Birthday book: Leave It to Chance

September 4, 2009

Today’s Birthday Book fills me with nostalgia, not just for the book itself but for the work of Paul Smith in general. His run on Uncanny X-Men (collected here) remains one of my favorites in super-hero comics, packed with watershed moments made even better by his terrific pencils. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it was the title’s last great huzzah.

leaveittochanceBut today’s title is actually an independent work Smith did with James Robinson for Image: Leave it to Chance. It ran for a mere thirteen issues, but it was really terrific while it lasted. I like the Publishers Weekly description on the book’s Amazon listing so much that I’ll just crib from it:

“Like the Nancy Drew mysteries that inspired it, Robinson’s newest work is a paean to the resourcefulness and spirit of a curious tomboyish type who’s addicted to adventure. Chance Falconer is a 14-year-old only child born into a family of municipal sorcerers that has protected the city of Devil’s Echo for centuries. Chance can’t wait to start training in the family business, but her father decides he doesn’t want a girl joining the family’s dangerous profession… This is a girl power comic written with a younger audience in mind. The smartest cops are female, the violence is G-rated and the story is fast-paced, brightly colored and as wholesome as it gets.”

I’d be reluctant to use the word “wholesome,” just because nobody could possibly take that as a compliment, but the rest is spot-on. I’m horrified by my suspicion that it’s out of print, because I would have pegged this as an absolute perennial. Surely someone should have an omnibus edition in the offing, shouldn’t they?

License request day: Chi’s Sweet Home

September 4, 2009


chi1So apparently someone has decided that the internet needs “A Day Without Cats” next Tuesday. It’s some kind of National Day of Silence where everyone agrees not to tell cute cat stories or post cute cat pictures or video, and I’m not really clear why it’s necessary. I mean, there are lots of other things I’d like to see the internet go a day without, you know?

But far be it from me to be purposely contrarian. On Tuesday, Sept. 9, I will continue my fairly impressive track record of not telling cute cat stories or posting cute cat pictures. Well, it was a fairly impressive track record until today, when I beg some publisher to bring English-reading audiences what appears to be the cutest cat manga ever.

pleasedOf course I’m talking about Chi’s Sweet Home, written and illustrated Konami Kanata and serialized in Kodansha’s Weekly Morning magazine. Here’s the sometimes-reliable Wikipedia’s description of the series:

“A gray and white kitten with black stripes wanders away from her mother and siblings one day while enjoying a walk outside with her family. Lost in her surroundings, the kitten struggles to find her family and instead is found by a young boy, Youhei, and his mother. They take the kitten home, but as pets are not allowed in their housing complex, they try to find her a new home. chi2This proves to be difficult, and the family decides to keep the kitten. While being housebroken, she mistakenly answers to ‘Chi,’ (the Japanese word for ‘small’, can also be ‘pee’) and this becomes her name. Chi then has a splendid time living with her new family, learning about different things and meeting new people and animals.”

careerOkay, so it sounds like it’s Yotsuba with a kitten instead of a green-haired pre-schooler. I don’t see a down side to this, but I’m a cat person. (Before anyone gets their hackles up, I’m also a dog person. There appear to be six collected volumes available, which is not at all unreasonable, though it’s ongoing, so who knows how many there’ll eventually be? I don’t really care, because CUTE KITTENS DOING CUTE THINGS.

chi5Morning is in the seinen category, but I’ve always gotten the impression that it’s more for people who like great comics than 20-something men who like fanservice and weaponry, though I’m sure it’s perfectly capable of delivering those qualities with brio. Morning has been home to manga by Fumi Yoshinaga, Moyoco Anno, and Fuyumi Soryo, along with Planetes and Vagabond, so it seems as though the manga must only be made of freshly minted win to have a place in the roster.

Chi’s Sweet Home seems to have that feline je ne sais quoi that could fill a niche in the existing market. Sure, predicting what Kodansha will do has proven to be impossible, but when it comes down to cute kitten manga, the request must be made. And when Tuesday comes and you’re feeling that withdrawal, know that at least a few cute kitten pictures are here for you.

Update: Commenter Althalus notes that Ediciones Glénat will be is publishing the book in Spanish.