The Anonymous Diaries of a Sozzled Scribbler #2

The Anonymous Diaries of a Sozzled Scribbler #2

As transcribed by DMETRI KAKMI

19 January 2020

The Sozzled Scribbler sizzles as the Great Southern Land burns.

People are, of course, upset and yours truly thinks, What a bunch of whingers. What happened to the great Australian spirit? Let the fires burn, I say. Only good can come of it.

wildfire-1105209

Let’s list three positives so that we can get a proper perspective on the affair.

First, the vast columns of smoke visible from space might alert aliens to life on earth. Let them come. Most Earthlings are barely sentient anyway. The Martians can’t possibly be worse than us.

The only problem is if they land in the land down under, they will end up in a refugee concentration camp…I mean immigration detention center… until they are approved by that arm of Rupert Murdoch, Inc. alternatively called a government.

Perhaps the aliens are better off going to the United States, where they will be merely shot at by the citizenry? Better bullet holes in the space suit than indefinite incarceration in Manus Island.

Second, the conflagration is said to be worse than anything that happened in the Amazon (not sure if that’s the forest or the company). If this is true, then it’s an occasion to celebrate.

I mean to say the fires might kill off Australia’s many deadly pests: flies, snakes, crocs, spiders, Derryn Hinch, Alan Jones, Michaelia Cash, Tony Abbott, and the serial killers that hunt down German backpackers. Though the latter could be said to be performing a public service. Australia likes its ‘quiet achievers’, you know.

Third, the smoke will block out the UV rays that mar with unsightly cancers the golden skins of the sun-loving populace. Think of it. It could be a return to the 1970s when persons of lower class lolled about all day on the beach, slathered in coconut suntan lotion. Now you can just grab some free ash straight out of the sky and rub it on.

See, take a negative, turn it to a positive. We must see the humour in all things. After all, what’s not to laugh about a town called Smoko going up in smoke?

As it happens, the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (ScoMo to the Twitterati) rang before Christmas last year to seek my advice on this very topic.

Incidentally, ScoMo once invited me to his Pentecostal Church, where we shared the same buttock-numbing pew and even spoke in tongues. Though it must be said I garble my words at the best of times, especially when I haven’t had a martini or two for breakfast. I did not go back. The lay person may not know but Pentecostals, in keeping with their Methodist-Holiness heritage, use non-alcoholic wine (!), or worse grape juice (!!), during communion. I ask you what is the point of going to church if there is no alcohol?

But back to our pre-Christmas phone conversation.

‘There’s a bit of a fire on, mate,’ ScoMo drawled, the usually assured voice quivering.

‘Beg pardon,’ quoth I, looking in some alarm around my luxurious, smoke-free apartment.

‘There’s a big barbie on,’ the Prime Minister clarified. ‘The wildlife’s roastin’ in the bush and the do-gooders are pissed off ‘cause the koalas and the galahs are falling out of the trees, burnt to a crisp. But the familys booked in for a nice little shindig in Hawaii. I mean tah say I even sent the Deputy Prime Minister to buy me a luau shirt and a grass skirt.’

‘It’s wise to blend in with the natives,’ said I, leaning across to freshen up my drink. It was going to be a long call; ScoMo is not the brightest candle in the tabernacle.

‘Yeah, but should I stay or should I go?’

Silence from my end, as I waited to see where this was leading.

‘If I go will there be trouble?’ ScoMo pursued.

‘And if you stay will it be double?’ I hedged with caution.

‘So come on and let me know.’

I chuckled at this, but our purely unconscious reference to the 1970s rock band went unheeded at the other end.

‘It’s hard to know,’ I replied, wiping the smile off my face. ‘What have you done to mollify your subjects?’

‘I denied there’s a such a thing as climate change.’

‘Always a good start. What else?’

‘Oh, you know, I sent them thoughts and prayers.’

‘That always pacifies the simpleton. What else?’

‘We’re gonna legislate sentences up to twenty-one years for environmental protest and we’re gonna stop journalists from going to disaster zones to report our stuff-ups.’

