A song in my nerd heart

July 31, 2007

John Jakala’s discovery of the Bleach musical, beyond being conceptually delightful for its own sake, fills me with cross-nerd wishes. (I love musicals, too.) And I can’t think of a likelier source for an evening of song and dance than the works of Fumi Yoshinaga.

Her stories, particularly Antique Bakery and Flower of Life, are practically musicals already. They’re packed with intriguing characters with distinct voices, they shift in tone from ballad to patter, and they have a quirky improbability that would make for an easy transition from one form to another.

I can’t really think of a composer/lyricist right off hand. Sondheim seems too dark, though if he were in A Little Night Music mode, he might be just right. (Speaking of that, how come we have 7,000 revivals of Gypsy and none for Night Music? Is it because the lead in Night Music doesn’t really need to sing?) The creative team from Avenue Q might be closer to the mark, if they could tone down their satirical tendencies and accentuate their warmer, more humanist tendencies.

Of course, Kaoru Mori’s Emma is at an advantage, already having dancing girls. But surely there’s room on Broadway for both. And you could probably produce about four of Yoshinaga’s contemporary pieces for the cost of a costume epic like Emma.

And you could hardly go wrong with the work of Ai Yazawa. Paradise Kiss has “pop opera” written all over it, and Nana could draw in the Wicked crowd with its strong female friendships, but with a rock score.

Choices, choices

July 30, 2007

You’re standing in the lobby of the cineplex. Do you choose the wildly improbable action-fest or the quirky chick flick? I couldn’t decide, so this week’s Flipped looks at both Samurai Commando (CMX) and Translucent (Dark Horse).

Survey says

July 30, 2007

I got an interesting e-mail from someone involved in the development of an on-line comic shop, looking for feedback from potential customers and willing to pony up the swag to get it. According to Katherine Thoresen, Heavy Ink will feature…

“…a user interface full of innovative features, good customer reviews to help folks find material they like, and great prices. The initial version of our service will carry the full inventory of comic books from Diamond, but with in a year, we intend to start doing outreach to smaller/independent publishers that aren’t carried by Diamond or most existing stores.”

Sounds like a good idea to me, and they’ll be giving about $100 bucks worth of graphic novels to one survey participant and a buy-one-get-one-free subscription offer to everyone else who fills it out.


July 29, 2007

I’m still not watching this season of Top Chef with any regularity; I catch re-runs or marathons when nothing else is on, but it isn’t “destination television.” But I did see that interview show, and it’s left me with a couple of questions.

1. Tom Colicchio has become an icon among the bear community? Seriously? For shame, bear community. Dude has a soul patch.

2. Was that Padma Lakshmi fashion fanservice sequence really necessary?

3. Rocco DiSpirito is a guest judge? Is he going to offer people advice on how not to be a celebrity chef? Did they actually see The Restaurant? (At least he seems to have washed his hair.)

Potter cons

July 28, 2007

And here are five things I didn’t love about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. (Again, seriously, if you haven’t read it and are planning to, DON’T PROCEED TO THE JUMP. There are big honking SPOILERS. I MEAN it.):

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Potter pros

July 27, 2007

Here are five things I loved about Harry Potter and the Deatlhy Hallows. (Do I even need to specify that there are spoilers after the jump? Seriously, if you haven’t read it and are planning to, DON’T CLICK. I MEAN it.):

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Next, red carpet coverage from E!

July 26, 2007

Even NPR is getting in on the San Diego Comic-Con act, giving a preview of the Eisner Awards. I almost hopped a curb when I heard that. But it’s a nice piece, with interviews with judges, past winners, and an appreciation of Will Eisner’s influence on the medium.

This isn’t a review

July 26, 2007

When reviewing a graphic novel, I sometimes struggle with distinguishing between evaluating what the book actually is as opposed to a comparison with what I’d like it to be. It’s the difference between asking myself whether something is good on its own terms or wondering what I’d do to make it better (i.e., more to my tastes). Basically, it’s a case of reviewing versus going into fantasy editor mode.

