Same Hat plays with your head

Suppose Salvador Dali and M.C. Escher decided to do a manga.

The result might be something like the work of Shintaro Kago currently up at Same Hat! Same Hat!!

Your hosts, Ryan and Evan, specialize in offbeat manga, and most of what they post is either absurdist four-panel strips or the not-for-the-squeamish genre known as ero-guro (as in erotic-grotesque).

Everything on Same Hat is something you will never see anywhere else, but recently Ryan and Evan have found a few comics that are artier and at the same time more accessible than much of their other material. So if you haven’t stopped in already, now would be a good time to take a look.

A few preliminaries: While these comics aren’t as gory as the usual ero-guro fare, there is some sex, scatology, and blood in them, enough to make them not safe for work or kids. Also, the comics are in their original format so they read right to left. OK, here we go.

The two 16-page comics by Shintaro Kago really stretch the medium to its limits. Abstraction starts out like any other comic, but then the page becomes a three-dimensional prism and all sorts of weirdness starts to happen. It just sort of deconstructs, and the pieces start interacting with one another, and someone drives a bus through the whole thing.

Blow-up is a manga spin on those movies you saw in grade school where the camera zooms in on something until you can see the atoms and the quarks, then zooms out again until you see the whole universe. Only this one is much, much cooler, with a semi-surprise ending.

Both these comics were translated by the Italian scanlator Anonymous K; Same Hat is just hosting them. Ryan and Evan do their own scanlations as well, and they just put up a new one that isn’t mind-bending, just strange. The Young Bandit, by Yoshida Sensha, combines baseball and banditry in a truly unusual fashion. The story itself is told in a flat and almost formulaic way, and the art is not going to win any awards. It’s the sheer dementedness of the plot and the characters that make it interesting; it’s like a parody of every shonen manga ever written.

The interface for the Shintaro Kago comics is a bit clumsy—you have to click on a link for each page, and it’s easy to lose track of where you are. However, Ryan and Evan seem to have a basic webcomics reader up for the Sensha piece, with “back” and “next” buttons, which makes the reading easier.

These three comics are short, mind-bending, and have little commercial potential, so you’re not likely to see them in print, ever. So click on over, because it would be a shame to miss them.

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