‘When all else fails, fall back on dictatorship,’ I quipped, draining my glass and reaching for another.

‘I’ve done all I can, mate. But the friggin’ lefties are still being mean tah me.’ The usually assured voice trembled further; I was afraid there might be tears. ‘Why can’t they see Gina Rinehart’s coal is good for them?’

‘You may be putting out the fire with gasoline,’ I said, indulging the sing-song mood of the day.

In the end a more determined note crept into ScoMo’s voice. I could almost hear the Australian national anthem strike up behind him.

‘See these eyes so red,’ he proclaimed. ‘Red like the bush burning bright. Well, I’m gonna wipe ‘em dry and go to Hawaii with my god-fearing, all-hetero family. And that’s that.’

‘Well said, Prime Minister.’

‘Yeah,’ he added, with rising determination. ‘Tel meth eta ocal.’

‘Scotty,’ I garbled into the phone. ‘Youre speaking in tongues.’

‘Sorry, mate. Got excited for a minute. All I said was, “Let them eat coal.”’

And he hung up, leaving me to think anyone who makes a melange of The Clash and David Bowie with Marie Antoinette deserves hell’s fiery storm.

Until next we meet. Cheerio!


people-2570596_1920

The Sozzled Scribbler was born in the shadow of the Erechtheion in Athens, Greece, to an Egyptian street walker and a Greek bear wrestler. Of no fixed abode, he has subsisted in Istanbul, Rome, London, New Orleans and is currently hiding out in Melbourne. He partakes of four bottles of Bombay gin and four packets of Dunhill cigarettes a day.

His mortified amanuensis, Dmetri Kakmi, is a writer and editor. The fictionalised memoir Mother Land was shortlisted for the New South Wales Premier’s Literary Awards in Australia. He edited the children’s anthology When We Were Young. His new book The Door and other Uncanny Tales will be released in May 2020.

The Rogue’s Guide to Shakespeare on Film #82: Hamlet (1964)

Rogues Guide to Shakes on Film 2

82. Grigori Mikhaylovich Kozintsev and Iosef Shapiro’s Hamlet

I am not sure why I enjoyed this Russian Hamlet so much. Jaded churl that I’ve become. I have had a surfeit of Hamlet (this is my eighth for this blog), and I don’t see that Kozintsev and Shapiro’s’s gorgeous, yet understated presentation is breathtakingly original.

Hamlet Kozintsev 2.png

I have no right to judge the Boris Patsernak translation, as the subtitles are those of the bard (“Nyet, m’lord”).

The acting isn’t bad. Mikhail Nazvanovas Claudius seems interesting, and Anastasiya Vertinskaya as Ophelia is arresting.

Hamlet Kozintsev 5

Innokenty Smoktunovsky is completely adequate as Hamlet—it should be telling that he’s not the first actor I want to discuss in this film. His legs are really skinny, which look pigeon-like in his tights.

Kozintsev Hamlet 4

But he avoids Orsinoesque levels of angst. The whole cast seems to have a stoic approach, and I must confess I am unfamiliar with Russian film of this period to see a clear cultural rule in the performances. 1964 was eleven years after the death of Stalin.

Hamlet Kozintsev 11

I suppose I feel about this Hamlet something like what I felt about Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. It was competent enough, and felt both superior-looking and familiar. Few complaints. Pass the Grey Goose.

Hamlet Kozintsev 7

The lived-in sensibility of this Denmark encompasses the additions Kozintsev, Shapiro, and Pasternak have added. The extras react in surprising ways to the action, which lets the political aspect of the story to feel immediate. Claudius’sopening monologue is repeated like gossip in the court, as if by an anxious chorus. Later, the courtiers try to keep up when Claudius applauds “The Murder of Gonzago.” They falter instantly when the king cannot maintain the charade.

Hamlet Kozintsev 10

An insensate Ophelia is dressed in mourning clothes by servants. Laertes is shown fetching his ancestral sword before confronting the royal family for his father’s murder. The visual language of cinema enhances the story, letting the plot emerge rather than racing to squeeze a tragedy into two hours. (The running time is 2 hours and 20 minutes, but doesn’t feel that long.)

