Upcoming 9/1/2010

August 31, 2010

It’s an interesting week in ComicList terms. Let’s go right to the pick of the week, shall we?

That would be Moto Hagio’s A Drunken Dream and Other Stories, the first result of the Fantagraphics-Shogakukan team-up that’s being curated by Matt Thorn. It’s a deeply glorious book that brims with Hagio’s psychological and emotional insights. I plan on posting a review on Thursday. You can order a signed copy from the publisher.

If that doesn’t slake your appetite for classic manga, Vertical is kind enough to offer Osamu Tezuka’s Apollo’s Song in two paperback volumes. It’s an example of deeply crazy Tezuka, with the added bonus of lots and lots of sex. If you can resist that description, you’re stronger than I am.

One of last year’s big books is now available in paperback. David Small’s Stitches (W.W. Norton) offers a beautifully rendered and stunningly bleak look at a miserable childhood. It’s a really great graphic novel.

There are also new issues of three very different and very entertaining pamphlet comics. First is the second issue of Avengers: The Children’s Crusade, following the Young Avengers as they search for the Scarlet Witch to the dismay of most of the rest of the residents of the Marvel universe, who seem happy to assume that the longtime heroine is evil and crazy. Next is the penultimate (I think) issue of Brandon Graham’s King City from Image, whose website is so terrible that I won’t even bother trying to find a link to additional information on the comic. And last is the fourth issue of Stumptown, a smart tale of a down-on-her-luck private investigator from Oni.

What looks good to you?

Updated: I forgot one big pamphlet offering, the arrival of Veronica 202 (Archie Comics) and Riverdale’s first openly gay resident, Kevin Keller. I hope I can find a copy so I can be appropriately derisive when conservative groups condemn the comic.

Previews review September 2010

August 30, 2010

There’s lots of desirable material in the September 2010 Previews catalog.

Before we get to that, I feel I should note that Del Rey manga is still launching new series. Its latest is Ema Toyama’s I Am Here! It’s about a young girl who overcomes her shyness through blogging. I fell asleep halfway through typing that sentence, but there you have it. It originally ran in Kodansha’s Nakayoshi magazine. (Page 267.)

It seems like it’s been forever since the gorgeous hardcover collection of the first set of Linda Medley’s Castle Waiting stories. Fantagraphics will release 384 more pages of charming comics about the family-of-choice residents of a falling-down castle along the way. (Page 278.)

Ever since I read Glacial Period (NBM), I’ve wanted someone to publish more comics by Nicolas De Crecy. NBM obliges again with the first volume of Salvatore: Transports of Love about a successful auto mechanic who happens to be a dog. Congratulations, NBM, on joining the elite circle of publishers who have fulfilled one of my license requests. You may join Vertical and Fantagraphics in the Silver Courtesy Lounge. (Page 290.)

I’m generally not the target audience for books from PictureBox, but I love Renée (The Ticking) French, so I’ll be all over H Day. It’s a no-doubt surreal look at how French copes with migraine headaches. (Page 300.)

It also feels like it’s been a long time since Top Shelf published the first volume of Lars Martinson’s Tōnoharu. The second volume examining the life of a North American English teacher in rural Japan can be found listed on page 310.

Bless Yen Press for digging and finding unlicensed Fumi Yoshinaga, specifically Not Love but Delicious Foods, about a hard-working, hard-eating lady and her foodie friends as they restaurant hop through Tokyo. It originally ran in Ohta Shuppan’s Manga Erotics F, which is one of those magazines that seems to run whatever the hell kind of comics it pleases. (Page 321.)

License request day: Cesare

August 27, 2010

Since we’re sort of on the subject of women who make comics for seinen magazines, it seems like a good (if belated) time to bring up Fuyumi Soryo. Actually, it’s never a bad time to bring up Soryo, given the fact that she has excellent work available in English. There’s Mars, a shôjo title published by Tokyopop that originally ran in Kodansha’s Betsufure, and ES: Eternal Sabbath, a seinen series published by Del Rey that originally ran in Kodansha’s Weekly Morning.

Waiting in the wings, and still running in Kodansha’s Weekly Morning, is Cesare, which looks into that most fascinating family of Renaissance schemers, the Borgias. You may already be familiar with another manga rendering of this clan in the form of You Higuri’s Cantarella (Go! Comi). That’s sort of a sparkly, bishie-quasi-vampire-angel take on the family, full of sold souls and unsettling bisexual longings, and it’s awesome, but the Borgias are weird enough to invite multiple interpretations.

People who have read Cesare compare it favorably to Vinland Saga and Historie, which is high praise indeed, since both of those series are supposed to be incredible. I’ve also seen praise for the depth of historical research Soryo has undertaken in creating the series, and it’s a fascinating period, so it will probably reward readers in that regard. Here’s the link to Kodansha’s page on Cesare.

