8.30.2014

[Destroy All Headphones] MeccaGodZilla – ERROARS 2.2: Metal Sakura

MeccaGodZilla's ERROARS 2.2: Metal Sakura is eighteen tracks of neck snappin', boom-bappin' G-funk. And I don't mean "G" as in "gansta", kiddies. I mean "G" as in... "Gojira". Or maybe it might be much more accurately described as eighteen tracks of E-funk, as in "electronic" and "experimental". Or how about eighteen tracks of I-funk? As in "instrumental" and "intergalactic", or...

Yeah, it's just that difficult to categorize this joint. And this is because ERROARS 2.2: Metal Sakura is all of those things and more. But it should also be mentioned now that the album is also quite good. (Which, by the way, is another adjective that begins with the letter "G".)

If your ears are tuned in to the next level-ish frequencies of music makers like Flying Lotus, DJ Spooky, MeLo-X, and others, then do yourself a big, fat favor and check out MeccaGodZilla's ERROARS 2.2: Metal Sakura. [Sample: "ISA AMBER", "Raye 6.4" and "3rd Ai"] 








8.29.2014

Darryl “King of Rock” McDaniels rocks comic book shops this fall with the ‘DMC’ graphic novel


Since 1983 (wayyy back in the day), when the cover of Afrika Bambaataa's "Renegades of Funk" 12-inch single hopped from record shop shelves with the pop art-influenced style of a Marvel comic book, and the fictional graffiti writer Ramo explained to the young b-boy Lee in 1984’s Beat Street that he learned to draw by tracing from the pages of DC comics, it's been ‘overstood’ that the hip-hop generation grew up reading, and loving, comic books.

From memorable lines in the 1984 song “Jam On It”, which vividly detail a make-believe sound system battle between Superman and the funk-rap group Newcleus, to comic book and graffiti artist Lamour Supreme (Zen the Intergalactic Ninja) applying his distinctive art style to the cover of 2013's Wu-Tang affiliated album Czarface, it seems that hip-hop has never passed up on the chance to 'show and prove' its love of the comics genre. And this never-ending love affair comes full circle again this fall with the release of the much-awaited graphic novel DMC.

DMC is the inaugural title slated for fall release from Darryl Makes Comics, the upstart publishing imprint founded by Darryl “DMC” McDaniels of the pioneering rap trio Run-DMC. The book is the realization of a childhood dream for the legendary rapper who once proudly boasted in a verse “I’m DMC, I can draw!” (The lyric can be heard in its proper context, along with its rhythmic, back-and-forth rhyme components, in the closing verse of the title song on 1985's platinum-selling album King of Rock.)

DMC, however, didn't dust off his pencils to illustrate the eponymous graphic novel he wrote with Damion Scott (Batgirl) and Ronald Wimberly (Prince of Cats). The art for each of the book's five chapters were neatly divided between the skilled drawing hands of Chase Conley (Black Dynamite), Jeff Stokely (Six-Gun Gorilla), Felipe Smith (Peepa Choo), Mike and Mark Davis aka the Mad Twiinz (Black Dynamite, Boondocks) and Shawn Crystal (Uncanny X-Men). Chris Sotomayor (Birds of Prey) handled the coloring, and the cover was drawn by comic book legend Sal Buscema with graffiti legend MARE 139, and inks by veteran inker Bob Wiacek.

The all-star lineup of talent pooled from the old school and new school worlds of comic book art, graffiti writing and TV animation ensures that DMC will be a one of a kind graphic novel worthy of the iconic name of a hip-hop legend. To learn more about the project, including a detailed synopsis and a glimpse at preview pages from each chapter, scoot over to the Previews website by clicking here. And if that link isn't enough to quell your excitement until DMC finally hits the shelves on October 29th, make sure to visit the official Darryl Makes Comics website by clicking here.

8.24.2014

Monster Island Daydreams – The Art of Kiska Zilla

You've never met an artist like the appropriately monikered Kiska Zilla. That's because Ms. Kiska is like some crazy figment of the still somewhat immature (male) imagination. A haunting phantasm returned from some ancient, afternoon daydream. You know. The kind of chick that even the above average type guy couldn't begin to imagine actually exists. So he sends his mind off pacing into the sometimes-visited confines of the Make-A-Dreamgirl® workshop to make her up himself. And while standing before the dry erase board at M-A-D, said above average guy's mind marks out an outline that gradually becomes fleshed out into a slim, hoodie wearin' honey with tattoo-inked arms. A very odd sort of woman who treasures comic books and who adores Japanese daikaiju flicks. One who intricately doodles rifle-carrying Care Bears and crazed scientists in her "sketchbook of doom". And who can bomb the crap outta' warehouse walls with gorgeous graffiti. A creature as seemingly fictitious to our existence as a #@$%ing unicorn. An artist like the distressingly real Kiska Zilla. A talent too monstrously cool to be true.








