Cartoonists in Japan are as abundant as the cherry blossoms at this time of year -- but Rieko Saibara is probably the only one who has both a lyrical and rebellious side to her work -- along with an astonishing power and what has been called a "lethal poison.''

At times she may shock some readers with the indecent content of her work, and at other times her crazy jokes have no doubt made many laugh their heads off. But her portrayals of poverty, of her love for her children and her separation from her husband will have brought many to tears, as well.

Born and raised in a broken family in Kochi Prefecture on the island of Shikoku, Saibara was encouraged by her stepfather to sue her high school when they expelled her for underage drinking. She did, and the school paid her compensation.