“Hacking forward from the back/leave the other one attached/an ugly fleshy flap”

Caspar of Antonisea was given a choice: either watch his great love, Annarelis, sentenced to death by a thousand insects for sheltering dissidents and in turn meet his own doom, or to join the temple of Zoroaster and become a priest, bound by oath to give fielty to the Emperor until death took him.

Dirty bugger chose to watch.

He watched as his love was devoured by the hungry insects, as her sweet, white flesh crumbled under the mandibles of the ranked mantii. He watched and knew that, though his own was yet to come, this was the death worth living for. Her ruby lips parted in exquisite screams; slashes of crimson staining the yogic lotus of her thighs; chained to the rocks, a pentacle of welcoming infinity; howling love born from corruption. Insanity’s anal vortex. The end of all songs.

On his desk, while he was working on his masterpiece, ‘The Story of the Eye’, Renegade Surrealist and philosopher Georges Battaille kept a photo. The photo showed a young Asian man, lashed to a post, already part eviscerated by torture. His arms were gone, as was half of his left leg. His torso was mostly missing: strips of skin hanging off, revealing the ribcage and sinew; the bleeding corruption of the heart and lungs atrophying under a far-eastern sun. But what fascinated Georges was the young man’s face. For in that howl of agony and misgiving, that comical, twisted clowns grimace, was an ecstasy beyond love and pain. A truth screamed into the only night that never ends. True freedom.

Suehiro Maruo is a Japanese comic book writer and illustrator.

You geeks may well have heard the term ‘Ero-Guru‘. It’s a short hand for “those crazy nips.” It means ‘Urotsukidoji: Legend of the Overfiend’; ‘Sailor Moon’ girls raped by dripping tentacles; malevolent cartoon fantasies bought to four-colour life by cackling yellow men in bottle top spectacles. It’s dirty panty vending machines and groping on bullet trains; hyper-expensive drinks and Fu-Manchu; Cities built on fault lines that hide Cthuloid entities; something thousand of miles away and yet so close that it sings to us in our sleep. The Yellow Peril. The qlipothic slime that broils underneath our superheros and Deep Space Nines. The dark that sings in the nerd soul. It’s ‘Fist of the North Star’ and ‘ Ninja Scroll’; that poor, beautiful girl being liquidized in ‘Akira’ and ‘Ichii the Killer’. “Ero-guru…”, we think, smugly, “…those japs are mental.”

We sit, we watch, we detach. We grow up.

Suehiro Maruo is a Japanese comic book writer and illustrator.

He’s too young to be a hippy and too old to be a punk. He wears dark glasses for every, rare, photo and sits in a room decorated with yellowed film posters and obscene marionettes. He dreams of train tracks and vulture penises; degradation and glory; rocks that become men that become foxes that become hunched, singing insects. He dreams new nightmares in the same way you and I dream about being naked in public or our friends that don’t look like our friends but we know they’re our friends anyway.

ultra gash inferno

He’s had books translated and published in English: ‘Mr Arashi’s Amazing Freak Show’, the starlit end of hope that is ‘Ultra-Gash Inferno.’ In these, human nature is revealed as a black and white lunge for love; for the final obliterating ecstascia of the orgasm: the shattering fuck that propels his protagonists out of earth atmosphere and back to the comforting silt of true beginnings, where passion is free to breed again. Man becomes monster, violates love and reaches shattering absolution. All black and white and rendered like a reverse Beardsley. Speed and decay are the keys to this terrible, strange world. The door back out, the door back to our world, is occulted.

Blinded lovers grope toward each other, forearms missing; Hiroshima heat-haze hovers over amputee ghosts; Mothers eat their sons.

There is love here. A love so powerful it would send you blinded into the arms of an amputee; make you vanish into a floorboard; kill your own parents with a hammer. Tongues caress eyeballs; eyeballs hide in cunts. Blaise Cendrars once saw the entire of humanity’s destiny in a crab shaped like a fossilised anus. Maruo presents a love Cendrars would understand. This love whips us like a sudden wind and reminds us of time and space and our wretched, stuttering lot. Rot and shit and broken promises, yes. But fire, also. The kind of fire that could make you lift a car off the broken body of your beloved or, legless and armless, grab on to the hem of a skirt with your teeth. A selfish love, driving you to the superhuman. That selfish love that drives you to the the monstrous.

