Upcoming 10/20/2010

October 19, 2010

Goodness, but it’s a dense ComicList this week!

Dark Horse continues to work its way through some of CLAMP’s most-loved back catalog. This week, it’s the first omnibus volume of Cardcaptor Sakura, originally published in English by Tokyopop and with an associated, legendarily butchered anime dub, if I remember correctly.

I liked the first volume of Chigusa Kawwai’s Alice the 101st (DMP) quite a bit. It’s about kids at a music school in Epcot Europe, and the second volume arrives Wednesday.

I’m also very fond of Konami Kanata’s Chi’s Sweet Home (Vertical), a slice-of-life tale about an orphaned kitten settling in with her new family. The third volume is due, and I’m working on a review of the series for later this week.

March Story (Viz), written by Hyung Min Kim and illustrated by Kyung-il Yang, is more interesting to me conceptually than it is for its individual merits. It originally ran in Shogakukan’s Sunday GX, and it’s by Korean creators, so that’s kind of unusual. Other than that, it’s very well-drawn but kind of average comeuppance theatre. It’s a big week for Viz’s Signature imprint with new volumes of 20th Century Boys, Kingyo Used Books, and Vagabond.

Yen Press is releasing a lot of product this week, but my clear favorite is the fourth volume of Svetlana Chmakova’s Nightschool, a complex, polished supernatural adventure about a school for mystical types.

What looks good to you?


Upcoming 9/29/2010

September 28, 2010

Only one item really pops out at me from this week’s Comic List:

Did you like Hitoshi Iwaaki’s Parasyte (Del Rey) but wish it had more contemporary art? Vertical can accommodate you in the form of Nobuaki Tadano’s 7 Billion Needles. It isn’t as smart as Parasyte, but it has a number of elements working in its favor.

I like the protagonist, for one thing. Hikaru is a high-school girl who, for reasons yet to be fully articulated, isolates herself from her fellow students via headphones and a media player of some sort. This state continues until her body is invaded by an interstellar entity on the hunt for a vicious killer. Hikaru and her uninvited guest must engage with people to find the poor soul who’s hosting this monster, known as Maelstrom.

As I suggested earlier, I also like the art. It’s clean and imaginative, packed with detail. The best way I can describe it is to ask you to suggest a muted combination of Yuji (Cat Paradise) Iwahara’s imagination and Kio (Genshiken) Shimoku’s obsessive-compulsive streak. Tadano doesn’t quite reach Iwaaki’s gory heights of imagination, but Tadano is also more persuasive in rendering the quieter moments.

The first volume is equal parts introduction to Hikaru and the concept and ensuing mayhem. It’s a solid starting point, and I’m looking forward to seeing her develop as a heroine and person. 7 Billion Needles was originally serialized in Media Factory’s Comic Flapper and was collected in four volumes. Comments above are based on a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.


Guilt by association

September 20, 2010

Over at NPR, author David Lipsky identifies his literary guilty pleasure, Marvel’s Runaways. Setting aside the justice of whether or not comics should still be considered a guilty pleasure instead of just a pleasure (and right after Read Comics in Public Day!), there’s been some consternation over a portion of his commentary:

“But I bear the books a grudge. Marvel collected them — because their biggest fans were female teenagers — in tiny digests with girlish covers that were intensely embarrassing to read on the subway. I kept locking eyes with people I could swear had just shaken their heads.”

What do you think of the covers of the first three digests? Do you find them particularly gendered?

On a slightly different front, I’ve seen a few people mention that they’re put off by the covers of Vertical’s Twin Spica, noting that they read a little young. Thoughts?


Upcoming 9/15/2010

September 14, 2010

It’s precision vulgarity week on the ComicList! By this I mean that there are a bunch of comics out this week that use shocking, potentially distasteful material to very good effect.

First up is the second volume of Felipe Smith’s Peepo Choo (Vertical). I agreed with Kate (The Manga Critic) Dacey on virtually every point regarding the first volume, but especially this one:

“Yet for all its technical virtuosity, there’s a hole at the center of Peepo Choo where its heart should be.”

Smith rectifies that in the second volume, and he endows his ensemble of losers and freaks with a level of sympathy notable in part for its near-total absence the first time around. It’s not that he’s any kinder to his cast. He dangles possibility in their paths only to yank it away. But their pains and disappointments feel more like a properly moving experience than a dazzling exercise in narrative cruelty, and Smith rounds out even the type-iest of members of his cast. The characters in Peepo Choo – the nerd who finally gets to go to his otaku holy land, the creepy jerk who just wants to lose his virginity, the spree killer who yearns to embody American phrases he doesn’t even understand, the smartest girl in class who’s undermined by her own body – all edge closer to a full, possibly crushing understanding of and liberation from their own misery (or at least the teasing promise of liberation).