This is what I think people mean when they say setting is a character. A well-established setting can make the fiction seem more real–the setting of a story is as important as characters. (This does not mean that might heart and brain are interchangeable; the setting-is-character theory seems really lazy to me.)

Hamlet Kozintsev 9

The crisp cinematography by Jonas Gritsius shows off the ancient castle with regal, Renaissance pomp, and the lives lived within such beautiful cages, too. The depth of field and painterly composition of shots makes the viewer, or this rogue at least, become absorbed. This is the best-looking Hamlet I have seen, a world above the gauzy haze of Olivier’s 1948 version.

Kozintsev Hamlet 1

One of the highlights of this Hamlet is its cinematic ghost, with a gothic cape perpetually unfurling behind it in slow motion. It’s difficult to convey a Renaissance sense of dread over hauntings, but this film’s apparition makes an impact.

Kozintsev Hamlet 4

Dmitri Shostakovich’s music splits the difference between modern orchestration and classical brutalist music, but also conveys court music with a light touch. This is a soundtrack I would gladly own. At times, music and action sans dialogue carry this film. If you don’t love Shostakovich, stop reading this blog right now. Or give him a listen while you read.

Solomon Virsaladze’s costumes are outstanding. The Renaissance wardrobe looks authentic without looking ridiculous.

Hamlet Kozintsev 8.png

Gertrude appears at the start of the play in mourning clothes, including black chiffon gloves that look too dainty and sexy for mourning (or maybe just Byronic in taste). Gertrude’s vanity is especially apparent in this version. When Hamlet looks what’s he’s killed behind the arras, there were royal dresses adoring headless mannequins.

Okay, I officially like this Hamlet more than The Rise of Skywalker, but less the than the nearly perfect Zeffirelli versionIf this 1964 Hamlet ever comes out in blu ray format, or whatever high-resolution format comes next, I recommend picking this one up.


1flip

John King (Episode, well, all of them) holds a PhD in English from Purdue University, and an MFA from New York University. He has reviewed performances for Shakespeare Bulletin.

 

 

Episode 402: A Craft Discussion of T.S. Elliot’s “Tradition and the Individual Talent” and “Hamlet and Its Problems”!

Episode 402 of The Drunken Odyssey, your favorite podcast about creative writing and literature is available on Apple podcastsstitcher, spotify, or click here to stream (right click to download, if that’s your thing.)

This week, Vanessa Blakeslee and I assail more essays on the craft of literature, this time two by T.S. Eliot.

TS Eliot TDO

TEXTS DISCUSSED

Hamlet and Its Problems” can be found here; “Tradition and the Individual Talent” can be found here.

NOTES

This episode is sponsored by the excellent people at Scribophile.

Scribophile

TDO Listeners can get 20% of a premium subscription to Scribophile. After using the above link to register for a basic account, go here while still logged in to upgrade the account with the discount.

Check out my literary adventure novel, Guy Psycho and the Ziggurat of Shame.

Guy Psycho and the Ziggurat of Shame Cover


Episode 402 of The Drunken Odyssey, your favorite podcast about creative writing and literature is available on Apple podcastsstitcher, spotify, or click here to stream (right click to download, if that’s your thing.)

The Curator of Schlock #306: Rabid

The Curator of Schlock #306 by Jeff Shuster

Rabid

David Cronenberg ain’t right.

I’ve got nothing profound to say about anything at the moment. I’m cranky. I’m wishing I could time travel back to 1997. I miss my Nintendo 64, my bubbled out CRT TV, and a new X-Files to look forward to on Friday nights. Or had The X-Files moved to Sundays at that point? I don’t remember.

This is why I like movies. They can be miniature time capsules that let you wallow in a particular decade for a couple of hours.

Tonight, we’ll travel back to 1977 to experience a violent rabies epidemic that could have occurred on the outskirts of Montreal, Canada.

