NEW ENGINEERING • Yuichi Yokoyama • PictureBox Inc. (2007) • Various Underground Magazines (1999-2004) • 1 volume • Unrated (mild violence)
“Conventional manga is entertainment and my work is not,” says Yokoyama in the interview in the back of New Engineering, a rare counterpoint to the aggressively commercial nature of most translated manga. These narrative-free, almost dialogue-free pop-art comics are described by Yokoyama as “serialized paintings” which “start with a single image.” In some of the stories things are taken apart, as featureless men with random objects for heads fight each other and smash up their surroundings; in others, things are put together, “engineered,” as machines and men build artificial landscapes out of cement, astroturf and artificial trees. The mechanical, ruler-traced artwork shows physical processes stripped to their simplest forms, but on the whole the flat, depthless pages are impenetrable to the eye; color artwork (like the book’s pleasing cover) might have given a more three-dimensional feel to this world of shapes. There are a few arresting sequences, and Yokoyama provides an excellent explanation of his concept, but judged as a reading experience rather than a coffee-table book or a gallery show, I can appreciate the idea but not enjoy the result.
Today’s winner is Richard D. of Indiana. Richard, I hope you enjoy the package of manga that will shortly be rocketing towards your house like a micrometeorite streaking from the Oort cloud to earth!
As someone who loves action manga, I often wonder things like “how does the hero get repeatedly beaten on the head with an iron mallet and survive?” or “how can someone cough so much blood out of their mouth and carry a 500-pound weight up 100 flights of stairs immediately afterwards?” The intense, self-flagellatory agonies of shonen manga characters have always fascinated me, and recently I’ve written an article on the subject for comixology, A History of Horrible, Harmless Violence. Please check it out, particularly if you don’t mind photos of manga characters pulling their own tendons out of their bodies!