And some pop-ins along the way. Thanks to Deb for assembling this transcript and for rounding up some AX-related links.
I’m going to put this after the jump, because it’s really long and there are many spoilers along the way. So be warned! Also, be warned that I didn’t clean this transcript up, because it’s a Twitter conversation and I’m too lazy. I think it reads just fine as is. I did add some images, as I think it gives you a sense of the book’s scale and range.
debaoki fair warning peeps: i’ll be tweeting w/ the #AXed hashtag soon, as part of a discussion ’bout AX: Alternative Manga v. 1 fr. @topshelfcomix, if you’d like to follow along w/ the #AXed discussion, this is the book we’ll be talking about http://bit.ly/9h8BW5
MangaCur So who’s all up for some additional #AXed conversation?
snubpollard @MangaCur I just really hope nobody craps on anyone’s head in these comics. That would be really psychologically damaging to me.
MangaCur @snubpollard We all have our “clutch the pearls” threshold, which, I’m guessing, was not crossed by “Haiku Manga: Robo and Pyuta,” by Shinbo Minami.
debaoki @snubpollard @Mangacur I think we already passed my gag reflex barrier with the p*nis-headed sushi chef a few stories back.
“Haiku Manga – Robo & Pyuta” by Shinbo Minami
debaoki “Robo & Pyuta” is actually kind of light and sweet — the child asks the kind of questions kids ask about God. Robo & Pyuta is a nice continuation of the zen theme of the story that immediately preceded it — but was more approachable.
MangaCur Regarding “Robo and Pyuta,” I think every indie anthology needs a story or two like this… minimalist, gentle…
snubpollard “Haiku Manga” – Hm, already I’m at risk of maybe overthinking, but I wonder if there’s some linguistic technique at work here? Like, perhaps some formal connection between the pages/images and the composition of haiku, which likely won’t register translated?
MangaCur @snubpollard How so? If so, I’m glad they didn’t try to favor syllable structure rather than content of whatever was in haiku form.
aicnanime his work came in at the tail of coverage, but did Minami Shinbo get any coverage in the “Garo Manga: First Decade” exhibition?
snubpollard @MangaCur It’s just something I wonder about when poetry is displayed on the page, with the comic itself deemed poetry, as here.
debaoki it’s hard to translate haiku, especially one as simple as the ones in this story, so I think they didn’t try to match 5-7-5 syllables. However, i think the tone and mood comes through, and that was probably the better choice in this circumstance.
snubpollard @debaoki There is one 5-7-5 haiku (translated) per story; I imagine the comic is built up from that poem, with added text elsewhere.
“Mushroom Garden” by Shinya Komatsu
MangaCur Moving on to “Mushroom Garden,” by Shinya Komatsu, or as I like to think of it, the origin of the Smurf Village.
debaoki “Mushroom Garden” has a whimsical Little Nemo-like feel to me. Very charming art, even as mushrooms are taking over this boy’s world. Given how the prior stories in AX has conditioned us to expect some dark, demented twist at the end, this was quite gentle. “Mushroom Garden” could’ve ended with the mushroom possessing the boy & leading to mass mayhem. The matter-of-fact ending was a surprise.
snubpollard “Mushroom Garden” – This is pretty great; I love how even the ‘cute’ stories have this itchy, gnarled texture. It’s a little Brian Ralph, in that it’s very slick, very ‘good’-looking, but sorta unkempt where it counts. Also, I think the kid’s friend is totally gonna turn him over to the zoning board once he puzzles this mystery out.
MangaCur I almost wish “Mushroom Garden” had gone a little darker. It was just slightly off, and I wanted it to really derail. But the character designs in “Mushroom Garden” are so durable. You can see them used for ten years of comics.
snubpollard Oh, of course it’s about obsessions, creative compulsions, earworms, desires… rather healthy outlook, compared to some entries.
aicnanime for those who want to see a bit of Shinya Komatsu’s work: http://www.izigensya.com/
after a while away from Ax, I got Shinya Komatsu and Hideyasu Moto conflated in my head. thought it was SK who wrote for Ikki
MangaCur @aicnanime If Komatsu has any full-length works out there, someone should license them soon. They have a very salable look to me.
snubpollard @MangaCur This is probably the one AX artist (here) I can totally see popping up in MOME one season.
aicnanime “Mushroom Garden” is more than superficially tied to Miyazaki’s Nausicaa. Peppered with specific nods
debaoki @aicnanime yah — the details in “Mushroom Garden” did remind me a bit of the natural world gone haywire of Nausicaa.
