The subject of prostitution is a growing topic in this day and age, helped by the growing problem of illegal sex trafficking in certain countries. Modern media paints the topic of prostitution in a negative and bleak manner, whether displaying it in a modern setting or from a historical standpoint. Today’s subject, 2001’s Sakuran, shows prostitution from the latter’s setting during Japan’s Edo period.
Sakuran was originally published in Japan’s Evening magazine from 2001-2003, and later received a live-action movie adaptation in 2007. The manga was created by Moyoco Anno, wife of Hideaki Anno, best known for her magical girl series Sugar Sugar Rune. Additionally, Anno is well-known in Japan for her works aimed at an adult audience, such as Happy Mania and Hataraki Man, both of which received live-action TV drama adaptations.
During the ten plus years that I have been routinely reading comics in all of their forms, I came to a point where I figured that I knew the countries where most were created: the UK, Japan, France, America, and South Korea to a degree. That can be seen not only in the way comic readers name these comics from around the world (for instance the French word “tome” translates over to English as “volume”), but the way certain publishers are set up. Maybe these countries just have more visible comic industries then others? Who knows? In an odd example of what interests me, my interest was piqued when I found the Swiss comic (yet to add to my confusion, this thing was originally released in French), 2001’s Blue Pills.
Blue Pills is by Frederik Peeters, and in a sad bit of bio-writing, other titles like Pachyderme and Lupus that showcase his art style’s improvement have not been translated over here in the States. This, and the fact that he seems to be behind all of Blue Pills creation leaves this to be a rather short creator’s bio- a rare change of pace indeed.
Folk tales are considered a vital part of a region’s cultural heritage and tradition. North America is breaming with such stories: John Henry and his role as a hard working steel driver on nineteenth century train tracks, the Native American story of how the Earth was built atop a turtle’s back, and the one with the most statue-esk representation known as the axe welding Paul Bunyan. Comic book wise, Folk tale/folklore related material usually puts the image of the Fables series into mind. 2002’s Ancient Joe plots its own points when it comes to Cuban folk tales, grabbing my interest and making it my next review.
Ancient Joe was created by C. Scott Morse, known for titles like Spaghetti Western put out by Oni Press, The Barefoot Serpent released from Top Shelf, as well as the hard to find work Soulwind that got him nominated for an Eisner and Ignatz award. He is also credited under various roles for Pixar’s films and shorts as a storyboard and background artist.