Upcoming 6/17/2009

June 16, 2009

Before delving too deeply into this week’s ComicList, I wanted to mention how great the manga and graphic novel selection is at the Barnes & Noble in Easton Town Center near Columbus. They had shelf copies of Mijeong (NBM), full runs of series I don’t normally see at a chain bookstore, and all of the staples. Seriously, though, an NBM book at a mall store will force me to add that mall store to all future central Ohio itineraries. Oh, and there’s a Graeter’s Ice Cream stand mere steps away. In a perfect world, it would be a Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams stand, but I like Graeter’s well enough.

But what about specialty comic shops, you ask? What bounty awaits on Wednesday?

bride3Well, for starters, there’s the third volume of Mi-Kyung Yun’s Bride of the Water God (Dark Horse), which is so pretty that you can actually see volumes from space.

Del Rey offers the third volume of Papillon, which started as a psychologically nuanced sibling-rivalry drama, then turned into one of the more ridiculous Lifetime movies in the second volume. There is no possible way to speculate what might happen this time around, but I’ll just throw out the terms “sudden eating disorder” and “wildebeest stampede” to try and cover the bases.

Speaking again of NBM, Rick Geary is looking through the dirty laundry of another era again with a new Treasury of 20th Century Murder, Famous Players, which examines the death of silent-film director William Desmond Taylor.

And speaking of books with “20th Century” in the title, Viz offers the third volume of Naoki Urasawa’s excellent 20th Century Boys. (I already bought it at the aforementioned B&N.) I know we aren’t even halfway through the year, but let’s face it: with the two Urasawa books, Detroit Metal City, the soon-to-arrive Children of the Sea, and the due-this-fall Ôoku: The Inner Chamber, we might just have to hand 2009 to Viz, you know?


May 31, 2009


Just because it’s Sunday doesn’t mean we should neglect our fitness regimens. Take a tip from the girls of Makoto Kobayashi’s Club 9 (Dark Horse).

From the stack: The Adventures of Blanche

May 20, 2009

blancheI’m not really sure how comics have managed to keep Rick Geary to themselves. It’s not that I expecting him to move away from the medium; I’m just surprised that the admiration for his work hasn’t cracked beyond the comics audience and into wider venues. Where’s the interview on NPR or a spot in a group profile in the Times? I’ve never met him, so I have no idea if those sorts of things interest him in the slightest, but it seems like comics-friendly journalists are missing one of the medium’s best creators.

I’m most familiar with Geary’s non-fiction work, specifically his Treasury of Victorian and XXth Century Murder, published by NBM. They’re terrific, meticulous accounts of gory and intriguing crimes from bygone eras, combining true-crime detail with great art and insightful observations of those eras. I’m less familiar with his fiction works, so Dark Horse’s collection of The Adventures of Blanche was a welcome arrival. Geary always demonstrates a sly sense of humor in his true-crime comics, but he applies it with a freer hand here.

When readers first meet Blanche, she’s a contented grandmother in a small town, but we learn in short order that she wasn’t always so provincial. She left the family farm to study piano in New York, then moved to Hollywood to conduct for the budding motion picture industry, then found herself in Paris, providing musical direction for an avant-garde performance piece at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. Any of those experience would qualify as an adventure, but Geary raises the stakes by folding in secret societies, labor unrest, and international espionage. Curious and compassionate, Blanche is game for just about anything her unexpectedly adventurous life throws at her.

Her story is told through letters home, with Geary illustrating the events. As usual, he revels in the detail of time and place, folding in tidbits of history without derailing the adventurous aspects of the book. Like his heroine, he’s an efficient, engaging storyteller. And Blanche is the perfect kind of heroine for these kinds of stories. She’s modest but not prudish, inquisitive but not foolhardy, and just sure enough of herself to get in trouble (and plucky enough to get herself out).

Maybe Geary’s sterling track record of smart, snappy comics has led to him being taken a bit for granted. He makes it look easy.

