*This review contains images that are NSFW.
You can get a decent idea about the qualities of Takashi Nemoto’s Monster Men Bureiko Lullaby just by reading the first few lines of the handful reviews that exist online. One reviewer advises a strong stomach and another calls it âan important and brave releaseâ. James Hadfield of Metropolis magazine describes it as âthe heart-rending tale of a radioactive spermâ while Johnny Ryan calls Nemoto the âundisputed master of dirty comicsâ. Dan Nadel (the publisher of said book) simply proclaims it âcriminally overlookedâ.
This 189-page manga consist of two major works by Nemoto. The first, âMonster Men Bureikoâ, concerns the commercial and erotic life of a penis who turns into a head while âThe World According to Takeoâ is about the life and misadventures of a mutant sperm (he attends elementary school and later becomes the owner of a gay bar). Picking up this book should be a no-brainer for anyone who is interested in the the history of the Japanese âundergroundsâ or outsider art. This is particularly true for readers who have a soft spot in their heart for the works of S. Clay Wilson, Rory Hayes or Johnny Ryan.
The most informative article about Nemoto in the English language is by the co-translator of the book being reviewed – Kevin Quigley. In The Comics Journal #154, Quigley recounts Nemoto’s youthful interest in transgressive images and his Damascene experience when he saw the work of King Terry for the first time in Garo. In the same article, he describes a working method based on word association somewhat similar to what Lynda Barry elaborates on at length in What It Is. And while these two artists would appear to be world’s apart on a superficial glance at their comics, what results from this method is quite clearly an intimate peek into the heart of the artist.
One assumes that Monster Men‘s lukewarm reception by alternative comic aficionados is due to its inhospitable subject matter. An off-the-cuff comment by Bill Randall at the Comics Comics blog site compares Nemoto’s work to Japanese noise bands. This is something which the artist brings up himself in Quigley’s Journal article where he describes finding a kindred spirit in the leader of Totsuzen Danbouru. In other words, this is marginal material which one would hardly criticize a person for feeling lukewarm toward and perhaps of minimal influence to the aesthetics of the vast majority of adult manga.
Randall also suggests that the audience for American alternatives is largely conservative and would hardly accept material of this ilk. It’s certainly possible that readers more interested in Yoshiro Tatsumi or Yoshiharu Tsuge will find Nemoto’s work a bit distasteful. The real problem, however, lies in the book’s somewhat dated aesthetic. Monster Men is not quite the sunrise that never gets old but the border which once crossed can never be returned to without a certain sense of loss â the magic never to be regained without the rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia or historical importance. In this slightly more enlightened age, S. Clay Wilson’s Checkered Demon has become almost an old friend even as he is sticking his engorged phallus into a half-willing woman – almost adorable in his transgressions. You might never show Nemoto’s manga to a person whose knowledge of cartooning stops short at newspaper strips and various Disney characters, but to most long-time readers of comics (and who else might these tales be for?) these stories will be par for the course. I wouldn’t recommend reading Monster Men on a crowded subway train, but then again, I wouldn’t recommend having sex regularly in a public area as well (and there’s nothing particularly disgusting about sexual intercourse). There are just some things which are more suited to the privacy of the bedroom or an art gallery.
Pages: 1 2
Tags: Takashi Nemoto