Ten Creative Covers from Japan

Posted by Michael Pinto on Oct 22, 2010 in Comic Books

Satoshi Kon memorial BOOK

As an art director I’m jealous of Japan because their publishing industry really uses a great deal of creative illustration while too many American book covers are the result of stock photography. While there are exceptions to the rules when ever I walk into a Japanese bookstore I’m always struck by the fact that almost every other book has a high quality illustration. For this article I’ve collected ten cover illustrations that caught my eye. Shown above is a Satoshi Kon Memorial Book — I really love the contrast of the black and white drawing with the column of color on the left of the page.

Fellows Felon

Fellows Felon
The use of dots as a texture in this illustration is wonderful — it’s like a cross between the the bugs Bunny cartoon Hair Tonic and the Memphis furniture design from the 80s. Read more…

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Meow! Meow! Meow! Three Manga Cat News Stories

Posted by Michael Pinto on Sep 27, 2010 in Comic Books

on Thursday Furutto

On thing you can say about manga is that it hasn’t gone to the dogs — I’ve recently caught three cat items that got my attention in the manga world. Shown above is the cover of volume of On Thursday Furutto which is a cat gag manga that was just released. Below is another kawaii girl and her cute but slightly oversized kitty which is from a new manga series that will appear in IKKI magazine: Read more…

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A Twitter Themed Manga

Posted by Michael Pinto on Sep 26, 2010 in Comic Books, Tech

Tta me!-4 frame and enjoy Twitter: a twitter themed manga cover

The tech fanboy in me loves this: Tta me! is a four-frame comic that’s been published as a proper full volume. The manga isn’t so much a Twitter how-to book but rather focuses on the social media service as a comedic/romantic plot device. Tta me! is written by Kawamura Kazuhiro and illustrated by Ajiko Kozima — and it’s available at Amazon.jp here. Read more…

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An Alluring Poster Design Celebrates the Artist Behind Anpanman

Posted by Michael Pinto on Sep 21, 2010 in Comic Books

Takashi Yanase Poster for the Kyoto Manga Museum

This amazing set of beautiful posters were designed to celebrate the work of manga artist Takashi Yanase (by the way he’s over 90 years old!). His best known work is Anpanman which has never really caught on in United States, but I’d dare say it’s one of the best know manga (and anime) kids series in Japan. If you’re lucky enough to be in Japan there will be an exhibition of his work at the Kyoto International Manga Museum which starts on October 2. Read more…

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Gangsta Looks Bad (In a Good Way)

Posted by Michael Pinto on Sep 11, 2010 in Comic Books

The manga Gangsta

Gangsta is a new manga series that will be put out by Comic Bunch. This artwork is just a preview, but I love the look of the character designs which feels like a cross between samurai and a wild west film: Read more…

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Will Military High School be the Next Big Manga Trend?

Posted by Michael Pinto on Sep 5, 2010 in Comic Books

military high school joshi-kouhei

Could it be that maids are about to go out of style? Shown above is a promotional illustration for Military High School Joshi-Kouhei which will be a new manga series by Matsumoto Zirou in the monthly comic magazine Bunch. The series will harken back to the good old days of manga and anime and prominently feature sci fi themes in the tradition of Leiji Matsumoto (which I think is a good thing).

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Controller Prince: A New Manga Aimed at Geek Girl Gamers

Posted by Michael Pinto on Aug 23, 2010 in Comic Books, Videogames

Controller Prince: A manga aimed at geeky girl gamers

The minute I looked at this illustration it caught my eye right away as the lead protagonist in the image is surrounded by a sea of screen shots of roll playing videogames and an assortment of brightly colored baubles and baked goods. This artwork is a promotional illustration for a new manga series that’s running in the latest issue of Margaret magazine and from my crude translation the name of the series is Controller Prince. From what I can see the manga focuses of the romantic adventures of a young lady online who plays “a good game of love”. Read more…

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This Kobato Figurine is soooo Kawaii

Posted by Michael Pinto on Aug 13, 2010 in Animation, Comic Books

Clamp Kobato Figurines

If you’re a Clamp fan and are lucky enough to be in japan this August you may be able to get your hands on this very cute Kobato Hanato figurine from the manga (and anime) series Kobato (こばと。). Also included in the package is the blue stuffed dog Yogisanmo and a handy traveling bag which will set you back 1890 yen: Read more…

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Manga Masterpieces: Recent Illustrations from Japan

