May 30, 2007

After a couple of weeks of relative famine, the ComicList offers a big old feast this week.

You want classic manga? Jocelyn Bouquillard and Christophe Marquet go seriously old school with Hokusai, First Manga Master (Harry N. Abrams):

“More than a hundred years before Japanese comics swept the globe, the master engraver Hokusai was producing beautiful, surreal, and often downright wacky sketches and drawings, filled with many of the characters and themes found in modern manga. These out-of-context caricatures, which include studies of facial expressions, postures, and situations ranging from the mundane to the otherworldly, demonstrate both the artist’s style and his taste.”

Dark Horse releases the second volume of Tanpenshu, collected shorts from Hiroki Endo. I’m kind of running out of patience with Endo’s Eden, but the first collection of these shorts was very satisfying reading.

Readers who are already feeling separation anxiety over the imminent conclusion of Death Note might consider Fuyimi Soryo’s ES (Del Rey) as a replacement. It’s not as outrageously suspenseful, but it’s a compelling and intelligent thriller with a surprising amount of heart. Debuting from Del Rey is Ai Morinaga’s hilarious My Heavenly Hockey Club. If you hate sports, don’t worry. Morinaga goes to great comic lengths to avoid any actual displays of athleticism with really delightful results.

Houghton Mifflin releases a paperback version of Allison Bechdel’s wonderful Fun Home, for those of you who held off on the hardcover.

I haven’t read any of them, but kudos to NBM for making sure lots of their Nancy Drew graphic novels are available to retailers before the movie debuts.

Viz delivers a whole bunch of stuff. Highlights for me include the fourth volume of Kiyoko Arai’s very funny makeover comedy, Beauty Pop, and the sixth volume of Ai Yazawa’s lovely look at young singles, Nana.

The mighty editrix

May 29, 2007

This week’s Flipped features an interview with the very talented and incredibly busy Tokyopop editor Lillian Diaz-Przybyl. She would neither confirm nor deny that she leads an army of clones to get all of her work done.


May 29, 2007

I love this story:

801-chan, pronounced ‘Yaoi-chan,’ is the mascot for the Misonobashi 801 shopping district, not far from Kyoto’s World Heritage Kamigamojinja shrine. And true to its roots, the character was inspired by Kyoto-grown vegetables.

“But what really made the mascot an unexpected smash with young otaku geeks is the accident of its name. ‘Yaoi,’ which was chosen by locals as a pun on the shopping center’s name, is also a slang term for a cult genre of manga comics on homosexual themes.”

Of course, the shopping district isn’t the only enterprise to find the 801-chan mascot appropriate for their ends. I smell a crossover!


May 28, 2007

It may be a long weekend, but manga marches on.

It has kind of an awful Frankenstein headline, but this piece in the Contra Costa Times by Robert Taylor has an unimpeachable primary source, Frederick Schodt, author of Manga! Manga! and Dreamland Japan. Taylor talks to Schodt about Osamu Tezuka as a means of introducing the Tezuka: Master of Manga exhibition, which opens Saturday in San Francisco at the Asian Art Museum:

“‘I think it’s to the museum’s credit to reflect the modern age,’ he says. ‘Comics have such an effect on the world, and in Japan Tezuka is god of manga. He was the founder of the modern Japanese comic format, the long, narrative story. There are lots of comic artists who are famous in Japan, but no one has reached his stature.’”

The piece is accompanied by a glossary.

Minnesota Public Radio’s Euan Kerr interviews Frenchy Lunning, editor of Mechademia, about the Shojo Manga: Girl Power exhibition hosted by the Minneapolis College of Art and Design through June 29.

Brick walls

May 26, 2007

Okay, Heidi MacDonald has excerpted Marvel Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada’s responses to Newsarama about the recent unpleasantness(es) so you don’t have to wade through the rest of the column, which certainly constitutes a public service. It’s all kind of flabbergasting, but this bit from Quesada really made me laugh through the tears:

“Also, [Heroes for Hire] is a book that features two strong, lead female protagonist who kick major ass; somehow folks have forgotten to focus on that.”

