Twitter book club

September 24, 2010

Hey, just wanted to mention, hopefully without over-promising since none of us have ever done this before, that some folks will be talking about Top Shelf’s AX anthology on Twitter tonight. We’re going to go story by story, giving quick impressions of each. Perhaps there will be a bonus round. Who can say? But it should be a fun experiment, if nothing else. We’re planning on using the hashtag #AXed, if you’re curious, and things are set to begin at 8 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. At the moment, the group includes myself (@MangaCur), Deb (About.Com, @debaoki) Aoki, Tucker (The Factual Opinion, @factualopinion) Stone, and Ryan (Same Hat!, @remoteryan) Sands.

Updated: Well, we made it through about half of the book in a lively discussion that also included David (Comics Alliance, 4thLetter, @hermanos) Brothers, Sean (A Case Suitable for Treatment, @toukochan) Gaffney and Jog (Jog – the Blog, @snubpollard) Mack, which you can check out by searching for the #AXed hashtag on Twitter. I believe we’re planning to resume on Sunday, though I’m not sure on a time. I’ll post when I hear something, and I’ll get Deb Aoki’s transcript of part one posted either this evening or tomorrow morning.

The Seinen Alphabet: J

September 22, 2010

“J” is for… well, not a whole lot, but…

Viz has published Jourmungand, written and illustrated by Keitaru Takahashi and originally serialized in Shogakukan’s Sunday GX.

The work of a number of spectacularly talented manga-ka is featured in Fanfare/Ponent Mon’s Japan as Viewed by 17 Creators, and many of them have created work for seinen magazines.

Araki Joh is well known for his libation-friendly manga series Bartender and Sommelier.

I would love it if someone published Iou Kuroda’s Japan Tengu Party Illustrated in English.

Also on the unlicensed front, Mitsuru Adachi’s Jinbē sounds like an interesting if tricky romance. It was originally published in Shogakukan’s Big Comic Original.

What starts with “J” in your seinen alphabet?

Upcoming 9/22/2010

September 21, 2010

Welcome to my ultra-lazy look at this week’s ComicList. I have a head cold. Sue me. Here’s what looks particularly good to me:

What looks good to you?

Guilt by association

September 20, 2010

Over at NPR, author David Lipsky identifies his literary guilty pleasure, Marvel’s Runaways. Setting aside the justice of whether or not comics should still be considered a guilty pleasure instead of just a pleasure (and right after Read Comics in Public Day!), there’s been some consternation over a portion of his commentary:

“But I bear the books a grudge. Marvel collected them — because their biggest fans were female teenagers — in tiny digests with girlish covers that were intensely embarrassing to read on the subway. I kept locking eyes with people I could swear had just shaken their heads.”

What do you think of the covers of the first three digests? Do you find them particularly gendered?

On a slightly different front, I’ve seen a few people mention that they’re put off by the covers of Vertical’s Twin Spica, noting that they read a little young. Thoughts?

Let us read cake

September 17, 2010

Owing to the fact that I know next to nothing about this week’s requested property, I’ll take you on a little tour through the process of determining what books I randomly decide I want.

Sometimes, I’ll start with a demographic. For instance, today I decided I might be in the mood for some josei.

Then I remember that there were some titles that sounded interesting in Shueisha’s YOU.

Then I see the word “patisserie” in one of the titles, and all is settled, especially after watching the debut of Top Chef: Just Desserts.

So, yes, I would like for someone to publish Kira’s ten-volume Patisserie Mon, basically only because it’s josei and features cake. I don’t really need any more substantial argument than that, do I?

I will add that the preview pages (some for each volume can be accessed here) look really cute. Is it possibly an Antique Bakery knockoff? I guess it could be. Should there be more Antique Bakery knockoffs in the world? Yes, there absolutely should.

Kira has also completed a 26-volume series told from the perspective of a dog and is currently working on a series that looks to be about competitive swimming.

And that is how this license request was born.

From the stack: Secret Avengers 1-4

September 16, 2010

It seems as though Marvel and DC had a bad month in August, seeing big sales drops which subsequently led some people to wonder if $4 is too much to expect people to pay for a 22-page comic. I don’t really have a position on that, as I don’t buy that many pamphlet comics and I flunked the one economics course I took in college. But I did feel like mentioning that there’s a Marvel comic I’m enjoying a lot. It’s Secret Avengers, written by Ed Brubaker and illustrated by Mike Deodato.

I’m an Avengers fan from way back, and while I haven’t read any of their titles or crossover events with any regularity since Brian Bendis took over, I do like to check in from time to time when some new phase starts to see if any of them click with me. Avengers and New Avengers, both written by Bendis, didn’t click with me. New Avengers looks great, but it’s packed with pet Bendis characters and the kind of dialogue that I find grating after a while. Avengers looks horrible to me, and the cast is more thematically assembled than emotionally functional, if that makes any sense.

Secret Avengers has a few interesting things going for it beyond the fact that it isn’t being written by Bendis. It’s one of those “proactive super-team” concepts where a group of heroes tries to prevent problems rather than just reacting to them. This has never, ever worked to my knowledge, whether we’re talking about Extreme Justice or Force Works or what have you. But it actually works reasonably well here, at least in the first arc.

