“Reality counts for a lot.”
Despite the label on the cover (A Geek’s Diet Memoir), Sayonara, Mr. Fatty! is not a “diet book”. If anything, it’s an anti-diet book, much as Walker Percy’s Lost in the Cosmos was an anti-self-help book. The latter was designed to make you laugh at the absurdity of expecting someone else to be able to tell you who and what you are; the former lets you realize that dieting in the abstract is not going to help you lose and keep off weight. It’s an anti-gluttony book, a guide for waking yourself up and making you realize that you are best equipped to carry out your own self-destruction.
Maybe that sounds a bit over-the-top, but if the events of the last decade or so — financial, political, ecological — have taught us anything, it’s that our biggest problem as a species is that we think we want things we simply don’t need. We eat too much, we spend too much, we gobble up far more than our slice of the pie — and we condition ourselves to not even notice any of it. It’s this last part that’s the most damaging, because it allows us to go right back out and start all over again with no thought to the consequences. Toshio Okada’s book is about getting off this thoughtless Möbius strip treadmill of consumption, and the fact that it’s in the guise of a personable, friendly, you-can-do-it-too guide makes it all the better. It’s not a frothing condemnation of the Consumer Culture, but a DIY guide to picking the locks on your jail cell.Read more
A while back I wrote a review of an animated feature from Japan — Tarō the Dragon Boy — where I said something along these lines: “You could watch this just for the nostalgia value, but that would be a mistake.” The same goes for Roger Leloup’s Yoko Tsuno series. Its design and storytelling harkens back to the days of Tintin and Johnny Quest, but it has far more than retro flair going for it. It’s one you get for your kids, and then you end up reading yourself out of sheer affection for it.
History lesson. Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, the word manga was not in the dictionary (let alone on the bestseller lists) and what most people knew about Japan was mostly confined to the business or cooking pages of the newspaper, I was still working through my bandes dessinés phase and devouring everything in sight since there was so infuriatingly little of it to begin with. Mom had given my brother and I copies of Tintin to keep us busy during a transatlantic flight (circa 1978), and after that I was hooked. I borrowed copies of the rest of the series from the library, got hooked on Astérix in the process, graduated to the likes of Heavy Metal and Epic, and added tomes by Enki Bilal (Nikopol) and Juan Gimenez (A Matter of Time) to my permanent collection.
And along the way, I stumbled across something called The Adventures of Yoko, Vic and Paul from the same publishers as Bilal and Gimenez (the now-defunct Catalan Communications). Yoko was a Japanese teenager who lived in Belgium and “worked in television”, and along with her two friends — Vic the competent straight man, Paul the comic relief — she got into any number of adventures that ranged from Nancy Drew-style mystery to wild and wooly SF in the “let’s go to far-off worlds but we need to be back in time for dinner” vein. Of course I dug it, and not just because Yoko was cute. And now the good folks at Cinebook have picked up the rights to Yoko, letting me pick up where I left off all those years ago and not forcing me to go read the darn things in French after all. Read more