Rabid1

1977’s Rabid from director David Cronenberg was released in not just a very important year for movies, but also a very important year in the history of the world as it is the year I was born.

Imagine if that hadn’t happened.

Rabid 6

You would not be reading this blog right now. What would you be doing with your life? Contemplating plastic surgery? Speaking of which, our movie begins at the Keloid Clinic for Plastic Surgery somewhere in the Quebec countryside. A young couple named Rose (Marilyn Chambers) and Hart (Frank Moore) are riding motorcycles near the clinic, but get into bad accident because some loser can’t get his RV started and he’s blocking the whole Canadian road.

The Keloid Clinic is the closest medical facility in the area. Hart’s injuries aren’t critical, but Rose is going to die unless Dr. Dan Keloid (Howard Ryshpan) tries an experimental procedure to that uses morphogenetic skin supplements to repair her skin and organs.

Don’t ask me what that is. I ain’t no doctor.

Rabid3

Rose stays in a coma for a couple of months until she wakes up screaming. A patient named Lloyd (J. Roger Periard) at the hospital goes to check on her, and Rose asks him to hug her because she’s cold and he’s warm. Lloyd complies because she’s young and attractive, like someone out of Behind the Green Door, but then a tendril emerges from her armpit and sucks his blood. This Rose has a thorn.

Rabid - 1976

Lloyd wakes up later with no memory of the attack, but gets transferred to another hospital because his blood isn’t clotting. The next night, Rose leaves the clinic to feed on the blood of a cow, but, naturally, decides to snack on a purvey old farmer instead. Both of these men develop a nasty case of rabies and begin attacking people like zombies. If they bite you, it’s only a matter of time before you start foaming at the mouth too. Rabies shots don’t work either.

Rabid 5

Rose leaves the clinic and begins spreading the rabies as she takes the blood of one victim after another. Martial Law gets declared in Montreal as the rabies zombie army begins to grow. There’s a rather tragic scene of a police officer gunning down one of the infected in a mall, and a mall Santa Claus gets caught in the crossfire.

Rabies ruin Christmas.

Rabid 2

I don’t think this is going to end up well for anyone. Anyway, Rabid is a good little body horror/zombie movie from the late 70s. It’s no Dawn of the Dead, but this will keep your attention on a Saturday night.

Pray for David Cronenberg, though.


Jeffrey Shuster 1

Photo by Leslie Salas.

Jeff Shuster (episode 47episode 102episode 124episode 131, and episode 284) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.

Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #53: The End of the End of the World

Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #53 by Drew Barth

The End of the End of the World

It’s 2020. The end of the world feels like it’s breathing down our necks. Let’s assuage those feelings by talking about a different end of the world: East of West. I’ve talked about the series early last year. Begun in 2013 by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Dragotta, East of West was one of those staple Image series. From its impeccable world-building of an America ruled by an apocalypse cult to its characters built so well they could each head their own solo series, East of West was one of the best series Hickman released in the last decade.

ew1

How do you talk about the end of a series that has been building toward the end of the world?

In Hickman and Dragotta’s world, the Four Horsemen walk among the people and one of them has a kid. This creates the main driving force at the core of East of West—three of those horsemen will drag the world, kicking and screaming, into the apocalypse while one wishes to prevent it. Ironically, that horseman is Death. And Death is our main focus throughout the series. The close of the story comes with the death of Death and the end of the apocalypse.

 

ew3

What makes Hickman and Dragotta’s apocalypse story so unique is the lack of the apocalypse. Nigh every leader in this America has been chosen by the Message—a series of texts that prophesied the end of the world—to deliver the apocalypse to their world. But in their efforts to do so, these characters only bring about an end to themselves. The Message is like a textual cancer—infecting, spreading, and decimating everything in its path. But the Message is indiscriminate in its destruction as everything dies around it. Until it is stopped. And it is stopped simply by not following it. Veering from the road map to the end times means that end never comes.

ew2

An apocalypse built on the backs of hope is what East of West delivers in its final moments. And its hope is not something brought about by some grand power, but by the people who would have to live out the end times if they had truly arrived. As an ending, it feels especially poignant walking into this new decade, but that feels like what we need from the end of the world—hope. Thousands die over the course of East of West and the world is basically teetering on the brink of complete oblivion, but the idea that it can be brought back, that the teetering doesn’t have to tip over the edge, means they didn’t die for the apocalypse. That idea of hope and change and turning the world around through the efforts of people is what is going to make Hickman and Dragotta’s story so poignant well into the future.

