This week’s ComicList has some welcome, off-the-beaten-path items, so let’s dig in.
The arrival of one book from Fanfare/Ponent Mon is a welcome delight. The arrival of two seems positively decadent, but that’s what they do, and both are from master illustrator Jiro Taniguchi. Which excites you more will depend on your taste for Taniguchi. Summit of the Gods, about fateful trips up Mt. Everest, is in his man-versus-nature vein, like The Ice Wanderer and Quest for the Missing Girl. A Distant Neighborhood is more slice-of-life, kind of like his story in Japan as Viewed by 17 Creators or The Walking Man (if it had a plot). I picked up the first two volumes of A Distant Neighborhood at Small Press Expo and can heartily recommend it. I’ll cover it in more depth later, but it’s about a middle-aged man who wakes up as his teen-aged self shortly before his father’s disappearance.
There are two arrivals that can be described as clever ideas executed extremely well. R. Sikoryak’s Masterpiece Comics (Drawn & Quarterly) was another SPX purchase. In it, Sikoryak fuses classic literature with classic comics in some extremely witty ways. Blondie and Dagwood are reinvented as Adam and Eve, Mary Worth becomes Lady Macbeth, Bazooka Joe does Dante, and so on. The juxtapositions are great, and Sikoryak’s ability to adopt such a variety of visual styles is very impressive. The book is more amusing than absorbing, but there’s an amazing amount of craft on display.
I’ve already written about The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks (Random House), mostly for its weird crediting of author Max Books and illustrator Ibraim Roberson on the review copy I received and the web listing, some of which seems to have been fixed. Brooks inserts zombies into various, far-flung scenarios – the colonial Caribbean, a Foreign Legion outpost in northern Africa, even pre-history – offering a faux-anthropological examination of zombie encounters through history. Again, it’s clever, and Roberson draws the heck out of it. I’d recommend it for zombie fans looking for a marginally fresh take on the (in my opinion) exhausted topic.
I tend to like the shôjo titles CMX publishes. I’ve heard effusive praise for Ken Saito’s The Name of the Flower, and I’ll track it down at some point, but in the meantime, I was glad to receive a review copy of Oh! My Brother so I could get a sense of Saito’s style. It’s got its strong points, mostly in terms of interesting characters and nicely delivered emotional moments. It’s about a girl who finds herself sharing her body with the spirit of her dead older brother, trying to help him with his unfinished business. That could have turned into something really unsavory, but Saito takes a sweet, sensitive approach to the material, thankfully. Some of the storytelling is a little sketchy, but there’s a nice, sentimental core to the work. I suspect Brother came before Flower, though I can’t seem to find any confirmation of that.
Viz releases many, many books this week, some of which will very likely show up on the Graphic Book Best Seller List over at The New York Times, but my attention is fixated on the second volume of Kimi ni Todoke: From Me to You, written and illustrated by Karuho Shiina. It’s about an outwardly off-putting girl trying to convince her classmates that she didn’t crawl out of a well to claim their souls. I liked the first volume a lot.
I couldn’t find it on Image’s web site with a sextant and a dowsing rod, but I’ll definitely pick up the second issue of Brandon Graham’s King City, as I really enjoyed the first. It’s a pamphlet reprinting of a book Tokyopop originally published as a paperback. I missed it in digest form, so I’m glad Image and Tokyopop are giving readers a second bite of the apple, particularly in a format that’s probably friendlier to Graham’s illustrations.