Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Samurai Champloo

Mugan is an undisciplined, unpredictable, and seemingly unstoppable manic swordsman on the lookout for somebody, anybody, who can challenge is wild style of erratic hack and slash fighting. Jin is a mature and schooled ronin, trained in the martial arts, and seemingly invincible, wandering the country also searching for a worthy opponent. The two coincidentally meet in a fiery conflict at the heart of a burning teahouse, they are thrown into a power struggle that leads to them being captured by a greedy corrupt governor. Heads on the chopping block, and still defiant, the pair are rescued by the efforts of Fuu, a teenage girl who worked at the aforementioned teahouse, who literally explodes to the rescue and assists their escape. The young girl then gambles on a coin toss to see if the two samurai will resume their duel, or accompany her on her quest to find the mysterious Samurai Who Smells of Sunflowers. She wins and the adventures begin.

There are 26 episodes of Samurai Champloo. The unlikely trio travels from Edo to Nagasaki, and along the way spend a lot of time distracted and involved in many adventures with as many unique and brilliantly designed characters. I like how the majority of the show, the story revolves around how hungry the main characters are, and that the catalyst of a lot of the conflicts they find themselves in is that they were just trying to find food, or make enough money to eat. Thematically, it’s a great device. The fundamental aspect of just basic survival that permeates this epic set in a world of changing times. There is a lot of good solid character building, as every now and then an episode will reveal just enough of a character’s past to placate even the most hard nosed critic, and add to the familiarity of the three as they travel with and learn to depend on each other. There are a couple episodes that revolve around just one of the main characters, which helps to develop the plot through their own perspective and adds to the overall density of the world this piece is about. Then, there are just good old fun episodes that have a fairly self-contained story presented and realized that often exhibits and examines some specific piece of culture that is unique to that time and place. There is an episode about a Baseball game that was pretty funny, and an episode about a group of secret monks that had a giant pot field that Mugen set on fire, and everybody got high. There are even episodes that have elements that revolve around specific aspects of hip hop culture that is completely unrealistic, but still amazingly fun. For instance Mugen’s style of fighting had a lot of break dance moves, or there was an episode about graffiti writers in this one province. This series barrowed heavily from modern hip hop, and it’s core ideals.

The thing about Samurai Champloo that makes it so amazing isn’t necessarily the amalgamation of hip hop elements and Edo Era Japanese culture revolving around Samurai, but that these ideas, among many others, serve as ultra-cool decoration and dressing for a deeper, more philosophical journey story that follows three unique and enthralling characters as they search for, and ultimately find, what they’ve always lacked: friends.

Sunday, February 19, 2006


EVOLUTION REVOLUTION from Troy, NY apparently puts on a show involving maybe animals playing groove laden dance music. They're playing at the Inside Outside Gallery here in Cleveland on Thursday March 9th at 7pm, it's an early show because the Gallery isn't soundproofed and there are babies trying to sleep at night. Check out this wicked weird video of them. Dude named Wasco set this up. Wasco is one of those soldiers that has been in the trenches longer than most and has mastered many valuable combat skill. His House is Slow Toe, which puts out records and publishes poetry, throws down magnafied reflections of America through Cleveland. I like that motherfucker. I keep meaning to ask him to collaborate on some zine type shit, but I always forget. Someday our creative paths will collide. The Inside Outside is really the best thing going in Cleveland right now, especially for completely DIY live music. It's young and smart and fun and comfortable. My band, Wheelchair RIOT, will be playing there on May 20th with Wasco's band Scarcity of Tanks. Pengo from Rochester and Lambsbread from Delaware, OH are also playing. It's a saturday night, so wear your fancy shoes. I've got a really phatt sketch dump to post, but i'm still writing all the words that go with it. Check back DAILY.

Sunday, February 12, 2006


Early Man is Metal as all hell. I don't really know much about them, but i'm pretty sure they're from NYC. The band that I really want to see is The Sword. their website is www.swordofdoom.com, which also happens to be the name of a really fucking good Samurai movie from 1966. The Sword of Doom is about this sociopath samurai that has no honor and kills using an unorthodox technique. I'll spare you the plot, as it is long and has many threads, but the gist of it is that this Samurai with no honor, also loses his mind. This film has some seriously amazing sword fights, both intense as all hell, and exciting. There's a steady cam sequence where the villain walks down a forest path and slays about 30 adversaries. There's also a bad ass sequence where Toshiro Mifune chops apart maybe as many assassins in a snow storm. SPOILER WARNING: In the end he goes completely insane, surrounded by the ghosts of all of his victims, he attempts to kill them with his sword but ends up having to battle a group of assassins he himself was associated with. That's pretty much where I got the idea for this flyer.SPOILER WARNING OVER. It's really quite a remarkable movie. I have no idea if that is where the band got their name, but it will be interesting to find out when the play here.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Beef Dealers

