Saturday, October 25, 2008

Billy Bat and the Urasawa Morning Magazine MacGuffin Mystery.

A hat tip and many thanks to my photographers, Paradise and Mangascreener.

The Billy Bat Files

Outside, the rain pounded against the window like a crazy-mad dipso' trying to get into his favourite bar. I steeled myself against the wind, the boiler was on the fritz again - lousy Kraut engineering. I shifted uncomfortably in my chair, and perused the paperwork again - something about this case smelled bad. I looked at this character Urasawa's previous work again, Yawara, Pluto, Monster, 20th Century Boys, 21st Century Boys...

I couldn't make the mental leap that would add this Billy Bat to his oeuvre. I took another swig of Scotch.

Of course the hacks were out in force the moment it was announced that Kodansha's Morning magazine was launching Naoki Urasawa's new comic, Billy Bat, this October, there was always going to be a feeding frenzy. Details were scant; once again the famous Mangaka would be teemed with Takashi Nagasaki, and there was talk of a missing "great American hero-type comic book character of the 1940s", but that didn't square with the photo I was looking at, this looked retro okay, but it looked like a bad cross between Mighty Mouse and Black Sad.

What's more, it didn't tie in with what I knew about the magazine. It ran edgy stories like The Walking Man (the dude is calm, but often nude) and Devilman Lady (that's a year in analysis right there) and that kind of fag tale about wine-tasting and that cool slash 'em up, Vagabond. I didn't understand what was going on, but I knew I didn't like it.

Thankfully, Angel brought me the answers. The first episode was a MacGuffin. I should have known, the facts had been staring me in the face all along.

Angel's contact in the LA PD photography department had darkened the advert for Billy Bat and the facts were staring me in the face - I was looking at a Looney Toons bat swinging in front of typical Urasawa drawings of buildings and people. I hadn't noticed.

And there was more...I can't believe I hadn't noticed - I looked back at the logo, Billy Bat, the comic, was credited to some mug called "Kevin Yamagata", a made-up name if ever I heard one. That was the point in the story where these two dicks, call 'em Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, burst into the story, grab the cartoonist, this so-called Kevin Yamagata, and reveal the move.

It was a set-up; suddenly I was back in familiar Urasawa territory, detailed buildings, expressive faces, non-cartoony cartoons. It felt right, it felt good. I opened the door and stepped out into the sunlight - it is 1949, it is a good year to be alive. Another epic begins here


Anonymous said...

Cool! Philip Marlowe blogs, right?

B Moore said...

Nice work, gumshoe. This looks great. Here's hoping that it's eventually collected in English.

Rod McKie said...

It's the timing Brian. If they do publish all his work in the order it appeared in Japan, an English - language publication will be years away.

I have to add that new blog of yours to the links. Let me know when it's up and running.

B Moore said...

I'd forgotten he'd stipulated that everything be published in chronological order. That will be a while!

I'll definitely give you a shout when the new webcomic debuts. I'm hoping no later than January (I still have a lot of it to complete.)