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By Katsuhiro Otomo

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9. Bakhtin, Rabelais, 109. 10. , 11–12. 11. , 66. 12. , 67. 19 Carnivalesque and Grotesque 13. , 9. 14. Peter Stallybrass and Allon White, The Politics and Poetics of Transgression (London: Methuen, 1986), 19. 15. Hugh Honour, The Image of the Black in Western Art, vol. 4, pt. 2, From the American Revolution to World War I (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, Menil Foundation, 1989), 62. 16. Eric Lott, Love and Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993).

In the analysis that follows, I shall assume 26 No Laughing Matter that the black couple was an original component of this work, but it is worth remembering that the couple might have been a later addition to the original composition by either Passarotti or some other artist. The Merry Company has certainly been altered at least once: when it was reproduced in print in 1976, the breasts of the white woman were awkwardly covered with drapery, leaving her partner’s hand squeezing the empty air. 8 Art historians have mostly referred to this work as a “Merry Company,” a term used in Dutch art of the seventeenth century to describe a group of carousers, often including both men and women, in a tavern-like setting.

8. J. C. Visscher after Jan and Lucas van Doetecum, Brownie Jump-into-the-Bed and Phil the Devil, 1660s (based on works of 1564–1565). Engraving. Private collection. Brownie Jumpintothe Bed 40 My skin is like a mole’s. My hair as black as soot. No Laughing Matter My teeth like ivory. My curled lips, They call for love and heated kisses. My round breasts are cliffs leading one astray. And what belongs to my womb defies the whitest women. Thus many a man seeks to bide his time with me. Phil the Devil With black sheep wool my head is crowned.

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Akira Vol. 1, No. 2 by Katsuhiro Otomo


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