Final thought for Friday

October 9, 2009

Dear cartoonists: Please draw an Archie cover where Betty accepts Veronica’s marriage proposal and Archie sobs in the background. Thank you in advance.

Update: An email correspondent points me to this cover:

betty&veronica

And I appreciate it, but it’s sort of a “close, but no cigar” kind of thing. This reads more to me like Archie is horrified that both of the girls he’s inexplicably able to string along might have the notion of long-term commitment somewhere on their minds. Or, judging simply by his line of sight, Betty has carelessly neglected to button up the back of her gown, revealing otherwise concealed reptilian skin, or something like that.


License request day: Vinland Saga

October 9, 2009

In honor of the fact that NASA tried to blow up the moon this morning and the fact that Kodansha staged its own Groundhog Day this week, I was going to pick Naoko Takeuchi’s Sailor Moon for today’s license request. I’ve reconsidered because it seems like such a foregone conclusion that Kodansha will reprint it at some point.

But there is a lunar connection to today’s targeted title. Makoto Yukimura is the creator of Planetes, published in English by Tokyopop though effectively out of print as it was among the titles Kodansha retrieved from the publisher. I hope it doesn’t stay out of print long, as it’s still one of the best comics from Japan I’ve ever read. It’s an introspective, character-driven science-fiction story about space exploration, focusing on a group of orbital garbage haulers to take dangerous debris out of the spaceways. If you haven’t read it and can find copies, I strongly urge you to do so.

VinlandSaga1Now, Yukimura has also done evidently exemplary work in a category that I’ve somewhat neglected: action seinen. It’s called Vinland Saga, a look at Viking conquest in the early 1000s. It combines actual history with some fictionalized additions, examining the Viking invasion of England and the early years of King Canute the Great.

Let’s turn back the calendar and see what Ed Chavez had to say about the first volume:

VinlandSaga2

“One of the first things you notice when reading Vinland Saga is that it’s violent. Limbs, heads, and the like fly, arrows pierce men through their skulls, eyeballs are skewered like shish kebab, chains rip the hair and flesh from a man’s head. The action is plentiful, and its frenetic pace aids the feeling of barbaric combat that makes up much of the first volume. Having nothing like this to previously judge him by, Yukimura has shown that he is adept at scripting and executing action sequences. His drawings are fluid, and the staging and panel work is top-notch. He’s even included little touches that add to a sense of atmosphere, such as Frankish women collecting arrows from the dead bodies of the foes during a break in battle.”

VinlandSaga3Now, fact-based head bashing doesn’t always fly off the shelves, but I have this suspicion that Vikings might be the next big thing in testosterone-driven docudrama. I could be wrong, and usually am, but if the Spartans could pull it off, who’s to say the Vikings can’t?

The Vinland Saga was originally published in Kodansha’s Weekly Shônen Magazine but shifted to the monthly Afternoon, offering Yukimura a less arduous schedule and a slightly older audience. It’s still ongoing and has amassed eight volumes so far. There’s a slow-to-load but great-looking preview here. It’s being published in French by Kurokawa.

What properties from Kodansha’s copious back catalog would you like to see licensed?


Birthday book: Paris

October 9, 2009

I didn’t even have to check The Comics Reporter to find a birthday book. Via Twitter, I note that it’s the birthday of gifted illustrator Simon Gane. I’ve mentioned this particular title, and I’ll probably mention it a million more, because it’s gorgeous and I love it and I’ll never be entirely convinced that enough people have read it.

parisIt’s Paris (SLG), illustrated by Gane and written by Andi Watson, and it tells the story of a romance between a bohemian artist and a society girl who meet in the titular city. Instead of repeating myself, I’ll point you to nice things that other people have said about this lovely book:

“Andi Watson and Simon Gane have crafted something unmistakably cool, elegantly beautiful and full of the romance and mystery of the place. Setting the book in a Paris of the 50s automatically makes the whole place redolent in the style of the time, all bohemian chic grooving to a jazz soundtrack.” Richard Bruton, Forbidden Planet International

“As wonderfully as Andi Watson builds these characters though, it’s Simon Gane’s art that completes the book. Without a single word of dialogue, we get the sense of these characters through Gane’s depictions: Juliet’s weary longing, Deborah’s innocent beauty, Chap’s stiff unfriendliness, Gerard’s arrogant awkwardness, Paulette’s naughty wit. You know these characters and what they’re thinking as soon as you see them. And the city Gane draws for them to inhabit…” Michael May, Robot 6

“I think I would have enjoyed Paris no matter what Gane had brought to the book, but I was surprised by how much more versatile, visually pleasing and attentive to narrative detail his art had become. His art ended up a perfect match for what’s essentially an old-fashioned romance of the kind they keep telling us need to be made more often.” Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter

Click on any of those links, and you’ll see lots of samples of Gane’s gorgeous, gorgeous work.