Upcoming May 20, 2009

May 19, 2009

The quantity of really good product in this week’s ComicList has forced me to flee to an undisclosed location. Okay, not really, but I will be on the road, and I’m not really sure how much connectivity I’ll enjoy. I’ve got some posts lined up, but tweeting and email may be at a minimum. Now, let’s move on to the haul:

kurosagi9Johnny Hiro vol. 1, by Fred Chao, AdHouse: Charming genre mash-up comics grounded by a wonderful romantic relationship between young lovers trying to make their way in the big city. It includes three stories that saw print as singles and two that didn’t.

Clover Omnibus, by CLAMP, Dark Horse: 512 un-flipped pages from the hit-factory manga-ka collective. Kate Dacey is quite excited about this, which is always an excellent indicator.

The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Serice vol. 9, by Eiji Otsuka and Housui Yamazaki: More afterlife adventures with the otherwise unemployable. One of the most reliably entertaining and smart series out there.

The Lapis Lazuli Crown vol. 1, by Natsuna Kawase, CMX: Endearing, well-executed shôjo fantasy-romance, which I reviewed here.

Flower of Life vol. 4, by Fumi Yoshinaga, DMP: I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I think this is Yoshinaga’s funniest series. It’s a smart, endearing look at high-school students with all of the customary Yoshinaga flourishes – great characters, quirky twists, marvelous dialogue, and stylish art.

Mijeong, by Byun Byung-Jun, NBM: You can click here for a preview of this likely lovely manhwa from the creator of Run, Bong-Gu, Run!

Fullmetal Alchemist vol. 18, by Hiromu Arakawa, Viz: One of my favorite shônen series keeps plugging along.

Oishinbo vol. 3, by Tetsu Kariya and Akira Hanasaki, Viz: The A la Carte collection has offered an introduction to Japanese cuisine and sampled sake and other libations, and now it moves on to noodles and dumplings. I always like carbs after drinking too much.

Pluto: Urasawa x Tezuka vol. 3, by Naoki Urasawa, Viz: I can’t wait to find out more about Urasawa’s take on Astro Girl. The brief introduction in volume 2 was very, very promising.

Previews review May 2009

May 7, 2009

ookuI was looking through the new Previews and thinking, “Y’know, there isn’t really a whole lot of new stuff here.” Then I got to page 292 and HOLY CRAP, THE FIRST VOLUME OF FUMI YOSHINAGA’S ÔOKU SHIPS FROM VIZ, HOLY CRAP, HOLY CRAP, HOLY CRAP.

It was exactly like that, I swear to you. The cats still think I’ve gone insane.

Anyway, if you aren’t familiar with Yoshinaga, she’s the insanely gifted creator of smart, funny, sexy stories like Antique Bakery, Flower of Life, Ichigenme: The First Class Is Civil Law, and a bunch of other stuff that’s already available in English. If anything can convince you of how awesome she is, it’s the fact that Ôoku tied with Yoshihiro Tatsumi’s A Drifting Life for this year’s Grand Prize in the Osamu Tezuka Cultural Prizes. Tezuka… Tatsumi… Yoshinaga… Convinced?

In other new-stuff news, Raw Junior LLC offers a new hardcover book by Jeff Smith called Little Mouse Gets Ready (page 278). “A new book by Jeff Smith” of Bone and Shazam! The Monster Society of Evil fame would be enough for both people, but this one sounds adorable.

And okay, not a ton of new product is on display, but there are plenty of new volumes of appealing continuing series to enjoy:

  • 20th Century Boys volume 4, written and illustrated by Naoki Urasawa (Viz): Kenji is wearing a pink bunny suit on the cover. MUST… KNOW… WHY… (Page 292.)
  • Astral Project volume 4, written by marginal and illustrated by Syuji Takeya (CMX): The final volume of this intriguing metaphysical mystery. (Page 124.)
  • Bride of the Water God volume 4, written and illustrated by Mi-Kyung Yun (Drak Horse): Another episode of “Gossip Gods,” gorgeously illustrated. (Page 54.)
  • Kitchen Princess volume 10, written by Miyuki Kobayashi and illustrated by Natsumi Ando (Del Rey): Baked goods and heartbreak. (Page 240.)
  • Nodame Cantabile volume 16, written and illustrated by Tomoko Hayakawa (Del Rey): Funky, funny josei about music students. (Page 242.)
  • Parasyte volume 8, written and illustrated by Hitoshi Iwaaki (Del Rey): I think this is the last volume. Aww, look! Shinichi and Migi are waving goodbye! (Page 242.)
  • Ultimate Venus volume 6, written and illustrated by Takako Shigematsu (Go! Comi): Cute orphan navigates the shark-infested waters of her cougar grandma’s plush empire. (Page 249.)