Um… I kind of think that’s one of the things that bothers people… that the hyper-sexualized victims on the cover are, in fact, strong, kick-ass women who have been repurposed.

And seriously, if this is the kind of insight that having an exclusive arrangement with Marvel will get you (“…the Brood have tentacles, sorry about that.”), then the up side completely escapes me.

This does not bode well for my summer movie season

May 25, 2007

So we went to see 28 Weeks Later today, having really enjoyed 28 Days Later. About halfway through, I stopped counting plot twists that came up because there wouldn’t have been any more movie if they hadn’t. What a disappointment.

On the bright side, the audience was quiet and well-behaved. And I found myself unexpectedly interested in the trailer for the Fantastic Four sequel, in spite of finding the first one incredibly boring.

Cockeyed optimism

May 24, 2007

John Jakala takes the recent instances of charwomen and tentacles to list his favorite comics created by women. I can’t resist a list, so I’ll throw in a few of my own (while noting that there’s a lot of crossover between John’s list and mine):

  • Amy Unbounded by Rachel Hartman
  • Antique Bakery by Fumi Yoshinaga
  • Aya, written by Marguerite Abouet (illustrated by Clément Oubrerie)
  • Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya
  • Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
  • Imadoki! by Yuu Watase
  • Kinderbook by Kan Takahama
  • Me and Edith Head, written by Sara Ryan (illustrated by Steve Lieber)
  • Off*Beat by Jen Lee Quick
  • Paradise Kiss by Ai Yazawa
  • Rica ‘tte Kanji by Rica Takashima
  • Rumic Theatre by Rumiko Takahashi
  • Raina Telgemeier’s mini-comics
  • 12 Days by June Kim
  • When I’m Old and Other Stories by Gabrielle Bell
  • John offers some advice for readers who are increasingly frustrated by the shortcomings of the one, true category:

    “While I understand that many female readers wish to continue reading superhero stories, only without the offensive depictions of women, perhaps it’s time to look at the overwhelming evidence on record and cut one’s losses. Why support publishers who seem to go out of their way to aggravate and alienate female readers? What incentive do those publishers have to change if you’re still buying their books?”

    “Just dump(ing) the superhero comics already” paid off rather handsomely for me. After roughly a lifetime of following them, I finally gave up after the one-two punch of Marvel’s Avengers: Disassembled and DC’s Identity Crisis. The portrayal of long-running female characters in those stories certainly didn’t help, what with the Scarlet Witch suffering the most ridiculous case of post-partum depression in human history and Sue Dibny gruesomely repurposed for a big, theme-y murder mystery that fell apart before it even started. The underlying notion that watching these icons pay for their failures was more entertaining (or mature) than watching them achieve their benevolent aims didn’t help either. Between the two, it was as simple as following the emergency lights to the fire exit.

    Would I recommend the strategy for everyone? Probably not. For readers whose interest in comics begins and ends with the Marvel and DC universes (and that’s not intended as any kind of criticism, because I was exactly that reader for ages, and I had a lot of fun), I don’t know if Ichigo or Naruto would actually present a satisfying alternative to Peter Parker. There’s a difference between wanting satisfying heroic adventure stories generally and wanting to see them built around a specific group of iconic characters.

    And the cyclicality of super-hero comics suggests that change is inevitable and perhaps the pendulum will swing back in a direction that doesn’t make certain readers grind their teeth in frustration. (Heroes Reborn became Heroes Return, after all.) I think that possibility is kind of a tease, to be honest, but anything’s possible. I can understand the optimism, though, even in the face of a mounting pile of damning evidence that the optimism is misplaced.

    I also think the concept of “It’s not for you” isn’t universally true. Though not created with me in mind, I’ve found plenty of shônen-ai and yaoi that fits right in with my sensibilities and genuinely delights me as a reader. I’m not a teen-aged girl, but it should be glaringly obvious that shôjo is my crack. People are distinct (and perverse) enough that they’ll like what they like irrespective of creator or publisher intent, and stubborn enough that diminishing returns can’t overcome the belief that things can get better, that there are diamonds among the coal.