By women for men

August 26, 2010

For some reason, it came to mind that some of my very favorite Japanese comics were made by women for a male audience, in that they ran in seinen anthologies. I don’t know precisely what that means, and most of them were serialized in magazines that I suspect have more of a mixed audience than is average, but I’m feeling lazy, so I thought I’d turn the observation into a poll.

Did I forget any? What women-created seinen would you like to see licensed? Hataraki Man? What Did You Eat Yesterday? Cesare?

Update: Okay, anything else I may have forgotten should be considered a write-in for the comments.

The Seinen Alphabet: F

August 25, 2010

I’ll tell you right now that I have the feeling that I’m going to forget something critical in this installment of the Seinen Alphabet, so feel free to amend in the comments. The “F” entry for the the Shôjo-Sunjeong Alphabet was crazy huge, but Seinen? Well, “F” is for…

Fan service… but fan service isn’t unique to seinen, obviously. Every category features ways its creators can cater to their audience.

Tokyopop has published a couple of seinen manga that starts with “F.”

Futari Ecchi, written and illustrated by Katsu Aki, was published in English as Manga Sutra, and golly, did I find the first volume to be boring.

And there’s FLCL, adapted by Hajime Ueda.

Takuya Fujima’s Free Collars Kingdom (Del Rey) doesn’t immediately look like seinen, but it ran in Kodansha’s Magazine Z. Here’s Fujima’s profile on Baka-Updates, with more seinen titles in his portfolio.

Media Blasters has published at least three volumes of Natsumi Konjoh’s Fujoshi Rumi.

On the unlicensed front, I wouldn’t mind getting my hands on Jiro Matsumoto’s Freesia.

There’s apparently a seinen version of Fist of the North Star that has yet to be published in English. It was serialized in Shogakukan’s Big Comic Superior. And there’s another seinen version running in Shinchosa’s Comic Bunch.

But what does “F” stand for in your Seinen Alphabet?

Upcoming 8/25/2010

August 24, 2010

It’s a mercifully light ComicList this week, which will give me a chance to catch up on the past few weeks of releases.

In fact, there’s a total of one new title on my “to buy” list, and it’s the second volume of Konami Kanata’s Chi’s Sweet Home from Vertical. It’s about a lost kitten adapting to life with her new family, and it’s very cute in a slice-of-life kind of way. It originally ran in Kodansha’s Weekly Morning, and it’s been flipped and colored for publication in English, with the cooperation of the creator. You can watch the equally cute anime on Crunchyroll.

The Seinen Alphabet: E

August 18, 2010

We’ve reached a great letter in the seinen alphabet, at least in terms of licensed manga. “E” is for…

We’ll start with Eden: It’s an Endless World! (Dark Horse), written and illustrated by Hiroki Endo, which is a dense and violent science fiction tale of the world after a pernicious outbreak. The human population has been decimated and is trying to rebuild itself while military and corporate forces scheme in the background. It’s great stuff, if not wildly commercially successful, which is too bad. It originally ran in Kodansha’s Afternoon.

Endo’s two-volume Tanpenshu, collecting varied short stories, has also been published by Dark Horse. These stories also first appeared in Afternoon.

Some people find it difficult to believe that Kaoru Mori’s lovely Emma (CMX) originally ran in a seinen magazine (Enterbrain’s near-perfect Comic Beam), but it did. It’s a glorious tale of a Victorian maid and her romance with a young man from the emerging upper middle class. Roughly 1,000 bloggers wrote about it in this installment of the Manga Moveable Feast.

Fuyumi Soryo may be more well known for her shôjo work, but she has at least one brilliant seinen series available in English: ES: Eternal Sabbath (Del Rey). It’s about powerful psychic clones trying to figure out where they fit in human society with sometimes violent and disturbing results. Kate (The Manga Critic) Dacey wrote about it in this piece on “The Best Manga You’re Not Reading.” ES originally ran in Kodansha’s Weekly Morning.

Ask any random group of manga diehards what series they’d like to see rescued from publishing limbo, and you’re likely to hear a lot of them answer Even a Monkey Can Draw Manga, a delightfully blistering industry satire from Koji Aihara and Kentaro Takekuma. Viz published one volume of it, and the second and third volumes still lurk out there, teasing us all. It was originally serialized in Shogakukan’s Big Comic Spirits.

I’ll confess to only a passing familiarity with Rikdo Koshi’s Excel Saga (Viz), which is serialized in Shonen Gahosha’s Young King OURs. Please feel free to jump in the comments and try and convince me that I should expand my knowledge of this series.

Many of my license requests come from Kodansha’s seinen magazines, but I don’t recall asking for much from Evening yet. I think Masayuki Ishakawa’s Moyasimon (Del Rey) was picked up before I started the feature. Still, Endo has another series from Evening called All Rounder Meguru that might be promising. It’s about mixed martial arts. Here’s Evening’s Japanese site.

