Some notes about this doujinshi...


Spellings and pronunciations:
I have at this point merely dipped a proverbial toe into the great ocean of Japanese language, and I've only paddled a foot into Japanese culture. If you spot any major no-no's, please do let me know and I'll try to make appropriate corrections. I've pretty much used Chris Rijk's romanizations of Japanese names. In short:

The main character's name appears Out There most often as "Inuyasha." That's what I've used, even though I'd say, from listening to the anime, that it's pronounced, as it's often spelled, "Inuyasya." Other spellings are Viz's idiosyncratic "Inu-Yasha," and the "Inuyaksa" that appears in Europe.

Kikyou, Sesshoumaru, Shippou, Houjou—I've gone with Chris's transliteration. The "ou" sound is more like the English-language long "o" as in the word "no", with a bit more of the dipthong "oo" sound on the end.

"Tetsusaiga" is pronounced "Tessaiga," but the "Tetsusaiga" spelling got Out There before us Englishers heard the correct pronunciation on the anime. If "Tessaiga" starts winning as a spelling Out There I may go back and change the scans, but "Tetsusaiga" looks cooler and more Japanese than Tessaiga, so I'm betting it'll hang around. Both "Tetsusaiga" and "Tessaiga" refer to the same katana; maybe "Tetsusaiga" is the transformed sword and "Tessaiga" is the grungy beat-up looking version.

The story:
The launching point for this story is, of course, Rumiko Takahashi's Inuyasha, but it seems to have taken on a life of its own. It's like jazz, where the musician takes a great Rodgers and Hart song, pulls it apart, and puts it together in a different way. If the musician is good, the result is good, but it won't necessarily sound much like Rodgers and Hart. I hope The Hero is good; it isn't Inuyasha, but it isn't trying to be. I really like Inuyasha, by the way, and I hope the hero comes out of that story alive and hanyou.

Although writers work alone, it's hard to write a good story without feedback. The whole story for The Hero had been plotted out by the time I started the pencils. Much of the dialogue and even the layouts for the later chapters have been planned for months, following a story map. Getting it to this point, as well as getting through each book, has involved hours of talking out the story with my daughters, Eleanor and Emily Murray, both published writers. They've been wonderfully patient about listening to story threads, chortling over funny parts, sniffling over sad parts, and generally critiquing what's happening. One day in October 2001, Eleanor spotted a red-haired Asian-American anthropology student on the Chicago elevated train and followed him (probably terrifying him)—then she talked me into re-penciling books two and three. If you're a Chicago-based red-haired Asian-American anthropology student who wears square-framed glasses and sandals with socks, that Goth chick from the train has immortalized you.

The artwork:
I'm a writer, not an artist. To the extent I am anything like an artist, I'm a modestly talented amateur cartoonist. I'm a halfway decent penciler, and not too bad with brush and ink, but pen and ink is a challenge; I wish I could just work with the pencils, really, but they don't scan too legibly. This was originally conceived as a magical-realist American-type comic, but that was a huge amount of work for not so good results, so I switched early on to my usual single-panel-magazine-cartoon-type style. That's why Page 1 of Book 1 has that realistic book illustration type figure, while the rest of the book gets progressively more cartoony. The Prologue was drawn considerably later than Book 1. Pages and panels read left to right, American style. If you're curious, Hero21 undergoes initial sketches, then is storyboarded in pencil as newsprint roughs and finally penciled and inked on 11" x 14" smooth bristol board. The boards are scanned and digitized using an Agfa DuoScan T2000XL professional scanner on a Macintosh platform. The artwork is (sometimes extensively!) cleaned up and lettering added using Adobe Photoshop 6 on a Windows platform (either Windows 2000 on a Dell system or Windows XP on a Hewlett-Packard system). The page is designed and maintained using Dreamweaver 3 or 4, depending on which computer we're working from.

It's a lot of fun, but it's a lot of work, and I couldn't keep it up without the access to technology provided by Northwestern University and Columbia College Chicago, and without the work of The Hero Team.

Grown-up stuff:
The Hero in the 21st Century is a fanfiction/doujinshi in the form of a postmodern graphic novel. It is intended for an adult audience, by which I mean it's meant to appeal to grown-ups. It's chock-full of mature content and intense situations—
which means some rough language, quite a bit of bawdy humor, some nudity, some sexual situations (although no really graphic sexual activity), and some very disturbing and violent imagery. Some things are just going to be very, very sad and upsetting, but because this project is also an outgrowth of my oral storytelling work, I'll try hard to bring everybody through the sad and awful stuff. Nevertheless: this isn't for young children. I offer the option of full dialogue transcripts with descriptions (which will still have the intense language and imagery) and less intense summaries for people who really don't want to handle some of the stronger stuff, but this story just plain isn't intended for young kids.

Copyright information:
The Hero in the 21st Century is a not-for-profit fan comic based on, occasionally parodying, and always lovingly paying tribute to Rumiko Takahashi's Inuyasha, known in English-language versions as Inu-Yasha: A Feudal Fairy Tale, which is published by Viz Comics. Rumiko Takahashi and Shogakukan hold the copyright on all characters and situations taken from this series, including but not limited to the characters known as Inuyasha, Kagome Higurashi, Sesshoumaru, Kikyou, Shippou, Miroku, Sango, Naraku, Myouga, Kirara, Souta Higurashi, Mama Higurashi, Grandpa Higurashi, Buyo, Houjou, the swords Tenseiga and Toukijin, and of course the twins, Tetsusaiga and Tessaiga.

Characters and situations from Hibernating Bats, including but not limited to the characters known as Auley De Dannan, Mona Hanlon, Elizabeth Hanlon, Matthew Hanlon, Brett Hanlon, Sorcha Morna, Asiragh, and Dr. Rose Otherworld, are copyright © 1977, 2001, 2002 by Kristine Batey.

Otherwise, The Hero in the 21st Century is copyright 2001, 2002 by Kristine Batey. Please ask permission before you borrow anything. Okay?

 

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