Posted by Michael Pinto on Aug 8, 2010 in Comic Books

Gen iron Arisawa 'Hoshikawa Ginza 4-Chome' Volume 1

One of my joys is to walk through a Japanese bookstore and to gawk at all of the beautiful cover illustrations — they’re always so inspiring as a designer. Although I should note that with this collection that these these illustrations aren’t all covers for comic books — but sometimes covers for books that are done in a manga style. Shown above is Hoshikawa Ginza 4-Chome which caught my eye due the wonderful use of pastel colors. What follows are ten illustrations from Japan that recently caught my eye: Read more…

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Chi’s Sweet Home Can Now Be at Your Place

Posted by Michael Pinto on Jul 26, 2010 in Animation, Comic Books, Hobbies and Collections

Chi's Sweet Home Futari Plush

You’ve read the manga, you’ve watched the anime — but is there a way to actually have Chi as your pet? Most likely not, but this Chi’s Sweet Home Futari Plush is pretty darn close and doesn’t require you to clean up a litter box. Meow! Read more…

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A One Eyed Sneak Peek at the Shigeru Mizuki Exhibit

Posted by Michael Pinto on Jul 18, 2010 in Comic Books, Horror

Original Artwork from the Shigeru Mizuki Exhibit held in Ginza, August 2010

Shigeru Mizuki is the master of Japanese horror manga and he’ll be honored with a large scale exhibition in Japan which kicks off on August 11, and runs until August 23, 2010. The exhibit will show off original work from GeGeGe no Kitaro (ゲゲゲの鬼太郎) and Mr. Devil manga series and other personal item associated with the master. Here’s a preview of some of the drawings that will be on display: Read more…

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A Manga Bag That Channels Wimpy

Posted by Michael Pinto on Jul 17, 2010 in Comic Books

artist Fukumitsu Shige Yuki created this hamburger themed manga bag for Village Vanguard

Illustrator Shigeyuki Fukumitsu created this hamburger themed manga shopping bag for Village Vanguard, a bookstore chain in Japan. What’s funny about it is that the illustration reminds me a great deal of the character Wimpy from Popeye who unlike his vegan sailor pal loved hamburgers: Read more…

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It’s the Perfect Weather for Watermelon and Cute Doggies

Posted by Michael Pinto on Jul 12, 2010 in Comic Books

Koharu perfect weather

To commemorate the July 13th release of the second volume of Koharu Perfect Weather there will be a competition in japan to win the really cool fan shown above. While the language barrier to enter the contest be a bit much for English speaking otaku you can order the manga in Japanese via Amazon.co.jp if you love dog themed manga: Read more…

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Machiko Hasegawa: Honoring a Manga Master

Posted by Michael Pinto on Jul 5, 2010 in Comic Books

Cartoon "Sazae" Volume 1 by Machiko Hasegawa

If you’re lucky enough to be in Japan this July do yourself a favor and make it a point to see an exhibition which will be honoring Machiko Hasegawa (長谷川町子) at the Sazae Setagaya Literary Museum (here’s an Adobe Acrobat file with details in Japanese). Machiko lived from 1920 until 1992 and her best known work is her comic strip Sazae-san (サザエさん) which focused on modern family life in Japan during the post-war era. The manga was one of the longest running comics series in Japan (about 10,000 strips!) and lasted from 1946 until 1974 when Machiko retired. But it wasn’t just the quality and the quantity of her work that Machiko Hasegawa stand out as she was one of the first women manga artists in Japan, which is why I wish that more otaku knew about her work. Read more…

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A Manga About a Watermelon Eating Cat

Posted by Michael Pinto on Jul 4, 2010 in Comic Books

August 2010 issue of Monthly Shonen Rival

This August 2010 cover of Monthly Shonen Rival caught my eye because of the very hungry looking cat who seems to be enjoying eating a watermelon. The cat and cat girl are from the manga Was in! Medium Teacher (ほんとにあった!霊媒先生) which just published its fifth volume: Read more…

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The Latest Peepo Choo Packs a Punch

Posted by Michael Pinto on Jun 21, 2010 in Comic Books

PEEPO CHOO volume 3

I’m always knocked out when ever I see a cover by Felipe Smith! Shown above is a cover from his latest manga which combines an vivid color palette of pinks, yellow and lime green with some very dynamic draftsmanship and composition. Smith of course is an America living in Japan, but I dare say that he’s really earned the right to use the term manga to describe his work.

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What’s Killing Japanese Manga? A Lack of Discoverability.

