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?


Did I mention that my discman died two weeks ago? My faithful companion since 2001 ( or possibly 2000, considering that it was originally absolut_69‘s baby that I stole away and paid him six months later), my ecape valve during final year examinations, Sunny Deol-infested bus journeys, my PRECIOUS little precious finally gave up. Was bound to happen, but I am not giving up easily. It’s off for repairs now, and the guy at the service center ( unauthorized, the Philips guys said they don’t repair discmans, especially not the Expanium, and DEFINITELY not this model.), the guy said the lens needs to be changed. I don’t have too much hope of it working for more than a year, new lens or not, and I am pretty sure it won’t be able to read any of my older Frontech mp3 CDs. But no matter. I am not giving up on you easily, precious.

It’s one of those unacknowledged laws that whenever you lack the means to listen to music, your urge to listen to music increases dramatically. I have been spending my free time ( Ha ha ha) revisiting some CDs that I hadn’t heard in quite sometime. Travis, Moby’s Play, Dixie Chicks, Bad Company, Jethro Tull, Van Morrison, Cowboy Junkies. Loads of Suzanne Vega too.

Has it ever happened to you that you hear a song, and then don’t hear it for a long time, and when you hear it again, it sounds completely different from what you had thought it sounded, in terms of the orchestration and the arrangement? That happened to me with Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks, a song which I keep remembering because of the opening lyrics, that go – If I ventured in the slipstream, between the viaducts of your dream, where immobile steel rims crack, and the ditch in the back roads stop – Could you find me? Would you kiss my eyes? – the imagery just kills me, man. I heard it after a long time, and was really, really taken aback to find that it was not really as guitar-driven as I remembered it was.

And now for some venom.

I think it was V For Vendetta that did it, finally, but I realised that the ratio of returns to investment has been mindblogglingly low for all the movies I’ve seen in theatres this and the last year. Movies that I’ve loved and enjoyed, like Sin City, Hostel, The Devil’s Rejects, even The Corpse Bride have no chance of attaining theatrical releases in India. What do we get? Pap. Bile-inducing insults to my brain. Pixellated eye-candy with six tracks of digitized nonsense. So I say, enough. No more movies in theatres. No more paying inflated prices to be mentally assaulted for 90 to 180 minutes, and with cellphone ringtone interruptions too, to boot. Especially comicbook movies. I have been completely uninterested in Superman Returns ever since yada yada yada and I am not really interested in talking about it, thank you. If you see it and you like it, well, I am happy for you. Obviously you haven’t been reading Doom Patrol or All Star Superman, so I can’t really say I am too happy for you, but yeah, you should know that I have absolutely no problems with you watching Superman Returns. Nope, none at all. Not a teensy weensy bit. Honest.

The trailer for Spiderman 3? Not interested. Ghost Rider? Pah! 300? Ditto. Nacho Libre? Well, yeah, interested, but I don’t think it’s coming to theaters here, so there!

I was also more than a little pissed off because the last copy of Hanzo The Razor available at secondspin.com got sold off this week, as did the two copies of Varttina’s Miero. GRRRAH! My credit card’s maxed out, so I couldn’t pick it up. CD-WOW still has it, but it’s almost twice the price.

I am a man of taste. I shall now go home and listen to Himesh Reshammiya until I fall asleep. I have a presentation to make tomorrow morning. Er, today morning. I am in such an ebullient mood (Part of the reason: Roger Ebert gave Superman Returns two stars. I don’t really like the guy, but that didn’t stop me from grinning a lot on reading his review) that my technical presentation has taken on shades of a standup comedy routine. Wish me luck.