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.


Upcoming 7/28/2010

July 27, 2010

There’s a perfectly mammoth volume to this week’s ComicList, and a lot of it looks really good. I’ll just take things as they come in alphabetical order.

It’s a big week for Del Rey, which has revised its web site and is now seemingly impossible to navigate in terms of finding information about specific books. Let’s head over to the Random House site instead. There you can find details on the omnibus collection of the last three volumes of Mushishi, written and illustrated by Yuki Urushibara. I love this episodic series of environmental folklore stories. It’s been the subject of a Manga Moveable Feast, hosted by Ed Sizemore at Manga Worth Reading. I’m a little bit behind on Koji Kumeta’s very enjoyable satire, Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei, which sees its seventh volume released on Wednesday. And I was pleasantly surprised by the oh-so-formulaic-sounding Code: Breaker, written and illustrated by Akimine Kamijyo.

You can call pretty much any book from Fanfare/Ponent Mon either “eagerly awaited” or “long-awaited.” Korea as Viewed by 12 Creators has been in the pipeline for years, and it’s finally due in comic shops, which is very exciting. It features “[twelve] insightful short graphic stories into the “Hermit Kingdom”, six by European and six by indigenous creators, including award winning Park Heung-yong and “Best Manga 2006” artist Vanyda.” I’m equally excited about the second volume of The Summit of the Gods, written by Baku Yumemakura and illustrated by Jiro Taniguchi. It’s about mysteries and manly mountain climbers circling around Mt. Everest, and it’s very beautifully drawn. (I know I pre-ordered both of these, yet they don’t seem to be arriving at my local comic shop, which I hope is just a function of warehouse weirdness at Diamond and not something… ahem… local.)

I’m surprised by how much I’m liking Marvel’s Secret Avengers, written by Ed Brubaker and illustrated by Mike Deodato. It’s always nice to see super-heroes behaving like well-intentioned professionals, and this may be the first time that the “proactive super-team” concept has actually worked. I’m not entirely sold on Deodato’s mildly cheesecake-y art, and Valkyrie’s braids are completely insane, but it’s a minor quibble.

Comics by Osamu Tezuka are always a welcome pleasure, and that certainly includes his episodic medical melodrama, Black Jack, about a mercenary surgeon dealing with more bizarre maladies than House could ever have imagined. The 12th volume arrives Wednesday.

Viz offers quite the mixture of titles from along the quality spectrum, so I’ll focus on the good and/or promising. Personal highlights include the 20th volume of Hikaru no Go, written by Yumi Hotta and illustrated by Takeshi Obata, and the fifth volume of Kimi ni Todoke: From Me to You, written and illustrated by Karuho Shiina. On the confirmed debut front is Bakuman, written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by the aforementioned Obata. This one’s by the creators of Death Note, which is still selling tons of copies ages after the series concluded. That series was about using a notebook to rule the world. This one’s about using a sketch pad to make lots of money: “verage student Moritaka Mashiro enjoys drawing for fun. When his classmate and aspiring writer Akito Takagi discovers his talent, he begs Moritaka to team up with him as a manga-creating duo. But what exactly does it take to make it in the manga-publishing world?” If anyone should know, it’s these two.


Making Eisner book

July 22, 2010

The Eisner Awards will be presented tomorrow night, and I thought it would be fun to handicap the chances of the manga and manhwa nominees in various categories:

Naoki Urasawa’s 20th Century Boys (Viz) is nominated for Best Continuing Series. This is quite a feather in Urasawa’s cap (which, come to think of it, is more of a headdress at this point), and this is my favorite of his series that are available in English, but I don’t think it will win. There are some Eisner favorites in this category, and Urasawa has a bunch of other nominations in other categories.

Urasawa’s Pluto: Urasawa x Tezuka (Viz) is nominated for Best Limited Series or Story Arc. I suspect Pluto will win another award, so it likely won’t claim this one. It’s also kind of strange that the series is nominated in this category. When a manga series concludes, is it put in the Limited Series or Story Arc category and nominated in the Continuing Series category when more volumes are on the way after the end of the nomination period?

