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Shaenon K. Garrity
This is where I write stuff.
New Smithson! 
29th-May-2007 11:08 am
Atagoul
Yeah, it's late. Brian had to go eat a deep-fried turkey for Memorial Day. We're BUSY, y'know?

http://www.smithsoncomic.com

I don't know if you caught last week's Chronicles of William Bazillion, but Andrew put up a little sample of the William Bazillion prequel minicomic that I wrote.

In other news, Phil Foglio is selling a bunch of artwork on eBay, including his panel from the final Narbonic strip. So check that action out. This is your chance to own a piece of Narbonic and/or Foglio history!

And, as always, a new page of Smithson means a new Overlooked Manga Festival!



This may not be news to regular readers of the Overlooked Manga Festival, but I love all manga from the 1970s without reservation. It was such a fun period for manga: the industry had gotten big enough to attract gifted artists and works of all styles, genres, and descriptions, but it hadn't yet become the corporate megalith it is today, churning out mass-produced pop hits and allowing genius to flourish only in the chinks of the machine. A lot of crazy manga got published in the '70s, and even the hits are crude and idiosyncratic. This is one of the big hits.



I totally love that Viz is publishing Golgo 13. It's one of the longest-running manga in Japan, still chugging along since 1969 and currently 142 volumes in length. (It's still dwarfed by the 154-volume comedy This Is the Police Box in Front of Kameari Park in Katsushika Ward, which has only been around since 1976...but has run every single week of those 30 years in Weekly Shonen Jump.) Nerdy Americans of my generation know Golgo primarily as the hero of one of the more frustratingly tedious 8-bit NES games. But in Japan, he's an institution.



Golgo 13, also known as Duke Togo (Why? Who knows?), is a mysterious, stoic, superhumanly gifted assassin for hire. He's kind of like James Bond working on the opposite side of the law. But where Lupin III (another 1970s manga superstar) is like the Bond of the movies, witty and lusty and fun, Golgo is the Bond of Ian Fleming's novels: "there was something a bit cruel in the mouth, and the eyes were cold." He's tough, he's ruthless, and he barely speaks. His adventures are self-contained stories set in a midnight-movie world of cold brutality and beefy, hatchet-faced tough guys. It is all so '70s it makes you want to put on a rayon suit and a wide tie and sucker-punch Walter Barnes.



Ah, but Golgo 13 isn't strictly a product of the '70s. One of the truly awesome aspects of the series is that it works current events into its stories of international espionage. Golgo 13 has crossed the newly-destroyed Berlin Wall, destroyed Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, and shot out a hanging chad. Real-life political figures make cameos in Golgo's crudely-drawn world. Hello, Manga Bill Clinton and his Manga Cabinet!



Hello, Manga Pope John Paul II! (And hello, evil doppelganger of Manga Pope John Paul II! Boy, are you in for it!)



The current Viz edition of Golgo 13 is a labor of love. Legendary editor Carl Horn spent years planning his dream Golgo and convincing the Japanese licensors to let Viz turn that dream into reality. As the then-receptionist at Viz, I only got to witness bits and pieces of the diplomatic process, but at one point it involved Carl receiving the gift of a one-of-a-kind pair of English-language Golgo 13 underpants. I swear I did not dream this. Carl now works for Dark Horse, but continues to edit Golgo 13 from afar, because he's the only one who can do this manga justice.



Each volume of the Viz Golgo 13 comprises two Golgo stories, one recent, one "classic." Since the stories are self-contained, and the art style changes remarkably little over the course of the series (possibly because so much of it is drawn by assistants trained in the now-famous Golgo house style), you can pick up any volume of Golgo 13 and dive right in. The stories follow a similar formula; only the setting and characters change. Someone hires Golgo to carry out a nigh-impossible hit job, and Golgo does it. Usually, this culminates in a single, perfect shot from his trusty M-16.



In many of the stories, Golgo himself barely appears; he's a much-feared background presence, or the eleventh-hour solution to someone else's desperate problem. His possibilities as a character are limited because he has no character. His personality never develops beyond what what we see him display on the job, and we never learn anything about his past (although speculation abounds). He's just a dark, bushy-eyebrowed force of vengeance.



Okay, on to the real stroke of genius. For each volume, Carl Horn has seen fit to include a bonus appendix with additional information on Golgo 13. These are very possibly the best part of the books, although everyone's favorite appendix page is this, from Volume One:



THANK YOU, CARL.



Another Golgo appendix asks the question on everyone's lips:



There are charts. Oh, yes, there are charts.



Another appendix lists all the situations in which Golgo has been tortured. It's always worth combing through these meticulous stats for gems like:



What do you have to say to that, Manga Robert Plant?



(Another don't-miss from the same volume: an essay by a martial arts instructor who goes into great detail on the subject of how Golgo ought to get kicked in the balls more often.)

Also, once in a while Carl pours one out to his Viz homies. Bryant Street was the location of the old Viz offices, and there's a big Coca-Cola billboard right down the street.



I think...I think I've got something in my eye...

