Something evil lurks within the house. It is in the rooms that nobody enters, it is in the dark forest all around, and it is in the minds of the people that live there. Only when a red snake appears dows the evil manifest itself, unleashing horrific events that end in a bloody orgy of murder and mayhem!
I first learned about Hino through another talented artist who works in the field of horror manga, Junji Ito. In a short bio at the end of one of his books, Ito cited Hino, as well as the American writer H.P. Lovecraft, as two of his influences. Ito was also the recipient of an award which carries Hino's name which honors Japanese artists who have mastered tales of terror. I already knew about Lovecraft. If you're into horror and you don't know his name, you should. Ito . . . well, let's just say the guy continues to amaze me. "Uzumaki" was fantastic, as was
"Gyo". So, long story short, I put 2 and 2 together (and for once I didn't come up with 22). I reasoned that it made sense--considering the logical connections--for me to learn more about Hideshi Hino. At the time, I could only find two of his books on Amazon: "Hell Baby" and "Panorama of Hell". Both were out of print. Far too lazy (and picky) to buy them used, I waited for the day when more of his works would be published in English. That day has come! DHP has recently published two of his books, "The Red Snake" and "The Bug Boy". Hino. How can I describe his work? His drawing style has a childlike quality about it. This does nothing to offset his horrific tales. In reality, it accentuates the disturbing atmosphere that hangs over each and every page of lush black and white illustrations. "The Red Snake" is a story told from a young boy's point of view. He lives in a house surrounded by an endless forest that he can't escape. To make things worse, he is surrounded by lunatics: his grandfather has a large growth hanging from his jaw, his grandmother believes she is a chicken and lives in a nest, his father, who raises chickens with sadistic affection, aids her dementia by giving her baskets of eggs that he claims she laid herself, his mother tends to grandfather's boil with far too much tender loving care, and his sister fondles insects with erotic glee. As if the poor kid doesn't have enough to worry about, his grandfather tells him that the large mirror in their house is, in reality, a barrier that blocks the gates to Hell. I'm not going to spoil the story for you, but it should come as no surprise that events unfold in a manner that is reminiscent of lingering nightmares. As for the format of the book, DHP has remained true to the original layout; the pages and panels are meant to be read from right to left. This has become a current trend, as many translated mangas are now printed like this. If, however, you are new to this sort of thing, have no fear, it's easy enough to adjust your reading habits. I ordered "The Red Snake" along with "The Bug Boy" (not quite as dark, but a worthwhile read, nonetheless). Both books are well worth the money. Considering each volume consists of roughly two hundred pages, the price of ten dollars is a steal. With more Hino books to be released in the future, I would strongly suggest you start your collection now. With over 400 Hino title in print, it could turn out to be a rather large collection.