Since writing for his own blog, Savage Critics, and respected magazines like Bookforum and The Comics Journal is clearly not enough, Joe “Jog” McCulloch has taken over the Watchman column (previously written by Kent Beeson) on comic-influenced movies and such over at Comixology. He spends the first column talking about Afro Samurai:
The creation of one Takashi “Bob” Okazaki, an illustrator & visual designer by trade and hip-hop nerd by pleasure, Afro Samurai began as a series of dōjinshi (amateur manga) and toys centered around a big-haired swordfighter wandering around a fantastical sci-fi Japan/America/Everywhere Else setting; things really took off after an animated promo reel was commissioned, which piqued the interest of Samuel L. Jackson. A five-episode television anime was completed in 2007, budgeted at a handsome one million or so dollars per episode; Jackson starred, RZA scored, Spike TV aired, blood spilled, East met West, and it was forever sealed in stone that Gonzo actually could produce a consistent-looking series, given a small dump truck of cash parked in the lobby.
Okazaki also drew a proper manga series around the same time; both of its two volumes should be out in English now from Tor/Seven Seas. It shared the same basic plot of the anime — brooding fighter Afro is after the villain that murdered his father and seized the world’s #1 fighting headband — but it didn’t particularly look like anime, or even a lot of manga (a much more varied thing). It mostly reminded me of some odd artifact from the ‘80s b&w comics boom you might pluck out of a back issue bin somewhere, heavy on style and illustrative flair, and armed with the awesome, completely metal decision to color all the blood red (didn’t Tim Tyler try that?), but almost totally lacking in storytelling aptitude, be it in terms of plotting or visual flow.
Joe goes on to review the new Resurrection series, and even sneaks in a comparison to Garth Ennis’ work on Punisher Max.
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