Upcoming 12/29/2010

December 28, 2010

I’m still decompressing upon reentry to normal world as opposed to holiday sparkle world, and, to be honest, looking at this week’s ComicList is roughly akin to trying to read something written in ancient possum. My brain just isn’t there yet. I’ll rely instead on two trustworthy souls, and take their recommendation to seek out a copy of The Secret Notes of Lady Kanako (Tokyopop), written and illustrated by Ririko Tsujita. I’ve been excited about this since Melinda (Manga Bookshelf) Beasi discussed it with Michelle Smith in a recent Off the Shelf column. And Sean (A Case Suitable for Treatment) Gaffney points out that it’s from Hakusensha’s LaLa DX, which is a fine font of manga even by Hakusensha’s generally excellent standards.

I’m coherent enough to enjoy the writing of other bloggers, even if I can’t yet conjure the mental acuity to formulate a shopping list. First up are the new inductees to Kate (The Manga Critic) Dacey’s Manga Hall of Shame. And, as usual, there’s a lot of overlap between my favorites and the Best Manga of 2010 list at Manga Worth Reading.


Upcoming 12/22/2010

December 21, 2010

It’s a jam-packed ComicList this week, so much so that I must engage in speculation: if I could only pick one of the thumping stack of Viz Signature titles that are arriving this week, which would it be? Keep in mind that I’ll buy all of them at some point, but that’s a lot of books, you know?

So, to start, I would theoretically postpone purchase of the SigIkki titles on the assumption that I’m up to date on having read them online and thinking that a little more distance between reading them on the web and in a physical book would improve the experience. That’s three out of the mix, and they’re really good, so ouch. And there are still three left.

There’s no shame in losing to Fumi Yoshinaga and Naoki Urasawa, so I’m afraid that Natsume Ono’s charming Gente would have to wait. Much as 20th Century Boys is my favorite Urasawa series, I’m not quite as starved for a new volume of it as I am for the next installment of the final contender…

… the fifth volume of Yoshinaga’s Ôoku: The Inner Chambers. Yes, it’s got some adaptation issues, but I find that it takes fewer and fewer pages for me to adapt myself to them and throw myself into the very beguiling story.

And, just for clarity, here’s the order of choice for all of Signature’s avalanche:

1. Ôoku: The Inner Chambers vol. 5, Fumi Yoshinaga
2. 20th Century Boys vol. 12, Naoki Urasawa
3. Gente vol. 2, Natsume Ono
4. House of Five Leaves vol. 2, Natsume Ono
5. Children of the Sea vol. 4, Daisuke Igarashi
6. I’ll Give It My All… Tomorrow vol. 2, Shunji Aono

Vertical isn’t making things any cheaper.

I think the fourth volume of Kanata Konami’s Chi’s Sweet Home is the best yet. Konami really seems to have found a rhythm by this point and a solid handle on the comic potential of human-feline interaction. And I’m really looking forward to how Felipe Smith wraps things up in the third and final volume of the deranged cross-cultural theater-of-cruelty comedy, Peepo Choo.

And if you’ve never much cared for Marvel’s comics, I don’t know how meaningful this will be for you, but I’m really, really enjoying Secret Avengers. Last issue, Valkyrie, the Asgardian chooser of the slain, kicked the asses of a whole bunch of ninjas. That will either light a spark in your soul or not. The eighth issue comes out Wednesday, written by Ed Brubaker and drawn by Mike Deodato.

What looks good to you?

Update: Major omission alert!

Drawn & Quarterly gets its gekiga on with Oji Suzuki’s A Single Match, a “collection of hauntingly elliptical short stories.”


Upcoming 12/15/2010

December 13, 2010

Yen Press rules the anticipatory roost this week, at least in my neck of the woods.

Fumi Yoshinaga’s Not Love But Delicious Foods Make Me So Happy arrives fashionably late to the Best of 2010 mixer, I suspect. I haven’t read it yet myself, but it’s by Yoshinaga, but it seems to be in her “irresistibly, effortlessly charming” mode. Some early responses are available from Johanna (Manga Worth Reading) Draper Carlson and Manga Bookshelf’s Off the Shelf duo of Melinda Beasi and Michelle Smith. The book inspired Kate (The Manga Critic) Dacey (who reviews the book here) to host a contest, asking readers to name their favorite culinary comics.

Still on the topic of irresistibly charming comics, Yen will also release the ninth volume of Kiyohiko Azuma’s Yotsuba&!, which really requires no additional endorsement beyond just saying that it will soon be available for sale. Kind of like new Yoshinaga manga, come to think of it.

I don’t really know anything about it qualitatively, but there’s something about the cover of Yuuki Iinuma’s Itsuwaribito (Viz) that would probably make me pick it up in a store and browse a few pages. I suspect it’s the cheerful woodland creature.

What looks good to you?


Upcoming 12/8/2010

December 7, 2010

After a shônen-heavy week, rewarding as it was, it will be nice to spare a little attention for shôjo and even josei in this week’s ComicList:

Viz debuts Julietta Suzuki’s Kamisama Kiss, about a girl who unwittingly becomes a local goddess. It happens. The series originally ran in Hakusensha’s Hana to Yume, which is a good sign, and Suzuki also created Karakuri Odette (Tokyopop), a well-liked series that will be the subject of the next Manga Moveable Feast, to be hosted at Manga Report.

On the josei front, there’s the fifth volume of Yuki Yoshihara’s smutty, ridiculous, and endearing Butterflies, Flowers (Viz). In this volume, our completely insane protagonists go furniture shopping, which will surely devolve into madness. The series originally ran in Shogakukan’s Petit Comic.

