Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Vertigo Pop Tokyo 1 page 13

Now that the reprint of Vertigo Pop Tokyo (together with another of the Vertigo Pop series set in Bangkok) has come out, I will post some scans from it that I found recently.
Unfortunately this scan is not clear enough to read the text easily. But the image is not too bad, and so we'll do our best with what we have.

Seth's buildings always look like actual buildings that--if you took this page with you and wandered around Tokyo long enough--you could in fact locate. I am not sure that they are real, but he meant for the background to look like Tokyo and nowhere else.

In this series, the elements of Japanese life that a foreigner would be confounded by are exaggerated, but without pointing at the exaggeration. For example, there are six policemen on hand to confront Steve, an absurd number of men to handle what is most certainly something routine and harmless. Isn't there any real crime in Tokyo?

The large upper panel is shown from the point of view of a passer-by, an overview that lets us take in the scene, meet the major players, but not be involved. The three small square center panels are: 1) looking down from a window in the building, 2) looking up from below at the marquee above Steve's head, and 3) a close-up of the contents of Steve's wallet. The center one I want to talk about. It is the sort of illustration that you can use in a comic book, where there are many pictures, but you couldn't use very well as a major illustration. It has the feel of a movie, where the camera rolls around taking in the details of the scene while people are talking about something else. KOBAN is a Japanese police box, where three or four policemen stand watch in rotation.

Another interesting thing about this page is the lower right square where Steve is peering out at us, utterly bewildered by what is happening and why. Even with the stylized, cartoonish faces that Seth has used in this series, we sense Steve's confusion and aloneness here. No background, his little square separated from everything else on the page, and the toothy policeman holding up the evidence of his crime, his telephone card(?). Can that be a crime?

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