  • The Eisner ballot… of the FUTURE!

    April 12, 2009

    Okay, the order forms from the current issue of Diamond’s Previews catalog were due yesterday. I apologize for the tardiness, but the day job has been rather distracting lately. (Not bad, just busy.) And there’s abundant genius being solicited, so maybe it’s not too late for you to nag your local comics shop, or at least pre-order online from some other vendor.

    Eden: It’s an Endless World! Vol. 12 (Dark Horse): Hiroki Endo’s dense, absorbing science-fiction series continues. (Page 44.)

    Emma, Vol. 9 (CMX): More glorious period soap opera from Kaoru Mori. (Page 124.)

    Johnny Hiro Vol. 1 (AdHouse): The first three issues of Fred Chao’s very funny genre mash-up are collected here. (Page 186.)

    Swallowing the Earth Vol. 1 (Digital Manga Publishing): It’s by Osamu Tezuka, which is really all you need to know. It’s also about a mysterious demigoddess “wielding her mysterious power over all men to exact revenge for their crimes against women since the beginning of time,” which sounds ceaselessly awesome. (Page 245.)

    Moomin: The Complete Tove Jansson Comic Strip Vol. 4 (Drawn & Quarterly): So funny, so quirky, so sweet. It’s one of the few perfect things in the world. (Page 249.)

    The Summit of the Gods Vol. 1 (Fanfare/Ponent Mon): Jiro Taniguchi heads back to the mountains, accompanied by Yumemakura Baku. The slope in question this time around is Mount Everest. (Page 251.)

    A Treasury of 20th Century Murder Vol. 2: Famous Players (NBM): Rick Geary applies his unique and abundant cartooning skills to the case of Hollywood director William Desmond Taylor. (Page 275.)

    Salt Water Taffy Vol. 3: The Truth About Dr. True (Oni): More delightful adventures for all ages from Matthew Loux as the Putnam brothers discover weirdness in Chowder Bay. (Page 279.)

    Fruits Basket Vol. 23 (Tokyopop): The mega-popular series from Natsuki Takaya comes to what will undoubtedly be an amazingly moving conclusion. (Page 288.)

    Oishinbo: Fish, Sushi and Sashimi (Viz): Viz continues to offer highlights from Tetsu Kariya’s culinary manga masterpiece. (Page 298.)

    Cirque du Freak Vol. 1 (Yen Press): I can’t honestly remember the context or the content, but I swear I heard something really extreme about Cirque du Freak, which makes me curious. (Page 302.)

    Eve as violent yet nurturing cyborg

    April 2, 2009

    There’s a new Flipped up at The Comics Reporter. I was pleasantly surprised to see some of Dark Horse’s seinen-iest seinen series show up in an early Graphic Book Best Seller List at The New York Times, so I decided the time was (relatively) right to take a look at Hiroki Endo’s Eden.

    Stuff wisely

    February 18, 2009

    So the Harvey Awards nomination process is underway, and creative types can make a bid to recognize their favorite peers and works in a wide variety of categories. You may remember me keening and gnashing my teeth over some of last year’s nominations.

    For a change of pace, I thought I’d go the Force Works/Extreme Justice proactive route this year. Instead of recoiling in horror at the prospect of ever seeing the phrase “Harvey Award winner Witchblade Manga,” I’ve decided to take a stab at prevention. Toward that end, here are some books from 2008 that you might consider for the Best American Edition of Foreign Material category:

