collapseThis comic is a series of 4-10 page shorts, re-telling Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen fairytales with disturbing guro violence. I was surprised to learn which side of the Sea of Japan it comes from. China has never been known for grotesque horror and transgression – their art normally seeks edification and austerity.

I haven’t read the full thing and I probably never will, because the group scanlating this thing abandoned it. But I’ve seen enough to know what it’s like, and I highly recommend it to environmentalists on the grounds that 99% of it is recycled. Junji Ito’s one-shot manga get copied a lot. “Christmas Special” features dead bodies hanging from Christmas trees, like in “Army of One”. “Golden Girl” repeats “Glyceride’s” pus-squeezing gross-out. “Doll’s Funeral” abandons any attempt at skirting plagiarism and just redraws “Hell Doll’s Funeral” panel for panel.

Shintaro Kago is another obvious “influence”, particularly his fussy art style and slapstick black comedy. Pretty sure having your body becoming filled with insects is a central idea to one of his comics but I couldn’t give you a name. Dare I say it, but there’s some Suehiro Maruo in this series too, especially the outrageous tearjerker “Waiting”, which takes Bambi-esque emotional manipulation and all but makes it into a science.

DaShu Jiang uses the artistic five finger discount more than she should, but the comic isn’t bad. She seems to have a Ito/Ballard-esque talent for turning a sow’s ear into a silk purse, and making the familiar seem striking and new. Some of the art in the stories is really good, and often the ideas are good enough to match. “Growing Old” features a baby growing to adulthood then dotage…and then beyond. A fine example of how to tell a quirky and interesting story in eight pages.

It’s not straight horror like Ito, and the camp factor is pretty high (“Little Red Riding Hood” features the little girl slashing the wolf’s stomach open to get her grandmother back, and then selling the wolf’s fur coat). The comic is sprinkled with lots of anime cheese, and the result is odd and pleasant – violent kawaii?

It’s hard to go wrong with this sort of thing. The comics are so short and so satisfying that it isn’t hard to read another one, then another, and then you’re fifty pages in. The formula is obvious, but the comics still pack an effective shock – strangely, predictability doesn’t really hurt Collapse. You get to enjoy the buildup to the final panel, even though you often have a fair idea of what’s coming. Someone once said that limericks are not funny because they end with a dirty word but because they cannot end with anything but a dirty word, and the same principle holds true here.

As far as I know this series is still going on. It’s odd, and doesn’t fit really well into a category, but it’s worth checking out if you like Ito and so forth. Or you can check out the half that’s been translated, at least. The world may be collapsing but one thing will never change: scanlation groups will continue to be run by unstable lunatics.

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