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Everybody Dies: A Children's Book for Grown-Ups

By Ken Tanaka with David Ury


Publisher: HarperCollins Design

Date of Publication: May 27, 2014

Language: English

Hardcover: 48 pages

ISBN-10: 0062329642

ISBN-13: 978-0062329646

Everybody Dies: A Children’s Book for Grown Ups is a hit in museum stores, novelty shops and even traditional bookstores as well.  A macabre and darkly humorous look at mortality in the vein of the classic Japanese children’s book Everybody Poops, All My Friends Are Dead, and the mega-bestseller Go the F**k to Sleep.  Tanaka’s work is often compared to that of Edward Gorey, Shel Silverstein and Yoshitomo Nara.

From YouTube sensation Ken Tanaka and actor David Ury, who was crushed by an ATM on AMC's Breaking Bad, comes Everybody Dies, a colorful story and delightful assemblage of games that makes it easy-even fun- to come to grips with mortality. Though originally meant for adults, Everybody Dies may be most effective when read to frightened parents by their children.



Ken Tanaka


Born in Los Angeles as Ken Smith, Ken Tanaka was adopted by a Japanese family and raised in rural Shimane Prefecture. At the age of thirty-three, Ken returned to Los Angeles to search for his birth parents with only their names, Jonathan and Linda Smith. He documented his search on YouTube and quickly become an online sensation. His award-winning videos include the viral hit “What Kind of Asian Are You?,” the White Samurai series, and “What Is Art?” In late 2007 Ken was reunited with his long-lost twin brother and Everybody Dies coauthor, David Ury, via YouTube (search Ken Tanaka meets David Ury on YouTube). The two of them have been collaborating ever since...

David Ury

Author, actor, and stand-up comic David Ury has a long history with death. While he is best known for getting crushed by an ATM as the character Spooge in AMC's “Breaking Bad”, he has been shot, bitten, impaled, and stabbed to death countless times in American films and television programs. He has written nearly one hundred English-language adaptations of foreign comics including “Me and the Devil Blues,” which won a Glyph Award in 2009.





  • La Luz de Jesus 25. 
    Edited by Janice S. Gore, 2011, La Luz De Jesus Press (Contributing Artist)
  • The Open Daybook. 
    Edited by David Earle, 2010, Mark Batty Publisher (Contributing Artist)
  • Three Apples—An Exhibition Celebrating 35 Years of Hello Kitty. 
    2009, Sanrio Co. Ltd. (Contributing Artist)


  • Ken Tanaka One man Show C’mon! Written and Performed by Ken Tanaka
    Royal-T ArtSpace, Los Angeles; California State Long Beach


  • 2009 YouTube Japan Short Film Award Winner “I am Robot”
  • 2010 YouTube Japan Music Award Winner “Scream of Slacker”


  • Solo Shows
    • LeBasse Projects
      Los Angeles, CA, June 2011
    • Cade Gallery
      Phoenix, AZ, May 2011
  • Group Shows
    • Pasadena Museum of California Art, June 2014
    • La Luz De Jesus Gallery: 25 Years
      Los Angeles, CA, September 2011
    • Royal-T ArtSpace
      Los Angeles, CA, July 2011
    • Torrance Art Museum
      Torrance, CA, March 2011


Interesting Facts:

  • The book was originally self-published and sold out its print run of 5,000 copies before being picked up by HarperCollins. The new version features 16 brand new pages, including a “Last Will and Testament” that the reader can fill in
  • The book is taught as part of the Comedic Literature curriculum at California State University, Long Beach
  • Ken Tanaka has been making YouTube videos since 2007, and is the winner of the YouTube Japan awards for music and short film.  His video “What Kind of Asian Are You?” went viral in 2013, garnering 5 million+ hits in one month.

Sample Interview Questions:

  • What made you want to write a book about death? 
  • Death is such a taboo subject; were you worried about the reception your book would get? 
  • You started out self-publishing the book; what has changed since you began working with HarperCollins?
  • What does “death” mean to you?
  • How do you think you’ll die?



