Friday, September 10, 2010

AX

I was surprised the other day to discover that the English weekly rag in Tokyo, Metropolis, actually had a feature article on something manga related. Now that Galbraith is gone, the Pop Life section went from being bi-weekly to non-existent. The Met never really did seem to like covering anime or manga, and a number of readers complained when Galbraith made Pop Life bi-weekly at the beginning, saying that they couldn't care less.

But now, the cover story is on the release of an English edition anthology of Ax magazine stories. If you know Garo magazine (and if you've visited this blog before, I'd like to hope that you at least know the name) then you know that it was the big "alternative" manga outlet in the 60's and 70's. It triggered the publication of COM, Osamu Tezuka's competing magazine, and ultimately led to the start of Ax. Garo and COM are now long gone, but Ax is still running. It doesn't have much of a print run, and I've never been able to find a place that carries it (not even Mandarake has back issues).

At best, the images reprinted in the Met article compare to the bottom of the barrel of what had been in Garo from the period that I've covered so far, and the review of the anthology fails to move me to buy a copy. There is an aesthetic to "manga" that non-Japanese just can not replicate, and that untrained Japanese artists miss more often than they hit. It's great that a publication like Ax exists, to give an outlet to artists that can't appear in the mainstream monthlies. But there's a reason why Ax's print run is so low.

What's really needed is an editor of Katsuichi Nagai's sensibilities, who can guide new artists into a vein that would resemble Garo Mark II. In the meantime, I'd just settle for D&Q releasing some Garo anthologies.

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