Yoshihiro Tatsumi’s A Drifting Life (Drawn & Quarterly) is nominated for Best Reality-Based Work. Tatsumi certainly deserves the nod, but more recent and widely acclaimed books like Footnotes in Gaza and The Photographer will probably take the prize.

Jiro Taniguchi’s two-volume A Distant Neighborhood (Fanfare/Ponent Mon) is nominated for the Best Graphic Album – New prize. This is another nomination that seems a little off to me, as the category seems best suited for stand-alone work rather than something in two volumes. The competition is also rather fierce here, and this isn’t even my favorite Taniguchi work that came out during the nominating period (though he only drew Summit of the Gods, also from Fanfare/Ponent Mon). I would love to see My Mommy Is in America and She Met Buffalo Bill take this one, but again, this category features some serious heavy hitters.

I think Urasawa’s Pluto will claim the Best U.S. Edition of International Material – Asia prize, and voters in a poll that I ran agree. They also think it should win, though I disagree. It’s a very strong series, but I found it a little overly serious on the whole. But it’s a lot like Watchmen in its dramatic, revisionist take on a property for children, and those are apparently very hard for people to resist. Of the remaining nominees, I’d rather see Oishinbo a la Carte (Viz), written by Tetsu Kariya and illustrated by Akira Hanasaki, win, because it would boost sales for the existing volumes of this fascinating series and increase the possibility that we might see more. I don’t think it stands much of a chance, as it cherry picks stories from the series’ very long run rather than offering a contained narrative. There’s an okay chance that Tatsumi’s A Drifting Life might take this prize, but I still think Eisner voters have been looking for a chance to honor Urasawa for a while now. I hope to heaven that The Color Trilogy (First Second) doesn’t win, but the last time I mentioned my dislike of that series, I was subjected to condescending psychoanalysis, so I’ll just move on. If you’d like to see my dream Eisner ballot in this category, click here.

Urasawa is nominated again in the Best Writer/Artist category. Given the number of nominations he’s received this year, you’d think he would be a lock, but he’s up against stalwarts like Darwyn Cooke, R. Crumb and David Mazzucchelli. This might be one of those “honor just be nominated” moments.

Adrian Tomine is nominated for Best Lettering for A Drifting Life. I don’t remember the lettering being particularly noteworthy on that book, especially in comparison to Mazzucchelli’s on Asterios Polyp.

What are your thoughts on the chances of the various manga and manhwa nominees?


Vive la France!

July 14, 2010

It’s Bastille Day, so I thought I’d put together a quick list of some of my favorite comics by French creators and some of my favorite comics set in France. It’s tough, because so many of them are so great, but I’ll try not to go overboard. Off the top of my head, here are some of my favorite comics by French writers and artists:

  • Aya, written by Marguerite Abouet and illustrated by Clément Oubrerie (Drawn & Quarterly): Wonderfully funny and thoughtful multigenerational soap opera about coming of age in the Ivory Coast of the 1970s.
  • Little Nothings, written and illustrated by Lewis Trondheim (NBM): Really terrific slice-of-life and observational humor from a wonderful cartoonist.
  • The Rabbi’s Cat, written and illustrated by Joann Sfar (Pantheon): A rabbi in Algeria finds his cat can talk, and the cat has no shortage of distressing philosophical opinions.
  • Klezmer, written and illustrated by Joann Sfar (First Second): I really like Sfar, what can I say? I even liked Vampire Loves, and I usually hate vampire comics. When are we going to get more of this wonderful tale of Jewish musicians in Eastern Europe?
  • Get a Life, written and illustrated by Philippe Dupuy and Charles Berberian: Why haven’t there been more collections of Monsieur Jean stories published in English? This one’s a treasure.
  • Glacial Period, written and illustrated by Nicolas de Crécy (NBM): Still my favorite of the comics created in conjunction with the Louvre. (Holy crap, NBM is going to publish Salvatore this winter! My wish came true!)
  • My Mommy Is in America and She Met Buffalo Bill, written by Jean Regnaud and illustrated by Émille Bravo (Fanfare/Ponent Mon): Deservedly nominated for a few Eisner Awards this year,
  • Japan as Viewed by 17 Creators, written and illustrated by various creators (Fanfare/Ponent Mon): Half of this book constitutes an invasion of Japan by various wonderful French comic artists. The other half is wonderful Japanese comic artists telling stories about their hometowns. There is no losing in this book. I’d love to see the same group take on France as Viewed by 17 Creators.
  • And here are a couple of comics set in France that I really like:

