Twists and turns

August 31, 2009

First, there’s a new Flipped up over at The Comics Reporter. I worked really hard on it, and even I don’t even care any more, because, wow, what’s the opposite of a slow news day? Monday, Aug. 31, 2009, that’s what the opposite is.

Since Marvel and Disney are so 10:18 a.m., I’ll point you towards Brigid Alverson’s scoop that Kodansha is letting its licenses with Tokyopop lapse. I popped over to Wikipedia to see if there was any handy chart or graph that would allow me to compare original publisher and U.S. licensing agent, and voila. It’s incomplete and should probably be taken with whatever quantity of salt you usually apply to that particular resource, but it’s a start, and here are the titles I culled (with an updated pointer to Deb Aoki’s breakdown of which titles are unfinished):

A.I. Love You
Baby Birth
Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad
Boys Be…
Cardcaptor Sakura
(due for omnibus treatment from Dark Horse, I think)
Cherry Juice
(due for omnibus treatment from Dark Horse)
(available in new omnibus from Dark Horse)
Confidential Confessions
Cyborg 009
Dead End
Deus Vitae
Dragon Head
Dragon Voice
Dream Saga
Et Cetera
Flower of Eden
(licensed but never published)
Girl Got Game
Great Teacher Onizuka
GTO: The Early Years
Harlem BeatRebound
Heat Guy J
Ice Blade
Initial D
Instant Teen: Just Add Nuts
Jing: King of Bandits
Kami Kaze
Kamichama Karin
Kedamono Damono
Kilala Princess
Kindaichi Case Files
Love Hina
Magic Knight Rayearth
Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi
Miracle Girls
Mobile Fighter G Gundam
Mobile Suit Gundam Side Story: The Blue Destiny
Mobile Suit Gundam Wing
(since published anew by Del Rey)
Peach Girl
and spin-offs
Pixie Pop
Le Portrait de Petite Cossette
Psychic Academy
Rave Master
RG Veda
Rose Hip Rose
Sailor Moon
Saint Tail
Sakura Taisen
Samurai Deeper Kyo
(picked up by Del Rey)
Telepathic Wanderers
Tokyo Mew Mew
and sequel
Tramps Like Us
Voices of a Distant Star
Warriors of Tao
Zodiac P.I.

Feel free to note any I missed in the comments, and I’ll update the list.

Previews review Sept. 2009

August 31, 2009

There’s a fair amount of interesting new stuff in the September 2009 edition of Diamond’s Previews catalog, along with a positively crippling number of new volumes of ongoing series that I simply must have. Let’s go in page order, shall we?

chobitsDark Horse continues its CLAMP collection project with the Chobits Omnibus Edition, a 720-page trade paperback priced at $24.95 (page 44).

It’s always unnerving when I read a quote from myself in something like this or on a book cover, because I sound even dorkier excerpted than I do in context, but I’m always happy to sing the praises of The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, written by Eiji Otsuka and illustrated by Jousui Yamazaki (page 50). The tenth volume solicitation seems to hint at the participation of zombies, but you should all buy it anyway. It’s not like it’s vampires.

CMX should have put some kind of sad-face emoticon after “Final Volume!” in their solicitation for the tenth volume of Kaoru Mori’s Emma. It’s back to focusing on the leads for the big finish (page 123).

I really liked the first volume of Nina Matsumoto’s Yokaiden (Del Rey), so I’m glad to see the listing for the second installment (page 248).

Digital Manga Publishing busts out the old-school shôjo with the first volume of Kaoru Tada’s Itazura Na Kiss (page 251). As the heroine seems to be something of an academic underachiever, I’d put good money on there being a scene where she’s late for school and runs out the door with a piece of toast hanging out of her mouth. That is not a criticism.

yellowI’ve been meaning to read Makoto Tateno’s Yellow for ages, as it sometimes shows up on those lists of yaoi titles gay guys might like. DMP offers the first volume of an omnibus version of the series, just in time for the arrival of the first volume of Yellow 2 (page 253).

