Home to Nagasaki – Chapter 4

Ping Fan, China


Masaru planned to turn Manchuria into a gigantic chemical and biological warfare laboratory and it was my job to execute his plan. We decided nearly eighty buildings would be constructed on the compound, including an administrative building to house laboratories, dormitories for the civilian workers, barracks for the military, and a collection of barns and stables to house test animals.

Masaru was proud of the special jail that would house Chinese prisoners of war and Masaru personally supervised the construction of a facility that could conduct frostbite studies year round.

There was a power plant, a group of furnaces used to animal carcasses and human waste and a recreational facility that Masaru designed himself. I wasn’t surprised when I learned it would be staffed with what Masaru described as “a healthy collection of comfort women.”

A railroad connected the facility to the city of Harbin and a private airfield was constructed where newly developed chemical and biological weapons could be tested.

I would later learn that the facility’s perimeter rivaled that of Nazi Auschwitz.

“Japan needs to expand in order to survive as a great nation,” Masaru told me as we stood in a corner watchtower and surveyed the completed facility. “The Home Islands are simply too limited in resources.”

Total war with China was underway and our government believed Manchuria to be the most obvious place to fill our needs.

“This is the most advanced weapons research facility in the world,” Masaru proclaimed, his arms opened wide and his face frozen into a grin like a father admiring his beautiful children. “It is time we started to experiment.”

I was more concerned about my filtration system and the munitions needed to deliver our weapons. I poured over my own blueprints, constantly revising and updating the schematics. I created designs for a portable water purification system that could be carried to the field of battle. A setup big enough for an entire barracks, even an entire base. Bombs that dispersed biological agents when detonated, balloons capable of traveling great distances to deliver these poisons to their target.

Japanese army soldiers at the facility were constantly coming to me asking for decisions on administrative matters. I delegated these mundane duties to my underlings and focused on my designs.

Masaru was more concerned with the experiments. A chemical and biological weapons development facility means our concoctions were to be tested on rats and other rodents. Wild animals captured near the facilities. The Chinese POWs were a constant reminder that we were at war.   

Our prisoners were Chinese, yet we didn’t call them prisoners. We never referred to any of them by name. “Logs,” Masaru decided they would be called. Nothing more than a word used by the military to dehumanize our enemies. As far as we knew, these prisoners never even had names. Only numbers.

Log 741. Log 622. Log 881.

I was more concerned with spare parts needed to build my machines. Not all pieces could be manufactured on the islands and we needed to seek outside help. The army put me in contact with a firm from Australia where my chief contact, ironically, was an American named Turner Denton.

Purported to be a member of the international scientific community, I knew little of Turner at first and our relationship began as nothing more than a buyer and a supplier discreetly exchanging goods and monies. Over the years our relationship would change considerably until I saw Turner as the only man who could deliver me from the predicament I took part in creating.

Mark McGinty‘s work has appeared in Maybourne Magazine, Montage Magazine, Cigar City Magazine and Germ Warfare. His novel The Cigar Maker won a Bronze Medal at the 2011 Independent Publisher Book Awards and was named Finalist at both the ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards and the 2011 National Indie Excellence Awards.

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Ace Review of Kmart Shoes from Hazel and Wren

Wren, of Hazel and Wren, continues the positive string of reviews for Kmart Shoes with a thoughtful and favorable writeup. I encourage you to read the entire review but here are some excerpts….

His story is a tumultuous, painful story of troubled and meandering journey through childhood and high school. His neglectful father leaves to start a new family, his mother takes up with a verbally abusive drunk, he gets hooked on cocaine and framed for a robbery by a “friend,” fails to get into the military multiple times, his grandparents shun him, and he struggles to find a stable place to live — all within those hormonal formative years. The only thing keeping him surfacing now and again from his dark moments are his drawings, and the hope that some day, he can make a living as a cartoonist.

Pretty much sums up the entire story. Here’s more good stuff.

Ward as a tween and teenager is misunderstood, has low self-confidence, and is glaringly honest of his own flaws. Ward says he wrote this novel as a therapeutic way to deal with his past hurdles, and it feels just like that: an exercise in purging and self-reflection, and most importantly, letting go. He’s good at calling other people’s bluffs. He can pick out the phony moments, point a finger at the mistakes made by himself and others.

When Ward finally goes back to finish high school, he ends up graduating at the same time as his younger sister. Their father shows up after Ward hasn’t seen him in two years, and as Ward says, “Somewhere out there exists a father and son, smiling together on graduation day. And it’s the phoniest fuckin’ picture on earth.”

There’s plenty more. Head on over to the site. There’s a lot of good content there and it’s worth spending some time looking around. They have a Twin Cities focus with lot sof information on the local scene plus more “literary/visual/eclectic nonsense.”

Their mission:

To foster and contribute to the literary arts by providing a community in which other writers, artists, and designers can have in-depth conversations about the literary arts, and an inclusive forum inviting submissions and intelligent critiques of each other’s work. This takes the form of the Hazel & Wren website, and eventually will include a non-profit literary journal. Additionally, the Hazel & Wren website seeks to be a source of inspiration and guidance to the creative community by sharing interviews, research, event lists, and interesting work.

In short: Help creative people do good work.

Follow them on Facebook. I did!


Don’t forget Kmart Shoes is available right here for $9.99 with free shipping!

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Lolly Poppet’s December Promotion – Free Original Artwork!!

