Gon, baby, Gon

March 30, 2007

I usually try and do a run-down of what catches my eye in the latest issue of Diamond’s Previews, and I’ll get to that at some point, but I’ve been stopped cold by the preview pages of Masashi Tanaka’s Gon (CMX). That is some crazy gorgeous illustration going on, even beyond the pure pleasure of seeing a tiny dinosaur riding on the back of a vicious lion as it hunts a wildebeest.

I’m sure CMX will make some preview pages available on-line, because they’d be crazy not to. Here’s some background on Gon’s U.S. publishing history that ICv2 ran about a month ago. At the Casterman site, there are preview pages from each of the eight volumes they’ve published. Last Gasp has some of the Casterman editions available at its on-line store.

Prepare yourselves to be sick of me obsessing over Gon.

Paper products

March 29, 2007

I was glad to see this announcement at Comics Worth Reading about an upcoming collection of Tyler Page’s Nothing Better. It started as a self-published pamphlet, then moved to a web-to-print model. After a somewhat mixed reaction to the first issue, the story grew on me, but the promise of an eventual collection and a preference for comics I can hold kept me from sampling new chapters on-line. Now, Page is looking for pre-orders for a volume collecting the first seven chapters. I’ll be ordering one, and I hope the plan works out.

CWR also reminds me of another ill-fated floppy made good, Elk’s Run, by Joshua Hale Falkov and Noel Tuazon. It started out self-published, got picked up by short-lived Speakeasy, and, after Speakeasy’s implosion, seemed like it might be consigned to unfinished comics limbo until it got picked up for collected release by Random House’s Villard imprint. This is one of those books where I really wanted to know what happened next, so I’m looking forward to the arrival of the trade paperback.

Now, when am I going to see a new issue of Lackluster World from Eric Adams?

Updated with the happy answer: “Lackluster World #4 goes to the printer next week and will debut at SPACE on April 21 &22.”

Simon says

March 28, 2007

Manga Jouhou’s Floating_Sakura has additional comment from Libre on its dispute with CPM (found via the ever watchful, consistently insightful, probably not-safe-for-work Simon Jones):

“The license agreements for translations of the publications between BIBLOS Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as ‘BIBLOS’) and Central Park Media Corporation (hereinafter referred to as ‘CPM’) became invalid after April, 2006 when BIBLOS filed for bankruptcy protection.

“Any and all translations of our publications by CPM are based upon the above-mentioned terminated agreements.”

Much more at the link.

Jones also digs up new details on Aurora Publishing, which has been whispered about since April of last year but had yet to yield any concrete information:

“Well… maybe not ‘new.’ Aurora has been around since March 2006, and is a subsidiary of Ohzora Publishing, publisher of the Harlequin manga adaptations in Japan, as well as the ‘Project X’ series of biographical manga.”

Here’s the link to a Comic Book Resources-hosted release from Diamond Book Distributors.

(Updated to clarify some inaccurate phrasing on my part.)

Delayed gratification

March 28, 2007

Before I delve too far into this week’s ComicList, I have a self-serving question. Has the third volume of The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service (Dark Horse) shown up at anyone’s comic shop? I think it was due out a couple of weeks ago, and I know I have it on reserve, but there’s still no sign of it here in the mountains. I’m wondering if I should start nagging.

While the list offers plenty of great stuff, the common trait seems to be that none of them are showing up here. I’m going to attribute this to the vagaries of regional shipping instead of a conspiracy to deny me the comics I want. For now.

Del Rey offers the eighth volume of Kio Shimoku’s hilarious, sharply-observed, yet still emotionally generous Genshiken.

DramaQueen delivers the first volume of Kye Young Chong’s Audition, which is pleasant enough reading about the search for the ultimate boy band, though I prefer the creator’s other DQ license, the funny, touching, odd DVD.

The fourth volume of Satosumi Takaguchi’s Shout Out Loud! (Blu) promises more romantic and familial complications, and unless things have changed drastically, they’ll be executed with wit, intelligence and warmth.

Viz is unloading a vast quantity of Shonen Jump books, and if I had to choose only one, it would be the ninth volume of Yumi Hotta and Takeshi Obata’s Hikaru No Go.

And Self Made Hero gets its Bard on with the release of two Manga Shakespeare books: Hamlet, adapted by Emma Vieceli, and Romeo and Juliet, adapted by Sonia Leong. Spoiler warning: In these issues, just about everyone dies!


March 27, 2007

In the wake of last week’s announcement of a new strategic plan for the Borders Group, that entity has revamped its Rewards program, effective April 12.

The most significant change seems to be the end of Personal Shopping Days and Holiday Savings Rewards in favor of “Borders Bucks”:

“For every $150 spent on Qualifying Purchases at Borders, Borders Express, or Waldenbooks in a calendar year, you’ll receive $5 in Borders Bucks. Borders Bucks are issued the first week of the month following the month in which they are earned, and are valid until the end of the month issued. Plus, any amount you spend on Qualifying Purchases in a calendar year that exceeds $150 rolls over until you reach your next cumulative total of $150. There is no limit to how many Borders Bucks you can earn.”

I wonder if that modification is a concession to the smaller number of retail outlets, with close to half of the Waldenbooks outlets slated for closure. The Bucks system does seem less complicated than the Personal Shopping Days, and the promised revamp of on-line shopping might make obtaining them easier. Still, you don’t have any more of a window to use the Bucks than you did with the Personal Shopping Days, and with fewer outlets within a users range because of the closures, maybe the level of outlay on discounts and rewards will stay the same, even though the perceived level of complication in earning them is lower.