  • Paris, written by Andi Watson and illustrated by Simon Gane (SLG): This tale of young women in love in the Paris of the 1920s is so gorgeous it almost hurts.
  • Gerard and Jacques, written and illustrated by Fumi Yoshinaga (Blu): Over time, I’ve willfully forgotten the fact that this series opens with coercive sex, because I love watching the characters natter at each other in between bouts of steamy, consensual congress.
  • What did I forget? Or what should I look into? What about comics from or set in France that have yet to be translated? Between their indigenous talent and the volume of licensed manga they enjoy, the French are sick with awesome comics.


    Saturday checklist

    May 8, 2010

    I really need to get to the Toronto Comics Art Festival some year. The stars just didn’t align this time around. But if I had made it to this weekend’s event, I would definitely stop by the Fanfare/Ponent Mon booth to say hi to Deb Aoki and pick up a copy of Korea as Viewed by 17 Creators.

    It’s Hiromu Arakawa’s birthday, so I should spend some time catching up on the last few volumes of Fullmetal Alchemist (Viz), which is hardly a chore. If I felt more motivated, I’d take myself to the bookstore to find a volume of Hero Tales (Yen Press), but I’m feeling lazy. Maybe tomorrow.

    And I’ll definitely spend some time thinking of how many of Kate (The Manga Critic) Dacey’s “Seven Deadly Sins of Reviewing” I’ve committed. All of them, I suspect. It’s an excellent read with lots of good advice.


    Free to a good home: Japan

    May 6, 2010

    Fanfare/Ponent Mon has re-offered Japan as Viewed by 17 Creators, a marvelous anthology of short works by Japanese and European comic artists. To observe the occasion, I’m going to give away a copy of this great book.

    Here’s what Tom (The Comics Reporter) Spurgeon had to say about Japan in his weekly “This Isn’t a Library” round-up:

    “I don’t know why this is being offered again now, and don’t know of any length of time that this anthology of nouvelle manga wasn’t available, but it’s a killer line-up, a nice concept (manga creators doing places they live; French creators doing places they visit), it’s consistently attractive, and has to be one of the seminal books of the last decade. Like if you wanted to portray 2006 in shorthand, this is one of the comics you put beside your character’s bed.”

    And here’s Jog’s take over at Comics Comics:

    “I don’t usually mention items Diamond happens to be ‘offering again’ on a given week, since I probably somehow covered them the first time, but I think I’ll make a big, big exception for this excellent 2006 Fanfare/Ponent Mon anthology, unfortunately somewhat notorious for being hard to track down. No more! Probably the most expansive example of participant/co-editor Frédéric Boilet’s notion of nouvelle manga, the project devotes its 256 b&w pages to eight stories from residents of Japan about the area in which they live or come from, and eight stories from French visitors about areas they are assigned to visit. A big storm happens to arrive while the French artists are traveling, affording their contributions an extra linkage.”

    So here’s the drill: to enter, simply send me an e-mail mentioning a comic or graphic novel from anywhere in the world that you’d like to see published in English. Nation of origin doesn’t matter, just the desire to be able to hold a translated version in your hands. Of course, not everybody’s first language is English, so if you’d like to see a comic or graphic novel translated from English (or any other language) to your language of choice, that’s obviously fair game.

