Comics Lowdown: RIP Monkey Punch, Kazuo Koike

Plus: Bill Mantlo in need, halfway through ‘Saga,’ awards and more.

The manga community has lost two legends in April, as both Lupin III creator Monkey Punch and Lone Wolf & Cub co-creator Kazuo Koike have passed away. Both men died from pneumonia six days apart, and were once considered rivals when their respective manga ran in Weekly Manga Action magazine. They also worked together on the Secretary Bird manga mini-series that ran in the magazine in 1970.

Monkey Punch, whose real name was Kazuhito Kato, was 81 when he passed away. His most famous creation, Lupin III, started as a manga and was later adapted into six animated television series, eight animated feature films, two live-action feature films, two musicals and several video games. He passed away April 11.

In addition to Lone Wolf & Cub, Koike is also known for such titles as Lady Snowblood, Crying Freeman, Samurai Executioner and many other popular series. His work influenced many American creators, including Frank Miller, who drew covers for First Comics’ publication of the series. Koike also worked on a few western series, including a Hulk manga and an issue of X-Men Unlimited. He passed away April 17 at the age of 82.

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‘Ginseng Roots’ subscription box now available to preorder

Buy a subscription to Craig Thompson’s first serialized comic and receive a box for storing all 12 issues.

Craig Thompson’s first serialized comic book series arrives this summer, a 12-issue series called Ginseng Roots that tells the story of he and his brother weeding and harvesting ginseng root in Wisconsin when they were kids.

If you’re already committed to picking up all 12-issues, then the book’s publisher, Uncivilized Books, has a deal for you. Subscribe today, and you’ll receive a collectible box to store all 12 issues.

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Craig Thompson gears up for his first serialized comic

‘Ginseng Roots’ will explore Thompson’s childhood ‘weeding and harvesting ginseng’ in order to buy comic books.

Craig Thompson is best known for his long-form graphic novels, including Blankets, Habibi and other titles that regularly appear on year-end “best of” lists. But now the creator is turning his attention to “the form of the medium that imprinted itself on me and my little brother, Phil, as children.”

Coming next spring from Uncivilized Books is Ginseng Roots, a bi-monthly comic book about the creator and his brother growing up in Wisconsin.

“For a decade of our childhood, Phil and I toiled in Wisconsin farms,” Thompson wrote on his blog. “Weeding and harvesting GINSENG—an exotic medicinal herb that fetched huge profits in China—funded our youthful obsession with comic books. Comics in turn, allowed us to escape our rural, working class trappings.”

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Smash Pages Q&A: Noah Van Sciver

The creator of ‘Blammo’ and Fante Bukowski discusses his latest projects, ‘One Dirty Tree’ and ‘A Perfect Failure.’

Noah Van Sciver has had an incredibly successful and productive year. The cartoonist released a new issue of his comic Blammo, and three books of his are out from two publishers this fall. Uncivilized Press just released One Dirty Tree, a comics memoir about his childhood and the end of a relationship just as he was about to turn thirty. Fantagraphics is publishing A Perfect Failure: Fante Bukowski Three, which completes a trilogy of books about the annoying and hilarious talentless writer who named himself Fante Bukowski, and a sketchbook by Van Sciver, Constant Companion.

One Dirty Tree and A Perfect Failure are possibly Van Sciver’s best books, and he took some time out after recovering from con crud to discuss the books and his current project.

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