Get excited. Stop the end.


drew-barth-mbfi

Drew Barth (Episode 331) is a writer residing in Winter Park, FL. He received his MFA from the University of Central Florida. Right now, he’s worrying about his cat.

Episode 401: Steve Almond and Carolyn Forché!

Episode 401 of The Drunken Odyssey, your favorite podcast about creative writing and literature is available on Apple podcastsstitcher, spotify, or click here to stream (right click to download, if that’s your thing.)

This week, I offer another round of conversations from Miami Book Fair International, in which I talk to Steve Almond about his favorite novel, Stoner by John Williams,

Steve Almond

plus I speak with poet Carolyn Forché about her memoir, All You Have Heard is True.

Carolyn_Forché_NBCC_2011_Shankbone.jpg

TEXTS DICSUSSED

Stoner

What You Have Heard is True

NOTES

This episode is sponsored by the excellent people at Scribophile.

Scribophile

TDO Listeners can get 20% of a premium subscription to Scribophile. After using the above link to register for a basic account, go here while still logged in to upgrade the account with the discount.

Please help decide TDO’s future by filling out this 3-minute survey.

Check out my literary adventure novel, Guy Psycho and the Ziggurat of Shame.

Guy Psycho and the Ziggurat of Shame Cover

Episode 401 of The Drunken Odyssey, your favorite podcast about creative writing and literature is available on Apple podcastsstitcher, spotify, or click here to stream (right click to download, if that’s your thing.)

The Curator of Schlock #305: It’s Alive

The Curator of Schlock #305 by Jeff Shuster

It’s Alive

There’s only one thing wrong with the Davis baby: it’s alive. 

How ‘bout that Babu Frik? Okay. I’ve got nothing to talk about. It’s a new year and a new decade and why do I get the feeling that this decade will not be as much fun as the Roaring Twenties? Certainly, this year’s offerings from Hollywood don’t exactly pique my interest. Untitled Universal Event Film? What is that? Was Cats the Untitled Universal Event Film of 2019? Oh, I will be covering that at some point, but I will not be paying money for that nonsense. In the meantime, let’s ignore our current era and look to the past for cinematic goodness.

alive1

Tonight’s movie is 1974’s It’s Alive from director Larry Cohen. The movie centers on the Davis family and the troubles that result from the little bundle of joy they are expecting. Frank Davis (John P. Ryan) and his wife, Lenore (Sharon Ferrell), drop their son, Chris (Daniel Holzman), off with a family friend because Lenore is about to have a baby. At the hospital, Frank hangs out in the waiting room for a few hours while his wife and the doctors contend with the fact that she’s about to give birth to a mutant.

alive2

Seriously, the baby has claws and fangs and manages to tear apart half of the hospital staff before going into hiding. Naturally, Mr. Davis is none too pleased that the hospital staff lost his newborn son, but maybe that had something to do with them bleeding out.

The news media leaks that it was the Davis family that brought a killer, mutant baby into the world. Frank works as a publicist for an advertising film, but they’re hoping he’ll take his vacation days during this difficult time for all concerned. By taking his vacation, they really mean that he’s fired. Clients don’t want the father of the killer mutant baby in charge of their publicity. They can be touchy that way. Frank doesn’t let his son, Chris, back home. He tells him the baby is sick. Fortunately, Chris didn’t hear the news about the killer, mutant baby.

I think it’s alluded to that a pharmaceutical company may be responsible for the mutated pregnancy. And some scientists offer to pay one hundred thousand dollars to the Davis family for the rights to experiment on their killer mutant baby. Frank Davis accepts their offer. Can you blame him?

alive3 (1)

I know many of you out there would love your baby boy no matter how many people he killed and ate.

