Choice cuts

July 23, 2008

I meant to mention it yesterday, but ICv2 has a thorough, three-part interview with Jason Hoffs, Amblin-Dreamworks-Sony veteran who’s taken the helm of Viz Productions, the manga publisher’s new film arm. There are some really good bits.

From part one:

“Where I think manga is truly extraordinary (and I’m a fan, but a newcomer to your world–I’m not quite an otaku) is the level of characterization, which I think is exceptional. It typically exceeds the level of characterization, and in a way, sophistication, of many American graphic novels. I suspect one of the reasons for that is that these properties are initially serialized in magazines like Shonen Jump and in order for them to continue their readership they need to have these heightened, addictive characterizations.”

From part two:

“What I’m also finding at the studio level is that the executives that are 35 and under, or maybe more 32 and under, are very familiar with manga. The really young executives that are just coming up, and some of the agents too, they’re growing up with manga to some degree with a level of comfort and familiarity that almost equals their experience with American comics and graphic novels. At the chairman and head of production level, those people still need to be educated somewhat. If someone’s in their mid-50s, they’re unlikely to be an otaku.”

From part three:

“There are thousands of different manga titles that our corporate parents have published. I’m sure this is one of the largest pools of largely untapped–at least in the U.S.–international properties that exists in the world.”

Upcoming 5/21/2008

May 21, 2008

There wasn’t much room for manga in the April graphic novel sales figures at ICv2. Only eight titles cracked the top 100, and only one (the 10th volume of Path of the Assassin from Dark Horse) cracked the top 50.

There isn’t the metric tonnage of new manga arriving in comic shops this week, which is kind of a relief, to be honest.

My personal highlight is the fourth volume of Yuki Urushibara’s Mushishi (Del Rey). Gorgeous, episodic fantasy stories about a wandering shaman who helps people cope with their environments and the powerful, primordial bugs that share them.

I’m glad I have a vacation coming up, because it means I’ll have time to catch up with series like Yuki Nakaji’s Venus in Love (CMX), which releases its third volume Wednesday. It’s a sweet, low-key romantic comedy about a boy and a girl in love… with the same boy. I think I’m going to fill a whole tote with “wallow manga.”

Skim by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki (Groundwood Books) has gotten some good some good early response, and I must say I’m intrigued by the premise: “Depression, love, sexual identity, crushes, manipulative peers–teen life in all its dramatic complexities is explored in this touching, pitch perfect, literary graphic masterpiece.” Now that’s the high school I remember.

And not to beat an undead horse, but if you must spend money on a comic by Jessica Abel this summer, go for the paperback collection of La Perdida (Pantheon). It’s about a young woman who tries to find herself in Mexico and ends up in dramatically over her head. No vampires, but lots of flesh-and-blood drama.

In the shops

December 17, 2007

ICv2 has posted it’s list of the top 100 graphic novels for November, and even Naruto can’t trump the draw of Fruits Baskets (as usual), the only manga title to crack the graphic novel top ten. The fourth volume of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s delightful Scott Pilgrim series managed to beat two of that month’s Naruto releases as well, landing in 14th place. Of course, all three of that month’s Naruto releases cracked the top 20, so Viz has nothing to complain about.

In fact, Viz had a great month overall, with a reasonable sprinkling of Shonen Jump titles joining Naruto in the mix. With the exception of the seventh volume of Loveless, the list is largely boys’-love free, though vampires, game tie-ins and Muppets all make a strong showing.

And Kimmie66 continued the trend of respectable Direct Market showings for DC’s Minx line, coming in at 37th place. A total of 21 manga titles made the top 100.

Listings after the cut.

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January manga numbers

February 20, 2007

The January graphic novel sales figures are in at ICv2. Twenty-four manga titles made the top 100, with the highest (Death Note vol. 9) placing at #15.

