And there was much rejoicing

September 25, 2009


Word comes via Brigid Alverson on Twitter that Vertical has acquired the license for Chi’s Sweet Home. Can I pre-order it yet? Also, Vertical earns the distinction of being the first publisher to fulfill one of my license requests. I should come up with some kind of fabulous prize for them, aside from the run-of-the-mill eternal gratitude.

While in Bethesda…

September 25, 2009

I’m sure I’ll miss a lot of excitement at the New York Anime Festival this weekend, but I’m profoundly consoled by one thing: Fanfare/Ponent Mon will be at the Small Press Expo. Here’s there press release:


Limited quantities of Years of the Elephant and A Distant Neighborhood #2 to be available to attendees.

yearsofelephantFanfare/Ponent Mon, publishers of quality translated European and Japanese graphic novels, makes its inaugural visit as exhibitor to SPX this year. To mark the occasion, the company is scheduling a special drop-shipment of two of its most anticipated titles — Years of the Elephant and A Distant Neighborhood #2 — to be available for purchase at the show a month prior to their official release. Pick up a copy at table F16!

Years of the Elephant by acclaimed Belgian artist Willy Linthout is the touching autobiographical exploration of his son’s suicide, a moving story made all the more powerful by Linthout’s use of pencils sans both color and inks.

Renowned Japanese manga creator Jiro Taniguchi’s A Distant Neighborhood #2 is the haunting conclusion to middle-aged businessman Nakahara’s reliving of his childhood as himself only with his elderly thoughts and experiences left intact.

Both titles exemplify the quality graphic storytelling that is the hallmark of Fanfare/Ponent Mon, whose much-lauded The Summit of the Gods Volume 1 and A Distant Neighborhood #1 by aforementioned Jiro Taniguchi premiered at San Diego this year and will also be available at SPX.

SPX is the preeminent showcase for the exhibition of independent comic books and the discovery of new creative talent. In its fourteenth year, the show will held the weekend of September 26 and 27, 2009 at the Marriott Bethesda North Hotel & Conference Center in Bethesda, MD.

Simon says

September 25, 2009

As many of us hoped he would, Simon Jones of Icarus Publishing (whose blog may not be safe for work) has weighed in on the leaked draft of a pitch letter from a scan aggregation site to a major publisher of translated manga:

“The reason print publishers have yet to fully embrace free online ad-supported publishing on the PC is largely because ad profits do not outweigh the diminished print sales due to free distribution. It doesn’t matter that scanlations have legit promotional qualities when the result is still a net loss for the publisher. Otherwise, publishers would be doing this themselves.”

Go read. Or wait until you get home, then go read. Either way, you should also go read the lively commentary on the subject at MangaBlog.

License request day: Tasogare Ryuuseigun

September 25, 2009

I’m actually closer to retirement age than adolescence. (I’m probably not closer to actual retirement, and some portion of me will probably never move past adolescence entirely, but that’s neither here nor there.) So perhaps it’s natural that I would start looking for sensitive comic-book portrayals of senior citizens. Or maybe I’m just perversely looking for drastically unlikely properties to request for publication in English.

Whatever the reason, I’ve had a needling fascination for the niche category known as “silver manga” ever since I read about it in Paul Gravett’s Manga: Sixty Years of Japanese Comics (Harper Design). Even I doubt that the documented college-student fondness for Golden Girls reruns would translate into demand for comics from this category, and today’s featured title has a number of other strikes against its likely licensing, but it never hurts to ask.

So let’s carefully immerse ourselves into the deep end of the pool during adult swim, shall we? Let’s take a look at Kenshi Hirokane’s Tasogare Ryuuseigun (or Like Shooting Stars in the Twilight), originally serialized in Shogakukan’s Big Comic Original.


Here’s Gravett’s description:

“They can also find respectful portrayals of senior citizens in new, so-called ‘silver’ manga, in which they are no longer reduced to the cliches of either wise elders or grumpy old fools. Like Shooting Stars in the Twilight is the metaphorical title of one series, in which protagonists in their sixties and older are shown still enjoying romance and sex to the full.”

shootingstarcoverAs lovely as that sounds to me, I can easily picture a lot of the primary audience for manga in English recoiling in abject horror from the very idea. For me, that reaction just offers bonus points, but I know that doesn’t reflect a particularly commercial mindset.

You’re probably familiar with Hirokane as the creator of Section Chief Kôsaku Shima, the ultimate salaryman manga. If you aren’t familiar with it, check out John Jakala’s tribute to the title. I certainly share John’s desire for more of that book and for office manga in general, but John’s covered it nicely, so why be redundant?

bcocoverLike Shooting Stars won an Excellence Prize at the Japan Media Arts Festival in 2000, so there’s that in its favor. Working against it is the fact that the series is 35 volumes long and, as near as I can tell, still ongoing. And that’s putting aside the fact that it features dignified portrayals of senior citizens in a market that’s yet to demonstrate consistent demand about portrayals of people in their twenties. But as I said, it never hurts to ask.