During the month of December buy a copy of Lolly Poppet’s Lousy Year through our online store and receive a piece of original Lolly art, drawn by Lupi on a 2 1/2 x 3 1/2 inch trading card. It will be sent with the book in a protective sleeve – with free shipping!! Not a bad deal for just $9.99!! Here’s a sample.


Lolly Poppet’s Lousy Year is a full color, heartwarming storybook that any child will enjoy. Written in bilingual English/Spanish text.For a look at Lolly Poppet’s Lousy Year, and to see some of Lupi’s work, visit her site.

Lolly Poppet’s Lousy Year is available for purchase for only $9.99 right here.

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Kmart Shoes Nabs Some Great Early Reviews

The first reviews of Lance Ward’s Kmart Shoes are in and the consensus so far is that Lance has written (and drawn!) a triumphant and deeply personal story of conquering a tragic childhood. First, Laura Lanik at Book Snob offered the following praise.

Kmart Shoes is a gritty graphic novel that throws out punches as Lance struggles to survive and find love.  Some people are lucky to grow up and have everything they want but not Lance.  Lance is a survivor of a tragic childhood and his book is a triumph of his will to endure and survive.

Read the entire review here. On Book Snob you can also find an interview with Lance and a guest post where Lance reflects on going to the drive-in movie as a kid.

Then there is Dustin Cabeal at Comic Bastards, who gave a 5-star review and said this:

Autobiographical stories are probably the hardest thing to do in comics. Life rarely works within the accepted pacing of traditional story telling. It’s the main reason why films that follow the “true” story tend to have a lack luster ending and several lulling moments. As a comic it becomes even more important to find a pacing and a style that will have the reader continue the tale. Ward has a great device to not only keep the story interesting, but break up the slow moments… himself. Be it his older self that is looking back and creating the comic you’re reading. The injection of himself as the story keeper makes it all the more personal for Ward and intimate for the reader.

Check out the complete review right here along with their first look, which includes several (full color) panels from the book. Finally Small Press Reviews had this to say:

Kmart Shoes shoes is a story of survival akin to Von Allan’s The Road to God Knows, but it is also a story of rage turned sideways to produce humor. Throughout, Ward comes off as an affable storyteller who’s risen above life’s bad breaks to offer hope to those still living through them. A memorable debut.

You can read the full review by Marc Schuster right here. More reviews are on their way and we’ll link them here as soon as they’re up! And don’t forget, you can buy Kmart Shoes, along with all of our titles at our web store.


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Seventh Avenue Productions to Feature Two New Titles at Twin Cities Book Festival!

LollyPoppet-storeSeventh Avenue Productions will be featuring two new titles at the 12th Annual Twin Cities Book Festival on Saturday, October 13, 2012: Kmart Shoes, a very graphic graphic novel by Lance Ward and Lolly Poppet’s Lousy Year, a colorful storybook by Lupi, perfect for kids ages 3-7. In addition to these two titles, Seventh Avenue Productions’ entire catalog will be available, including The Cigar Maker by Mark McGinty and Germ Warfare, an anthology compiled by Lupi. Both Mark and Lupi will be in attendance signing copies of their books. Stop by and pick up a copy, or just stop in to say hi!

The festival will be held in a NEW LOCATION: The Historic Progress Center at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds! This elegant and visitor-friendly venue w ill host all of the Festival’s many attractions—including readings from world-renowned authors, panel discussions, children’s events, and scores of exhibitors—in one easily accessible and central location. Easily accessed from both Minneapolis and Saint Paul, the Festival now has free parking!

The Twin Cities Book Festival—presented each year by Rain Taxi—is the annual get-together for the Twin Cities’ devoted literary community. The always-free Festival includes readings by world-class authors and local literary heroes; a day-long book fair featuring publishers, authors, booksellers, and more; a children’s pavilion with storytelling, crafts, and activities; and much more!

Click here for info about visiting authors, festival events, and more.

Twin Cities Book Festival

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Progress Center, Minnesota State Fairgrounds

10:00am – 5:00pm * Free Admission * Free Parking

CLICK HERE for directions

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Snippets from Lance Ward’s Kmart Shoes

Kmart Shoes is a very engaging story that deals with themes of abuse, poverty, self-discovery and redemption and it’s all based on Lance’s true story! Here are a few panels from the upcoming graphic novel to get you excited about the official release on October 6th. The book will makes its world premiere at the 24th annual MCBA FallCon at the Minnesota State Fair Grounds. Below is a brief story from Lance’s childhood and how he started his career as a graphic novelist. Order Kmart Shoes right here.


Lance earns the nickname “Kmart Shoes”


Lance discovers the world of graphic novels


Check out more of Lance’s work at his site or visit our online store to order your copy of Kmart Shoes.

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Seventh Avenue Productions Releases “Lolly Poppet’s Lousy Year”

Now available for pre-order for $14.95. Click here to order and be one of the first to receive a copy!!

Lolly is having such a lousy year. She can’t wait for the next season to come along. Maybe next month will be better. Or maybe Lolly will have to learn to be happy in the present. Drawn in lively watercolor illustrations by Twin Cities based artist Lupi, a member of the International Cartoonists Conspiracy, Lolly Poppet’s Lousy Year is a bright, heartwarming storybook that any child will enjoy. Full color and written in bilingual English/Spanish text.

Lolly Poppet’s Lousy Year will be released October 6th, 2012 by Seventh Avenue Productions.

8.5 x 8.5, 30 pages, color, soft cover

ISBN: 978-0-9838854-3-6

$14.95 US

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