated GETTER ROBO GO which was also turned into a TV series. The TV series has no connection to the Getter Robo and Getter Robo G TV shows, but the manga is a direct continuation of the Manga that Ishikawa had worked on 16 years earlier!

Moreover, while not much is thought of the “Getter Robo Go” TV show, the manga is considered Ishikawa’s masterpiece, spanning seven volumes and featuring over 1400 pages of art. Completed in 1997. It was simply a joy to go through it all.

The art definitely feels different than the earlier Getter work. I think that may partly be due to Dynamic Productions no longer needing a “house style” and that Ishikawa’s art simply evolved. There is more detail in many panels, but some lines also seem more loose and free. Again, the format of consumption feels fitting in that a single story is being told. I’m not sure what the business model will be for online scanslated manga or even faux manga, but that seems to be up in the air for many types of media these days.
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I’m looking forward to reading more Getter manga after Getter Go. Ishikawa followed the saga up with two volumes of SHIN GETTER ROBO but then he unexpectedly died in 2006. We are fortunate that he was so prolific.

It was recently ANNOUNCED that a new getter Manga, GETTER ROBO G VS. SATAN DANTE (another vintage Go Nagai creation) will be released this year. Interestingly, the manga will be drawn by Go Nagai himself. This may be the first Getter manga by him and should certainly be a great tribute to his late friend.

Getter Robo is something that Go Nagai has had a lot of interest in developing further. Perhaps this was influenced by the death of Ishikawa or perhaps he simply has great faith in the brand even though it is not Dynamic Productions most well-known property. Here is a snippet from an email I was CC’d on in 2009:

“Actually, Go Nagai’s production really would like to make a feature based on Getter Robo, I would say, their priority is Getter Robo, rather than Mazinger Z and Getter Rpbo’s story itself is much more interesting than Mazinger Z story, however, we can also get the rights to Mazinger Z, as well. For now, GO Nagai’s priority is Getter Robo.”

It is difficult to know what the future will be for the Getter Saga property, but the scanslations should certainly attract new viewership. They can be viewed at DYNAMIC PRO SCANSLATIONS