If I didn’t already own all of the single issues, I would probably buy The More Than Complete Action Philosophers trade paperback from Evil Twin, written by Fred Van Lente and illustrated by Ryan Dunlavey. Actually, I’ll probably buy it anyway, because those comics are great, and I’d love to have them all bundled up (page 257).

yourandmysecret5Oh, glorious day! Tokyopop finally releases the fifth volume of Ai Morinaga’s pointed and hilarious Your and My Secret. The body-switching, pansexual love quadrangle continues (page 292).

Vertical gets in on the act with the eighth volume of Osamu Tezuka’s addictive Black Jack (page 300). I want a “Pinoko’s Most Unnerving Moments” edition. Though honestly, that would be all of them.

childrenofthesea2Viz has been inching me towards financial ruin for ages now, but they really give it their best effort this time around. There are the second volumes of Fumi Yoshinaga’s Ôoku: The Inner Chambers and Daisuke Igarashi’s Children of the Sea, the third volume of Kiminori Wakasugi’s Detroit Metal City, and the sixth volume of Naoki Urasawa’s 20th Century Boys, all on page 305.

Last, but certainly not least, Yen Press delivers the second volume of Yuji Iwahara’s Cat Paradise (page 310). For those of you who skipped the first installment, it’s about a school that lets you bring your cat. Charming as that sounds, many of the cats and their owners pursue extracurricular activities that involve fighting big, horrible demons. Fun stuff.

License request day: Journal

August 28, 2009


JL_2_-20I don’t just want English versions of comics from Japan, you know. And since I seem to be casting my eyes towards France today, I’ll make it a theme and request… beg, even… that someone takes a crack at Fabrice Neaud’s Journal.

In fairness, there is a Japanese connection here. I first became aware of Neaud’s work in Fanfare/Ponent Mon’s wonderful Japan as Viewed by 17 Creators. (Neaud was one of the 17.) Here’s my reaction to his contribution, “The City of Trees”:

“I’m particularly desperate to see more work from Neaud after reading ‘The City of Trees.’ As Neaud explores Sendai, seeing its sights and eavesdropping on its people, he peppers his narrative with flashes of his inner life. Experiences can unexpectedly call to mind bits of his own pain or heighten his sense of isolation. But they can also please and soothe him. It’s three-quarter travelogue, one-quarter confessional, all rendered with a wonderful eye for detail.”

JL_1_-p-005A few years later, I’m still particularly desperate. Over at Prism Comics, François Peneaud included Journal among the “Top Ten Comics for LGBT Readers”:

“Fabrice Neaud is a unique author in French comics (or bandes dessinées, as we call them). He’s a member of the Ego Comme X group (‘ego as x’, pronounced ‘ego comix’), and the only gay artist there… His Journal (‘diary’) is among the best comics coming from France, for its strong point of view and its constant inventiveness. I think it would suit quite well either Drawn & Quarterly or Fantagraphics.”

Ego Comme X has published four volumes of Journal so far, about 800 pages total. Two of those volumes have been published in Spanish as Diario by La Cúpula. And I must repeat myself when I note that none of those volumes have been published in English by anyone. Someone should fix that.


Birthday Books: Joann Sfar

August 28, 2009


The Comics Reporter notes that today is the birthday of Joann Sfar, the wonderful and prolific French cartoonist. I haven’t read any of Sfar’s comics that I wouldn’t happily recommend, so I’ll cheat and suggest two.

First up is Klezmer (First Second): “Klezmer tells a wild tale of love, friendship, survival, and the joy of making music in pre-World War II Eastern Europe… Tragic, humorous, violent, and tender, Klezmer’s rich watercolor art and simple but moving story-telling draws you into the lives of these fascinating characters.” Here’s my review of the book.

Next is a companion piece of sorts, The Rabbi’s Cat (Pantheon): “The preeminent work by one of France’s most celebrated young comics artists, The Rabbi’s Cat tells the wholly unique story of a rabbi, his daughter, and their talking cat–a philosopher brimming with scathing humor and surprising tenderness… Rich with the colors, textures, and flavors of Algeria’s Jewish community, The Rabbi’s Cat brings a lost world vibrantly to life–a time and place where Jews and Arabs coexisted–and peoples it with endearing and thoroughly human characters, and one truly unforgettable cat.” Here’s my review.