“Home Drama: The Sugawaras” by Einosuke
MangaCur Moving on to “Home Drama: The Sugawara Family,” by Einosuke.
snubpollard “Home Drama” – Ha ha ha, I loved this, but I’m a sucker for extremely mundane subjects drawn with WAY over-the-top visual drama. Like, in a way it’s not too far off from what Yuichi Yokoyama does, but vastly more direct, less ‘sophisticated’ in concept.
debaoki Ha – “The Sugawaras” was pretty good. The obsessive detail of flying noodles being slurped up is great.
MangaCur The execution of “Home Drama” was its saving grace for me. Mundane point (conventional society is soul-crushing) lifted up.
snubpollard This is just supper as horror manga; it’s sheer visceral impact.
MangaCur @snubpollard And it works on that level. And it’s the right length. Gross, but not grinding.
snubpollard The start-stop effect of BOOMING sfx and WHOOSHING noodles mixing with close-ups of the protagonist’s face: really beautiful. It’s like a Zach Snyder fast-fast-slooooow-fast-fast rhythm, except the sloooow is freezing on the father’s efforts to enjoy himself.
aicnanime if “Home Drama” were animated 15 years ago, it’d be liable to be seen on (MTV’s) Liquid Television. Today, it might end up in Anime Hell.
MangaCur @aicnanime But Liquid Television would have beaten it into the ground.
“A Well-Dressed Corpse” by Yuichi Kiriyama
MangaCur Okay, time for “A Well-Dressed Corpse,” by Yuichi Kiriyama.
debaoki “A Well-Dressed Corpse” – grim and interesting as it is, this one could’ve used some translation notes. I know a decent amount of Japanese, but what is “Gurisu?” and what is a “Jaguar Sigma sneakers fan” ? I skimmed over these things because this is a very impressionistic rather than straight narrative, but it would’ve been helpful to have some context here.
snubpollard “A Well-Dressed Corpse” – Elliptical slice-of-vivified-dirty life. Kinda old-time gekiga, ‘fuck hope, fuck society, fuck progress.’ Maybe a teeny bit like a Koji Wakamatsu movie too? Feels ‘old,’ like Kiriyama is a participant in a genre tradition. Not that the Garo artists weren’t cognizant of aesthetic/literary tradition, but this feels ‘gekiga’ like ‘sci-fi,’ y’know?
MangaCur It’s strange, but most of the thug stories I’ve read in manga are either satire or comedy, so this doesn’t seem very alternative.
aicnanime @MangaCur Kind of like magic girls — the genre has preserved past its expiration date in the form of satire. In a way, “Well Dressed Corpse” reminds me of the sukeban section in Japanese Schoolgirl Inferno. attention to threat tied to aesthetic
MangaCur @aicnanime Very much so. I liked the rigid page compositions a lot, though. Like I was watching a slide show on thugs.
debaoki @mangacur — hm. slideshow? maybe it was meant to be a modern kamishibai story? (paper theater)
MangaCur @debaoki Could be! I’m just remembering the comportment/demeanor slide shows from my childhood.
“Arizona Sizzler” by Saito Yunosuke
MangaCur Okay, time for “Arizona Sizzler,” by Saito Yunosuke.
snubpollard “Arizona Sizzler” – Excellent title’s the best thing about it. Not bad or anything, but not as good as other visual exercises.
MangaCur Aside from wondering how the artist got past the prohibition on drawing genitalia, it didn’t make much of an impression on me. I think I recognize that mountain. It’s northeast of Flagstaff. Beautiful country. (I’ve got nothing. Sorry.)
snubpollard The twinkling undercarriage splash was well-done, though.
debaoki “Arizona Sizzler”… makes one realize — if the Jolly Green Giant was nekkid, would he seem as jolly? yikes. The thing is, the giant guy, he could care less about the girl! he seems completely unaware of how he’s grossing her out.
MangaCur @debaoki That’s because a supreme being is an inherently phallocentric construct. Or something.
debaoki there aren’t *that* many penis-centric stories in AX — but there were enough that by the time i got to this story, I thot “Enough already.”