The book is still brutally violent and creepily sexed up, but there’s nothing clumsy about the application of this kind of content. Smith knows exactly what he’s doing when a character spits a tooth in someone’s eye and another gets aroused watching it happen. I had my doubts that he was going anywhere particularly, peculiarly interesting with this kind of effect based on the first volume, but the tone really clicks this time around, and I’m abidingly curious as to how things will wrap up in the third and final book. For me, good satire, especially satire of individual obsessions and cultural fetishes, has to have a beating heart, something that pushes the reader past pity and into empathy, however limited, with the satire’s objects and victims. Smith makes that leap. (These remarks are based on a complimentary copy provided by the publisher. Oh, and Melinda [Manga Bookshelf] Beasi agrees with me, which I always take as a good sign.)

It isn’t nearly as dense or ambitious as Peepo Choo, but the sixth volume of Kiminori Wakasugi’s Detroit Metal City (Viz) is likely to be as coarse and funny as the previous installments. If you’re in the San Francisco area on Saturday, Sept. 18, you can catch the live-action movie adaptation of the death-metal satire, which is supposed to be pretty great.

It’s not on the ComicList, but the shop in my area lists the sixth volume of Adam Warren’s hilarious and smutty super-hero satire, Empowered (Dark Horse), as due to arrive tomorrow. This time around, Warren looks at the often transitory nature of death among the spandex set.

And the 11th volume of The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service (Dark Horse), written by Eiji Otsuka and illustrated by Housui Yamazaki, is a very welcome arrival indeed. This series takes a satirical look at ghost stories, people who help the dead reach their final reward, and pokes fun at the ambivalent ways we respond to the shuffling off of our mortal coil.

What looks good to you?


Upcoming 9/9/10

September 7, 2010

There are new volumes of three very enjoyable series due out this week, according to the ComicList.

In addition to being a sensitive and intelligent look at young people with big dreams (space travel, in this case), Kou Yaginuma’s Twin Spica (Vertical) is also one of the titles on the list of 50 Essential Manga for Libraries assembled by Deb (About.Com) Aoki. The third volume arrives Thursday.

The main story in Hinako Ashihara’s Sand Chronicles (Viz) came to an end in the eighth volume, but the creator still has a relative wealth of side stories to offer. Some of them arrive this week in the ninth volume. Sand Chronicles didn’t make it on the aforementioned library list, but it certainly could have. It’s a sensitive look at a girl’s gradual maturation from pre-teen to independent woman.

Yuki Yoshihara’s Butterflies, Flowers (Viz) offers further proof, if proof were needed, that women can be just as adept at smutty slapstick as men. The fourth volume delves further into the disastrous, dysfunctional office romance of a former aristocrat (now an office minion) and her former servant (now her boss). For added interest, this is the series that’s launching Viz’s sneaky, sideways steps into the josei market.

What looks good to you?


Upcoming 9/1/2010

August 31, 2010

It’s an interesting week in ComicList terms. Let’s go right to the pick of the week, shall we?

That would be Moto Hagio’s A Drunken Dream and Other Stories, the first result of the Fantagraphics-Shogakukan team-up that’s being curated by Matt Thorn. It’s a deeply glorious book that brims with Hagio’s psychological and emotional insights. I plan on posting a review on Thursday. You can order a signed copy from the publisher.

If that doesn’t slake your appetite for classic manga, Vertical is kind enough to offer Osamu Tezuka’s Apollo’s Song in two paperback volumes. It’s an example of deeply crazy Tezuka, with the added bonus of lots and lots of sex. If you can resist that description, you’re stronger than I am.

One of last year’s big books is now available in paperback. David Small’s Stitches (W.W. Norton) offers a beautifully rendered and stunningly bleak look at a miserable childhood. It’s a really great graphic novel.

There are also new issues of three very different and very entertaining pamphlet comics. First is the second issue of Avengers: The Children’s Crusade, following the Young Avengers as they search for the Scarlet Witch to the dismay of most of the rest of the residents of the Marvel universe, who seem happy to assume that the longtime heroine is evil and crazy. Next is the penultimate (I think) issue of Brandon Graham’s King City from Image, whose website is so terrible that I won’t even bother trying to find a link to additional information on the comic. And last is the fourth issue of Stumptown, a smart tale of a down-on-her-luck private investigator from Oni.

What looks good to you?

Updated: I forgot one big pamphlet offering, the arrival of Veronica 202 (Archie Comics) and Riverdale’s first openly gay resident, Kevin Keller. I hope I can find a copy so I can be appropriately derisive when conservative groups condemn the comic.


Upcoming 8/25/2010

August 24, 2010

It’s a mercifully light ComicList this week, which will give me a chance to catch up on the past few weeks of releases.