5 (31) TSUBASA VOL 12 GN (RAN)
6 (37) INU YASHA VOL 28 TP (VIZ)
7 (38) KARE KANO VOL 21 GN (Of 21) (TKP)
8 (44) BATTLE CLUB VOL 3 GN (Of 4) (MR) (TKP)
9 (49) AI YORI AOSHI VOL 15 GN (Of 17) (MR) (TKP)
10 (55) ONE PIECE VOL 13 TP (VIZ)
13 (75) SAMURAI DEEPER KYO VOL 21 GN (Of 38) (MR) (TKP)
17 (85) TENJHO TENGE VOL 11 (DC)
19 (88) SEVEN GN (MR) (DIG)
20 (89) GORGEOUS CARAT VOL 4 GN (Of 4) (MR) (TKP)
21 (91) RIN VOL 2 GN (MR) (DIG)
23 (95) BLACK CAT VOL 6 TP (VIZ)
24 (99) WELCOME TO NHK VOL 2 GN (Of 5) (MR) (TKP)

Death Note actually managed to pass anime-fueled, BookScan chart-topper Fullmetal Alchemist (vol. 11), though both showed increases in orders. In November, Death Note vol. 8 scored 3,736 orders compared to January’s 3,958. Fullmetal’s November figure of 3,849 bumped up slightly to 3,915 in January.

Viz led in terms of the number of entries with eight, followed by Tokyopop with seven, one of which came from Blu. Digital Manga (or more specifically Juné) followed with four, Dark Horse had three, and Del Rey and CMX both had one.

A couple of interesting debuts made the list: Dark Horse’s Shaman Warrior, one of its new manhwa titles, took 14th place; Vampire Knight, a new Shojo Beat offering from Viz, came in at 16th. The eighth volume of Ouran High School Host Club was the leading Shojo Beat title at 12th place in its first placement on the chart.


February 19, 2007

I’ve really been enjoying Hiroki Endo’s Eden: It’s an Endless World! (Dark Horse), though I don’t think the most recent volume is one of the strongest in the series. It detours from the larger narrative into worthy but very familiar territory. (It seems that prostitution can be a dangerous profession, especially when drug addiction is thrown into the mix.) It’s executed well, and by the end, things seem to be moving back into the story’s larger context, so I can’t complain all that much.

Still, it was nice to have the first volume of Endo’s Tanpenshu (also from Dark Horse) lying around to provide some examples of the creator at his best. It also provided fodder for half of this week’s Flipped. The other half is spent in probably pointless meditation on the ICv2 Guide #39 which, it must be noted, is created for comics retailers and not nerdy pseudo-pundits with laminated membership cards in Team Manga.

Anyway, back to Tanpenshu. I’m not the only one contemplating its many wonders. Greg McElhatton at Read About Comics and Dave Ferraro at Comics-and-More have reviewed it as well.

Fruits nuts

January 16, 2007

I should really just add a Fruits Basket category, shouldn’t I?

At Coffee & Ink, Mely has named her favorite ongoing manga series for 2006, and Fruits Basket is among them, along with a bunch of other titles I really enjoy and some I’m going to have to try. Mely offers the usual cornucopia of great observations, but this is probably my favorite:

“You know, every time I read the jacket copy for Fruits Basket I’m amazed at how it manages to sound so bright and cheery and inane, despite being a factually correct description of the plot. And now I see it is just an unavoidable consequence of writing about Fruits Basket.”


In other news, the fifteenth volume of Fruits Basket owns the top slot for manga sales in the Direct Market, and comes close to owning the whole graphic novel category, landing in second place on ICv2’s December chart. (Okay, it isn’t exactly a photo finish, with the considerably more expensive Fables trade moving about 3,000 more units.)

Make nouvelle friends, but keep the old

December 27, 2006

Spinning off of the praise for The Building Opposite (Fanfare/Ponent Mon), ICv2 takes a flattering introductory look at nouvelle manga. And despite the sometimes frustrating process of actually getting my hands on the stuff, I’m all in favor of these books getting a higher profile than they currently enjoy. ICv2 zeroes in on the retailers who might benefit from keeping them in stock:

“Retailers in urban areas, college towns, specifically those who do well with alternative comics should definitely consider carrying the Fanfare/Ponent Man line of Nouvelle Manga as well as the thematically related gekiga titles of Yoshihiro Tatsumi (The Push Man and Other Stories, Abandon the Old in Tokyo) published by Drawn & Quarterly.”