Yes, I think this kid is taking chunks out of his victims.

Waste not, want not.

Frank begins noticing some unusual behavior from his wife, Lenore. Seems she’s having the milkman drop off a few extra bottles of milk than usual. And the fridge is stuffed with lots meat she must have picked up from the butcher shop. I bet she’s planning a barbeque for the neighborhood. I guess all that milk is for some homemade ice cream she’s going to make. It couldn’t possible mean that the killer mutant baby is inside their house and she’s feeding the damned thing.

alive4 (1)

It’s Alive will end in tears (as if it could end any other way). But it’s got a killer mutant baby in it. That’s well worth your time.

So how ‘bout that Zorii Bliss?


Jeffrey Shuster 3

Photo by Leslie Salas.

Jeff Shuster (episode 47episode 102episode 124episode 131, and episode 284) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.

Aesthetic Drift #24: On Steven Moffat’s Dracula

Tags

, , ,

Aesthetic Drift #24 by Michael W. Merriam

On Steven Moffat’s Dracula

I often resent television. I feel better compensated for my time when I listen to audio drama or read books. When I saw there was a new Dracula series on Netflix, I knew I’d only want to see it if somehow Steven Moffat had written it.

 

In Dracula, Bram Stoker gave the world a complex and cryptic masterpiece. The book is epistolary, a trunk full of letters and clues, and it’s only because it’s famous that we know it will amount to more than the sum of its parts. Though it has some clear plot points, many of its ideas are hard to detect, and much of what passes for its story are assumptions. The “story” inside it is something the reader must make up for himself. To read it is to re-invent it, on the fly.

Dracula

Steven Moffat’s stock in trade is re-invention. His genius is in not in stories, but in his take on them. The first scene of his Dracula re-writes the novel in a weirdly faithful way: the wooden stakes we see in Sister Agatha’s bag before she starts her interview,  her hilarious false-interest in Dracula’s sex life, and her rant about God (similar to one given by a sister in Don DeLilo’s White Noise) make the script literate without being literary. This marks the divergence between the subversive and the simply dumb.

dracula netflix review

Moffat rarely settles for a cheap surprise, always holding out for true subversion that makes story twists satisfying. The subversions of this Dracula are so deft and pleasantly startling, the script feels like a promising early work, one left sitting in Moffat’s desk since before his exhaustion at the hands of Doctor Who. Even so, this new Dracula (while very good) is not quite intricate enough to demand a re-watch. As the novel was a bit of a puzzle, I found that disappointing.

The show’s only bad moments involve the villain’s wise-cracks, marred with anachronistic turns of phrase.  It’s tempting to blame Gatiss’s writing, but the same dialogue-landmines were everywhere in Moffat’s Jekyll, so he must shares the blame. Quipping villains (traditionally) help us sympathize with the devil, and at their best they’re like one of William Blake’s Proverbs From Hell: “Excess of sorrow laughs, excess of joy weeps.” Maybe a dim memory of that explains why critics still consider sympathetic villains a sign of excellent writing. That and some nostalgia for Byronic darkness might be why otherwise good writers cram wit into their villains’ mouths. Stoker would not have approved, since his novel’s theme was that mankind is already, by its nature, sympathetic to evil; Stoker’s art shows us why we shouldn’t be. This show abandons that theme, which is why it sometimes lacks daring.

Bram_Stoker_1906

Bram Stoker in 1906.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula was written just as the first rays of 20th century prose threatened the deathless clichés of the 19th. In Dracula, handwritten letters are full of misunderstandings and pompous mistakes, while practical, typewritten ones actually help the good guys win. It’s a book about how an ancient monster was ultimately no match for incredible new wonders of the age, like telephones, and women who can type. When the good guys win, it’s less like David killing Goliath and more like War of the Worlds, where ultimately, the germs of our planet took the alien invaders down. Dracula was not a story of heroic victory, until the reader accepted that true heroism lay in careful, sharp perception. That insight drives the humor, horror, and surprises in the Gatiss / Moffat adaptation. It is absent from all others I’ve seen.

dracula Netflix

Deep faithfulness aside, the show betrays the book in exactly the right way, too: the show’s writing isn’t cryptic—it’s just clever in its exploration the original text.  Together, these episodes provide a grandly entertaining vision of the novel. If nothing else, their Dracula is a good way to enjoy the depth and suggestiveness of the old story.