“The Rainy Day Blouse” and “The First Umbrella” by Akino Kondoh
MangaCur I can wait no longer. It’s time for “The Rainy Day Blouse & the First Umbrella,” by Akino Kondo.
snubpollard “[Two by Akino Kondo]” – Nice art, very low-key. Wistful. Great facial expressions.
debaoki so yes, after the giant penis in “Arizona Sizzler,” it was a relief to have a female creator’s touch in the next story, “The Rainy Day Blouse” by Akino Kondo.
snubpollard I think the facing pages at 268 & 269 form an effective transition, eh? The stories after are a bit more… sensitive?
MangaCur @snubpollard Maybe so! I will note that the remaining stretch of my stories are among my favorites. But I love the observational nature of this and the internal logic of the narrator. It’s true slice of life.
debaoki Kondoh has a delicate touch with strong blacks/white compositions — similar to Jaime Hernandez. (albeit different mood/style).
Akino Kondoh is more of a fine artist than a comix artist nowadays & perhaps rightly so. http://akinokondoh.sakura.ne.jp/
Check out this lovely animation by Akino Kondoh: Ladybird’s Requiem. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFqAc9kRP8g
btw – @vcinemashow sent a reminder that Akino Kondoh is on Twitter: @AkinoKondoh – she’ll also be a guest @MangaNEXT.
snubpollard Yeah, I liked these. It’s hard to pull off something this delicate in tone, as I think the next entry demonstrates.
“Stand by Me” by Tomohiro Koizumi
MangaCur @snubpollard Which brings us to “Stand By Me,” by Tomohiro Koizumi. While I didn’t think “Stand By Me” was successful, I would be interested to see some of Koizumi’s more current works.
snubpollard “Stand By Me” – This is awful. From the blunt title to the overstated message to the stilted, digital-toned art. And if I never see another anime/manga scenario about horny losers peeping at classmates, it’ll be too soon.
debaoki i’d have to agree. “Stand by Me” didn’t do much for me either. art is awkward, story is mundane.
aicnanime Tomohiro Koizumi’s “Life is Dead”, from Young Champion, about a zombie causing STD, seems like it would work in North America. Then again, zombies and manga haven’t sold like vampires and manga (see Reiko the Zombie Shop) (published in the US by Dark Horse: http://www.darkhorse.com/Books/10-931/Reiko-the-Zombie-Shop-Vol-1-TPB)
Tomohiro Koizumi at Mangaka Band Wars via Tokyo Scum Brigade http://is.gd/fuOI0
“My Old Man” and “Me” by Shin’ichi Abe
MangaCur We could all use little “My Old Man & Me,” by Shin’ichi Abe, at this point.
debaoki “My Old Man and Me” and “Me” offered a counterpoint to the “being a manga artist is awesome!” idealism of Bakuman. It’s a matter-of-fact reminder that a lot of manga artists just get by – they aren’t rich, super-successful, hugely-respected artistes.
snubpollard “[Two by Shin'ichi Abe]” – I’ll defer to Ryan Holmberg’s Garo exhibition catalog that Abe’s primary traits are: (1) A rather self-aggrandizing presentation of bohemian romanticism and (2) a fairly hands-off portrayal of often brutal sexism. Given that, this diptych is kind of a curatorial response – er, maybe not intended as such!
MangaCur @snubpollard The bohemian romanticism really worked for me. Sexist, yes, but those were really jazzy little shorts.
snubpollard The rocker narrator of story #1 is eager to try and understand his father, while the mother of story #2 is sensitively characterized. Particularly if you read her as the mother in story #1, which contrasts her personal sacrifices with her ‘family’ face to her son.
MangaCur @snubpollard That’s how I read her.
snubpollard @MangaCur Oh no, I think it’s actually not sexist here! The woman gets two perspectives, an omniscient nod toward her struggle. Particularly given that the rocker son clearly has only a partial insight into her life. Anyway, I really liked these/this – one of my favorites.
MangaCur @snubpollard Ah, okay. I misunderstood. I am relieved! I liked them a lot.