And while you’re at it, order a few copies of Sexy Voice and Robo (Viz). I swear you won’t regret it.

Speaking of slightly overpriced comics with that cosmopolitan savoir-faire, the highlight of Thursday’s ComicList is Glacial Period from NBM. It’s by Nicolas De Crécy, one of the contributors to F/PM’s Japan as Viewed by 17 Creators, and it sounds intriguing, even at roughly $15 for 80 color pages. A post-apocalyptic look at the Louvre? Why not?

Also promising is DC’s Huntress: Dark Knight Daughter collection. I’ve got a lot of nostalgia for the Earth 2 incarnation of the Huntress, daughter of Batman and Catwoman. (I’m extremely protective of the current incarnation of the character as well, mostly because I resent the hypocritical way that Batman treats her like a moral inferior. But that might have changed since the last time I picked up a DC book, so who knows?) Anyway, Helena Wayne always struck me as a potentially great character in her own right, beyond her intriguing heritage, so this will be a good opportunity to read some of her adventures that I missed the first time around. (I’ve also gone from despising Joe Staton’s art as a teen to viewing it with nostalgic fondness in the intervening years. I’ve mellowed with age.)

Project X continues over at Digital Manga, this time probing the origins of 7-Eleven. The fifth volume of Dragon Head is snuggled in the middle of Tokyopop’s long list of offerings.

Whither and yon

December 18, 2006

A Comics Journal reader stops by the magazine’s message board to ask:

“[D]oes anybody else find it disheartening that Michael Dean’s opening shot (in which he discussed the possible futures of comics in general and the Journal in particular) failed to even hint that manga exists? Michael talked a lot about the pros and cons of covering super-hero comics, and even promised a new super-hero column, but there was at best, only a single, oblique reference to shoujo and its (relatively) enormous audience.”

Dirk Deppey first suggests that the reason TCJ’s manga coverage hasn’t expanded since the shoujo issue isn’t due to a lack of interest on the magazine’s part, but owes instead to finding writers who combine ability, knowledge, and availability. But he comes back to point out another conundrum for some comics pundits: that manga often manages to be both commercially and creatively successful:

“The contradiction that writers will need to overcome is the fact that the better manga are simultaneously populist yet still well-constructed and even literate. We’re conditioned by American comics history to assume that most genre comics are created (at best) under assembly-line conditions by creators using comics as a way station until better, more legitimate work comes along, or (at worst) hacks with low standards who genuinely think they’re the soul of the medium. This isn’t true in Japan — its better creators approach genre work as the fulfillment of their worth as creators, strive hard to be worthy of such fulfillment, and it often shows.”

It’s an interesting thread, and a nice palate cleanser for another recent conversation in that forum.


And speaking of commercially successful (at least in the context of comics specialty shops), Brigid sifts through ICv2’s November graphic novel sales figures for the manga and finds the usual suspects: comics for boys and young men, and comics about boys and young men falling in love with each other. Not that those two categories suggest mutually exclusive audiences, obviously.


December 15, 2006

I thought I’d go through Mark Siegel’s latest ICv2 interview and pull out the goodies promised by First Second in 2007:

  • The Professor’s Daughter, written by Joann Sfar and illustrated by Emmanuel Guibert
  • The Tiny Tyrant, by Lewis Trondheim
  • Garage Band, by Gipi
  • The Lost Colony Book 2, by Grady Klein
  • The Black Diamond Detective Agency, by Eddie Campbell
  • Life Sucks, written by Jessica Abel and illustrated by Warren Pleece
  • Laika, by Nick Abadzis
  • Robot Dreams, by Sara Varon
  • Yum.

    Up against the wall

    December 14, 2006

    ICv2 posts the You Higuri poster for libraries I mentioned yesterday. As one might have expected, it’s gorgeous, and I love the tag line.

    Carolyn makes some excellent suggestions for other manga possibilities. The bookish boys of Off*Beat would be particularly ideal. And I can’t believe I forgot to consider the incompetent invaders of Sgt. Frog.