Posted by Michael Pinto on Jun 14, 2010 in Comic Books

Kinokuniya book store in NYC

There was a magic moment in my life when I first ventured into Japanese bookstores here in New York City. Mind you that this was many moons ago, but as an art school student I knew that shows like Star Blazers came from Japan. Not speaking Japanese the first books that caught my attention were the Roman Albums, which were (and still are) published by Tokuma Shoten. These books were miniature coffee table guides to a series, but they left me with a hunger to see the comic books that inspired these amazing animated shows. Nippon Books was a tiny store (which went out of business a quite a few years ago) so it was with a great delight that I discovered the Kinokuniya book store. Read more…

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Blythe Dolls Inspired by Manga

Posted by Michael Pinto on Jun 8, 2010 in Comic Books, Hobbies and Collections

BLYTHE Manga Girls Inspiration - black jack

In Japan there’s an amazing charity exhibition of Blythe dolls which take their inspiration from well known manga characters. Included in the exhibit are Blythe dolls dressed up as Tezuka’s Black Jack (shown above), Cardcaptor Sakura, Cyborg 009, Felix the Cat and Minky Momo: Read more…

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It’s the Manga for Dudes Who Enjoy Sharing a Brew

Posted by Michael Pinto on Jun 4, 2010 in Comic Books

Suntory themed 'The Premium Malts' manga advertorial

Advertorials are those sponsored sections in magazines which are usually trying to give you the soft sell — so I was somewhat surprised to see that not only has this approach been adopted to manga, but used to sell beer in Japan! From my crude translation this is a special publication sponsored by Suntory premium malts and is a “celebration of father’s day” which is June 20th. Read more…

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Tony Tony Chopper: A Pirate Reindeer Figurine That Will Pilfer Your Heart

Posted by Michael Pinto on May 17, 2010 in Animation, Comic Books, Hobbies and Collections

One Piece Tony Tony Chopper figurine

This beautifully crafted One Piece human/reindeer hybrid figurine is from a Japanese company called Plex. I’m particularly impressed with the high level of detail of the paint job shown in the photos, it shows a nice level of craftsmanship. The cast of the manga is being released one at a time and Tony Tony Chopper who is shown here is set to come out in June. Read more…

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Manga Mad: A Nice 101 Guide Available on Hulu

Posted by Michael Pinto on May 3, 2010 in Comic Books

Manga Mad is a documentary made a few years ago that is now available on Hulu (seen above). The video is only an hour long and a bit flashy, however it does have quite a few good mini-interviews. I was quite impressed to see clips of Leiji Matsumoto, Japanese comic book shop owners, a publisher from Kodansha and best of all Yoshihiro Yonezawa the founder of the Comiket Market who passed away not long after the documentary came out. Read more…

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A Cold Creepy GeGeGe no Kitaro Treat

Posted by Michael Pinto on Apr 29, 2010 in Animation, Comic Books, Hobbies and Collections

GeGeGe no Kitaro ices: detail from the package

So I found myself at my local Asian grocery store and looking in the corner of the ice cream section I spotted a pile of GeGeGe no Kitaro ices. I went ahead and tried the iced bar and after doing a bit of research it seems that it was actually “milk flavored” — although it wasn’t ice cream, but more like an Italian ice. It also turns out that in Japan there is a soda flavored version as well. Here is the entire package design: Read more…

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Majestic Manga Masterpieces: A Gallery of Recent Cover Illustrations

Posted by Michael Pinto on Apr 27, 2010 in Comic Books

Gee Not

As a creative professional one of my favorite forms of inspiration is to visit Japanese bookstores and look through the most recent manga and magazine covers. Unlike the United States there is still a strong market for illustration — and even better yet the variety of styles that you see is just amazing. So I’ve put together a gallery of covers that have caught my eye over the last few months to share these gems. Shown above is the cover for Gee Not which started life as a web comic. I love how the main character and her cats are surrounded by a colorful variety of colorful pachinko machines — another nice touch is how the typography is boxing her in as well. Below is the cover for Ctrl + T which is a book cover for a collection of manga by several artists: Read more…

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Pen Draws Up a Shigeru Mizuki Tribute

Posted by Michael Pinto on Apr 16, 2010 in Comic Books, Horror

Shigeru Mizuki will be featured in Pen Magazine #266

The upcoming May issue of Pen magazine in Japan will be honoring legendary horror manga artist Shigeru Mizuki. Mizuki is the artist behind GeGeGe no Kitaro which features a great deal of Japanese folklore and a little boy who was born in a cemetery. Currently the issue isn’t out yet but when it’s available you can order it via amazon.co.jp. Read more…

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