I don't really know much about any of these bands, except The Subtones, who... is it my imagination or do they play like, every week? Anyway, I liked not knowing the bands because I like not having any preconceived stylistic leanings going into this flyer. Sometimes if I know a band is a metal band, or a hardcore band I’ll get the urge to do something genre specific, or on the other hand try and do something completely opposite from what anybody would expect from a flyer for that particular band. Either way, the art is influenced by the genre of the bands playing, which isn’t a bad thing at all. It’s just something I consider. The one thing I definitely did not want to do was anything having to do with “beef” as in “meat” or “cows”. Doing a literal graphic for a band has a time and place, but it usually just exemplifies a complete and total lack of any creativity or imagination on behalf of the artist. I’ve been guilty of it in the past, but at this stage in my “career”, if I’m going to reference a word from a band’s name, it had better be funny as hell.

I just decided to run with a visual image I've had in mind for a long time. I wanted to use this for a Skullface thing, but I think this works a lot better. I had this idea for a guy sitting on a pile of bodies with a machine gun propped on his shoulder and straps of bullets hanging all over him. I didn't really even intend to make it an insurgent type guy until I had roughed it out, and it just sort of became that. It was only after the fact, after I was done with the final art, that I realized in a certain context this could apply to the term “beef”, as in “conflict” or “a grudge”. What could possibly be a more profound statement than art depicting the current beef in the Middle East, and more specifically, in Iraq? On a more general scope, the conflict between The Western World and The Middle East? I highly doubt The Beef Dealers, as a band, had this in mind when they named themselves, and I really didn’t derive this meaning from their name to come up with this piece, but it is kind of universal, I suppose.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Night Jaunts #3

Unprovoked, a copy of Night Jaunts #3 showed up in my mailbox. I love when that kinda shit happens. The zine is a collection of short pieces from a range of authors from all over the place but mostly from the American Northwest. Which makes sense being that the publisher is apparently in Eugene, Oregon. Night Jaunts starts off with a handful of pages about skateboarding and stone vengeful thievery. I’m assuming the publisher wrote these because there is no credit with the title. Then there is a short piece by my dude Danny, who moved out to Seattle. It’s about some familiar haunts and beer at state minimum. Of the others there’s a piece about adventures on the day Wesley Willis died, and this entertaining short about the author, Burke, ending up having to get a tetanus shot on his 22nd birthday. The other stories revolve around introspective walking, alone, at night. Night Jaunts.

To order this zine, which I recommend you do, send $2 to PO Box 5841 Eugene, OR 97405 or email mishapzine at yahoo dot com

I’d also like to mention that my latest zine, The Caveman Diaries #3 is available. It’s $5 plus postage because it’s over 40 pages of flyer art, xerox art, sketches, ramblings, bullshit, more art, and a full nasty color centerfold.

I've created a Paypal button, so if you want to pay via paypal, you can just click on it. It will add $1.50 for shipping though, so be ready with the $6.50... Yeah, expensive, but most people will charge more than that for shipping, and I'll send this shit anywhere on Earth. Sorry Martians. If you would like to send me a check or money order (payeble to John Greiner) or well concealed cash, please mail it to John G 373 Lear #52 Avon Lake, OH 44012.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Hook Boy

Mike Uva is a song writing mastermind. He traded his CD "Where have you been?" to me for a copy of my latest zine at the time, last summer. I ripped him off like the Hamburglar screamin out "Robble Robble 'n Shit". It was such an unfair trade. "Where have you been?" is a really well done tracks of folksy, at times pop, rock songs that range from the paths of Dinosaurs to Floridian exploits involving skin care products. I like it a lot, and feel kinda guilty all he got was a zine full of my bullshit. Do yourself a favor and head over to Mike's label's website: Collectible Escalators. They got MP3s n' shit. You can even ORDER THE CD.

I've been jonesin' for some crime noir lately. I even ordered a used copy of Bendis' GOLDFISH Graphic Novel off Amazon. I swear it's the sixth copy of that book I've bought. I keep loaning it out to people and never getting it back. I also started down the slippery slope of addiction to the HBO original series The Wire DVDs. I dunno how noir it is necessarily, but it's got s shit load of crime. I guess that's where this flyer's idea came from, that NEED for something dark and shady.

John G