San Francisco based artist, Junko Mizuno resides in a magical world populated by curvy women, odd circular men, cute fluffy creatures and lots of sex and drugs. Coupling the cute with the obscene is nothing new, but Mizuno has a way of combining charming and grotesque imagery that is all her own.
My first exposure to Mizuno’s unique brand of story telling happened when I found Pure Trance at a comic book story in North Carolina while I was on tour. I picked it up for my girlfriend at the time, but ended up reading it and had to snag my own copy. The story she told was so dark and so full superficial and evil characters that I found it impossible not to love. And of course, Mizuno’s art is nothing short of perfect.
But rather than go on about Pure Trance (which I could do for days–it’s rad!) I wanna talk about her more recent graphic novel, Little Fluffy Gigolo Pelu. Previous Mizuno graphic novels have all been based on other sources: she did a series of fairy tale retellings published by viz, and Pure Trance is somehow based on a trance music compilation of the same name. LFGP is based on nothing but the twisted inner workings of Mizuno’s mind, and the result her most interesting and cohesive story to date.
The basic plot is as follows: Pelu is a little ball of fluff that resides on a planet populated by naked babes and an intergalacticly traveled space hippo. Pelu wonders why is is so different from all his sisters. When he learns about reproduction in school, Pelu realized that he is an unfinished part of the planet’s inhabitants reproductive process. Shocked and dismayed by the fact that he is merely a piece of someone’s guts, Pelu obtains a magic mirror locket from the space hippo and travels to earth in search of love. Weirded out yet? Yeah, it’s definitely odd, but that’s just the beginning.
In this, the first volume of LFGP, our hero finds love in all the wrong places–each episode Pelu finds a new rad Mizuno girl to be with but each more twisted then the last. First, a pregnant enka singer who’s boyfriend likes to be burned (literally); second, the ignored daughter of a romance novelist who takes out her frustrations about her drug addled boyfriend by beating up Pelu; Third, a pair of deep sea diving twins driven apart by a lecherous boyfriend when one of them becomes pregnant; And finally, a geeky girl and a spoiled rich brat who inexplicably swap bodies after overdosing on drugs together. With each meeting, Pelu manages to resolve a conflict for the girl he loves but then is forced to move on, a little heartbroken but still hopeful that he will meet his dream girl next time (I hope it takes him awhile, cuz I can’t wait for volume 2!!). Further accenting the deviance of the narrative is the fact that the main character, Pelu, is almost completely oblivious to the grotesque nature of the situations around him; he tells the stories about love, death, sex and drugs with the narrative voice of an after school special, complete with a cute sexless body to match.
The cuteness of the art is, without a doubt, the most important part, because as funny as these stories are, they would be nothing with about Mizuno’s beautiful art. The lines are clean and simple, often looking like a hybrid of a Disney cartoon and manga, but always with a hyper sexual and/or violent undertone. It is this twisted take on kawaii that gives these odd stories their life–nobody draws a picture quite like Junko Mizuno. So go out and pick up a copy of Little Fluffy Gigolo Pelu Vol. 1. (I recommend Bergen St. Comics if you are in my neck of Brooklyn). Here are a few more radical Mizuno pictures–
Sings: “He’s not a cat, and he’s not a dog. He’s an alien, and his name is Pelu.”1 comment