8.22.2014

[Book Report] Schoolgirl Milky Crisis is a lot more serious than it looks

Don't be fooled by the nonsensical-looking title or by the sugary sweet image of a sailor suit-clad schoolgirl wearing a moo-cow headdress and a... mechanized udder. Johnathan Clement's Schoolgirl Milky Crisis (2009) is actually serious business. Or as serious as a 400-page collection of writings on the multimillion dollar businesses of Japanese animation, manga, and giant monster flicks can be. So from the pastel-colored front cover to the pastel-colored back cover, Clements fills the pages of Schoolgirl Milky Crisis with informative glimpses into the overlapping realms of Asian popular entertainment that most fans from the West will only get to dream about. From the pampered life of an anime voice actress to the anime industry-crushing ambitions of a film studio owner from China, to the surprising censorship-related reasons why "tentacles" became so prevalent in anime erotica, to several thought-provoking conversations with some of today's best-known makers of animation in Japan, Clements covers three continent's worth of fascinating territory. The writing is well-informed, engaging and immensely educational. But that should probably be expected from the very same author that gave fandom the Anime Encyclopedia, right? Highly recommended.

8.15.2014

The Toho Master Collection DVDs show masterful attention to detail

TOHO MASTER COLLECTION

In 2006 and 2008, to the delight of legions of daikaiju movie fans, Toho and Classic Media unleashed on the worldwide marketplace the TOHO MASTER COLLECTION DVD series. This impressively produced DVD collection offered fans of the genre nine classic Showa-era giant monster films including both the original Japanese language version with English subtitles and the classic American English dubbed version. And each release was issued in resplendent storybook-style digipak cases with transparent disc trays within and handsome typographic and photographic elements throughout.

GOJIRA / GODZILLA, KING OF THE MONSTERS

The first release in the TOHO MASTER COLLECTION was GOJIRA (1954), the film that started the worldwide love affair with the daikaiju flicks of Japan. This edition, as well as the soon-to-be-discussed final release in this series, was a 2-disc set that served as one of two incredibly impressive bookends to the other releases in the series. The DVD on the left side of this set boasted the original Japanese language version of the film, and the second disc featured the 1956 English language release, GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS.

The next six releases in the series featured single-disc presentations of the films GODZILLA RAIDS AGAIN (1956), MOTHRA VS GODZILLA (1964), GHIDORAH: THE THREE-HEADED MONSTER (1964), INVASION OF THE ASTRO MONSTER (1965), ALL MONSTERS ATTACK (1969) and TERROR of MECHAGODZILLA (1975), the very last of these being the final film produced before the Godzilla series was retired for nearly a decade. These single disc releases also offered the original Japanese language version with subtitles, and the vintage American English dubs.

TOHO MASTER COLLECTION

In contrast to the first and final editions, both of which were double-sized releases with black varnish storybook covers that accommodated double disc presentations, the middle releases were packaged in slimmer silver foil digipaks. In the center of each cover, situated beneath the titles in similarly stylized fonts, were full-color trading card-sized inset images of the original Japanese movie posters. Layered down the left side of the inset image in the aforementioned font was Gojira's Americanized name. Added to this very dynamic presentation, each cover was affixed with a three-dimensional holographic seal that featured the encircled head of Godzilla, the Toho Studios logo in a smaller circle, and the "Toho Master Collection" header in the outermost circle.

Included as a final flourish that epitomizes the masterful attention to detail usually paid by the Japanese, each release also included a removable card stock obi (literally "sash"), situated at the very bottom of the digipak. These were similar to the traditional obi that are used by the publishing industries of Japan to hold together the pages of manga, magazines and hardbacks on bookshelves and magazine racks. And though the cultural significance of this particular accent may have been lost on most purchasers of this DVD series, it still added another nice visual element to an already distinctive-looking package.

RODAN & WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS
The final release that served as the climatic bookend to this excellent series was the surprising double disc double feature of RODAN (1956) and WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS (1966). Like the six previous releases, the cover of this DVD set featured the original Japanese movie posters of both films with the double-billed titles of both emblazoned across the top. But unlike all the other DVDs in the series, this release did not feature the handsome holographic seal.

Interested late-comers to the TOHO MASTER COLLECTION DVD series should be aware that the series has recently been re-issued--in order take advantage of the heightened interest in the giant monster genre inspired by the 2014 Godzilla film. Instead of the very detailed packaging discussed here, the discs have been issued in normal Amaray "keep cases". If you only care about the films and not so much about presentation, these re-issues are economically priced to sell wherever daikaiju movies are carried. But if you want to have at least one DVD set in your movie library that is worthy of the longest-running film series in history, tracking down copies of the discs in the digipak packaging is a must.