But it’s the earn-but-maybe-don’t-use nature of the program that probably keeps it free. Since you continually get a discount via the Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million discount programs, it makes economic sense that users have to make an initial expenditure. Both probably hope that savings reaped by users will generally be equal to or less than the income of memberships purchased.

Theatre geekery

March 26, 2007

Super-heroes have invaded Off-Broadway, according to this review of Men of Steel in The New York Times. It sounds kind of like a stage version of Powers with some of the tone of Hero Squared thrown in the mix:

“The plot centers on the friendship between Captain Justice and Maelstrom (Temar Underwood), a wealthy playboy with a collection of gadgets and a sexual secret. He’s an angrier version of Batman. There are other superheroes as well, including Bryant (Tom Myers), a drag queen whose power is that he doesn’t feel pain, and Captain Justice’s sidekick, Liberty Lady (Melissa Paladino), who some suspect is merely a PR gimmick.”

Too bad it isn’t a musical. Not that the one notable super-hero musical was a smash hit that begs imitation or revival, but I could at least buy the original cast recording. (I’ve heard that it’s unwise to call such things “soundtracks.” I’m not sure why.)

Speaking of It’s a Bird… It’s a Plane… It’s Superman, the only decent song from its score (“You’ve Got Possibilities,” sung by Linda Lavin) is being used in a Pillsbury commercial. Clips from a televised version of the show can be found at YouTube. (Between Lavin and Loretta Swit, that number seems to be the song of choice for future sitcom actresses.)

And in terribly important news for musical geeks like me, Avenue Q is preparing a touring production. I saw the show on Broadway and loved it, and I was disappointed that the show’s Las Vegas outpost closed fairly quickly. (That’s what they get for making cuts so they could eliminate the intermission and get people back to the video slots faster.) So foul-mouthed but endearing Sesame Street refugees may be coming to a theatre near you.

Death in the stacks

March 25, 2007

I was at the library the other day, and I noticed that some thoughtful employee had posted a short list of mystery series recommendations. This person is clearly my long-lost book twin, because the sleuth categories included chefs, pet owners and librarians. (There was no category for gay sleuths, but I’ll let it slide.)

Being in a Dewey Decimal kind of place and riding a wave of library love, I opted for Charlaine Harris’s Last Scene Alive, starring small-town librarian Aurora Teagarden. While the book has a lot of promising elements – a generally anti-social heroine, the promise of a gossipy community setting, and the opportunity to see a librarian apply her considerable intellect and organizational skills to violent crime – they didn’t really come together for me.

Read the rest of this entry »

Saturday linkblogging

March 24, 2007

Paul Gravett, author of Manga: 60 Years of Japanese Comics and Graphic Novels: Everything You Need to Know (both highly recommended), gives an overview of the United Kingdom’s original English language manga scene.

Webcomic creator and champion of overlooked manga of all flavors Shaenon K. Garrity makes a case for Keiko Takemiya’s To Terra… (Vertical), and makes a request of a certain on-line reference site:

“(Okay, I just went over to Wikipedia and Takemiya only has a stub. An inaccurate stub. There’s a Wikipedia entry for every single individual Pokemon, and this is the best they can do for one of the most gifted and influential cartoonists in manga history? NOT COOL, WIKIPEDIA. Quit systematically deleting everything about webcomics and get to work writing some damn articles.)”

At Manga Recon, Katherine Dacey-Tsuei gives Fumiyo Kouno’s Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms (Last Gasp) a well-deserved A+. If I haven’t said it lately, buy this book.

At Blog@Newsarama, Graeme McMillan rounds up some news related to Osamu Tezuka, the God of Manga. While I’d love to see new editions of Frederik Schodt’s marvelous Manga! Manga! and Dreamland Japan, a collection of essays on Tezuka will certainly tide me over. (Now, when is Matt Thorn going to write the definitive history of shôjo? I’ve been hoping for it since he interviewed Moto Hagio in The Comics Journal.)


March 23, 2007

It’s been fun reading the retrospectives of comics in the 1970s sparked by Dick Hyacinth’s innocent question as to whether or not the decade has a defining theme or not.

In spite of the fact that that’s the decade I started reading them in earnest, with almost instantaneous collector’s fervor, I don’t really have a theme to contribute, because “the decade David started throwing his youth away on super-hero comics” is hardly up there with “the Enlightenment” or “the Great Depression.”

But hey, nostalgia is fun, and I’m old enough to actually have been reading comics in the ‘70s, so you’ll all just have to suffer. I’ll at least be thoughtful enough to put the worst of my old-man ramblings after the jump so they’re easier to avoid.

Read the rest of this entry »


March 22, 2007

The Beat pointed to Booklist’s Top 10 Graphic Novels for Youth, which led me to discover that the magazine devoted the entire March 15 issue to a “Spotlight on Graphic Novels.”

Other features include:

  • A piece on the building blocks of a library manga collection for teens, by Robin Brenner
  • The Top Ten Graphic Novels 2007, i.e., those books the magazine reviewed most favorably between March 2006 and January 2007
  • An interview with Gene (American Born Chinese) Yang and Andy (Owly) Runton
  • An interview with Alison (Fun Home) Bechdel, which includes discussion of the recently resolved controversy in Marshall, Missouri
  • And bunches of other awesome stuff.
  • Seriously, go, read.