From the stack: Nightschool

August 27, 2009

nightschool1Reading the first volume of Svetlana Chmakova’s Nightschool: The Weirn Books (Yen Press) is a bit like reading an interesting recipe that sounds like it will result in a tasty dish. I’m the kind of person who reads cookbooks for fun, so I mean that as a compliment. Chmakova lists a bunch of interesting ingredients and suggests promising ways they might be combined.

It’s abut a young witch (or “weirn”) named Alex. Her older sister, Sarah, works as a sort-of guidance counselor at a school for the demonically inclined. In these times of scant educational funding, the institution shares space with a garden-variety high school after the sun sets. Alex has opted for home-schooling for as-yet-undisclosed reasons, though Sarah hasn’t given up on persuading Alex to join the weirns, vampires and werewolves that form the school’s student body.

As Sarah deals with weird kids at the school, Alex encounters her own troubles on a self-directed field trip. Alex wants to practice a spell in the field, and brings her inky smudge of a demonic familiar along. They run into a group of trainee monster hunters who are more inclined to eliminate eligible night-school students than educate them. They have their own parallel subculture to the school, which itself is fraught with unexpected perils.

It’s a lot of set-up to juggle, and Chmakova does a very nice job. The sizeable cast and their respective castes get a sensible amount of introduction, and the concluding twist gives a good nudge towards forcing Alex to engage with the school. Alex herself seems reasonably formidable and a bit mysterious.

Not surprisingly, Nightschool is a great-looking book. Chmakova proved her drawing chops on Dramacon, one of a handful of hits that emerged from Tokyopop’s global manga push. I didn’t especially care for that book, but I did find the visual storytelling to be brimming with talent. Chmakova’s work stood out in the way she didn’t seem to be imitating some idea of “manga style.” She’d clearly been steeped in the stuff, but her work had a distinctive look of its own, along with plenty of energy and emotion.

Nightschool carries over the appealing illustrations while demonstrating a smarter, subtler storytelling sensibility than Dramacon. As I said, all of the ingredients are there, and I feel reasonably confident in predicting that Chmakova will whip them up into something appealing.


August 26, 2009


I overlooked a choice item on this week’s shipping list, as it was part of Diamond’s Adult roster of arrivals. (I hope I’m in the minority.) It’s Junko Mizuno’s Little Fluffy Gigolo Pelu from Last Gasp, and it’s easily the pick of the week:

“Artist Junko Mizuno unleashes her unique graphic storytelling sensibilities on a tale that’s frequently adorable, sometimes grotesque, and surprisingly moving.”

It sounds like vintage Mizuno, in other words. Deb Aoki has an interview with Mizuno up at About.Com conducted at a signing at New People in San Francisco. Ryan Sands has some photos of the event over at Same Hat! Same Hat! (Oh, and Sands is interviewed by Kai-Ming Cha in the latest Publishers Weekly Comics Week about his upcoming Last Gasp project, Suehiro Maruo’s The Strange Tale of Panorama Island.)


In other fringe manga news, Viz has added another series to its SIGIKKI line-up, Temari Tamura’s I Am a Turtle:

“Follow this turtle down a Zen path through the wondrous natural world of Japan. Witness his simple life on a tea farm with his young master. Meet other animals such as his neighbor, the Sea Dog, an owl, a family of boars and, of course, more turtles! Come see how much better life can be when you’re a turtle.”

I don’t think that was ever really in question, was it? Looks like a quirky, well-drawn, reasonably charming offering to me.

Oh, and utterly unrelated, while looking around Diamond’s site, I noticed this article on the best fictional schools and was scandalized to find not a single entry from any manga series. This seems egregious, given the volume of such institutions available for consideration.

Upcoming 8/26/2009

August 25, 2009

Time for another quick look at this week’s ComicList:

There are some nice guilty pleasures on the Wednesday agenda. Dark Horse offers the sixth volume of Gantz, Hiroya Oku’s ultra-violent, oversexed action drama. CMX delivers the ninth volume of Yoshito Usui’s ode to kindergarten crudeness, Crayon Shinchan.

sayonara3It’s a hefty week for Del Rey. I’m most eagerly anticipating the fifth volume of Ryotaro Iwanaga’s underrated Pumpkin Scissors, an intriguing blend of wacky action and thoughtful political commentary. I was surprised by how much I liked the first volume of RAN’s Maid War Chronicle, given its fan-service friendly premise, but it’s got an unexpectedly quirky charm, even though I’d very much like the male lead to die horribly. Anyway, the second volume is due out Wednesday. For me, Koji Kumeta’s Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei is about 50% impenetrable, culture-specific humor, and 50% really, really funny stuff that requires no supplementary essays. That ratio is balanced enough to put the third volume of the series on my “to buy” list.

