October 29, 2008
Book Review - BAT-MANGA THE SECRET HISTORY OF BATMAN IN JAPAN By CHIP KIDD
OK, anyone who's been reading the Bat-Blog for the last year or so knows how excited I have been about the gossip of a brand-new Batman book titled BAT-MANGA: THE SECRET HISTORY OF BATMAN IN JAPAN. It was being done by Chip Kidd who, a few years ago, came out with another great Batman book titled BATMAN COLLECTED. That book was amazing, so I knew this one was gonna be great too! Well, it has finally come out & it's even better than I dreamed about! It was released on October 28th, 2008. All I can say about BAT-MANGA is that it is extremely well-designed & a total delight to read! But, I can't just say that because that would be a totally lazy book review, ha ha! So, here's why the book is so awesome. First, for people totally unfamiliar with this title, in the 1960's there was a magazine in Japan for kids called Shonen King . During the crazy hype of the 1966 Batman TV Show ( Adam West & Burt Ward ) this company reserved the rights to do Batman stories. They did them for about a year & then they were gone. For years these wonderfully written & beautifully drawn stories were lost...until now! To do this book Chip Kidd teamed up with the photographer Geoff Spear & Super-Collector Saul Ferris ( Japanese translation by Anne Ishii ). Both Chip & Saul had a few issues of this super-rare magazine & while doing research found out that the artwork was done by Jiro Kuwata, the artist responsible for creating "8 MAN", a very popular Japanese character. Anyway, Kidd hired a Japanese translator & actually found the guy! To his regret he found out that all the original artwork had been lost to time. But, a neat thing about getting in touch with him was that they got to do an exclusive interview about his "Batman experience". So, working with Geoff & Saul, they photographed every issue they had their hands on. This actually turned out to be a "wonderful accident" because looking at the original magazines is pretty cool. Geoff did an amazing job photographing all the pages. The neat thing is that the photography is so extremely sharp that you can actually see the texture of the newsprint & it sort of gives you the experience of reading the actual magazine that children got to view in the 1960's. One other thing that's kinda neat too is that, back then, Jiro Kuwata was given total license to write anything he wanted. So, the stories are very unique & have a nice Japanese sensibility to them. Now, please keep in mind that this is manga so ya gotta "read it backwards". But, don't worry about that because after about 5 minutes you totally get used to it & the stories are really enjoyable. Jiro Kuwata was given permission to do anything he wanted so many of the villains ( except Clayface ) were created by him. They are really well thought out & have great names like Lord Death Man, Go-Go The Magician, Dr. Faceless, Professor Gorilla, & The Man Who Quit Being Human! Now, another great thing about the book is that it features some very sharp color photography of many Vintage 1960's Batman Toys...a total bonus! This is kinda where Saul Ferris came in. He has an amazing collection of super-rare Japanese Batman Toys. The photos are sort of sprinkled every few pages so while you're reading the stories you get a small break. Plus, You get to enjoy these lost pieces of Bat-History. It gives the book a nice rhythm & each time they popped up it was a very pleasant surprise! The book is created in 2 formats, hardback & paperback. The hardback has about 32 extra pages. It mainly has a few more toy photos & a section in the back that covers some stories written in Chinese! But, don't worry because everything has been translated into English so you can enjoy the whole experience. The retail price for the hardback is $60.00 while the paperback is $29.95. Right now Amazon is offering them as new releases at a cheaper price & I seriously recommend the hardback, just for the extras. Well, I hope this has been a decent review & it's a book I can highly recommend for ANY Batman Fan!
Posted by Tommy!