I’m not having any luck swinging myself back into reviewer mode when it comes to Postcards: True Stories That Never Happened (Villard). I’m too busy making mental notes of what I would have done differently.

My central problem is that, while I share editor Jason Rodriguez’s fascination with these found objects, my fondness for them comes from a different place. To me, postcards represent the promise of adventure or temporary escape from routine. They’re reminders that there are more interesting places out there waiting to be seen when the day-to-day gets to be too much. No matter what’s written on the back of them, they’re messages from a less mundane place.

Rodriguez seems more interested in what postcards can say about the lives of their senders –turbulent, often grim stories that have little to do with the cheerful or elegant images that inspired them, extrapolating instead on the terse , oblique messages they carry. In the worlds Rodriguez’s creators have found lurking behind these scraps, families are torn apart, love fades, lives end, and dreams die. Only one or two stories employ what could really be described as a lighter touch. There’s nothing wrong with that, and the stories are generally executed well, but there’s such a gap between my hopes for the anthology and the creators’ priorities that I just can’t bridge it.

I blame the elephant on the cover. He’s bursting out of his frame, casting off shackles and stomping towards new experiences. He’s not stuck in an isolated farm town or waiting for death to reunite him with his one true love or forging an uneasy connection with his unstable stepmother. He’s out and doing, and it may not end well, but it will be different, and it will be memorable. I guess I just was hoping for the elephant.

(This non-review is based on a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.)

Yen for ICE

July 24, 2007

In the just-arrived Publishers Weekly Comics Week, Kai-Ming Cha answers all our questions about the future of ICE Kunion: they’re joining forces with Yen Press, who will be picking up the current roster of ICE Kunion titles. That’s good news for people who’d been enjoying them. (I had wondered precisely what former ICE editorial director Ju-Yuon Lee’s presence on the SDCC Yen Press panel meant, and I’m glad to see she took their titles with her when she joined Yen.)

Well, okay, maybe all of our questions aren’t answered:

“Fans curious about the promises of free manhwa on the ICE Kunion Web site should note that the site will soon redirect people to the Yen Press Web site, where they can find all of ICE’s series now under the Yen Press label. Although [Kurt] Hassler said there was some confusion over who owned the URL, he said the matter is being resolved.”

Anything that keeps me in Goong

Upcoming 7/25

July 24, 2007

The ComicList is showing up a little funky on my monitor, so I’ve headed back to the wellspring to look at this week’s shipping list.

The easy pick of the week is CMX’s new release of Mashashi Tanaka’s Gon. I’ve looked at a preview, and it’s as gorgeous as I expected. Just look at what Katherine Dacey-Tsuei has to say over in her Weekly Recon column. (I’m in complete agreement with her review of Pretty Face, too. Between this and Strawberry 100%, I’m thinking Viz might be on the verge of announcing a new fanservice brand.)

It’s a good week for CMX, as they also release a new volume of one of my favorite shôjo series, Sakura Tsukuba’s Penguin Revolution. Sure, it’s gender-bending pop idol silliness, but it’s genuinely funny and features great characters.

I’m a little leery of the title of Friends of Lulu’s The Girls’ Guide to Guys’ Stuff. What kind of “guys’ stuff” are we talking about here? If it’s all team sports and Radio Shack and gas grills and boxers versus briefs, I couldn’t conceivably care less. And what kind of guys are under consideration? Straight guys? Enlightened or troglodytic? Gay guys? Bi- or metro- or pansexual guys? All of the above? There are so many unanswered questions, which leads me to conclude that it’s… kind of a bad title, not unlike Sexy Chix.

I’m horribly behind in my comics reading, what with one distraction or another, so I haven’t waded too far into another anthology, Postcards: True Stories That Never Happened. I absolutely share the fascination with these cultural artifacts, though, and I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the book. I kind of hope editor Jason Rodriguez pulls back a bit on the rest of his introductory pieces, which show a tendency to gush in the early going.