This year, next year

December 30, 2010

The indefatigable Deb (About.Com) Aoki has rounded up and ranked critics’ choices for the Best Manga of 2010, and it’s a fine and varied list. I’d also like to point you to Deb’s picks for Best Continuing Manga of 2010, since there’s a lot of overlap between her favorites and mine. I’m particularly pleased by her inclusion of Kaoru Tada’s Itazura na Kiss (Digital Manga); I did some catch-up reading on that one over the weekend, and it just gets better as it goes along.

Looking at Deb’s previews of promising manga due in 2011, I can’t help but pick the five that sound best to me, even if some of them counted as my most anticipated in 2010:

and one that wasn’t on Deb’s list, but I’m very eager to read:

Did some of your favorites from this year not make the critics’ round-up or Deb’s list of ongoing series? What about exciting books due in 2011?


Previews review December 2010

December 9, 2010

Hey, what’s this phone-book thing lying here on my coffee table? Why, it’s the Diamond Previews catalog! Let’s look inside!

Okay, the excitement doesn’t really begin until we reach page 275, specifically the Fantagraphics listings, specifically the debut of Shimura Takako’s Wandering Son. What’s it about?

“The fifth grade. The threshold to puberty, and the beginning of the end of childhood innocence. Shuichi Nitori and his new friend Yoshino Takatsuki have happy homes, loving families, and are well-liked by their classmates. But they share a secret that further complicates a time of life that is awkward for anyone: Shuichi is a boy who wants to be a girl, and Yoshino is a girl who wants to be a boy. Written and drawn by one of today’s most critically acclaimed creators of manga, Shimura portrays Shuishi and Yoshino’s very private journey with affection, sensitivity, gentle humor, and unmistakable flair and grace. Volume one introduces our two protagonists and the friends and family whose lives intersect with their own.”

Any value-added aspects worth mentioning?

Wandering Son is a sophisticated work of literary manga translated with rare skill and sensitivity by veteran translator and comics scholar Matt Thorn.”

Sold! Wandering Son is up to 12 volumes in serialization in Enterbrain’s Comic Beam, which is clearly one of the most fabulous magazines in human history.

Flipping onward to page 284, we discover that NBM is publishing another of the Louvre comics, produced in partnership with the legendary museum. This one’s called The Sky over the Louvre, written by Bernard Yslaire and illustrated by Jean-Claude Carriere. This one sounds a bit less fanciful than the previous three, Glacial Period, On the Odd Hours, and The Museum Vaults: Excerpts from the Journal of an Expert. This time around, readers are taken “back to the very origins of the Louvre as a museum: the tumultuous years of the French revolution.” I don’t think we have enough comics featuring Robespierre.

Ever onward to page 288! We’ve got sensitive drama and art history, but how to round that out? Why, with gritty, contemporary detective fiction! In this case, I’m talking about the hardcover collection of the first volume of Stumptown (Oni Press), written by Greg Rucka and illustrated by Matthew Southworth. It’s about a down-on-her-luck private eye in the Pacific Northwest named Dex who gets the chance to cover a gambling debt by finding the casino owner’s missing granddaughter. Dex is a fun, tough character, and the mystery is twisty and amusingly grimy.

Toward the back of the only part of the catalog I bother to read, we learn that two manga publishers will be launching new series that originated in Hakusensha’s Hana to Yume magazine. This is generally a good sign for a shôjo series.

On page 300, we encounter the first volume of Touya Tobina’s Clean-Freak: Fully Equipped (Tokyopop), which tells the undoubtedly heartrending tale of a mysophobe going on his first school trip. On page 312, we learn of the first volume of Izumi Tsubaki’s Oresama Teacher (Viz), which sees the leader of a girl gang exiled from the city to an isolated school in the countryside. Wackiness presumably ensues.


Previews review September 2010

August 30, 2010

There’s lots of desirable material in the September 2010 Previews catalog.

Before we get to that, I feel I should note that Del Rey manga is still launching new series. Its latest is Ema Toyama’s I Am Here! It’s about a young girl who overcomes her shyness through blogging. I fell asleep halfway through typing that sentence, but there you have it. It originally ran in Kodansha’s Nakayoshi magazine. (Page 267.)

