Comic Review: Oh God, My Eyes! Ultra Gash Inferno by Suehiro Maruo
Review by Comix
Have you ever thought to yourself, ‘I wonder what the Japanese equivalent of A Serbian Film is?’ Well wonder no more, my friends, because your fearless comic reviewer has braved the wilderness of the bizarre and grotesque to bring you a comic work of unbridled fucked-uppiness called Ultra-Gash Inferno. I’m going to level with you here, I’ve read a LOT of comics, especially horror comics. I’ve delved deep into the illustrated word, constantly looking for that next good comic and the next good scare. Ultra-Gash Inferno is by far the most messed up comic that I’ve ever read. Remember how people said that A Serbian Film was not a movie, because it was not made to entertain you? Well this book does not entertain. It just messes your head up.
Ultra-Gash Inferno is a collection of nine short comics illustrated by Suehiro Maruo, the current heavy-weight champ of horror comics in Japan. All the stories are set in post WWII Japan after the US occupation, and all play around the idea of Japan re-building its country and beliefs from pre- to post-war ideals. Soldiers coming home and losing their shit, a woman and a kid ferreting a dead child back and forth, and food survival after the war are just some of the happy, go-go tales you will read. There’s even the quintessential schoolgirls who get messed up beyond sanity. Exquisitely drawn and finely detailed, these short stories will remain with you for a long time.
The artist and writer, Suehiro Maruo, is one of the greats of Japanese horror. His comic work had become iconic with a horror phenomenon known as erotic-grotesque or simply, ero-guro. He has inspired an entire generation of horror artists to break away from conventional horror and go straight BANANAS on the paper. All that messed up, underground Japanese art you’re too afraid to look at? He helped make that happen. But don’t mistake all his art with the demented crap you find accidentally online; his work has great balance of horror and sympathy that a lot of those comics, though trying to copy, are missing. He isn’t in it just for the shock value (which it has) but to remind you that, at the core of us all, a monster hides so deep down that only the horrors of war and trauma could possibly bring it out. Ultra-Gash Inferno is that straight brick to the head that says that someone, somewhere has faced those demons down.
The art of Ultra-Gash Inferno, hell, the art of Maruo himself is so completely detailed and beautiful that you sometimes forget you’re reading a horror comic. He delves deeply into old style muzan-e art (old Japanese block prints that depict violence and horror) and applies this careful detail to freaks, oddities, and torture scenes from more modern times. Each page is a panorama of fear and destruction in full artistic precision so you don’t miss a single cut, fabric wrinkle, or cry of shock from the characters. I love his art: I think it’s the one of the most amazing examples of modern horror art that doesn’t get a lot of recognition this side of the ocean. Even if you don’t care for comics but like good artwork, check this noise out. It’ll blow you away.
Ultra-Gash Inferno is one of only two books of Suehiro Maruo’s work that has gotten translated into English. The other is Mr. Arashi’s Amazing Freakshow, which follows the story of a girl working in a circus who has to deal with the monstrous jealousies of her fellow workers. Both of the works are near impossible to find in stores, but Amazon has both pretty regularly in stock. Ultra-Gash Inferno is the cheaper one available right now, going for under $20 online. Now, rumor has it that there’s going to be another comic translated sometime soon called The Strange Tale of Panorama Island, but it keeps getting pushed back, so I don’t know what’s going on with that. Either way, go pick up this comic and add it to the collection. Just make sure the family doesn’t see this one.