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Something for nerds of all stripes.

Another Conan Chris Ware homage

One of the pieces of ‘bumper’ art on tonight’s episode of Conan’s Tonight Show was the piece below, expertly echoing the ‘circular shorthand’ style that Chris Ware has used in a number of strips and in two animated shorts for the ‘This American Life’ TV show.

Below is an example of the Ware strips I’m referring to, taken from the cover to a recent Penguin edition of ‘Candide.’

There is a long history of Conan’s bumper art paying homage to disparate pieces of visual inspiration. Awhile back, there was a great website collecting all of these homage images here, but it looks like it’s fallen off the web. In a Metafilter discussion of that site, the name Kevin Frank is floated as the mastermind of all this, and following up on that lead brought me to his Flickr account, which has a gallery of all the bumpers with commentary. In case any are missing there, it looks like the content from the first site is also up here. The internet.

An homage to Ware’s work previously surfaced in the background to a piece of Conan’s bumper art in November of 2005. If you don’t see it, Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan is the ‘Non-Conan’ drawing. Thanks to Ted Miller for originally pointing it out!

A great idea perfectly summarized in a narrative sketch.

They claim it'll be running by year's end. I am skeptical, but would *love* to be wrong on this.

The caliber and scope of their themed group shows lately is nuts, and the online promotion is unparalleled: clear, high quality photos of all pieces in the show with prices and up-to-date availability directly beneath. Seems simple; no one does it.

Japan Trip Artifact (Vaguely NSFW)

This past spring I was lucky enough to spend a week visiting a friend who was living in Japan. I’ve slowly been working my way through the digital and physical debris that followed me home, and one item has emerged as my ‘go-to’ example when people ask about weird stuff I brought back.

A little backstory: my plan was to pick up a variety of snack / junkfood items to foist upon friends and family once I returned to the US. As such, I got into the habit of blindly picking up elaborately packaged yet reasonably priced items from the snack food aisles of any shop where I was already making a purchase.

These are the circumstances under which I purchased the item below. It is imperitive that you keep in mind that ALL I saw of this item was the external packaging:

"I won't take anything except this one."

Decent-sized box in the snack aisle, reasonably priced, with some fun engrish to top things off (It reads: “I won’t take anything except this one. Only who knows this taste can really appreciate it. Part 2”). Sold!

So once I’m home and picking through my loot, I open the box, and see this:

Japanese packaging observation: often non-destructive.  Completely possible to open and repackage items.

Somehow, even at this point I still wasn’t tipped off as to where this was heading. I was thinking: “Whoa! crazy die cut packaging with a bunch of intricate folds” (I am a huge packaging nerd). What I was not thinking was: “I bet this snack food includes nudity!”

"Only who knows this taste can really appreciate it."

But guess what? It did! So, what you are looking at here are two cups of a pudding-like substance of some sort, inverted and packaged to look like breasts. The hands in the illustration manage to push the whole thing up and over the edge of a new weirdness plateau.

Bulleted list of insanity:

  • Intricate, unnessecarily expensive-to-produce packaging
  • Engrish
  • Snack Food
  • Uniquely overt sexuality.

Here are the ‘cups’ removed from the packaging. I am still not sure exactly what sort of pudding this is, but also included are two pouches of ‘topping’ and two clear plastic spoons that look like doll shovels.


Bravo, Japan. Even after a solid week of having my mind blown several times a minute, you still managed to surprise me.

UPDATE! Since writing this it has come to my attention that this is a “thing” in that there are multiple companies offering pudding packaged in this manner, with the apparent variation being different heads attached to the Pudding. Internet documenter of all things Japan Danny Choo posted a piece detailing a similarly packaged product here in which he links to this google image search that reveals the breadth of extant variations on this packaging theme (NSFW).

Perfectly disorienting.

Looks like someone really took care integrating the translated text into the look of the pages.

This would be my dream book. Please lace it with lots of artist commentary a la the Chip Kidd monograph!

Looks like it may even be in color! My well-worn photocopied edition is breathing a sigh of relief.