“Up and Over” by Seiko Erisawa
snubpollard “Up & Over” – The lighter side of scatology. It’s cute. [FIN]
MangaCur And I liked “Up and Over,” which shouldn’t surprise anyone who knows my tastes. Sweetly observed nostalgia. Not sugary, but nice.
debaoki “Up and Over” – it’s the kind of story someone would really tell, and the girl’s response at the end of the story? Hilarious!
MangaCur @debaoki It was a particularly terrific ending.
debaoki I totally love that panel on the top right of p. 296 where the mom is holding her son upside down while yakking to the doctor!
MangaCur @debaoki Another creator whose sensibility I’d like to see applied to a longer story. Reminded me of Raina Telgemeier.
aicnanime Seiko Erisawa is ok at http://erisawa.com/ – I did the look of her stuff. covers are adorable
“The Song of Mr. H” by Shigeyuki Fukumitsu
snubpollard “The Song of Mr. H” – I liked this a bunch, even if it’s a big ol’ Christmas sack of cliches. Perfect execution counts for something.
MangaCur “The Song of Mr. H.,” by Shigeyuki Fukumitsu. The first rule of Fight Club is that it would have been better with an old guy.
snubpollard For all the talk of Ax as experimental and avant-garde, this is totally something a depressed salaryman would read on the train home.
MangaCur @snubpollard Oh, it counts for a ton, and it’s a relief to see this in play in an alternative magazine.
debaoki I rather preferred this “salaryman in despair” story to the prior one, “Rooftop Elegy.” maybe because the ending was more satisfying?
MangaCur @debaoki I think it just conceived better. It had a fresher idea, or at least a more grounded rendering of it.
remoteryan @debaoki super late to the party but oh well, gonna jump in! I didn’t love “Song of Mr. H” but i’m a fan of Fukumitsu generally.
debaoki @remoteryan what is Fukumitsu’s other work like? i haven’t seen his work before…
remoteryan @debaoki he uses weird stand-in wimpy male characters & fierce big-boobed girls but peppers in enough suburban violence 2 make it work
aicnanime Shigeyuki Fukumitsu – The Most Emo Man in Japan http://is.gd/fuPXT
MangaCur @aicnanime More emo than Inio Asano? You LIE, sir.
aicnanime @MangaCur take the superlative enough with Mr. Manga: The Complete Guide (Jason Thompson)
aicnanime “at least once in every man’s life, he wonders if he could be the strongest” – Grappler Baki As much as “The Song of Mr. H.” is fight club, strikes me as a bit Densha Otoko in that it’s driven by happenstance.
I do a bit of fight sport activity and found The Song of Mr. H. to be a relatable, slightly amusing fantasy.
remoteryan I have Fukumitsu’s book “A LIFE” and it’s about street urchins and a wimp dude fighting back a la KICK ASS. also an old man & hot girl
MangaCur @remoteryan Again, I’d love to see more of his work in English. I really like the look of it and the tone.
And now, a moment to recognize Ian Sharman, the letterer of AX Vol. 1
davidwynne Hey #AXed readers, you should totally follow @idsharman, the poor bastard who had to letter that breeze block of a book
debaoki @davidwynne man! how long did it take @idsharman to letter AX? this is one brick of a book.
idsharman @debaoki I was working on it, on and off, for just over a year.
davidwynne @debaoki really amazing thing is he managed to write a GN & 3 issues of another book, & edit a whole line of Indy comics at the same time.
MangaCur @idsharman Very much enjoyed it! Amazed by all your hard work!
idsharman @MangaCur Glad you’re enjoying it. Was a lot of work but fascinating to work on as manga’s not really my thing.
idsharman Hey, #AXed people, just so you know, we’re currently working on a follow up project. :D
Kataoka Toyo Pathos Theater – “The Ballad of Non-Stop Farting” and “I Can’t Stand Pain” by Kataoka Toyo
MangaCur Are we ready for “Kataoka Toyo Pathos Theater,” by Kataoka Toyo?
snubpollard “Kataoka Tokyo Pathos Theater” – First part was pretty funny. The second was a bit talkative for my taste.
MangaCur Having been to SPX (Small Press Expo) a couple of times, “Kataoka Toyo Pathos Theater” feels very familiar to me.
remoteryan @MangaCur This one is typical Kataoka- very wordy & dense, focusing on blue-collar Tokyoites & their physical/base/ironic daily lives.