If you feel you’d rather watch something else on Netflix, let me remind you: there’s a library near your house, and you should go there instead.


Michael Merriam

Michael Merriam is a writer and game designer based in Orlando, Florida. His work has been featured in the LA Review of Books, Time Out, The New Yorker, and World Literature Today, among other publications. He is the co-founder of Partly Wicked, a blog that explores escape rooms and other cryptic immersive media, and he teaches Writing for Games at Full Sail University.

Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #52: Tokyo Roommates

Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #52 by Drew Barth

Tokyo Roommates

The slice-of-life genre has become a staple of manga for decades now. Small stories on the incongruities and oddities of everyday living coupled with a hint of comedic absurdity has turned a genre that focuses on quieter moments into one of the most popular genres being published today. Take Hikaru Nakamura’s Saint Young Menas a staple of the genre. Begun in 2008 and available for the first time in English just this past December, Saint Young Men focuses on two friends leaving their homes to take a gap year in Tokyo. They celebrate Christmas, they struggle to pay rent, they visit amusement parks, and typically live an ordinary life in a small apartment together. And those two friends are Buddha and Jesus Christ.

sym1

It isn’t simply the divine cast that has made Saint Young Men such a popular series among fans, but rather the simple humanity of the series as well as Nakamura’s picturesque approach to storytelling and comedy. Many of the stories in this first volume deal with the mundane: having enough rent money after an extravagant purchase, beginning a new hobby, or visiting the local community swimming pool. Nakamura is the kind of artist that is able to dive deep into those simple moments and extract something essentially human about Buddha and Jesus having a small argument over how much money they’ve been spending. More than anything, these are two friends living together—they have their inconsiderate moments and they are able to work through their issues together as well.

sym2

Much of the comedy in the series as well stems from the clashing of these friend’s two personalities. Jesus is the impulsive one who will spend most of their money at the end of the month with rent coming due, while Buddha is much more level-headed, but still has his own moments of indignation. As the series progresses, a rapport between Jesus and Buddha develops and we see aspects of their personalities beginning to influence the other. Nakamura continually strikes a wonderful balance in the characters here: they maintain themselves as serialized comedic characters—never lapsing into easy tropes—but still showing aspects of growth throughout. Maintaining these characters over the years has been one of the main reasons why Saint Young Men has persisted as a favorite across the internet despite its limited availability.

sym3
Saint Young Men now joins a pantheon of manga that, after over a decade of publication, is finally available for western readers to read legally. Coupled with the recent translations of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable, many fan favorite series are finally seeing official releases from publishers like Viz Media and Kodansha USA and this can only be a good thing as the decade continues. There are still dozens of series that have yet to receive official, published releases, but hopefully Saint Young Men is only the beginning to more fantastic manga into eager reader’s hands.

Get excited. Pick up something fun.


drew-barth-mbfi

Drew Barth (Episode 331) is a writer residing in Winter Park, FL. He received his MFA from the University of Central Florida. Right now, he’s worrying about his cat.

Method to Madness

Check out this wonderful writing space.

Mastery Journal

For those of you who may not know this already… I’ve spent the past few years writing fulltime in a yurt.

For complete clarity (and because some people just don’t know) Merriam-Webster defines a yurt as a circular domed tent of skins or felt stretched over a collapsible lattice framework and used by pastoral peoples of inner Asia.

Now, why in the hell would any respectable writer want to spend her days inside of a yurt? And, what’s it like inside?

Well, I’ll tell you… Here’s a peek inside the yurt and the method to my madness.

View original post