Perpetually smiling and jokey, Kazuo Umezu seems to have cornered the market on “Where’s Waldo”-style red and white jerseys. He looks like a jovial dude, a little goofy, and more likely to tell a fart joke and giggle inapproprately than to plumb the macabre depths of emotions through haunting tales (unless fart jokes do that for you).
By contrast, Hideshi Hino looks like manga’s ichiban badass motherfucker.
Since the 1970s, these two mangaka have shaped the genre of horror in Japanese comics, and indirectly, Japanese and Western horror movies. Along with their love of terror, and degree of influence upon artists who followed them, Umezu and Hino also share a storytelling style that leans heavily on Japanese folklore, and an early grounding in comedic work.
With so much common ground between them, it’s their differences that make them compelling and fascinating subjects for comparison, even on a superficial level. For example, the two men could not appear more differently in public.
This Friday’s upcoming Iconographies feature will examine two seminal works by these artists, both of which were recently republished in the West: Umezu’s two-volume Cat-Eyed Boy, and Hino’s Lullabies From Hell.