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San Diego Comic-Con International 2009 lived up to it's 'international' monicker when American comics legend Stan Lee joined forces with Japanese manga creator Hiroyuki Takei at the Shonen Jump panel for a lively, often hilarious conversation about their cross-cultural creation, Karakuridoji Ultimo.

When this project was first announced at New York Comic-Con back in 2008, Ultimo generated a lot of buzz for doing what few have attempted before: a true Japan / U.S. collaboration between two top creators to create an ongoing manga series geared for both Japanese and American readers.

Now that Ultimo is featured monthly in Jump Square magazine in Japan and in Shonen Jump magazine in America, both Lee and Takei, along with Jump Square editor Takanori Asada made a rare joint appearance in America to meet their American fans, and sign autographs for a few lucky fans at the VIZ Media booth.

Besides attending the panel discussion, I also got a chance to speak privately with Mr. Lee and Takei-sensei to get a few more details on meeting this 'Ultimo' challenge, and they both revealed that there's much more than meets the eye about this seemingly straightforward story about 'ultimate good versus ultimate evil.' Check out my interview with Stan Lee and Hiroyuki Takei, as well as a transcript of what was said at the Shonen Jump panel and you'll get a hint of what these two comics creators have in store in chapters to come.

Also, take a peek at my San Diego Comic-Con 2009 Photo Gallery for more highlights from that weekend and my take on the 30 Most Memorable Manga Moments from SDCCI '09. Hang in there, I've got more photos, more interviews and more reports from this fun-filled, news-packed weekend to come.

Image credit: © Deb Aoki, © 2008 by Stan Lee - POW! Entertainment / Dream Ranch, Hiroyuki Takei / Shueisha Inc.


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