Graphic Heroes, Magic Monsters

It's both fascinating and comforting to discover your interests' historical roots run deeper than imagined -- for instance, much like their preppy counterparts, the Iroquois would finish a lacrosse game and then immediately hunt for beaver. Discover the venerable origins of bad-ass Japanese art, at Graphic Heroes, Magic Monsters.Showcasing over 130 woodblock prints, GHMM spans the career of Utagawa Kuniyoshi, who died the year our Civil War broke out, but whose explosive panels of blood-lusting warriors, tattooed vagrants, wanton vixens, and acid-trip monsters could pass for cutting-edge comics; while those are just for display, 36 of 'em are avail online as prints, for those so cutting-edge they never leave home. Artful violence runs from samurai gangs slashing it out on a castle rooftop, to a giant skeleton attempting to forestall a beheading (who knew giant skeletons were such wusses?), to Morozumi Masakiyo Kills Himself with a Landmine...while apparently also thrusting a sword into his mouth (ah, Morozumi, indecisive 'til the end). For psychedelic madness, there's Octopus Games, with evil cephalopods brawling, playing instruments, and dancing; Sakata Kaido-maru Wrestles with a Giant Carp (self-explanatory); and Kabuki Actor Onoe Kikugoro III as the Spirit of the Cat Stone (not self-explanatory).Perhaps most modern of all, Kuniyoshi produced a small collection of erotic prints, which aren't on display but are presented in the back of the exhibition catalog, providing furtive fodder for those who haven't netted any beaver since the 1600s.