Fred Gallagher, Author, Fred Gallagher, Illustrator, Rodney Caston, Created by . Dark Horse $9.95 (182p) ISBN 978-1-59307-118-9

Following the success of his serialized Web comic and the first volume of the print manga, Gallagher continues the story of two computer game- and manga-obsessed American boys stranded in Tokyo. (Newcomers can visit to see what they've missed.) Piro (the sensitive one who likes to sketch and read girls' manga) and Largo (the beer-guzzling brute who enjoys hacker-speak and violent sword and sorcery computer games) have found jobs and accommodations. They've also acquired a lifelike robot with the appearance and emotions of a blonde, nubile, teenage girl. Piro's conscience, illustrated as a comely but competent female, provides guidance and occasional fashion tips. Meanwhile, Largo, a gaming addict who can't distinguish between reality and virtual reality, takes a job teaching English in order to keep tabs on a schoolgirl whom he's decided is an evil zombie queen. Ostensibly, the boys are trying to earn enough cash to buy plane tickets home, but they seem more interested in exploring the brave new world of Japanese gaming culture and the cute, friendly locals. Although Gallagher doesn't ink his drawings, few artists can wield a pencil with such authority. His work, though squarely in the manga tradition, is uncommonly deft, subtle and funny. With a sophisticated script, a panoply of references to gaming and manga culture and Gallagher's stellar artwork, this series' formula makes it utterly irresistible. The book also includes a section of handsome drawings and gag strips from the Web comic as well as a prose short story following the exploits of Piro and Largo as characters in a sword and sorcery game world. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 02/23/2004
Release date: 02/01/2004
Genre: Fiction
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