License Request Day: Soil

What’s that great old definition of madness again? Repeating unproductive behaviors with the expectation of a different outcome? Fair enough, but nobody ever said that madness didn’t overlap with fandom in the Venn Diagram of Nerd, did they?

So, yes, it would be foolish, probably, to think it too likely that some publisher would snatch up the work of a creator whose other major title has already bombed in translation. And if no one has listed to my pleas for someone to rescue Atsushi Kaneko’s Bambi and Her Pink Gun (two of six volumes published by Digital Manga), why would they rush out to publish Kaneko’s Soil?

A commenter mentioned this title earlier this week, and, all factors to its detriment aside, I would like for someone to license and publish it because of all of the factors in its favor.

  • First of all is the sheer pleasure of those two volumes of Bambi. Lots of creators try to transcend juvenile, exploitative material and turn it into something more interesting and purposeful, but very few of them succeed, and I felt like Kaneko achieved that.
  • Secondly, there is the fact that Soil originally ran in Enterbrain’s Comic Beam, which was also the home to Bambi, and Astral Project, and Emma, and Little Fluffy Gigolo Pelu, and The Strange Tale of Panorama Island, and Wandering Son, and Thermae Romae, and a bunch of other glorious things that give life joy and meaning. Here’s the link to Comic Beam’s web site.
  • Lastly, it’s a mystery. I don’t think there are enough mysteries in comic-book form, and I almost always enjoy reading them. Admittedly, it’s an odd-sounding mystery about the disappearance of a seemingly normal from a seemingly perfect rural town, but that sounds like it’s right in Kaneko’s wheelhouse.
  • On the down side, it’s already at ten volumes. That’s also an up side for people who cherish the idea of ten volumes of Kaneko comics. I have no idea who might publish the series, to be honest. CMX is gone. DMP doesn’t seem like it’s interested in this kind of manga any more. Tokyopop has published a bit of Comic Beam manga in the past, but they’ve had to scale back. Vertical would be a good choice, but they’re already making good choices, and their slate might be as full as they can allow it to be at the moment. Maybe Dark Horse might provide a good home for the series? But Dark Horse is not without its own history of putting series on hiatus, so we might just be setting ourselves up for a case of Bambi II: Abandonment Boogaloo.

    Discussion of lamented publishers and unfinished series leads me to conclude with a question. What series would you like to see liberated from the limbo of either a publisher-induced hiatus or the unfortunate and total conclusion of that publisher’s efforts? Well, two questions, really: just out of curiosity, do you have a manga magazine that’s sort of your fantasy subscription? You’re crazy about a lot of the manga that comes from it and you’d totally subscribe if you could read Japanese? Comic Beam is one of mine.

    10 Responses to License Request Day: Soil

    1. These covers are so gorgeous that I was on your side before you even got to the part about it being a mystery!

      To answer your questions, there are quite a few series I long to see liberated, but Swan, Two Flowers for the Dragon, Immortal Rain and GetBackers are the four that come immediately to mind. My dream manga subscription would be Margaret or one of its offshoots since I dearly love High School Debut and Kimi ni Todoke.

      Also, I literally LOL’d at the “abandonment boogaloo” joke. I think there’s a certain generation of us that just can’t hear so-and-so- II without mentally adding “electric boogaloo.”

      • davidpwelsh says:

        Aren’t those covers amazing? They’re so “turning the sweetly banal into something creepy” that I just can’t resist them.

        Excellent choices on the rescues. It’s probably not surprising to anyone that two of mine are CMX shoujo works: Stolen Hearts and My Darling! Miss Bancho, in spite of the fact that neither one was especially life changing so much as super charming. But I’d also love to see Satsuma Gishiden and Translucent get the paddles to their respective chests as well.

        And Margaret is probably my favorite non-Hakusensha source for shoujo wish-listing.

        • Translucent 4 has been on Amazon for ages now, and I swear I even saw a back-of-book advert for the series in a recent Dark Horse release that contained the ISBN for volume 4. I’m not sure where, though. Perhaps the Cardcaptor Sakura omnibus?

        • davidpwelsh says:

          I think Translucent 4 was solicited in Previews, then canceled prior to actual publication.

    2. Rij says:

      My dream subscription would probably be Monthly Comic Zero-Sum. It seems like the magazine that’s totally committed to serving my fangirl tastes. Somewhere in the boundary of shoujo and josei with a heavy emphasis on fantasy and supernatural with hot men.

      As for what I’d like to be rescued from the limbo; I wish I could name a brainy, arty, cerebral manga, or even one of the classics, like From Eroica with Love. But the series that I’m missing the most is pure crack: Crown. Not that I wouldn’t be happy if someone rescued everything left hanging by Go!Comi and CMX, Crown was just the one I got really enthusiastic about right before Go!Comi went under.

      • davidpwelsh says:

        Crown had definite manga crack potential, what with the tongue-in-cheek craziness. Plus it was written by the guy who gave the world Delinquent Girl Detective!. That makes it an international treasure.

    3. Andrew says:

      So much agreement with you here. To add to what you’re saying, Kaneko’s work has to be an easy sell to indie comics fans who enjoy a bit of manga in their diet. He ticks all the boxes.

      I guess it’s farfetched to think publishers like D&Q and Fantagraphics would release something like SOIL, regardless of their recent interest in Japanese stuff, but you could put Kaneko’s work next to an author like Charles Burn for visual reasons alone – not to mention the level of sophistication he demonstrates elsewhere – as much as unrealistic it is to expect that.

      • davidpwelsh says:

        D&Q seems more interested in single-volume productions. Fantagraphics seems more game for longer series, though I don’t know if Soil is the kind of story they’re looking for.

        I’ve never quite figured out why Bambi didn’t hit it big with fans of alternative comics. It seemed to hit the sweet spot between well-drawn super-hero comics and crazy indie crack.

        • Andrew says:

          I think its release was a little too early to capture that market, which feels like it’s developed more recently with the recognition of Tatsumi, Hagio and Tezuka’s more adult material. They’ve been around for a while, granted, but their critical lauding (in areas indie fans take notice) took ages to happen.

          Bambi came out when Tokyopop/VIZ were basically running the show and most indie comic readers probably associated manga with their shonen/shoujo heavy output, rather than the seinin/josei stuff that’s now steadily gaining attention. It’s true Dark Horse have always fought the cause for ‘mature’ manga but they generally released recognizable titles that had anime adaptations (Akira, GitS, Hellsing, Trigun) or a strong footing in the direct market at the time (Blade of the Immortal). Bambi has a very western artstyle by an author no one’s heard of, and it’s batshit insane. Most of the indie kids who eat that stuff up wouldn’t have dreamt of looking at the manga shelves in 2005. These days it would be a very different story.

    4. davidpwelsh says:

      That’s an excellent summary of the situation, Andrew. One has to wonder what would have happened if DMP hadn’t shifted from independent, edgy stuff to primarily publishing boys’ love and yaoi.

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