This week’s Flipped takes a look at a late but deserving entry into the list of possible best books of 2009, Susumu Katsumata’s Red Snow from Drawn & Quarterly. While pulling together illustrations for the column, I noticed that the cover design had changed rather drastically from solicitation to finished product.
Here’s the solicitation version:
And here’s the final:
I much prefer the final version. It’s much more in keeping with the content, and I love that it has an almost woodcut quality. The earlier version seems rather generic and lacks the earthiness that makes the stories so interesting. The first version is also sexy in an almost pandering way, I think, and it strikes me as sort of a bait-and-switch. Going in a different direction was a very good choice.
Just out of curiosity, I wondered what other versions of the book looked like. Here’s the Japanese version collected by Seirinkogeisha:
It’s nice, but it strikes me as a little delicate. It’s more in keeping with the content, but, again, it doesn’t have the grounded quality of the stories. Here’s the French version, published by Editions Cornélius:
It’s attractive in a bandes dessinées kind of way, though I still don’t find it as striking as the D&Q version. I know (or think) there’s a Korean version out there, but I’m not having any luck finding an image of the cover. I’d love to get a look at it, so if you have more success than I do, send me a link. And let me know which one you like best.
This week’s Flipped is up. Just out of curiosity, is negatively reviewing a Tezuka comic a mortal sin or just a venal one? I’m guessing it’s mortal, but I also figure it probably doesn’t matter at this point in my distinguished career. I mean, I’d put Blankets and New Frontier on the list of the Best Books of the ’00s I Couldn’t Force Myself to Finish Reading, and I’ll never repent that, so I’ve probably got a one-way ticket straight to comics hell with my name on it.
As windy as this week’s column may seem, know that it’s the result of judicious editing on my part. I had this whole section mapped out about how, even though Swallowing has a lot of problems, you can see a lot of its ideas put to better use in Naoki Urasawa’s 20th Century Boys, but then I realized that if one started writing about the ways Urasawa repurposes Tezuka (really, really well, I hasten to note), it would be a five-parter.
“I can’t say that it makes me particularly contemplative in the intended way, and I’m relieved that there’s no tradition in my family of going around the table and expressing individual gratitude before we can gorge.”
The imminent comic-shop arrival of Moyasimon: Tales of Agriculture (which has been in bookstores for a few weeks now) inspired me to devote this week’s Flipped to some fine manga comedies set on college and university campuses. It also inspired me to run this poll as an alternative to actual content development.
Please feel free to mention any titles I missed, licensed or otherwise, in the comments. (I should explain that I excluded The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service from the column because I tend to categorize it with “helpers of the dead” manga instead of “campus comedy” manga.)
You have to love a candy-driven holiday, so this week’s Flipped has a Halloween theme. In short, I turned to a bunch of smart people to find out what their favorite scary and/or supernatural manga are. Not to give too much away, but you know what really scares people?
I am so with them. What are your favorite frightening series? And what series do you find frightening that probably weren’t intended to give you the chills?
This week’s Flipped takes a look at the latest translated example of Junko Mizuno’s jubilant, demented genius, Little Fluffy Gigolo Pelu from Last Gasp. I want to know when Last Gasp is going to publish the other two volumes, and I want to know now. Really, who needs mind-altering substances when they’ve got Mizuno manga?
This week’s Flipped looks at A Distant Neighborhood and considers the various sides of Jiro Taniguchi. (I bet he has more than five; that’s just based on his works that are available in English.)
As I suspected I would, I’ve wound up with an extra copy of the first volume of the book. I’m kind of like one of those animals that shouldn’t be allowed to free feed, at least on Fanfare/Ponent Mon titles. If I see one, I feel a panicky compulsion to buy it. So I picked it up at SPX strongly suspecting that I’d pre-ordered it through Diamond as well, which I had. (And let’s face it, pre-ordering through Diamond doesn’t always guarantee that you’ll get the book as a result.)
But my poor impulse control is your free manga. In this blog’s grand tradition of chintzy giveaways, I’m offering up the unread copy of the first volume of A Distant Neighborhood. All you need to do is fire me an email at DavidPWelsh at yahoo dot com that includes a year of your life you might revisit if you could do so with present knowledge intact. You don’t have to over-share; just a year will be fine.
I’ll arbitrarily set the deadline at midnight Friday, Oct. 16, 2009, and randomly draw the winner from the entries.
This week’s Flipped consists basically of me asking Ed Chavez a few questions about Vertical’s new licenses and then getting out of his way. This is one of my favorite ways to assemble a column, partly because it’s easy, but mostly because Ed is such an enthusiastic, well-informed manga omnivore that the results are bound to be an order of magnitude more interesting than my usual blather. (Ed also makes really good use of the conversation on Twitter, so do follow him.)
I have to say that I really admire Vertical for this slate of licenses, just as I admire other publishers who try and expand the boundaries of translated manga. Just glancing through the current Previews, I saw strong-sounding new titles and ongoing series in this loosely defined category, and it made me happy. I also went to Barnes & Noble this weekend and I could have easily spent a lot of money on manga designed to appeal to a mature audience (and I did spend a fair amount on just that kind of manga).
Admittedly, I could have spent a lot more on manga aimed at kids and teens (a lot of which is terrifically entertaining), but meaty, mature work is out there, it’s gaining in retail presence (if slowly), and more is on the way. I mean, I can find these titles on the shelves of a chain bookstore in West Virginia. That’s got to mean something, right? So if you like these kinds of titles and want to see more of them, chat them up in whatever venues are available to you, and support them with your dollars.
You know, if you get the opportunity to spend a weekend settled down with a long run of manga volumes you know are really good, I really recommend it. This weekend was spent revisiting and catching up with Kyoko Ariyoshi’s Swan, which resulted in this week’s Flipped column. Such a great series.