Suddenly next fall

April 29, 2007

When I do these trawls through Diamond’s Previews catalog, I generally try and limit my focus to new series and graphic novels. Sometimes, that’s just impossible.

After over a year and a half in limbo, ADV will release a new volume of Kiyohiko Azuma’s delightful Yotsuba&! I could stop right there and be perfectly happy. (Page 217.) I won’t, obviously.

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I nag because I love

January 23, 2007

It’s a breezy trip through this week’s ComicList, with only two entries really catching my eye, but what entries they are.

David Petersen’s surprise hit Mouse Guard (Archaia) concludes with its sixth issue. It’s been a lot of fun watching this beautifully drawn adventure story earn critical praise and go into multiple printings, because it absolutely deserves both. And I notice on the Archaia page that a hardcover collection is in the works, which should be gorgeous and make librarians very, very happy.

Hiroki Endo has been wowing me with the complex science fiction of Eden: It’s an Endless World! (Dark Horse), so I’m really looking forward to his collection of shorter pieces, Tanpenshu. I’ve heard nothing but good things about this book from people like Christopher Butcher, so even if I wasn’t already Endo-inclined, I would be giving it a serious look.

Speaking of the Torontonian retailer, Chris does a much better job than I did of highlighting the licensed Japanese goodness on display in this year’s Angoulême short list, including this comment about Daisuke Igarashi’s Sorcières, which I can only second:

“Absolutely beautiful, and I could totally see Dark Horse picking this up and fitting it seamlessly into their current slate of releases. YOU HEAR ME, CARL?”

Dark Horse has been doing a great job of delivering manga that I really, really like (Eden, The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, Mail). Maybe I should start nagging them about launching a josei line.

(Edited due to a spelling flame-out.)


February 23, 2006

When new issues of Paris (SLG) and Polly and the Pirates come out, I’m tempted to say the same things over again – that Paris is lovely to look at and Polly is an engaging, all-ages adventure. Both apply to this month’s chapters, too, but for variety’s sake, I’ll say that both are also true of the first issue of David Petersen’s Mouse Guard: Belly of the Beast (Archaia Studios Press).

Petersen has a wonderful premise here. The Mouse Guard protects the safety of the citizens of various mouse settlements, forging safe paths between them to allow trade and travel. Once soldiers, they’re more rangers now, though they’re fully capable of handling dangerous situations.

Petersen introduces the Guard with a minimum of fuss. There’s some introductory text that provides an overview, and it’s useful, but I particularly like the way he illustrates the Guard’s function in the story. It’s almost a day-in-the-life tale, showing members of the Guard investigating the disappearance of a grain trader. There’s very little exposition, with Petersen choosing instead to let action and character do the world-building.

It’s a nice balance between telling (the opening text) and showing (the story itself). Neither makes the other redundant, and they support each other very well. Petersen also uses the initial adventure to alert the guard to a larger danger, building interest in future chapters. It’s wonderfully modulated storytelling — a satisfying adventure that feeds into something bigger.

It’s also gorgeous. Petersen does a wonderful job with character design. It’s an appealing mix of realism (they look like mice) and fantasy (but mice with capes and swords). Backgrounds are lush, and action sequences are tense and imaginative. As strong as the illustrations are, they’re taken to an even higher level by Petersen’s use of color. Petersen uses a rich palette to help show the passage of time, from day to night to day again, grounding the scenes and contributing to mood.

Mouse Guard #1 is a really appealing introduction to this six-part series. It’s got the full package – solid story, wonderful art, and imaginative presentation.