  • Aya of Yop City, written by Marguerite Abouet and illustrated by Clément Oubrerie, published by Drawn & Quarterly
  • Disappearance Diary, written and illustrated by Hideo Azuma, published by Fanfare/Ponent Mon
  • Dororo, written and illustrated by Osamu Tezuka, published by Vertical
  • Fluffy, written and illustrated by Simone Lia, published by Dark Horse
  • Little Nothings: The Curse of the Umbrella, written and illustrated by Lewis Trondheim, published by NBM
  • Moomin: The Complete Tove Jansson Comic Strip – Book Three, written and illustrated by Jansson, published by Drawn & Quarterly
  • Real, written and illustrated by Takehiko Inou, published by Viz
  • Seduce Me after the Show, written and illustrated by est em, published by Deux Press
  • Shoulder-a-Coffin Kuro, written and illustrated by Satoko Kiyuduki, published by Yen Press
  • solanin, written and illustrated by , published by Viz
  • There. Ten perfectly respectable potential nominations for your consideration. (And everyone should feel free to contribute their own suggestions in the comments.) I should also note that several of these books are also eligible for other awards.

    Upcoming 2/18/2009

    February 17, 2009

    Time for another quick look at this week’s ComicList:

    It seems like it’s been an awfully long time since Dark Horse released the tenth volume of Hiroki Endo’s Eden: It’s an Endless World! Since the book is dense with character and event, it would behoove me to undertake a quick refresher course before I dive into the eleventh. I’ve got no problem with that kind of homework, as Endo’s comics lend themselves to re-reading. Anyway, for those of you who’ve forgotten: a weird virus has decimated the human population, and after things settle down on the epidemic front, everyone starts scrambling for power. Now, the virus seems to be staging a rather nasty comeback. Should be fun!

    My refresher course might have to wait just a little bit, as Viz will be delivering two new comics from Naoki Urasawa of Monster fame. 20th Century Boys promises “a gang of boys who try to save the world.” Pluto: Urasawa x Tezuka is Urasawa’s re-examination of one of Osamu Tezuka’s most famous Astro Boy stories, “The Greatest Robot on Earth.” (If you’d like to read Tezuka’s original, Dark Horse can accommodate you.) I bought these at the bookstore over the weekend, because they were there and I have no impulse control. So far, Pluto is kind of like Law & Order: Criminal Intent, but with robots, which lands it right in my comfort zone, with the added bonus of no overacting by Vincent D’Onofrio but the loss of Kathryn Erbe’s enchanting way with caustic skepticism.

    People have said nice things about Mysterius: The Unfathomable (Wildstorm), written by Jeff Parker and illustrated by Tom Fowler. I liked Parker’s Agents of Atlas (Marvel) mini-series a lot, so I’ll possibly pick up the first two issues if there are any shelf copies at the shop. If not, I’ll just pick up the trade eventually.

    While it lasts

    February 9, 2009

    Before the direct market collapses and Diamond’s Previews catalog slims down to the rough thickness of two issues of Entertainment Weekly, let’s take a look and see what the February 2009 edition has to offer, shall we?

    Dark Horse offers the fifth volume of Adam Warren’s smutty, hilarious, and heartwarming Empowered. This is truly appalling fan service repurposed for good. I don’t know how to explain or justify that statement, but trust me, the book is terrific. (Page 38, FEB09 0052)

    Cherish the “Offered Again” listings while you can. They allow me to rectify the error of not ordering Faith Erin Hicks’ warmly received The War at Ellsmere (Amaze Ink/Slave Labor Graphics). (Page 198, FEB09 4023)

    One of the most anticipated graphic novels of the year is due to arrive from Drawn & Quarterly. It’s Yoshihiro Tatsumi’s A Drifting Life, a massive (840 pages) autobiography from the founding father of alternative manga. (Page 263, FEB09 4254)

    First Second offers Dong Hwa Kim’s coming-of-age romance, The Color of Earth, which looks really lovely. (Page 270, FEB09 4289)

    It’s a good month for manhwa, as NBM delivers Mijeong, a collection of short stories by Byun Byung-Jun, creator of the marvelous Run, Bong-Gu, Run! (Page 287, FEB09 4402)

    Viz offers another volume of culinary treasure Oishinbo, written by Tetsu Kariya and illustrated by Akira Hanasaki. This installment looks at ramen and dumplings. Mmm… dumplings. (Page 311, FEB09 4482)