That’s not a very substantial shopping list, but other bloggers are willing and able to help you part ways with your discretionary income:

  • First up is Melinda (Manga Bookshelf) Beasi, who offers this excellent gift guide with many useful categories.
  • And if I were to write a Best of 2010 list, it would look very much like Kate (The Manga Critic) Dacey’s, except mine wouldn’t be written as well. Still, book for book, I can’t find many points of disagreement. Maybe the order of a couple of items?

  • Upcoming 12/2/2010

    November 30, 2010

    This week’s ComicList is dominated by the one and only Osamu Tezuka.

    I’ve been reading Tezuka’s Ayako (a review copy provided by the publisher, Vertical), and it’s intriguing. Tezuka is viewing the turbulent, post-World War II period in Japanese history through the lens of a troubled family of landed gentry trying to hold onto their resources, if not their dignity. As the publisher notes, the book is “[u]nusually devoid of cartoon premises yet shot through with dark voyeuristic humor.”

    Of the crazy Tezuka available in English, it’s the most realistic in terms of the events it portrays. The narrative certainly relies on extremities of human cruelty, greed, and depravity, but people don’t turn into dogs or display implausible aptitudes for disguise and sexual irresistibility or scheme to destroy all men. Admirable as Tezuka always is, even when modeling relative restraint, I’m finding I miss the extremities… the moments when I ask myself if I really just read that and going back a few pages to make sure. I suspect Ayako is a book that will require a couple of readings to really absorb what it’s trying to convey.

    It ran in Shogakukan’s Big Comic from January 1972 to June 1973.

    Elsewhere in comics, Brandon Graham’s terrific King City (Image) reaches its conclusion with its 12th issue. It looks really great in pamphlet form, I have to say.

    What looks good to you this week?


    Upcoming 11/24/2010

    November 23, 2010

    The last time I wrote about 7 Billion Needles (Vertical), Nobuaki Tadano’s manga homage to Hal Clement’s Needle, I neglected to mention the retro cover design, which is terrific. You know that smell that used paperback stores have? The look of the book evokes that smell, and the proportions of the book support it. The contents of the book don’t quite evoke that pulpy nostalgia, but they hint at it, and they’ve got their own charms.

    In the second volume, Tadano inches forward with his meta approach to the tale of two warring aliens who crash on Earth and proceed to mess up the life of an isolated high-school girl and threaten the people around her. If Ultimo (Viz) is kind of a bland, accidentally creepy look at the endless battle between good and evil, 7 Billion Needles seems intent to play with the construct in ways that are perversely endearing. These moments aren’t the meat of the book, but they are the spice, and they’re welcome. They enliven what might otherwise be a standard, well-executed bit of violent angst.

    And it is well-executed, even without the twists on the formula. This time around, Hikaru confronts a trauma from her past. With the encouragement of her new friends, she goes to the village where she spent her childhood and confronts the reason she’s shut herself off from the people around her. Of course, the ostensibly heroic entity sharing her body and the monstrous being they battle complicate the sentimental journey with plenty of menacing action.

    This series really is a pleasant surprise. Of the four series Vertical has debuted this year, my expectations were probably lowest for 7 Billion Needles, but it’s smarter and more interesting than I had anticipated. Go read Kate (The Manga Critic) Dacey’s review for a thoughtful take on the book.

    So what else is due this week? There’s the seventh issue of Secret Avengers (Marvel), a very enjoyable spin-off of a comics franchise I’ve long found really horrible, so that’s nice. It’s also one of the only successful attempts I’ve ever seen to make super-heroes “proactive.”

    There’s also the debut of Kakifly’s K-On (Yen Press), a well-liked four-panel comedy about a high-school music club. It originally ran in Houbunsha’s Manga Time Kiara Carat.

    What looks good to you?


    Upcoming 11/17/2010

    November 16, 2010

    I read the second volume of Hisae Iwaaka’s Saturn Apartments (Viz) last night, confirming my feeling that this is one of the best new series of the year. (I feel that way about several titles in Viz’s SigIKKI program, but which one of them I like best depends on which one I’ve read most recently.) For those who need a refresher, this is slice-of-life science fiction about the people who wash windows on a satellite habitat orbiting an environmentally devastated Earth.

    Though episodic in a lot of ways, it does follow a single protagonist, Mitsu, who is following in his late father’s footsteps in a perilous, under-appreciated profession. Mitsu spends a significant portion of this volume considering his father’s legacy, or perhaps trying to construct what that legacy might look like. He talks to his father’s co-workers, now his co-workers, about how his father approached his work and, less directly, how he might have felt about it. As a neophyte, he’s also asking about the specifics of a dangerous job he still hasn’t mastered, so there’s an extra layer of intention in the question-and-answer sessions.

    I enjoy series that have a strong grounding in a particular profession, whether that profession is realistic or fanciful. The grubby-fantastic quality that Iwaaka gives to her cast’s working world is very appealing to me, and I like the ways she resists canonizing her characters as salt-of-the-earth types. While she draws them in an innocent, vulnerable style, she writes them with a bit more frankness. The get cranky, hold grudges, drink too much, work too hard, get careless… they behave credibly and recognizably, in other words.

    Other noteworthy items on this week’s ComicList include the 9th volume of Takehiko Inoue’s extraordinarily good Real (Viz). Melinda (Manga Bookshelf) Beasi named it her Pick of the Week, because she has excellent taste that way.

    The other highlight of the week has to be the second collection of Linda Medley’s Castle Waiting (Fantagraphics). The publisher describes the comics as “witty and sublimely drawn fantasy [that] eases into a relaxed comedy of manners,” which is perfectly true. It’s really a treat of a series, one that I bought in pamphlet form and will buy in its collected state, which almost never happens.

    What looks good to you?


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