It seems like it’s been forever since the gorgeous hardcover collection of the first set of Linda Medley’s Castle Waiting stories. Fantagraphics will release 384 more pages of charming comics about the family-of-choice residents of a falling-down castle along the way. (Page 278.)

Ever since I read Glacial Period (NBM), I’ve wanted someone to publish more comics by Nicolas De Crecy. NBM obliges again with the first volume of Salvatore: Transports of Love about a successful auto mechanic who happens to be a dog. Congratulations, NBM, on joining the elite circle of publishers who have fulfilled one of my license requests. You may join Vertical and Fantagraphics in the Silver Courtesy Lounge. (Page 290.)

I’m generally not the target audience for books from PictureBox, but I love Renée (The Ticking) French, so I’ll be all over H Day. It’s a no-doubt surreal look at how French copes with migraine headaches. (Page 300.)

It also feels like it’s been a long time since Top Shelf published the first volume of Lars Martinson’s Tōnoharu. The second volume examining the life of a North American English teacher in rural Japan can be found listed on page 310.

Bless Yen Press for digging and finding unlicensed Fumi Yoshinaga, specifically Not Love but Delicious Foods, about a hard-working, hard-eating lady and her foodie friends as they restaurant hop through Tokyo. It originally ran in Ohta Shuppan’s Manga Erotics F, which is one of those magazines that seems to run whatever the hell kind of comics it pleases. (Page 321.)


Previews review: August 2010

August 5, 2010

There are only two really eye-catching debuts in the August 2010 edition of Diamond’s Previews catalog, but they’re pretty choice.

First is Osamu Tezuka’s Ayako from Vertical:

“Set in the aftermath of World War II, Ayako focuses its attention on the Tenge clan, a once powerful family of landowners living in a rural community in northern Japan. The war and the American occupation have begun to erode the fabric that binds them all together. And when the family seems to have completely fallen apart, they decide to turn their collective rage on what they believe to be the source of their troubles – the newet member of the Tenge family, the youngest sister Ayako.”

This will be a done-in-one 704-page collection of the three-volume series that ran in Shogakukan’s Big Comic in 1972 and 1973. (Page 326.)

Ages after Short Cuts and Secret Comics Japan, Viz returns to Usumaru Furuya with Genkaku Picasso:

“Hikari Hamura, nicknamed Picasso because of his natural artistic abilities, survived a horrible accident, but his friend Chiaki wasn’t so lucky. Suddenly, Chiaku appears in front of him and tells him in order to keep living he must help the people around him. Can Hikari save people with his sketchbook and a 2B pencil?”

This three-volume series originally ran in Shueisha’s Jump SQ in 2008 and will be released in Viz’s Shonen Jump imprint. (Page 329.)


Previews review July 2010

July 3, 2010

The July 2010 Previews catalog is out. Here are a few highlights:

I don’t really understand the concept of Hidekaz Himaruya’s Hetalia Axis Powers (Tokyopop), but it’s generated a lot of excitement, so I’ll just copy the solicitation text:

“Germany is the bully, Italy is the pest, and Japan is the exotic new friend from the East! When this bad boy club clashes with the hamburger-loving America and stodgy old Great Britain, it’s all-out war – WWII, that is – portrayed in hysterical, politically incorrect 4-panel comic strips!”

Oh, manga. (Page 328.)

Speaking of titles that triggered joy when their licensing was announced, there’s Mitsuru Adachi’s Cross Game (Viz). Sports manga (baseball, in this case) doesn’t do spectacularly well over here, but there’s a lot of fondness directed at this particular work. (Page 338.)

I loved the first volume of Yumi Unita’s Bunny Drop (Yen Press) so much that I reserve the right to mention every time a new volume is due to arrive, mostly because it doesn’t seem like on the fast-track release system. Anyway, the second volume is listed here, so pre-order it and make it the huge hit it deserves to be. (Page 344.)


Quick Previews review

June 4, 2010

I’m packing and getting ready for some down time (restful!), but I did want to point out something for folks who pre-order at least some of their manga through Diamond’s Previews catalog. Guess what’s in the June 2010 edition?

