It's a little early for year end lists but I declare that with "Dream Spectres" Shinbaku has released one of the best art books of 2010. This incredible collection of images smashes open the floodgates of extreme ukiyo e for Western audiences, presenting more than 250 colour reproductions, most of which would be impossible to find otherwise. The book even reproduces the Eimei Nijuhasshuku ( 28 Scenes of Murder and Verse"), the most infamous series of Japanese muzan e (atrocity prints"), in its entirety. Hunter's achievement here is in presenting overwhelming evidence that the breadth and depth of Japanese mass produced genre painting rivals anything going on in film or literature today. Even if you're already a fan of bloody ukiyo e, there are works here that will have you collecting your eyeballs off the table. --Rue Morgue, March 2010
This mind-roasting volume is without question one of the standout books of 2010. The book, as its subtitle makes clear, deals with the darker regions of the ukiyo-e movement, specifically the gory, perverse and horrific aspects. The grossness and outrage of the pornographic illustrations on display here, nearly all featuring absurdly oversized genital organs, are undeniably striking (to say the least!). So too the spirited bloodletting of Yoshitoshi Tsukioka, who specialized in insanely gory scenes of reality-based carnage (including a man ripping another s face from his skull), and the near-psychedelic palettes of Kuniteru Utagawa and Shuntei Katsukawa, who pictured brave warriors battling dragons and giant sea turtles. There s far more to this book, of course, which can only be classified as a crowning achievement. DREAM SPECTRES is the first-ever English language book on extreme ukiyo-e, and may well end up the definitive one. --fright.com
About the Author
Jack Hunter is the acclaimed author and editor of over 20 books on the history of cult cinema, freakshows, and other cultural diversions. His innovative book on Japanese cult cinema EROS IN HELL became a bible for the new generation of US DVD producers who are still steadily releasing the films detailed in its pages. Other books include: MOONCHILD, FREAK BABYLON, and SEARCH & DESTROY. He lives in Tokyo in a constant state of cultural research.