    Still, if your only emotional response to the spandex hobby is frustration, there’s no down side to trying something different. You might not intuitively consider Ichigo or Naruto or Canon or Aria or the Elric brothers or whoever else to be an adequate replacement for Batman or Spider-Man or Ms. Marvel or Wonder Woman, and it might end up being a failed experiment, but you never know. And it’s not that much of an investment to find out, especially if your local library has jumped on the graphic novel bandwagon.


    May 23, 2007

    Gosh, it’s getting so you can’t even use the phrase “the recent unpleasantness” with confidence, because there’s always something new. Aside from noting that I think the much-discussed Heroes for Hire cover is really grotesque, I think I’ll focus instead on things that don’t make me nauseous and do, in fact, bring joy, or at least the promise of future joy.

  • The July issue of Shojo Beat, featuring an excerpt from Osamu Tezuka’s legendary Princess Knight series, inches ever closer to release. It’s a comic about a heroic girl who has adventures and fights injustice, and it’s widely credited as one of the most influential shôjo manga of all time. I hope this isn’t a one-time deal and that more chapters of the story are forthcoming from Viz.
  • Even sooner, you will be able to experience the mad glory that is Ai Morinaga’s My Heavenly Hockey Club (Del Rey). Remember when I put out a call for seriously daft shôjo comedies? Based on the preview copy Del Rey sent me, this series is like the platonic ideal of what I was seeking.
  • Bryan Lee O’Malley has shared a page from the fourth volume of his Scott Pilgrim series. Ah, just looking at it gives me hope.
  • Amazon has finally sent me the third volume of Mail (Dark Horse), along with the innocent books held hostage by its tardiness.
  • Shawn Hoke has adopted a puppy so adorable that she looks like she sprang fully-formed from the brow of a shôjo manga-ka.

  • Make your own Wednesday

    May 22, 2007

    I’m just not feeling the ComicList love this week. Maybe it’s because I’m in the midst of minor home improvement chaos and the thought of bringing new items across the threshold is kind of terrifying.

    The clear highlight is a book I already own in hardcover, but it’s still exciting to see a paperback version of Joann Sfar’s The Rabbi’s Cat be released by Random House’s Pantheon imprint. This is one of my favorite works by Sfar, and it makes for lovely companion reading with Klezmer (First Second), if you liked that. Dare I hope that this means that another collection of The Rabbi’s Cat will be coming from Pantheon soon?

    And hey, since I’m already in the wayback machine, I’ll take the opportunity of a lean week to mention some underappreciated books that you might want to check out if you’re hard-pressed to pull together a respectable shopping list on Wednesday:

  • 12 Days, by June Kim (Tokyopop): Kim is currently nominated for a 2007 Lulu Award in the Best New Female Talent category, and it’s easy to see why. The book is an absorbing, unconventional look at grief and healing. (I reviewed it here.)
  • Past Lies: An Amy Devlin Mystery, by Christina Weir, Nunzio DeFilippis and Christopher Mitten (Oni): I don’t think there are nearly enough murder mysteries in comics, and this is a stylish and solid example. Are we going to see a follow-up? (I reviewed it here.)
  • Sexy Voice and Robo, by Iou Kuroda (Viz): An utterly beguiling oddity and probably one of the best books Viz has ever published. Magnificent character study, amazingly fluid shifts of tone, and a real sense of discovery throughout. Lots of people should buy this so that Viz will be motivated to publish more books like it. (I reviewed it here.)

  • Yoshinagarama

    May 22, 2007

    In this week’s Flipped, it’s all Fumi Yoshinaga, all the time. I think I’ve finally figured out what distinguishing factor makes Ichigenme 801 and The Moon and the Sandals Juné, which isn’t really relevant to my central thesis that she’s generally awesome.