Page 290 in the Fantagraphics section, in case you want to go right to it. Here’s some of the solicitation text:

“Moto Hagio is considered the most beloved shōjo manga artist of all time. Unconstrained by genre, she has built a career exemplified by intellectual curiosity, psychological authenticity and a mature aesthetic sense akin to Osamu Tezuka as opposed to Sailor Moon. For the first time in English, Fantagraphics is proud to present a Hagio primer: a selection of short stories spanning from 1971 to 2007 by an artist at the peak of her powers.”

Needless to say, I’m super-excited and pre-ordering it as soon as I click “publish.” Of course, I’m also not even a tiny bit surprised that the blurb is obnoxious, since this is Fantagraphics. The dig at Sailor Moon, complimenting her by comparing her work to a man’s, even if that man is Osamu Tezuka… it’s vintage, really. And it has to be one of the most coherent Fantagraphics blurbs I’ve read in ages, so points for that. They usually scan like translated Latin from a codex plot device in an archeological thriller.


Previews review May 2010

May 2, 2010

There aren’t very many debuting titles in the May 2010 edition of the Previews catalog, but there are lots of new volumes of slow-to-arrive titles that are worth noting.

First up would have to be the omnibus collection of Yuki Urushibara’s Mushishi (Del Rey), offering volumes eight through ten. (It seems appropriate, since this is the title’s week in the Manga Moveable Feast spotlight.) These volumes were fairly meaty individually, and getting three in one for $24.99 seems like a really good value. (Page 292.) Edit: The tenth volume is the final one of the series, so this will conclude Mushishi in English.

Also on the “good manga for relatively cheap” front is the third volume of Kaoru Tada’s Itazura Na Kiss (Digital Manga). What mishaps will befall our dumb heroine Kotoko in pursuit of the smart boy of her dreams? (Page 295.)

I’m just going to come out and say that A Distant Neighborhood was my second favorite Jiro Taniguchi title of 2009. Topping that category was The Summit of the Gods, written by Yumemakura Baku. The second volume is due from Fanfare/Ponent Mon. (Page 304.)

A new volume of Adam Warren’s super-smart, addictive satire, Empowered (Dark Horse), is always good news. It seems like Warren gets around to dealing with the rather loose definition of mortality among the spandex set, and I’d much rather read his take than something like Blackest Night. (Page 35.)

Is it ungrateful of me to be really eager to see what Bryan Lee O’Malley does next? It’s not that I’m indifferent to the conclusion of the Scott Pilgrim saga (which arrives in the form of the sixth volume, Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour from Oni Press), which I’m sure I’ll love as much as the previous five. But O’Malley’s been working on Scott for a long time. (Page 233.)

Before we jump fully into the “all-new stuff” department, I’ll bypass quickly to Dark Horse’s release of an omnibus edition of CLAMP’s Magic Knight Rayearth. You can get all three volumes of this magic-girl shôjo classic from the manga superstars. (Page 53.)

CMX publishes a lot of excellent shôjo from Hakusensha, but they branch out this month with Rika Suzuki’s Tableau Gate. It originally ran in Akita Shoten’s Princess Gold, and it’s about a guy who must help a girl capture some escaped tarot cards. I’m sort of a sucker for comics with tarot imagery, and I trust CMX’s taste in shôjo. (Page 129.)

I’m always game for a new graphic novel drawn by Faith Erin Hicks, and First Second is kind enough to provide one. It’s called Brain Camp, and it’s about oddballs dealing with mysterious forces, which is right in Hicks’s wheelhouse. The script is by Susan Kim and Laurence Klavan. (Page 305.)

It’s coming! It’s coming! Top Shelf’s 400-page collection of alternative manga, AX, finally hits the solicitation phase, and it should be very exciting to see. (Page 342.)

Vertical continues to branch out of classic manga mode with the English-language debut of Felibe Smith’s Peepo Choo. For those who’ve forgotten, Smith has been creating the series for Kodansha’s Morning Two magazine. It’s about a kid from Chicago who gets mixed up with a model from Tokyo and a lot of underworld mayhem. (Page 346.)

I don’t get a particularly good vibe off of Kaneyoshi Izumi’s Seiho Boys’ High School!, due out from Viz. It’s about the student body of an isolated, all-boys’ high school. Anyone who’s read more than one boys’-love title would know how these lads could deal with their isolation, but Izumi apparently decided to take a different approach. The series originally ran in Shogakukan’s Betsucomi.


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