MangaCur @remoteryan It’s also kind of cheeky and funny. It gives off the same kind of vibe as a bunch of mini-comics I’ve enjoyed.
snubpollard Nice looking art, but the blocking on the second story made it kinda tough to discern who’s talking. Or exactly what the end was. Still, I’m never not up for a serene double-page farting splash.
debaoki I don’t know why, but Kataoka Toyo’s art reminds me of Peter Bagge’s style. maybe his obsessive line-work, the rubbery facial expressions? Also reminded me of Kazmir Strzepek (the Mourning Star)
remoteryan @debaoki @MangaCur definitely! the comparison to strzepek’s lines is really apt! when talking about the down & out, humor is the only weapon
“Kosuke Okada and His 50 Sons” by Hideyasu Moto
MangaCur Time to move on to “Kosuke Okada and his 50 Sons,” by Hideyasu Moto? There was absolutely nothing about “Kosuke Okada and his 50 Sons” that I did not love. Maybe my favorite thing in “AX.”
snubpollard “Kosuke Okada & His 50 Sons” – Those were the least necessary last three pages in the history of comics in excess of three pages.
MangaCur @snubpollard But all the ones that came before them!
snubpollard @MangaCur Eh, can’t separate them. Didn’t help that final gotcha image JUST appeared in A Drunken Dream!
MangaCur @snubpollard Well, if you’re going to rip someone off, it might as well be Hagio.
snubpollard Actually, Moto and Hagio (hey!) share a similar tendency to explicate their images in-story, which I find redundant.
MangaCur Still, I was so happy to see something genuinely sad and sentimental in the mix.
debaoki “Kosuke Okada and his 50 Sons” reminded me a bit of Hanakuma’s “Puppy Love” — albeit a more bittersweet story.
Les Raskolinikov by Keizo Miyanishi
MangaCur Moving on to “Les Raskolnikov,” by Keizo Miyanishi.
snubpollard “Les Raskolnikov” – Amusingly, Miyanishi’s lone prior appearance in English was in the early ’80s anthology “Manga” – just Manga. One imagines he was selected for his rather detailed style, which (in the Manga book) tilted toward a very ‘classical’ aesthetic. It was a kind of Japanese comics look that would ease an unacclimated reader into a foreign work. This, of course, was a skewed view.
MangaCur @snubpollard I thought you might be talking about the Taschen reference book, a mix of legends and “who the hell is that?”
snubpollard @MangaCur No, I mean this: http://bit.ly/a8MngJ
debaoki “Les Raskolnikov” reminded me of the Takato Yamamoto story earlier in the book – lots of style, but not much story.
The stories in AX that I most liked found that sweet spot between having a distinctive visual style & a story worth caring about.
MangaCur @debaoki The best ones for me had that happy slight dissonance between content and tone and visual style. Love that.
remoteryan @debaoki not a fan of “Les Raskolnikov”. At least the T Yamamoto story’s art carries the flimsy premise. But this one bores me
MangaCur “Les Raskolnikov” actually made me think more highly of “Into Darkness,” which is about all I can say for it.
snubpollard Not much of a story, but that last splash is a heck of an album cover.
Alraune Fatale by Hiroji Tani
MangaCur Okay, ready for “Alraune Fatale,” by Hiroji Tani? “Alraune Fatale” definitely would have benefited from more daylight between it and “Six Paths of Wealth.” Very similar in approach and tone, but very different degrees of artistic success, I thought. And “Fatale” wasn’t a bad story.
remoteryan @MangaCur I liked the art style in Fatale a lot, but it was a bit of a mix of Junji Ito’s Tomie & the movie Pretty Woman. This sort of “fear of woman” story isn’t necessarily misogynistic but it’s fairly common in indie comics (America & Japan).
MangaCur @remoteryan That would explain my ambivalence. Loved “Tomie,” hated “Pretty Woman.”
snubpollard “Alraune Fatale” – This also bears comparison to “Into Darkness,” I think. Very external in comparison. I love this guy’s art.
debaoki “Alraune Fatale” — this, to me, was like the kind of stories I used to read in “Heavy Metal” in the 1980’s. But overall, i liked Alaraune Fatale — a very satisfying short story about a true sexual succubus. just the right length. But I don’t know if it was totally necessary for the man to reveal that he had nothing left to live for anyway.
snubpollard @debaoki Even further back! It’s totally a Creepy short! Right down to the idealization/terror of women.