    You must be 18 or older to enter. I’m perfectly willing to ship internationally, though it will be cheap, and it will be slow, so I’m just warning you right now. Deadline for entries is 12 noon Eastern Standard Time Sunday, May 9, 2010, and entries should be sent to DavidPWelsh at Yahoo dot Com. The winner will be chosen at random and receive a copy of Japan.

    After the jump is a Flipped column I wrote on the book for Comic World News in March of 2006.

    Read the rest of this entry »


    Previews review May 2010

    May 2, 2010

    There aren’t very many debuting titles in the May 2010 edition of the Previews catalog, but there are lots of new volumes of slow-to-arrive titles that are worth noting.

    First up would have to be the omnibus collection of Yuki Urushibara’s Mushishi (Del Rey), offering volumes eight through ten. (It seems appropriate, since this is the title’s week in the Manga Moveable Feast spotlight.) These volumes were fairly meaty individually, and getting three in one for $24.99 seems like a really good value. (Page 292.) Edit: The tenth volume is the final one of the series, so this will conclude Mushishi in English.

    Also on the “good manga for relatively cheap” front is the third volume of Kaoru Tada’s Itazura Na Kiss (Digital Manga). What mishaps will befall our dumb heroine Kotoko in pursuit of the smart boy of her dreams? (Page 295.)

    I’m just going to come out and say that A Distant Neighborhood was my second favorite Jiro Taniguchi title of 2009. Topping that category was The Summit of the Gods, written by Yumemakura Baku. The second volume is due from Fanfare/Ponent Mon. (Page 304.)

    A new volume of Adam Warren’s super-smart, addictive satire, Empowered (Dark Horse), is always good news. It seems like Warren gets around to dealing with the rather loose definition of mortality among the spandex set, and I’d much rather read his take than something like Blackest Night. (Page 35.)

    Is it ungrateful of me to be really eager to see what Bryan Lee O’Malley does next? It’s not that I’m indifferent to the conclusion of the Scott Pilgrim saga (which arrives in the form of the sixth volume, Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour from Oni Press), which I’m sure I’ll love as much as the previous five. But O’Malley’s been working on Scott for a long time. (Page 233.)

    Before we jump fully into the “all-new stuff” department, I’ll bypass quickly to Dark Horse’s release of an omnibus edition of CLAMP’s Magic Knight Rayearth. You can get all three volumes of this magic-girl shôjo classic from the manga superstars. (Page 53.)

    CMX publishes a lot of excellent shôjo from Hakusensha, but they branch out this month with Rika Suzuki’s Tableau Gate. It originally ran in Akita Shoten’s Princess Gold, and it’s about a guy who must help a girl capture some escaped tarot cards. I’m sort of a sucker for comics with tarot imagery, and I trust CMX’s taste in shôjo. (Page 129.)

    I’m always game for a new graphic novel drawn by Faith Erin Hicks, and First Second is kind enough to provide one. It’s called Brain Camp, and it’s about oddballs dealing with mysterious forces, which is right in Hicks’s wheelhouse. The script is by Susan Kim and Laurence Klavan. (Page 305.)

    It’s coming! It’s coming! Top Shelf’s 400-page collection of alternative manga, AX, finally hits the solicitation phase, and it should be very exciting to see. (Page 342.)

    Vertical continues to branch out of classic manga mode with the English-language debut of Felibe Smith’s Peepo Choo. For those who’ve forgotten, Smith has been creating the series for Kodansha’s Morning Two magazine. It’s about a kid from Chicago who gets mixed up with a model from Tokyo and a lot of underworld mayhem. (Page 346.)

    I don’t get a particularly good vibe off of Kaneyoshi Izumi’s Seiho Boys’ High School!, due out from Viz. It’s about the student body of an isolated, all-boys’ high school. Anyone who’s read more than one boys’-love title would know how these lads could deal with their isolation, but Izumi apparently decided to take a different approach. The series originally ran in Shogakukan’s Betsucomi.