Uzumaki, a Japanese Classic (Review)

I fucking love Junji Ito! He is the master. The legend. If you love comics and weird, supernatural shit, he’s THE MANGAKA to read. Junji Ito is the only horror writer/artist whose work makes me physically ill and or gives me nightmares. Seriously, it takes A LOT to frighten me and Junji Ito’s drawings get under my skin each time. If I think about “Glyceride” too hard, I get sick all over again! Ugh! *shudders*

Newcomers to Ito’s work should read “The Enigma of Amigara Fault” or the celebrated “Tomie” series. Ito’s influences are H.P. Lovecraft, Kazuo Umezo (I’ll review his comics in another post), and Katsuhiro Otomo, the creator of “Akira.”

I recently got my hands on the complete hardcover edition of Ito’s famous spiral horror, “Uzumaki.” I wanted something other than “Johnny the Homicidal Maniac,” and “The Walking Dead” in my horror comic book collection. “Uzumaki” looks so pretty on my shelf now. I’m fangirling, I know, but Jesus Christ, I love comic books in hardcover! Why aren’t all comic books published in hardcover? *drool* There are lush, color pages, too, which is nice. I’ve only ever read Ito’s work on scanlation sites. So it is nice to own a physical copy of the man’s brilliance.

“Uzumaki” is terrifying, gorgeous, hilarious, and weird all at once. Ito steers clear of blood and splatter and uses psychological mindfuckery to frighten his readers instead. The basic premise follows a schoolgirl and her town’s obsession with supernatural spirals. Ito has an incredible imagination–each chapter is more insane than the previous one. The distance between reality and fantasy is what drives the horror, here. Reading his comics is like tripping on literary-acid. The stories seep slowly into your subconscious, scrambling your disbelief, and then throwing your renewed perception together in haphazard, unrecognizable ways. It’s nothing short of genius. His art isn’t beautiful. In fact, it borders on the simplistic. And yet that’s why it works! If he drew elaborate dreamscapes, it would be too fantastical for the reader to accept. Ito’s straightforward approach adds to the story’s credibility. I always feel strange when I read Junji Ito’s comics. I hope you will, too. He really is one of my favorites. He’s right up there with Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Anne Rice, Chuck Palahniuk, and other modern classics, I think.

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