Paging Angie Dickinson!

March 14, 2009

yamato_highheelcopNow that CMX has begun publishing the ridiculously entertaining Fire Investigator Nanase (a glorious mash-up of Firefighter! Daigo of Fire Company M, Silence of the Lambs, and Quincy, ME, if that’s possible), I’m thinking they might want to expand their roster of tough cookies to include Waki Yamato’s High-Heeled Cop (variously translated as Shin High-Heeled Cop and Hi-Heel Cop). There’s precious little information about this series (in English, anyway), but with a title like that, how can you go wrong? If Angie Dickinson was still making femmesploitation movies, I’d wager it would be a terrific vehicle for her.

And while I’m at it, would it be too much to ask of an American publisher to license Yamato’s Yokohoma Monogatori, NY Komachi, or Haikara-san ga Toru? I’ve all but given up on other classic shojo titles (you know the suspects: The Song of the Wind in the Trees, The Rose of Versailles), but perhaps there’s hope here…


Gridlock

March 12, 2009

I live in a town with horrible traffic issues. I know… who doesn’t? And over the years, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’d rather drive 20 miles out of my way and keep moving than sit in traffic go nowhere, or worse, frequently stop and start without making any meaningful forward progress.

I don’t read that many pamphlet comics, and I think there’s some carry-over from my disposition as a motorist. Not too long ago, I tried a monthly comic that had gotten very good reviews, and I may someday enjoy it in collected form, but the two issues I picked up on the same shop visit confirmed that 20-odd pages with ads is not a satisfying delivery system for me.

In fact, the advertisements almost made me lose my mind. Here’s the breakdown for the first issue, with actual content in italics:

Cover.
Inside cover advertisement.
Four pages of story.
Two pages of advertisements.
Four pages of story.
Two pages of advertisements.
Four pages of story.
Two pages of advertisements.
Four pages of story.
Two pages of advertisements.
Six pages of story.
Two pages of advertisements.
Back inside cover advertisement.
Back cover advertisement.

The four-two-four-two pattern was positively Zen-like compared to the jumble of the second issue. At one point, one page of story was sandwiched between two pages of advertisements. I imagine this is because there were a certain number of advertisers who wanted right-side pages, which forced the layout department to hack up the story in a way that would accommodate the advertisers. But seriously, just throw the page in the trash, why don’t you? Its contents are 90% lost anyways.

I get that it’s a business and some publishers who deal in pamphlet comics rely on advertising revenue, but I found the constant stop-and-start maddening. At least television producers can rely on commercial breaks coming at regular intervals and they can write their beats accordingly. They can even build internal cliffhangers into a half-hour or hour-long program and use the interruptions to their advantage.

But how is a comic writer supposed to know how their story will flow after the ads are inserted in ways that have nothing to do with narrative momentum or even logic? Why would writers even try, unless they were doing some work-for-hire product tie-in where it’s all advertising to begin with? (“Now, after those three pages, there’s a maze where Grimace has to find the three daily servings of fruit.”) And how’s an artist supposed to know that their illustrations stand a chance of leading the reader’s eye in the way they want when one of their sequences is bound to be chopped into thirds by things completely discordant with their visual style? Seriously, even if the ads aren’t hideous, and a lot of them are, the flow suffers.

So yeah, no more floppies with ads for me, because that just grated on my nerves. I’ve been spoiled by digests. The closest thing I’ve found to an advertisement in the actual story of a manga paperback is Yuu Watase telling her readers to buy the soundtrack from the Ceres anime because it made her cry.


Upcoming 3/11/2009

March 10, 2009

A quick look at this week’s ComicList:

I really, really need to do a big catch-up-on-CMX Amazon order at some point in the near future. This week sees the arrival of the seventh volume of Tomomi Yamashita’s Apothecarius Argentum. I really enjoyed the early volumes of this series, created by a manga-ka who trained as a pharmacist, which almost automatically makes it awesome, and the actual content (an interesting story and attractive art) cements the perception.

Even more generously, CMX delivers the eighth volume of Kaoru Mori’s Emma, featuring more short stories about supporting characters. I adored Mrs. Stowner, so I’m especially eager for that chapter. And honestly, even if the book only contained the handful of pages of author notes, it would still be worth $9.99.

It seems to be a pretty good week for those of a nostalgic bent. Even I might not be able to resist the fourth volume of Showcase Presents: Justice League of America, as it collects the introductions of Black Canary and Red Tornado, and they were always two of my favorite members. (And writing their names together, it sounds like some super-tense checkers match on ESPN 13, or something.) I don’t think I actually ever read the stories that featured them joining, but as with the Avengers, I always preferred the cast members who didn’t have anywhere else to appear, allowing the writers to go all soapy with them. I do vaguely remember that DC used to let readers vote on who joined the team next, though even as a child I suspected that they ignored the actual tallies if editorial fiat demanded it. I mean, what else can explain the exclusion of Captain Comet?

Kind of a lean week, really, but Mori makes up for it.


Pie really isn’t that easy, you know

March 9, 2009

Because sometimes you just need to abuse what little power you have and play favorites, this week’s Flipped is devoted to Fumi Yoshinaga’s Antique Bakery.


Happy Birthday, MangaBlog!

March 5, 2009

In honor of MangaBlog’s fourth birthday, I decided to do Brigid a solid and link to her site for a change. I always enjoy her news round-ups and industry commentary, but I like her reviews even better. Brigid has an eye for detail and an ear for language; her reviews are filled with smart observations and smartly worded phrases that make me ache with envy as a fellow writer. She makes it look so easy!

If, like me, you’re a beneficiary of Brigid’s linkblogging largesse, take a minute to follow the links below, which will lead you to some of her best reviews. It seems like the least we can do for someone who’s helped put many of us on the virtual map!

Want more? Click here for the full MangaBlog review index. Here’s to many more years of news, reviews, and commentary!


Duly noted

March 5, 2009

Tom Spurgeon points to a welcome development at The New York Times: new comics sales figures to further muddy the waters! Suck it, BookScan! You’re so last month. I think weekly lists will be very interesting indeed. Heck, they already are, seeing how seriously seinen-y seinen from Dark Horse muscled its way onto the manga list amidst all the Naruto. I also love how the Times at least kind of explains its methodology right out of the gate instead of treating it like some seven-herbs-and-spices trade secret.

And, via Brigid Alverson, the School Library Journal delivers a report on the New York Comic-Con panel I would have most liked to attend.


It’ll be here before you know it

March 5, 2009

It’s never too early to start thinking about next year’s Great Graphic Novels for Teens list. The first round of nominations has been posted at the Young Adult Library Services Association’s site, and this year’s chair, Eva Volin, notes that “anyone, as long as that person isn’t the creator or publisher of the work, can nominate a title for this list. The book needs to have been originally published between September 1, 2008 and December 31, 2009.” Here’s the form, so what are you waiting for?

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to nominate Crogan’s Vengeance (Oni) before I forget.