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The Scariest Comic Books of All Time! – Drifting Classroom Volume 1

A reader named Chris S. suggested that I devote October to the scariest comic books of all-time, as suggested by you readers out there! Sounds like a plan to me! So all October-long, I’ll be featuring 31 comic book tales of terror, based on YOUR suggestions! So e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com your scary suggestions! Here is an archive of all the comics featured so far!

A bunch of you asked for Kazuo Umezu’s legendary Drifting Classroom saga, so, well, here ya go! I figure I’ll just give book one, where the Yamato Elementary School disappears.

Enjoy!

*Note – Click on any double-page spread to enlarge the image.

The hero of the comic is a young boy named Shou, who opens the first volume getting into a violent argument with his mother (made even more brutal when you know the fact that Shou kept asking her for a toy car that she would not buy him. He saved up enough money to buy one himself but instead bought her a watch because he is a good kid – the watch is destroyed, though. Meanwhile, his mother bought him the toy car as a surprise and hid it in his backpack, something he does not know when they have this argument. Umezu’ really nicely sets up the pathos here)…

And, of course, what happens after he gets to school that day?

The school vanishes….

After a suitable amount of “what kind of earthquake was THAT?” stuff, Shou goes to investigate when his class’s teacher leaves them in their room and discovers something pretty messed up…

Eventually, the kids figure out something is going on when they see from the windows where the classroom is (or rather, where it ISN’T)…

Some tight drama there by Umezu.

The kids freak out and try to leave the school while the teachers try to stop them. Chaos ensues, leading to one teacher taking drastic measures…

And that’s basically what Umezu goes for throughout the series. It is a supernatural Lord of the Flies, as the residents of the school discover that they are in a post-apocalyptic future beset by monsters from outside the school and “monsters” within the school. Things get reeeeeeeally dark. Shou, though, is a remarkable young man and he does what he can to hold things together even as everything falls apart around them.

There is a good reason this is such a respected manga classic. It reads as timely today as when it was written nearly forty years ago.

7 Comments

This blew me away. Most intense read ever.

Umezu’s writting is so simple, clear and vivid – in contrast to modern writers who mostly try to be clever and witty. (emphasis on try)

Jeezis, that’s pretty harrowing. I think I want to check this out now.

Holy cow. This has been a great month for introducing me to great stuff I wasn’t aware of, checking out this and at least six or ten others that have been featured.

This is a nice series and the action/horror keeps going throughout. Viz did a nice job with their English edition. There are 11 volumes in the series and it’s been 3.5 years since the last book came out in the U.S., but I don’t think that any of the volumes are hard to find yet. It’s definitely worth checking out.

I recently read the whole thing, and yeah, it is harrowing. The art is a bit stiff and dated, and the overall story would probably have benefitted from being a book or two shorter but a good, weird series.

So, so, so great.

[...] of Comics Should Be Good returns for a third time, this time taking on a favorite of this feast, The Drifting Classroom. He sums the title up pretty succinctly: There is a good reason this is such a respected manga [...]

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