Thursday, May 29, 2008

"Pakku-Man: What Could Have Been..."

In 1979, Japanese citizen/artist Toru Iwatani, wanted to make amends to the United States on behalf of Japan for the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor during World War II. His initial thought was to create another statue-like monument in the tradition of the Statue of Liberty. After several months of futile efforts hacking and carving away at a great slab of rare yellow marble, Toru came to the cold realization that he was not, in fact, a sculptor by any stretch of the imagination. In a fit of rage and frustration before he sulked off to commit seppuku, he knocked the head off his prototype "monument", sending it crashing to the ground, where it broke into pieces upon impact. Searching for an implement sharp enough to carve his own guts out into a steaming heap on the floor, Toru noticed that the once rounded head-shape now seemed to be gaping at him with an open, hungry mouth, due to the wedge that had been chipped free during his fit. Suddenly, inspiration struck, sending Toru scrabbling for his drawing pad. There, Toru sketched out the basic outline for what would become the greatest video game in human history (suck it, Grand Theft Auto!), which made much more sense than the whole statue thing, since he happened to work for the electronics company Namco.

The technology of the times, however, proved to be extremely limiting for poor Toru. As a result, the finished product was a far cry from the expansive and imaginative fantasy epic Toru called "Paku-Paku Taberu". All he could manage with the creative electronic tools at his disposal was a shamefully simplified, flat chase game with simple colors, sounds, and objectives. The noble yellow hero he spent days sketching was reduced to a flat gobbling pie. His ever-pursuing enemies, the dreaded Oni of Japanese mythology, became simple cookie-cutter, dead-eyed "ghost monsters". The game's title was changed to Pakku-Man, which became "Pac-Man" in the United States, and quickly ascended to it's rightful position as the greatest and most popular video game phenomenon in history. Tragically, Toru would never live to see the success of his creation, as he buckled under the shame and dishonor from what he perceived as a "pathetic failure destined to bring misfortune upon Japan". Toru took his own life even as the first Pac-Man game cabinets made their way to US shores.

This is my version of the original concept for Pakku-Man, based on Toru's original sketches. Pakku-Man is chased across the Japanese landscape by the evil oni Oikake, Machibuse, Kimagure, and Otoboki. It will be part of the upcoming gallery show entitled "Big Trouble in Little Gainesville" at GORILLA RIOT'S STORE 101 in Gainesville, Florida on June 6th. If you're in the area, come by and soak in the heady aroma of jacked-up art-funk!

The final colored version is followed by the black & white inked version and the rough pencils. Pen & Ink, colored in Photoshop.

PRINTS OF THIS PIECE ARE AVAILABLE!! $10 (plus $5 for US shipping), 11"X 17" 100# cover stock paper. EMAIL ME FOR MORE INFO!!


Dustin dArnault said...

Hey man I never knew that story about pac-man'c creation. I love the piece man, I am big into Japanese myths and stuff. Have you read Kwaidan: Stories And Studies Of Strange Things. Its a pretty interesting read full of Japaneses myths and legends. Anyways good work.

Anonymous said...

these are great man! i really enjoy the bone sticking out of the moon. man, if only that moon could have found it's way into the safe atomic explosion resistant confines of a simple refrigerator. get the reference? hope you and the family are well.

IrisOn said...

Jerid, you have the lagest watermark I have ever scene, you know they say size dosent really matter, its where you put it that counts

its a marker im using, one of the large tipped copics (extra bold)

Pop-Monkey said...

Erik, I hope you misspelled my name as some sort of lame joke, otherwise you're in for a spanking this weekend! See you at the STORE 101 show, brotha!

And as for Dustin's response...
I'm glad you believe the Pac-Man "legend". My skills at bullshitting are coming along nicely! (Insert mischievous "mwha-ha-ha" laugh here) Thanks for the book recommendation, though. I'll check it out.

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