MangaCur @snubpollard @debaoki Again, I have to say that I wish there were original publication dates listed here somewhere. It really tracks with both Deb’s “Heavy Metal” and Jog’s “Creepy” comparisons.
remoteryan @snubpollard ah, you’re right! before “indie comix”,, this is straight out of EC Tales of terror shtuff
debaoki @MangaCur yes, some of the art definitely has a “dated” / art movement of the month feel, so dates would be helpful to put in context.
snubpollard @MangaCur @debaoki The last panel’s dated “’01” though, so that’d be the date of completion, I’d think.
remoteryan @MangaCur the “AX RESEARCH PROJECT” might be helpful for original publication dates (artists/stories in JP/Kanji) http://bit.ly/bXrxkL
That last story (Fatale) was in AX 22, from August 31, 2001
“Sacred Light” by Otoya Mitsuhashi
MangaCur Just two more: “Sacred Light,” by Otoya Mitsuhashi.
snubpollard “Sacred Light” – Greatly enjoyed this as a buffer between Tani’s old-tyme chills and Hanawa trying to tear the roof off the place. Especially in that it’s a (male-centered, yes) celebration of sex and music as transporting, if maybe not to a cozy place. Like, there’s a tension between ecstasy and realizing you’re not an ecstatic young person anymore, which I liked a lot.
I also enjoyed translator Spencer Fancutt’s occasional deployment of British tidbits throughout the book. “Oi!”
remoteryan @snubpollard totally agree– the main thread through MUCH indie manga is 1970 & the ampo joyaku protest movement (& nostalgia for it). For that same thread in indie manga, see: Haruki Murakami’s novels, most leftist art from late 60s/early 70s creators
snubpollard @remoteryan Yeah, and the early Garo guys were always a bit nostalgic too, to agrarian settings, pre-war times. You could argue a lot of ‘alternative’ Japanese comics opposed the forward, West-informed mainline trajectory of Tezuka.
debaoki “A Broken Soul” and “Les Raskolinikov” has a real late 80’s / early 90’s art school feel to it, as does “Sacred Light.” The one thing I did like about “Sacred Light” is the non-traditional use of calligraphic brush strokes. It has a kind of beat poetry vibe to it — the words are presented in an almost percussive style.
MangaCur I loved the scratchy angularity in “Sacred Light.” Feels like a trained artist deciding what not to do, you know?
“Six Paths of Wealth” by Kazuichi Hanazawa
MangaCur Are we ready to bring it home with “Six Paths of Wealth,” by Kazuichi Hanawa?
snubpollard “Six Paths of Wealth” – An old fashioned showstopper. The ultimate showdown between devious femininity and grotesque devotion!
MangaCur There’s a fabulous Heavy Metal comic retelling of the story of the Borgias, and “Six Paths” reminds me of it so much.
debaoki I had previously only read “Doing Time,” Kazuichi Hanakawa’s obsessive prison diary (published by Fanfare – Ponent Mon – http://www.ponentmon.com/new_pages/english/prison/frame3.html) – so “Six Paths of Wealth” was a revelation.
remoteryan @debaoki I know Hanawa more for his buddhist horror tales & bloody ukiyo-e art w/ Maruo than Doing Time;So this was just what i wanted.
debaoki @remoteryan wow, that’s amazing stuff. it’s too bad that we haven’t seen more of his stuff in English yet.
remoteryan @debaoki @aicnanime definitely agree :) worth noting those pics are from a collection of “THE EARLY WORKS OF KAZUICHI HANAWA”
remoteryan @debaoki @aicnanime Also, worth noting: http://samehat.blogspot.com/2007/03/bloody-ukiyo-e-prints-by-maruo-hanawa.html
debaoki Six Paths of Wealth is great stuff — excellent artwork, suitably creepy horror with a sci-fi/japanese vibe. We should all thank @johnjakala for coining the term “come-uppance theater” because “Six Paths of Wealth” certainly fits the bill.
snubpollard And Hanawa even throws in a nebbish husband figure that can only destroy the cruel women by accident, after their sexin’ ruins ‘em. Yet it’s hard to argue with the sheer rip-down-the-sky abandon of pg. 387. This man OWNS his subject matter. (easy for a guy to say.)