In fact, there’s a total of one new title on my “to buy” list, and it’s the second volume of Konami Kanata’s Chi’s Sweet Home from Vertical. It’s about a lost kitten adapting to life with her new family, and it’s very cute in a slice-of-life kind of way. It originally ran in Kodansha’s Weekly Morning, and it’s been flipped and colored for publication in English, with the cooperation of the creator. You can watch the equally cute anime on Crunchyroll.


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.)


Upcoming 7/28/2010

July 27, 2010

There’s a perfectly mammoth volume to this week’s ComicList, and a lot of it looks really good. I’ll just take things as they come in alphabetical order.

It’s a big week for Del Rey, which has revised its web site and is now seemingly impossible to navigate in terms of finding information about specific books. Let’s head over to the Random House site instead. There you can find details on the omnibus collection of the last three volumes of Mushishi, written and illustrated by Yuki Urushibara. I love this episodic series of environmental folklore stories. It’s been the subject of a Manga Moveable Feast, hosted by Ed Sizemore at Manga Worth Reading. I’m a little bit behind on Koji Kumeta’s very enjoyable satire, Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei, which sees its seventh volume released on Wednesday. And I was pleasantly surprised by the oh-so-formulaic-sounding Code: Breaker, written and illustrated by Akimine Kamijyo.

You can call pretty much any book from Fanfare/Ponent Mon either “eagerly awaited” or “long-awaited.” Korea as Viewed by 12 Creators has been in the pipeline for years, and it’s finally due in comic shops, which is very exciting. It features “[twelve] insightful short graphic stories into the “Hermit Kingdom”, six by European and six by indigenous creators, including award winning Park Heung-yong and “Best Manga 2006” artist Vanyda.” I’m equally excited about the second volume of The Summit of the Gods, written by Baku Yumemakura and illustrated by Jiro Taniguchi. It’s about mysteries and manly mountain climbers circling around Mt. Everest, and it’s very beautifully drawn. (I know I pre-ordered both of these, yet they don’t seem to be arriving at my local comic shop, which I hope is just a function of warehouse weirdness at Diamond and not something… ahem… local.)

I’m surprised by how much I’m liking Marvel’s Secret Avengers, written by Ed Brubaker and illustrated by Mike Deodato. It’s always nice to see super-heroes behaving like well-intentioned professionals, and this may be the first time that the “proactive super-team” concept has actually worked. I’m not entirely sold on Deodato’s mildly cheesecake-y art, and Valkyrie’s braids are completely insane, but it’s a minor quibble.

Comics by Osamu Tezuka are always a welcome pleasure, and that certainly includes his episodic medical melodrama, Black Jack, about a mercenary surgeon dealing with more bizarre maladies than House could ever have imagined. The 12th volume arrives Wednesday.

Viz offers quite the mixture of titles from along the quality spectrum, so I’ll focus on the good and/or promising. Personal highlights include the 20th volume of Hikaru no Go, written by Yumi Hotta and illustrated by Takeshi Obata, and the fifth volume of Kimi ni Todoke: From Me to You, written and illustrated by Karuho Shiina. On the confirmed debut front is Bakuman, written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by the aforementioned Obata. This one’s by the creators of Death Note, which is still selling tons of copies ages after the series concluded. That series was about using a notebook to rule the world. This one’s about using a sketch pad to make lots of money: “verage student Moritaka Mashiro enjoys drawing for fun. When his classmate and aspiring writer Akito Takagi discovers his talent, he begs Moritaka to team up with him as a manga-creating duo. But what exactly does it take to make it in the manga-publishing world?” If anyone should know, it’s these two.


The news so far

July 23, 2010

Updated: Awesome as the two titles below sound, Yen Press pulled into the lead of winning Comic Con International by announcing the following license:

Yes, they will be publishing Kaoru (Emma) Mori’s Otoyomegatari, which moves Yen into the august group of publishers who have fulfilled one of my license requests. Others include Vertical and NBM.

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Updated again: But the Mori book still holds the top spot. Brigid (Robot 6) Alverson reports on a couple of upcoming books by Shigeru (GeGeGe no Kitaro) Mizuki from Drawn & Quarterly. At least one has been published in French by Cornélius. With the other, I’m not sure what the original Japanese title might have been or how it might have been translated. Sounds dramatic, though. Updated: It was confirmed for me that the second book has also been published in French.

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They may not have been on my wish list, but Comic Con International has already yielded two really interesting-sounding licenses, so we’ll take the week off from requests in favor of pointing you towards more information on these announcements.

Vertical will be publishing Usumaru Furuya’s Lychee Light Club. Brigid Alverson has the details at Robot 6. Maybe this will do really well, and someone will decide to rescue Furuya’s 51 Ways to Save Her. Think of the headline puns!

Brigid also has details and some preview pages of Masahiko Matsumoto’s Cigarette Girl, due out from Top Shelf, who seems to want to give Drawn & Quarterly a run for their gekiga money. Competition is healthy!


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