Where do I even begin….
If someone would’ve approached me 5 years ago, with the idea to mash-up Matt Groening’s famed and most beloved television sitcom The Simpsons, with Katsuhiro Otomo’s post-apocalyptic cyberpunk action/thriller AKIRA, I would’ve simply responded with the following,
Not impossible mind you, but UTTERLY improbable.
Here you have numerous factors weighted against your pipe dreams of tossing the young spiky haired and rebellious Bart Simpson into Neo-Tokyo and draping Kaneda’s coveted “Good for health, bad for education” pill jacket over his shoulders.
For starters, who the hell are you going to get to help re-write, re-illustrate, ink, and color all 6 volumes (roughly 2000 pages total) of Otomo’s AKIRA, replacing all of the original characters and settings with the cast and locations from The Simpsons series?
Secondly, who in their right mind would green-light such a project?
I mean we’re dealing with some of the world’s most iconic characters in both print and animation here… Someone’s definitely looking to get some serious backlash both from a legal standpoint as well as from fans picketing on both sides of the fence, right?
And lastly, (which certainly wouldn’t be my final argument, but for the sake of this write-up let’s keep things fairly short and sweet), Katsuhiro Otomo took well over 7 years to complete the AKIRA manga series from start to finish, is it worth it to re-create it, and who’s even going to give a damn about it by the time it’s all finally complete?
Well… Fast forward 5 years from then avid readers, and I can tell you that which I once believed to be improbable, can and will soon be in our hands in full completion, and in all of its gleaming cyberpunk glory soon enough!
Thanks to artist Ryan Humphrey’s original and inspiring illustrations of everyone’s favorite cartoon family tossed into the trials and tribulations of the Neo-Tokyo’s favorite biker gang , blended with cartoonist and illustrator James Harvey skill, drive, and long term vision to knock out all 6 volumes of Otomo’s series, Barkira is now a definite and jaw dropping reality.
With the help of over 700 fine artists, illustrators, and cartoonists, of all backgrounds, skill levels, industry statuses, and titles, Bartkira has now flourished into a community effort and is up-running and rolling in manga form and as a touring exhibition which is currently traversing the globe!
Each artists is hand selected and allocated about 5 pages to re-create and contribute to the non-profit project, simply out of their own interests and sheer passion, and all donations that are raised are split 50/50, with half being shot over to the Miyagi Coastal Forest Restoration Project (a charity established to raise aid and funds for Miyagi, Japan which was left in ruin after 2011’s devastating tsunami disaster), and the other half being pushed out to the Save the Children fund (which helps to provide relief and support for children in developing countries).
But with all of that being said, there still remains one unanswered question, is all of this stuff legal?…
Fortunately, James Stacey of Blackhook Hook Press (who designed the Bartkira website as well as helps push the Bartkira project forward all together, has the answer). And that answer is;
Technically not (laughs)
But here’s the rundown! It’s been stated from sources close to Katsuhiro Otomo that he actually read a vast number of pages from Bartkira and found it to be interesting and very hilarious, and It’s also well known that Humphrey, Harvey, Stacey, and the rest of the teams operators have attempted to reach out to Matt Groening a few times and although he hasn’t gotten back to them just yet, he happens to be a huge fan and collector of “bootlegged” Simpsons merchandise and fan art!
So, it sounds like all things are a go for Bartkira. Though Stacey has stated that both Ryan Humphrey and James Harvey had agreed long ago to immediately shut down the community project if any legal issues did arise, that seems very unlikely to happen at this point seeing as the project has already reached notable cult status and is about 75% done as a whole with just a few pages left to be completed and compiled for the last couple of volumes.
Bartkira is slowly but surely turning out to be something undeniably revolutionary, boasting the works of Ronald Wimberly, CETUS, Kiel West, Chase Conley, Allison Bamcat, Ken K. Chung, Adonis I. Saverson, (That’s right, even yours truly was fortunate enough to snag a few pages) and hundreds of other amazing artists, it’s truly becoming nothing less than a visual masterpiece day by day and page by page.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to check out the previous released volumes of Barkira, you can get all caught up by simply chasing the link below, and be sure to keep a keen eye and ear out for Bartkira’s upcoming exhibitions and manga release dates.
Adonis I. Saverson
Read Bartkira here: http://www.bartkira.com/