MangaCur @snubpollard “Six Paths” just felt so particularly of a moment and a style but was so energetic about it. Perfect finale.
A Few Final Words About AX: Alternative Manga Vol. 1
debaoki I will say this for Mitsuhiro Asakawa (the editor of AX) — he made the effort to show a wide range of styles & stories here. The AX collection does skew “male” to me, which surprised me because I’ve always seen Japanese manga as more inclusive of female creators.
MangaCur @debaoki That’s interesting, because some of the stories that made the strongest impression with me were by women. Especially in terms of creators I want to know more about and see more examples of their work.
remoteryan @debaoki I agree re: male-ness of the collection. my faves from the scene are Yuka Goto, Carol Shimoda, Yamada Hanako though :)
debaoki @MangaCur I didn’t do a check until today, but many of the stories we praised for their light, sensitive touch were by females.
snubpollard @debaoki According to Holmberg (again!), the Garo strain of alt manga was VERY male-dominated in tradition.
Er, I should clarify that Hanawa BELONGS to that early Garo tradition, so he’s old guard here.
debaoki Usually, i don’t glom onto the “female/male” creator thing — the art can/should speak for itself. Maybe I just got penised-out.
MangaCur @debaoki But I can definitely see all of the sad salarymen and variations on masculinity getting tired.
remoteryan @snubpollard @debaoki Much Japanese indie manga suffers from the same problems as US Indie Comix- men & their masturbatory fears :(
debaoki AX is both a fun and frustrating read — there are some creators I wish I could see more of their work (in English), but know I probably won’t.
snubpollard To me, Ax was an oddly cozy experience. In its passion for diversity, it basically registered as one of the old Top Shelf anthologies. Except, y’know, with an all-Japanese crew. Even given the specific Japanese subject matter, it felt very spread out, inclusive.
MangaCur @snubpollard Exactly. It was right in keeping with what I think of as the range of Top Shelf’s publishing catalog. Maybe minus Owly.
snubpollard I liked having so much stuff, but having finished it I’d have gone for a bit more focus. There’s too many ‘eh, nice’ stories. Like, it presented diversity, ok! Now let’s see an argument for VALUE. For the vitality of aesthetic!
MangaCur I won’t lie. I was worried that there would be a high percentage of sketchy, incomprehensible crap.
snubpollard But maybe an overview is necessary for now? I’d like to see more of a specialized curatorial bent in later editions.
debaoki I appreciate that AX is very much an expression of Asakawa-san’s vision for manga that pushes past predictable tropes/styles. And with this kind of risk-taking/experimentation there was bound to be some hits, some misses & some “so what?” stories.
MangaCur @debaoki Yup. Every anthology will have its good, bad, and meh spectrum, but this one calculated well for me.
debaoki I find IKKI to have a much more consistently artistic vision / editorial standard than AX — AX is exuberantly messy & irregular. AX to me seems more avant-garde, more willing to go out on a limb than IKKI — but I’ve only had limited exposure to both.
snubpollard @debaoki Ah, true. It could just be a reflection of Ax’s own editorial posture.
aicnanime @debaoki aren’t the circulations of Ax and Ikki on very different strata? Three Steps Over Japan says never see an issue of Ax http://is.gd/fuWHj – collections of Ikki material are plentiful on Amazon.jp
remoteryan @debaoki @aicnanime I think of Seirinkogeisha very much like Fantagraphics + Picturebox, or like REPRODUKT in Germany. Small staff, etc.
remoteryan @snubpollard @debaoki @MangaCur If you guys are interested, I’m doing a post tonight on new manga from Seirinkogeisha (w/previews). lots of online preview via their site, including tons of AX artists + even better folks I <3
MangaCur @remoteryan Looking forward to reading it! I’ve looked up stuff on their site before with limited success!
debaoki also, @topshelfcomix — is there an AX: Alternative Manga Vol. 2 in the works?
hermanos “I spoke to (AX editor) Sean Wilson at SDCC and he said that if AX is a hit/sells, v2 is almost assured.”
Postscript: Ryan Sands found this little gem: the cover for AX: Alternative Manga Vol. 2 in the works? http://samehat.tumblr.com/post/1193161733/mock-up-on-a-designers-site-for-a-second