Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Horror maestro Junji Ito offers feedback on a bunch of scary internet art

Junji Ito, displaying the face of a man who’s clearly scared half to death by what he’s seen.
Junji Ito, displaying the face of a man who’s clearly scared half to death by what he’s seen.
Screenshot: Viz Media

Horror artist and author Junji Ito has spent decades of his life painstakingly illustrating some of comics’ most fucked-up imagery. This gives him a certain level of insight into what a creepy picture should look like. And it makes him the perfect subject for a video where comics publisher Viz showed off some of the internet’s creepiest monsters (no, not those kind) so he could offer a sober, well-informed evaluation of their scare-factor.

As we’ve mentioned before, Ito doesn’t come off as a particularly spooky guy in interviews—his most horrifying secrets, like that he used to be a dental technician, are hidden beneath a pleasant exterior. That means his reactions are pretty understated, even if he’s saying the pictures he’s looking at are freaking him out.

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When he’s shown an image of a gangly skeleton man with a siren for a head, Ito says “The siren head gets me right here” and touches his chest, laughing quietly. He sees a strange snake-like horse half-illuminated in a car’s headlights and sighs with delight. “This one is interesting in a fantastic sense rather than a scary sense,” Ito remarks. “I think it’s very mysterious art.” He approves of the lighting choices used in a drawing of a smiling, long-legged turtle-thing and points out a few monsters he thinks should star in movies.

Along the way, he relates to some of the art with reflections on his own work. He sees a picture of a child looking at a black-eyed reflection of himself in the mirror and says that “the ‘other me’ is a theme [he] love[s]” and that he’s “very fond of bats” and has, as any good horror artist should, put them in his comics in the past. He also adjusts his glasses and at one point wonders aloud if the picture of a ghost he’s looking at is actually a smudged screen, as if the video’s creators are just trying to mess with him.

For more Ito, check out trailers for the upcoming, Colin Stetson-scored adaptation of his famous 1998 comic, Uzumaki, which was supposed to come out in 2020 but is now set to be released sometime this year. We’re willing to bet it’s got some scary pictures in it, too.

Send Great Job, Internet tips to gji@theonion.com

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Reid's a writer and editor who has appeared at GQ, Playboy, and Paste. He also co-created and writes for videogame sites Bullet Points Monthly and Digital Love Child.