Golgo 13 is one of those manga that isn't exactly, well, good, and yet, if you don't dig it, it's possible that you just don't get manga. Okay, sure, it's crude stuff. But it's crucial to the historic development of manga, it's super fun to read, it's got manga presidents, and it comes with helpful charts listing the race of every woman the hero has slept with. What more do you want out of comics? Golgo 13 just wants to bring you hardboiled pleasure as only he can.



Previous Overlooked Manga Festivities:
Basara
Please Save My Earth
From Eroica with Love
Even a Monkey Can Draw Manga
Dr. Slump
Your and My Secret
Phoenix
Kekkaishi
Wild Act
Knights of the Zodiac
The Drifting Classroom
OMF Special Event: Manga Editors Recommend Manga, Part 1
OMF Special Event: Manga Editors Recommend Manga, Part 2
OMF Special Event: Manga Editors Recommend Manga, Part 3
OMF Special Event: Great Moments in Manga Baking
Shout Out Loud
Monster
Swan
Warren Buffett: An Illustrated Biography of the World's Most Successful Investor
Sexy Voice and Robo
OMF Special Event: 2006 Overlooked Manga Update
The Four Immigrants Manga
Gerard and Jacques
Ode To Kirihito
Bringing Home the Sushi
Banana Fish
Skip Beat
OMF Special Event: The Greatest Manga Magazine in American History
Cyborg 009
Anywhere But Here
To Terra
Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms
Doing Time
The Walking Man
Sugar Sugar Rune
Parasyte
Japan as Viewed by 17 Creators
Mariko Parade

Comments 
29th-May-2007 09:35 pm (UTC)
Was the Saddam story in volume one? Because I've read that story, and I even remember looking at the appendix, but I don't remember any wonderful sex charts.
30th-May-2007 04:39 pm (UTC)

The Saddam story is in Volume 1. The "amazing penis" diagram is in Vol. 1, the sex charts are in Vol. 6, and the torture profiles are in Vol. 5.
30th-May-2007 04:46 pm (UTC)
Thanks. I'll have to see which volumes we have in the store where I work. It's one of the many manga we carry that I wish sold better so we could justify having more of them.
30th-May-2007 12:22 am (UTC)
The future of modern romance lies in the histogram.
(Deleted comment)
9th-Oct-2008 02:55 pm (UTC)
Not Falling Dig SHADOWS FALL Thoughts Without Words Enlightened By The Cold Stepping Outside The Circle Inspiration On Demand Destroyer Of Senses What Drives The Weak BLACK LABEL SOCIETY Stoned And Drunk Destruction Overdrive 13 Years Of Grief Suicide Messiah Fire It Up Stillborn IN FLAMES Cloud Connected Trigger Pinball Map The Quiet Place My Sweet Shadow ROB ZOMBIE Superbeast Super Charger Heaven Demonoid Phenomenon More Human Than Human Living Dead Girl Demon Speeding Dead Girl Superstar Thunderkiss Dragula KILLSWITCH ENGAGE A Bid Farewell Take This Oath Fixation On The Darkness The End Of Heartache Numbered Days My Last Serenade Life To Lifeless Rose Of Sharyn AS I LAY DYING Meaning In Tragedy 94 Hours Falling Upon Deaf Ears Through Struggle Empty Hearts Elegy Forever THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER Built For Sin I'm Charming A Vulgar Picture Contagion Miasma Funeral Thirst MASTODON Iron Tusk March of the Fire Ants Where Strides The Behemoth Mother Puncher Aqua Dementia Megalodon Blood and Thunder TRIVIUM Rain Ascendancy Gunshot to the Head of Trepidation Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr Like Light to Flies ARCH ENEMY Silent Wars Nemesis Dead Eyes See No Future We Will Rise Ravenous SOILWORK Stabbing the Drama Figure Number Five Nerve As We Speak BURY YOUR DEAD Losin' It (Part 1) Top Gun Vanilla Sky Mission Impossible Eyes Wide Shut The Colour of Money Magnolia Losin' It (Part 2) THE HAUNTED All Against All 99 DOA Bury Your Dead IT DIES TODAY My Promise Severed Ties Yields Severed Heads Threnody for Modern Romance Freak Gasoline Fight Accident Source: siN's Metal News Please share this article if you found it interesting.
17th-Oct-2008 06:26 am (UTC)
Not Falling Dig SHADOWS FALL Thoughts Without Words Enlightened By The Cold Stepping Outside The Circle Inspiration On Demand Destroyer Of Senses What Drives The Weak BLACK LABEL SOCIETY Stoned And Drunk Destruction Overdrive 13 Years Of Grief Suicide Messiah Fire It Up Stillborn IN FLAMES Cloud Connected Trigger Pinball Map The Quiet Place My Sweet Shadow ROB ZOMBIE Superbeast Super Charger Heaven Demonoid Phenomenon More Human Than Human Living Dead Girl Demon Speeding Dead Girl Superstar Thunderkiss Dragula KILLSWITCH ENGAGE A Bid Farewell Take This Oath Fixation On The Darkness The End Of Heartache Numbered Days My Last Serenade Life To Lifeless Rose Of Sharyn AS I LAY DYING Meaning In Tragedy 94 Hours Falling Upon Deaf Ears Through Struggle Empty Hearts Elegy Forever THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER Built For Sin I'm Charming A Vulgar Picture Contagion Miasma Funeral Thirst MASTODON Iron Tusk March of the Fire Ants Where Strides The Behemoth Mother Puncher Aqua Dementia Megalodon Blood and Thunder TRIVIUM Rain Ascendancy Gunshot to the Head of Trepidation Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr Like Light to Flies ARCH ENEMY Silent Wars Nemesis Dead Eyes See No Future We Will Rise Ravenous SOILWORK Stabbing the Drama Figure Number Five Nerve As We Speak BURY YOUR DEAD Losin' It (Part 1) Top Gun Vanilla Sky Mission Impossible Eyes Wide Shut The Colour of Money Magnolia Losin' It (Part 2) THE HAUNTED All Against All 99 DOA Bury Your Dead IT DIES TODAY My Promise Severed Ties Yields Severed Heads Threnody for Modern Romance Freak Gasoline Fight Accident Source: siN's Metal News Please share this article if you found it interesting.
30th-May-2007 01:42 am (UTC)
My experience with Golgo 13-- it's 1988 and I'm playing it on NES (http://www.everyvideogame.com/play-nes-Golgo_13_*_Top_Secret_Episode_(U).htm ) , LONG before I knew what manga was. Enjoying this review takes me back to a very VERY weird place... thanks. :D
30th-May-2007 03:14 am (UTC)
God damn, the Overlooked Manga Festival is fun to read. It's just so full of love and zeal for manga. Thanks again.
9th-Oct-2008 02:36 pm (UTC)
It's just so nifty to have a grand old lady like her in a comic. In high school, I spent a lot of time at the local senior center (don't ask) and got to know some teriffic old gals -- most of whom had gotten into, and out of, more trouble than anybody I'd ever met before.
30th-May-2007 03:27 am (UTC)
I just found your overlooked manga spotlights, and I've been reading back through them. They're steller, and I really enjoy the 'inside track' you bring to them. Thanks!

