Wanting far too much for far too long

March 12, 2010

This week’s glorious news has left me with a question: should I just change the name of this feature to “Pestering Matt Thorn”? The idea appeals to me, but I’m reluctant to limit myself when it comes to begging. That doesn’t mean that I can’t… shall we say… fixate for a while.

But even this leaves one with a question: fixate on what? Should I focus on the kind of manga that seems to track with Thorn’s scholarly interests in his work as a part of Kyoto Seika University’s Faculty of Manga? This wouldn’t exactly be a stretch, as I routinely beg for classic shôjo, edgy shôjo, josei, and the various mix-and-match possibilities of all of those.

And then one notes that, in spite of the partnership with Shogakukan, one of the first two announcements from Fantagraphics is still in serialization in Enterbrain’s Comic Beam. And, as we all know, Comic Beam is awesome. I remember talking about Comic Beam’s curatorial sensibility during that Inkstuds podcast with Deb Aoki, Chris Butcher and Ryan Sands, so it makes me feel validated that Thorn drew from that particular well.

When one factors in the Fantagraphics brand (comics they admire from wherever or whenever), and the breadth and depth of Shogakukan’s catalog, and even Thorn’s own list of the best manga of the early 2000s, the possibilities seem satisfyingly vast. And while Gary Groth may not be the cuddliest messenger in the world (on this or any other subject), one can rest assured that his sensibility is as curatorial as it gets, and The Comics Journal wouldn’t have done an issue about Japanese comics for girls if it hadn’t been for Dirk Deppey, who was matchmaker for this whole initiative.

But really, where, oh where, to start with the begging? Thorn has noted that Moto Hagio’s The Heart of Thomas “changed [his] life,” and it’s a defining work of boys’-love manga, so it’s not unreasonable to keep one’s fingers crossed on that front. Along the same lines, Thorn included Hagio’s Otherworld Barbara among the previously mentioned best comics of the century so far, so that title doesn’t seem to represent excessive optimism either. (And, frankly, Fantagraphics triggered my want reflex for Otherworld Barbara in the first place by using art from it on the cover of The Comics Journal #269. They basically showed the gun in the first act, so somebody better be bleeding on the stage by the time the curtain comes down, is all I’m saying.)

Even just confining oneself to Hagio manga published by Shogakukan leaves one with a veritable smorgasbord. What more perfect way could there be for Fantagraphics to enter the vampire game than to publish The Poe Clan? Hagio’s award-winning A Cruel God Reigns (17 volumes of brutal family dysfunction) sounds like just the kind of challenge Fantagraphics would embrace.

And there’s the whole wide world of non-Hagio Shogakukan titles. I’ve seen Yumi Tamura’s 7 Seeds mentioned in the course of Fanta-Thorn elation, and why shouldn’t it be? Post-apocalyptic shôjo-josei about cryogenically frozen teen-agers destined to repopulate the Earth? Why yes, thank you, I’d love some!

So basically what I’m saying is that every possible request calls to mind seven or eight more. In fact, I’m on the verge of collapse under the weight of possibilities, so I throw it open to you. What titles are in your dream vision of Thorn-curated manga from Fantagraphics?