There is horror too. Dwarf drummers sit upon axis of whirling knives; crows fly too damn low; insects turn fruit to pulp; seasons change. We gaze at Maruo’s art as we gaze at ourselves. Hairlines shrink; smooth white hands become claws; our partners wither before our eyes. Freakshow humanity rolls into the mirror and we recoil then gaze from between our fingers. Fascination pins us to degradation. Inescapable and complete. The screams of a lover in pain bring the knowledge that love isn’t enough. We pounce on escapes like injured panthers: our comics, our films, our stupid fucking excuses. Our youth.

Where neither horror nor love triumph you will find beauty. For Maruo, blood is a dancer. Like some beserker Issey Miyake, he arranges his viscera into parabolas that shriek hidden wonder. Arcs of blood become hieroglyphs spelling the seven hidden names; schoolgirls arrange their masturbating bodies into occult symbols; boy, girl, boy, all plunge into a clifftop infinity. Hell in a handcart. His lines are filled with the sentient jism of the black centipede: strong and sensual. A girl crushes a grape between her teeth. All hell breaks loose. The overipe cliches of The Emperor’s Japan are hacked into sushi. Geishas faces evaporate into screaming hawks; soldiers with melted faces gaze through unseeing eyes the size and colour of harvest moons; fathers don’t come back from war.

This isn’t a dare or a pissing competition, and I’m no giggling schoolboy. I haven’t hawked up wads of disgust just to spit them at your nice new shoes. There is something here, something eternal, that you need to see. It’s ugliness and loyalty and terror and morality and it’s you and it’s me. It’s funny and desperate; sly and innocent. It screams in pain and, from the same twisted mouth, worships beauty. Spits, swears and softly whines “I love you.” It’s not an atomic beast, born from a polluted ocean a thousand miles away, or a hilarious, sadistic gameshow, fit to be mocked by thatch headed idiots. Rather, it is about you, now. And I can’t wait for you to see it.


24 Responses to “The dread divinity of Suehiro Maruo”

  1. Juan Arteaga Says:

    I accidentally got into Maruo’s work. I saw this book that looked like a horror manga, and me being a big fan of Junji Ito… so I bought this thing expecting something not unlike Ito. The whole book was about a teenager being turned into a vampire by an old pervert vampire woman. The boy then turns a girl into a vampire and they both go and kill a clown who had raped the girls a while before, and then it’s Natural Born Killers with vampires. I immediately went back and bought the other Maruo books I could find before someone noticed what the hell they were selling and put them out of circulation. And the teenage vampires paled in comparison with Midori, the story of a small girl living with a circus, and by “living” I mean gang raped and tortured. The high(low?) point of Midori was the story about Midori finding a puppy, and then the rest of the circus people killing it and cooking it because they wanted meat.

    There is no plot, maybe there isn’t a point, the only thing there is here is Maruo.

  2. Jog Says:

    Such a shame that none of this fine chap’s funnies are currently in print in North America. Planet of the Jap (from the Blast Books anthology Comics Underground Japan) is one of my favorite short comics, just impossibly vicious and droll and lavish. Mr Arashi’s Amazing Freak Show actually IS Midori, btw; the NA release got a fresh title. Good luck finding anything today.

    Although that vampire book (The Laughing Vampire) would be a great way to reintroduce Maruo to English-only readers… it’s like a Jean Rollin film as a comic, and not in the shitty way!

  3. Zom Says:

    There’s some great writing here

    A love so powerful it would send you blinded into the arms of an amputee; make you vanish into a floorboard; kill your own parents with a hammer.

  4. The Beast Must Die! Says:

    I picked up a copy of ‘Mr Arashi’ in my local comic shop a while back, alongside Hino’s ‘Hell Baby’. Very beautiful composition and delicately grotesque linework. There’s one particular sex scene between the circus freaks that is beautifully rendered.
    Good stuff. It’s quite unusual, in that it’s closer to an art book than manga – it lacks the fluidity and kineticism of a lot of of Japanese comics.

  5. sergioamorim Says:

    I only know your blog since three weeks ago and I’ve already discovered Druillet, Perry Bible’s Fellowship, Jim Woodring’s Jack and now I know that fucking tentacle aliens hentai actually comes from an artistic tradition.

    Thanks a lot for helping me broadening my perspectives guys. And all that with amazing texts (well except this one which was over-the-top but too pompous for my taste).

  6. Zom Says:

    Happy to be of service

  7. lord nuneaton savage Says:

    Pompous yerself.

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