This June, Trivium vocalist and guitarist Matthew Kiichi Heafy, Z2 Comics, and illustrator Half Sumo will debut Ibaraki and Friends, a rhyming picture book featuring the myriad Japanese folktales and rich mythologies that inspired Heafy as a child. This vibrant guide, designed by Ashley Heafy, offers a new way for families to connect to Japanese culture and be enthralled by the monsters, heroes, and places that form its legacy.
“Ibaraki and Friends is a book full of the stories that I grew up with. That Japanese folklore lies at the very root of so many of the amazing stories we have today, whether they’re in video games, anime, movies, or songs,” Heafy explains.
Each spread of Ibaraki and Friends presents one of the many legendary tricksters, heroes, and mystical beings that occupied the classical Japanese stories Heafy’s mother taught him growing up. These include the monkey/man/bird hybrid, Tengu; the eight-headed beast, Yamata no Orochi; and a nine-tailed celestial fox, all channeled with neon energy through Half Sumo’s vivid illustrations.
“For years, I’ve researched as many Japanese stories as possible—gotten several of them tattooed on my body—and explored their themes in the songs of Trivium, Ibaraki, and now in Ibaraki and Friends,” Heafy continues. “It’s our hope that in exploring these wonderful stories, that the readers will want to learn more about Japanese culture—then more cultures of the surrounding Asian countries, then spread that willingness to learn about stories from all over the world, inspiring curiosity in the many cultures we share around the planet.”
In tandem, Heafy is also releasing The Ibaraki and Friends Lullaby CD, a musical complement of the book that provides soothing, acoustic songs written and performed by Heafy to offer even more ways to experience these treasured tales.
Co-founding Trivium in 1999, Heafy has gone on to sell millions of records with the band, which was nominated for the Best Metal Performance Grammy in 2019. Heafy will also release the self-titled album of his black metal side project, Ibaraki, on May 6th, further exploring Japanese mythology with guest contributions from Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance, Ihsahn of Emperor, and Nergal of Behemoth.
Z2 Comics and Matthew Heafy present Ibaraki and Friends. Half Sumo provides cover and interior art. Deluxe editions include a temporary tattoo set, a Bento Box set, and an accompanying lullaby CD. Pre-order yours today.
Kerri is a disabled assistant editor and news writer for BWT. She is motivated by her love of words, commas, comics, and all things geeky