Someday I’ll set down and try to compose a reasoned piece on the things that bother me about the Color of… trilogy of books by Kim Dong Hwa (First Second). It doesn’t seem like a project that should be entered into lightly, as lots of people seem to really admire them. The concluding volume, The Color of Heaven, is as laden with gynobotanical metaphor as its predecessors, though it’s beautifully drawn.

Tokyopop unleashes a couple of the new series it announced at its recent webcast. Minari Endou’s Maria Holic generated a fair amount of interest in the previously linked poll, landing in the middle of the pack, while Kazusa Takashima’s Mad Love Chase ranked a bit lower.

Prithee click

August 24, 2009


This week’s Flipped is up, offering my view of Fumi Yoshinaga’s very eagerly anticipated and (in my opinion) not at all disappointing Ôoku: The Inner Chambers.

The current decade

August 23, 2009

Over at The Comics Reporter, Tom Spurgeon is assembling a roster of works to consider for the Best of the Decade, 2000 to 2009. Go take a look, then send Tom your own suggestions. The starter list is already amazingly formidable.

License request day: Delinquent Girl Detective

August 21, 2009

cover1When writing this week’s Flipped, I surfed around for some information about Crown co-creator Shinji Wada, not being familiar with his body of work. I almost immediately discovered that Wada had given the world something called Delinquent Girl Detective (or Sukeban Deka), and I knew that this week’s license request was all but written.

“The series follows a delinquent schoolgirl who is taken in by the government and forced to fight crime to redeem herself,” claims Wikipedia. “She is given the codename ‘Saki Asamiya’ and a metal yo-yo that doubled as a badge and made to infiltrate high schools around Japan to investigate and stop the criminal activities.”

cover2Clearly, awesome as Delinquent Girl Detective is as a title, it is merely a whisper of a hint of the absorbing lunacy of the series itself. Mentioning Sukeban Deka on Twitter led to a flurry of love for our yo-yo wielding gang girl gone undercover, most notably from Erica Friedman. Here’s her review of one of the live-action movies based on the franchise, which includes an overview of its multimedia history:

Sukeban Deka began life as a manga, which was then made into an anime OAV and, in the 80’s, a popular three-season live-action TV show, all of which I have reviewed previously. For the basic plotline, general Yuri-ness and links to manga and anime on Amazon JP and Amazon respectively, click the link to the past review.”

cover3You should obviously click through to that previous review, if only for this faultlessly persuasive opening gambit:

“But what, you ask, if I like shoujo manga, but I also like sex and guns and violence, and sex? Well, obviously, I wouldn’t have brought this up without an answer, would I?”

If I were a weaker person, I’d quote Jerry Maguire, but that’s a dated reference. I also haven’t seen the movie and hope never to do so. I could make even more dated references to 21 Jump Street, The Mod Squad, and juvie movies starring Linda Blair, but they really aren’t necessary, are they?

cover4Sukeban Deka was originally serialized in Hakusensha’s Hana to Yume magazine, then collected in 22 volumes, then re-published in 12 volumes. I can’t seem to find any information at Hakusensha’s web site, but here’s a starter link from Amazon Japan. (UPDATE: Sean notes in the comments that the book moved from Hakusensha to Media Factory.)

Now, many of you are probably saying to yourselves, “Oh, yeah… a vintage, 22-volume shôjo series… I’m sure publishers will get right on that.” You’re probably right, but I must remind you that any commercially viable series that appear in these posts do so by pure coincidence. If I want to ask for dated, bat-shit crazy gang-girl drama, I will ask for it.

(Is there something you want to ask for from the manga gatekeepers? Drop me a line if you’d like to do a guest post.)