GOLGO 13: Are there any volumes in particular you recommend? Or is any one basically gold?
30th-May-2007 04:43 pm (UTC)

The stories are similar enough that almost any volume will give you an idea of what Golgo is all about. Vol. 1 is pretty solid. Vol. 6 has the false Pope story, which is entertainingly nutty (it's got the Masons!). I liked "Eye of God," in Vol. 7, and "Headhunter," in Vol. 9. It basically depends on what trappings you like in an assassin story: international politics? Undercover spy stuff? The Mafia?
17th-Oct-2008 01:11 am (UTC)
You could just focus on them, and they could tell you a story already. And yes, that chili-red sari, is uber hot.
30th-May-2007 02:00 pm (UTC)
First time I went to Japan, I saw Golgo's expressionless face staring out at me from a spinner rack in Osaka Airport. Of all the mind-altering things I experienced that weekend, I always remember going, "This comic is still running?!" to the clerk, who didn't understand me at all.
30th-May-2007 04:20 pm (UTC)
**Reads Chart**
**Reads entry for 1985-1989**
**Reads entry for 1985-1989 again**
**Looks at data like a puppy looks at a ceiling fan**

I think that -3 is a very interesting number.
30th-May-2007 04:47 pm (UTC)

GOLGO SEX TRANSCENDS TIME AND SPACE.

From the notes in the appendix: "No explanation has been offered for the so-called 'Reagan Discrepancy' of 1985-89 between 'women met' and 'had sex with.'"
31st-May-2007 07:10 pm (UTC)
Carl Horn is my new favorite person.
3rd-Aug-2007 03:35 am (UTC)
GOLGO SEX TRANSCENDS TIME AND SPACE.

I guess that is why Duke Togo is found on his very own condoms in Japan.
30th-May-2007 04:48 pm (UTC)
The "Physical Observations" diagram left out one call-out: "Awesome Sideburns".
30th-May-2007 05:09 pm (UTC)
Hmmm ...

pen and ink
8th-Jun-2010 12:25 am (UTC)
Review of Golgo 13:

He'll take any job, if the price is right. He'll go anywhere, hunt anyone and take them down with a single shot—and he never misses. Golgo 13 is the James Bond of Japan, but without the wry sense of humor. Saito's indefatigable mercenary first appeared in 1968 and has been a staple of manga and anime ever since. Viz's new edition marks his second appearance in English. This volume contains two stories from his long run. The first, originally printed in 1997, features a plot by Saddam Hussein to build a supergun that could fire from its secret location in Iraq and hit a target in the United States, with no chance of any countermeasures stopping the blast. The story is mostly a convoluted plot featuring dozens of characters including a caricatured President Clinton and very little of Golgo himself.



You can buy Golgo 13 at manga comic



Regards

Andy Landers








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