What starts with the letter “E” in your seinen alphabet?

Upcoming 8/18/2010

August 17, 2010

It may not look like there’s any new manga of note on this week’s ComicList, but a lot of the stuff that I mentioned last week is actually shipping this week. Kate (The Manga Critic) Dacey has a handy run-down, and she also has a timeless warning on Japanese comics to avoid. (How could I have forgotten Pretty Face?) And there are a couple of very promising items due for arrival on Wednesday.

Goldilocks and the Seven Squat Bears isn’t from Japan or Korea, the usual sources for books from Yen Press, but it’s been written and illustrated by Émile Bravo, so it’s likely to be very, very good. Bravo brilliantly illustrated My Mommy Is in America and She Met Buffalo Bill, written by Jean Regnaud and published in English by Fanfare/Ponent Mon.

I really enjoyed Aaron Renier’s Spiral-Bound (Top Shelf), and I sometimes find myself wondering when his next book will arrive. The answer is apparently “Wednesday,” thanks to First Second and in the form of The Unsinkable Walker Bean. Here are the details:

“Mild, meek, and a little geeky, Walker is always happiest in his grandfather’s workshop, messing around with his inventions. But when his beloved grandfather is struck by an ancient curse, it falls on Walker to return an accursed pearl skull to the witches who created it—and his path will be strewn with pirates, magical machines, ancient lore, and deadly peril.”

Update: I inexcusably missed this one, but I have to mention the new Vertigo graphic novel Dark Rain because it’s been drawn by the incredibly gifted Simon (Paris) Gane. It’s a thriller set in post-Katrina New Orleans, written by Mat (Incognegro) Johnson. There are some preview pages over at Techland.

Hit and miss

August 16, 2010

I saw Scott Pilgrim vs. the World on Saturday and really enjoyed it. I think the best movie adaptations of other properties are ones that capture the spirit of the original material while still functioning as an entertaining movie independent of that source material. I think Edgar Wright got it exactly right while still doing his own creative thing. (There’s a great interview with Wright in Time Magazine, which is one of the many major media outlets to give the apparent flop a very positive review.)

I also loved the supporting cast, particularly Ellen (Knives Chau) Wong, Kieran (Wallace Wells) Culkin, Alison (Kim Pine) Pill, and Ben (Other Scott) Lewis. The evil exes were all fun to varying degrees, and my only major complaint would be that things dragged a little at the end. But movies almost always drag a little bit at the end anymore.

I’m a little shocked at all of the schadenfreude over the movie’s box office performance, like coming in fifth – out of all of the movies in current release in the United States – is a bad thing. It doesn’t strike me as an instant blockbuster by design but as a movie that gains in reputation over time. Maybe Hollywood just hates sleeper hits or cult hits or whatever it is that I suspect the movie will become, but I don’t think the people who made the movie have anything to worry about in the long run. Shaun of the Dead didn’t rake it in right out of the gate either.


Speaking of movies adapted from other media, I could barely sit through Peter Jackson’s adaptation of Alice Sebold’s terrific novel, The Lovely Bones. It was painfully overwrought and grindingly slow at the same time. I did appreciate the presence of Susan Sarandon, doing that thing where actors of a certain stature give a performance that would fit the kind of movie they’d rather be making than the one they happen to be in.

License request day: More Minoru Toyoda

August 13, 2010

When contemplating today’s license request, I found myself thinking of Scott Pilgrim and his creator, Bryan Lee O’Malley. I remember, ages ago, looking through Previews and thinking that Minoru Toyoda’s Love Roma (Del Rey) sounded interesting. O’Malley confirmed that it was indeed awesome, and he was right, and sensible people have all read and enjoyed that really charming series about the bluntest pair of high-school sweethearts you’re ever likely to meet. But what else does Toyoda have in the wings?

According to Baka-Updates, the funny, idiosyncratic, dare I say O’Malley-esque Toyoda has two series that seem to be desirable candidates, working with the assumption that anything Toyoda does is worth licensing.

Tomodachi 100-nin Dekiru kana (which can be translated as I Wonder if I Can Make 100 Friends) is currently running in Kodansha’s Afternoon. It’s up to the three-volume mark, I believe. It seems to be about a person who has to prevent an alien invasion by making 100 friends, thus proving the existence of love in the world.

There’s a bit more information available on Flip-Flap, a one-volume series that also ran in Afternoon. It’s about a 20-something guy who falls for a girl who works in a pinball arcade. He tries to win her over, though her first love is pinball, and her love for the arcade game is fierce indeed.

The bottom line, though, is that Love Roma is really adorable and quirky and entertaining, and I see nothing to indicate that either of these titles isn’t also adorable and quirky and entertaining, so let’s get on with that licensing thing, shall we?