I think it works because the characters seem like competent grown-ups. They don’t have the kind of interpersonal chemistry that a lot of great Avengers groupings have had in the past, but they work well together, and Brubaker has collected an interesting mix of abilities, backgrounds and character types. That’s always a good choice, but it’s an even better one when there’s an actual narrative point to it. Steve Rogers, formerly dead Captain America who is apparently neither dead nor Captain America now, recruited people based on what they can do and what they know, and that makes sense to me.

This is also one of the more… well, only… interesting portrayals of Steve Rogers that I’ve ever seen. In the past, he’s been the ridiculously perfect icon that everyone tries to please. In Secret Avengers, he seems like an actual leader rather than an object of idolatry. The way Brubaker writes him, he strikes that confident position that suggests, truthfully or not, that consensus has already been achieved, that the people he leads are all on the same page, and that he trusts them to contribute to the best of their abilities. He’s the kind of figure you can see people wanting to follow.

I also like the cast, which is filled with interesting second stringers like the Beast, War Machine, and Valkyrie. Some of them have no previous connection to the Avengers, but all of them bring something interesting to the table, and none of them seem like a ridiculous, meta-driven choice. I’m particularly pleased to see Valkyrie, as she gets to be the demigod muscle. That role usually goes to a guy, and it’s great fun to see a woman in the bruiser role, and to see it not being presented as any kind of big deal.

Deodato’s art is more on the competent side than anything else. It’s attractive enough, and I always understood what was going on, but his body types are disappointingly similar. It’s not just that gymnast Black Widow and warrior Valkyrie have basically the same physiology; almost all of the men look like they could swap heads without difficulty as well. It’s not offensive, just kind of dull.

But overall, if you’re craving an Avengers comic where the characters seem functional and heroic, Secret Avengers might be a good choice.

(I also like Avengers: The Children’s Crusade, but I like it for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with whether it’s a good, accessible comic. I’d guess that it requires a doctoral level of familiarity with Avengers back story to make much sense, given that it references a good dozen major Avengers stories of varying vintages. A good half-dozen characters enter the fray every time you turn around. But I like it because it holds the promise that the Scarlet Witch will be redeemed after an unfortunate “women can’t handle power, especially when they’ve got babies rabies” turn, and also because Wiccan and Hulkling are the cutest gay couple in comics, bar none.)

The Seinen Alphabet: I

September 15, 2010

“I” is for…

Ikki, which has always struck me as one of those magazines that’s more about great, varied comics than about serving a specific demographic (like Enterbrain’s Comic Beam), and I would probably buy every issue if I read Japanese and lived somewhere it might appear on newsstands. Ikki is published by Shogakukan, and Viz is serializing a number of its titles online.

Among those titles are I’ll Give it My All… Tomorrow, written and illustrated by Shunju Aono. It’s about a 40-year-old who decides to become a manga-ka to the horror of his father and daughter.

There’s also I Am a Turtle, written and illustrated by Temari Temura. It’s a slice-of-life look at a turtle who lives on a tea farm.

Daisuke Igarashi has a series on the SigIKKI site, Children of the Sea, which I like very much. His work also appeared in Fanfare/Ponent Mon’s Japan as Viewed by 17 Creators, and I’d love for someone to publish his Witches in English.

Hisae Iwaoka is the creator of the charming Saturn Apartments on the SigIKKI site.

Takehiko Inoue is probably one of the best-known manga-ka with work published in English for the very good reason that his work is excellent. On the seinen front, there’s basketball drama Real and samurai epic Vagabond, both published by Viz.

Another well-liked creator is Hitoshi Iwaaki, who created Parasyte (Del Rey). I would love for someone to publish Iwaaki’s Historie.

Motoro Mase’s Ikigami: The Ultimate Limit (Viz) originally ran in Shogakukan’s Weekly Young Sunday. It’s about a government program to teach people about the value of life by randomly killing young citizens. It swings from smart satire to wild melodrama, and I rather like it.

Yukiya Sakuragi’s Inubaka: Crazy for Dogs (Viz) originally ran in Shueisha’s Young Jump. It’s about a goodhearted (but rather dumb) young woman who works in a pet shop.

Shuichi Shigeno’s Initial D was originally serialized in Kodansha’s Weekly Young Magazine and was published in English by Tokyopop, but Kodansha reclaimed the license. It’s about street racing.

Tsutomi Takahashi’s Ice Blade was (I think) one of the first manga to be published in English in Tokyopop’s MixxZine. It originally ran in Kodansha’s Afternoon. It’s about a violent cop who plays by his own rules, as they are wont to do.

What starts with “I” in your seinen alphabet?


I’m not sure of the exact provenance of the stories in here, but some of Jiro Taniguchi’s The Ice Wanderer and Other Stories (Fanfare/Ponent Mon) must come from seinen sources, mustn’t they? On the unlicensed front, Taniguchi collaborated with Moebius on Icaro, which ran in Kodansha’s Morning. There’s also Taniguchi’s pet-centric Inu o Kau, collecting stories that originally ran in Shogakukan’s Big Comic.

I’ve also forgotten Ryoichi Ikegami of Crying Freeman (Dark Horse) and Wounded Man (ComicsOne) fame.