Check out @KenTanakaLovesU's new book about death that everyone in the family can enjoy! http://ctt.ec/pl3dC+ #EverybodyDiesBook (Click to Tweet)


Finally, a book about death that the whole family can enjoy. Ken Tanaka and David Ury present Everybody Dies: A Children’s Book for Grown-Ups. #EverybodyDiesBook (Click to Share on FaceBook)



On Everybody Dies: A Children’s Book for Grown-Ups

Simultaneously amusing and quite grim. (Everybody Dies is...) a curious work that straddles the line between the flat-out morbid and the darkly humorous.
— Publishers Weekly
Tanaka has crafted a slender tome that slyly assists readers in coming to grips with the grim reaper in every conceivable fashion.
— Clay McLeod Chapman, Fangoria
An amusing, quirky, and original take on the issue of eternal rest, with charming and thought-provoking images that boldly illustrate a difficult subject with rare humor and poignancy.
— Tanja M. Laden, Flavorpill
A sweet parody of Everyone Poops.
— Betsy Mitchell, Chief Editor Del Rey Books/Manga

On Ken Tanaka

(Ken Tanaka is) a Candide-esque archetype shambling through this world with perseverance and pluck.
— Miles Beller, LA Times
Ken Tanaka has an earnestness and innocence that conveys the whimsical and the sublime while kicking your heart right in the balls.
— David Mack, NY Times best-selling author of Kabuki
Ken Tanaka is not the actor and artist David Ury in the way that Tony Clifton was not Andy Kaufman.
— Paste Magazine


Publishers Weekly (08/29/2011)

Everybody Dies: A Children’s Book for Grownups


A parody in the vein of the classic Japanese children’s book Everyone Poops, this slender volume addresses matters mortal as opposed to those fecal, and the result is a curious work that straddles the line between the flat-out morbid and the darkly humorous. International YouTube personality Tanaka approaches the material from the perspective of a book intended for reading to frightened adults by their children in an attempt to help them understand the various ways in which we can meet our fate. The author achieves this via page after page of images depicting many possible demise scenarios with images rendered in a childlike style evoking art generated by and for elementary schoolers as posters. The faux “kiddie” aesthetic merrily portrays surfing tragedy, being devoured by wild animals, war, armed robbery, and overdose as just some of the lethal possibilities, content that is simultaneously amusing and quite grim.

Fangoria.com (07/27/2011)


EVERYONE POOPS. EVERYONE USES MATH. And now, thanks to writer/illustrator Ken Tanaka, EVERYBODY DIES...

Mirroring the tone and tenor of Taro Gomi's groundbreaking EVERYONE POOPS, with EVERYBODY DIES... (out October 1 from Maximum Pleasant Publishing), Tanaka has crafted a slender tome that slyly assists readers in coming to grips with the grim reaper in every conceivable fashion. Columns of crudely drawn skulls greet the reader on page one, conjuring up the catacombs of paris as if sketched by a kindergartner. A catalog of "diseases that could be killing you right now" are illustrated grimly with primitive care, and in an added dash of pathos we are asked, in colorful magic marker drawings, to confront the sobering idea of losing our family, our pets and even ourselves.

Tanaka’s timing could not be better. Thanks to Adam Mansback and Ricardo Cortes' runaway bestseller GO THE FUCK TO SLEEP (not to mention Samuel Jackson's riveting audio rendition of said title), it seems high season for children's books aimed at parents rather than their offspring. Tanaka's straightforward, matter-of-fact style is pitch perfect with the pre-pubertal publications it succinctly mimics. So much so, it would be no surprise to one day discover EVERYBODY DIES... accidentally shelved in the children's section of the local bookstore.

But here's the rub: it should be there. While adults will surely find EVERYBODY DIES... funny, there is a missed opportunity here, as kids could lean a fundamental lesson from this book: every living thing must die someday.