'Bartkira' Is the Parodic Bastard Child of the 'Simpsons' and 'Akira'
You might recognize the name James Harvey—his comics have frequently appeared on this site. James has recently taken on a bizarrely ambitious project, which he is calling Bartkira. He is having the entire 2,000 plus pages of the manga Akira redrawn with Simpsons characters in the place of series’ familiar protagonists. For example, Bart is Kaneda and Milhouse is Tetsuo.
Each cartoonist gets to pick a set of six pages to redraw and those pages will be added to the book. It is a pretty crazy undertaking considering the source material for this parody is one of the longest running comics ever and it seems to be begging for a cease and desist order from either the Simpsons or Akira.
Anyway, I wanted to ask James why he was making such a cool and stupid project.
VICE: So James what’s this Bartkira thing about? When’d you get the idea?
James Harvey: The first guy to do a Bartkira drawing was Ryan Humphries, a UK artist. He redrew these pages that showed the moment Akira destroys Neo-Tokyo, but redrawing Akira as Bart and the Colonel as Homer. His drawings were simplistic and quickly rendered, totally at odds with the super-detailed, maximalist approach that we associate with artists like Kastuhiro Otomo. But the power and the energy of Otomo’s compositions and layouts survived intact.
Something I heard recently is that a group of German sociologists did an expansive study into art and literature and concluded that the amount of major ambitious works of art being undertaken has sharply declined. I don’t know how you’d prove that, but then again it seems like a bit of a no-brainer—how many novels like War and Peace were written last year? Or in the last 100 years? As the speed of communication increases, the speed of art increases too. A lot of my favorite cartoonists are making these haiku-like micro-comics designed for a Twitter and Tumblr audience. None of the cartoonists I know are undertaking major epic works like the ones we grew up on—like Akira, which is a shame, to me.