Among the things I’ve been doing recently

– Watched the complete Firefly, followed it up with Serenity, the comic book and followed that up with Serenity, the movie.

-All of that instilled in a newfound zeal for watching TV series, so I watched half of Berserk and two seasons of Spaced. Started watching The Adventures of Brisco County Jr now.

– Five copies of this are available at MR Book stall, right opposite my office, at 250 Rs each. I have no idea how and why the book is there in the first place. Filed under “Rude-shock-of-the-month”. ( Rude because I have no money to spend. )

– I did have Walden gift coupons to spend though, thanks to a Special Hard-working Person who agreed to let me use 1000 Rs worth. I bought Ramesh Menon’s Devi Bhagavatam ( swear the guy’s writing Indin mythology books faster than I am reading them ) ( and good ones at that ) and Mihir Bose’s History of Bollywood. Reading the latter right now, periodically wincing at the lack of editorial supervision that pervades the writing. Subhash Ghia? Anupam Kher was an up-and-coming star of the nineties? Sheesh. At least the facts seem to be in order so far.

– More lustworthy releases include the two disc edition of 300. 699 Rs and way beyond my budget at the moment.

– Also drooled a bit over the new Koji Suzuki collection that seems to be available at Walden. I already have, and have read Ring, Spiral and Dark Water. Loop was there, too, but I’m holding out for the hardcover, so didn’t buy it.

– There was also the Mammoth Book of War Comics, which had, among other things, two stories by Darko Macan and Edwin Biukovic, Will Eisner’s Last Day in Vietnam, a Commando issuem, an early version of Keiji Nakazawa’s Barefoot Gen and some Sam Glanzman Blazing Combat stories. 704 Rs, pass.


Mama I’m coming home!

I leave the US of A on Monday night.

In the last one and a half months, I have –

  • been part of a team that’s delivered a feature-complete product a day ahead of deadline.
  • seen my first Monet, Titian, Manet, El Greco and Gainsborough. And these were names I remembered off the top of my head.
  • visited my first comicbook shops.
  • bought out full runs of comics and manga and exceeded my weight limit by 20 kilos.
  • been to my first Comic book convention. Woo Hoo!
  • indulged in Major Comic art acquisitions, 32 in all.
  • managed to buy Perfect Gifts.
  • visited 5-level used record/CD/DVD outlets, each of which made me want to sit in a corner and whimper to myself.
  • held original first printings of the first three Dark Tower books in my hands, caressed them for about twenty minutes, put them back gently in their display cases and cried on the way out.
  • eaten The Crappiest Biryani Evah, and priced at 8.99$ to boot.
  • had surprise packages mailed to me from Spain.
  • become part-time Web Elf for the coolest Electronic Dance Music site ever.
  • not had the time to write about all these. Mostly because of point (1), but that will soon be remedied.

Does not really deserve a title.

Junji Ito is messing with my head.

Junji Ito who? A horror creator from Japan. Known primarily for a series called Uzumaki (Spiral in English, also made into a not-so-good movie) and for Tomie. Tomie. I read scans of this series a couple of years back. Fairly gruesome story about a drop-dead beautiful girl (heh heh heh) named Tomie, who has the power to make people obsess over her, and ultimately, kill her.

Except, Tomie does not stay dead easily. She regenerates, inspite of having been hacked and slashed and dismembered and, in one mega-sicko sequence, being ground to a paste and mixed with Sake. She regenerates, and sometimes, most of the time, actually, she comes back in ways that are extremely distressing to an unsuspecting manga fan who is having his dinner. Take my word for it.

The scans I had read before were from this defunct company called Comicsone, and the translations weren’t too good. Dark Horse comics has taken to reprinting all of Junji Ito’s works in a series called Museum of Horror, and I recently bought volume 2. Excellent stuff, more so because in this volume Ito’s art seems much more polished than the early Tomie stories. Now to find volumes 1 and 3.

You can read a complete Junji Ito horror story right here.

* * *

Gaurav got a bunch of my stuff back from the States. A Sergio Aragones Groo pin-up, a Harry Roland Vampirella painting, a Tony Harris Starman page, and a 2-page Kevin Maguire splash page from Gen-13/Fantastic Four( my first double-page splash! Woo Hoo!). The splash page had some of the most detailed inking I have ever seen, I spent a good half an hour just looking at the intricacies. Apart from the artwork, he got back the complete Hellboy collection, the first three volumes of Lady Snowblood, quite a bit of Ellis – all of which were part of Brady’s collection that I had purchased this year, most of which is still at 2fargon‘s place in the States. I finished the Hellboy volumes sometimes yesterday – started them in the airport the day before. Yes, I was travelling.

* * *

How was the last year for me? Very trippy. Right from Jan 1st, 2006, half of which I spent in Bangalore airport, I seem to have been travelling like mad. I cannot remember more than one or two weekends in the first three months of this year when I was in Hyderabad. None of these trips were too restful, except for a Mumbai trip in April, where I spent three and a half days in invigorating company, and the last week of the year, which was my Back To Basics trip. I nearly ended up spending half of 31st December in an airport too, but I didn’t mind it one bit, nosirreebob.

In case you haven’t been following the LJ too obviously, last year was also the year of Original Art. ( 2004 was the year of The Comic Book, 2005 the year of The DVD ) Technically, I bought my first pieces on 25th December 2005, but in 2006, the acquisition of my first Quitely page broke the 200$-eBay-barrier. I slacked off sometime in the middle of the year, but then I had this life-altering conversation with a friend, sometime in September, about why he is going to collect original comicbook art, and only original art, after he graduates. There was a flash of light, in which I realised how right he was. And from then, there was no looking back.

It was also, in a slighter degree, the year of a near-complete comicbook collection. I bought out a collection from someone in the US, and effectively that has put an end to fervent searches and snipes on eBay. I am contented. For now.

A depressing year, as far as new music goes. Apart from the fact that my sister gifted me an iPod shuffle, there has not been any hallelujah-worthy moment in music for me, this year. (Yes, that’s right, I have become a jaded old fucker. Rape me, my friends. Which reminds me that I waded through Nirvana’s discography sometime back. Excellent rush of happy memories that was. ) No, hold on, let me remember some music-worthy moments from last year…

– The live Zero-7 video that Vasu showed me, that made me go and listen to all of Zero-7 for a couple of days.
– Listening to this band from Nepal called Nepathya, who do rock versions of traditional songs from around the Himalayas. Infectious!
– Rediscovering DJ Krush, who I had heard a little bit of in 2005.
– Siddharth singing ‘Appudo Ippudo’ from Bommarilu, Shreya Ghoshal on the songs of Anukakonda Oka Roju, and, most important of all, ‘Dole Dole’ from Pokiri.
– All the adgy mixes.
– Kailash Kher’s Kailasa, the live DVD as well as the CD.

Hmm, seems like there might be a mixtape in the offing after all…

The first half of the year, I took this rather drastic measure of choosing to ignore ALL blockbuster movies that are released. It was meant to be a one-year abstinence from all things corporate-Hollywood-and-Bollywood-ish, but the idea got chucked somewhere along the way. I did not watch too many movies either ways – probably the fact that Sympathy For Lady Vengeance did not impress me as much early this year has something to do with it. The ones I saw were reruns of the ones I saw before. Repeat viewings rock, don’t they?

About the rest of what went on in my life, well, all of you who know me already know about what’s going on, so do I really need to write it all down? The rest of you will have to make do, I guess.

* * *

Right now, I have in front of me the following – Pride of Baghdad and Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall, both hardcover. Genshiken volume 3 – I had bought volumes 4 and 5 yesterday on the last day of the Odyssey sale. DVDs of Pitamaghan, Vettaiyadu Vilaiyadu, Anjali, and Jillanu Oru Kaadhal. A neat Hitman page, drawn by John McCrea and inked by Gary Leach, featuring the last appearance of Sixpack, that I picked up from the post office today morning. Ramesh Menon’s Mahabharata is occupying my nightly hours.

Ain’t life grand?


Odds and ends.

My friend Vasu was in the States last year, and I ordered some comics off a site – crazyeli.com, in case you are wondering – pretty decent collection with prices low enough so that one can order fill-in issues without too much of a strain in one’s pocket. I got a pretty bunch, but unfortunately, the comics reached Vasu a little late. And the seller had to resend them to an alternate address. Where the bunch remained, alone and friendless, for about eleven months. They landed in my lap yesterday, after much fed-exing and address-coordination between friends of friends of friends.

The loot?

  • Watchmen 2-12 ( I already had issue 1, which was bought in a shady bookstore in Assam sometime in 2001),
  • Four issues of V For Vendetta that I didn’t have,
  • Elektra Assassin 5-8 ( I had gotten 1-4 in Magazines, Bangalore),
  • Frank Miller and Dave Gibbon’s Martha Washington Saves the World – one of my favourite Miller works.
  • 300 issues 1-4 – issue 5 got out of stock just before I could buy it.
  • What If 35, by Frank Miller – the storyline being What if Elektra had lived, a nice little story from 1982 which was one of the first Miller works I ever read in my life. I believe there is a dilapidated copy of that issue still somewhere among my books in Guwahati – the darn thing nearly fell apart with all the multiple rereadings I subjected it to.
  • Garth Ennis and Amanda Conner’s The Pro, a throwaway yet hilarious story about a prostitute who gets superpowers.
  • Punisher: The End, the only Ennis Punisher book I didn’t have.

And, the most important of the lot – Miracleman 1-3, 5 by Alan Moore, and 17, by Neil Gaiman. My Miracleman collection gets nearer to completion. This is one of the rarest series available, and I think the day I get a copy of Miracleman 15 and 16 at decent prices will be a Seriously Important Day in my life. How decent is decent? Copies of Miracleman 15 sell on eBay for anything between 90-250$, depending on the condition. So far, I have 1-3,5,10,17, 20-24 and the trade paperback of volume 4 and Miracleman: Apocrypha.

I finished reading The Filth (by Grant Morrison, Chris Weston and Gary Erskine) recently. I thinking shooting myself in the head would have been slightly less masochistic an experience.

Planning to re-read the Morrison run on New X-Men. Mostly to get a feel of the Quitely-Kordey-Jiminez-Bachalo-Van Sciver-Silvestri artwork throughout the series.

JLU makes me want to set up a shrine to the Bruce Timm-Eric Radomsky-Glenn Murakami-Alan Burnett team. The ending ( and epilogue ) to the fourth season made life seem more worthwhile. What a show!

There was a sale going on at Odyssey. Buy three books and get the cheapest of them for free. Picked up Ramesh Menon’s recent translation of The Mahabharata. The opening chapters are really inviting, just the right amount of risqueness required to hook a reader onto the volumes. But the packaging is really unmanageable – it took a great deal of struggling for me to pull out one of the volumes, and the slipcase is slightly damaged now. Bah!