After the rich visuals and general uplift of Takehiko Inoue’s manga, I decided I needed a change of pace. So this week’s Flipped focuses on Tokyo Zombie (Last Gasp).
Hey, why didn’t anyone tell me it was Weird Manga Week? At least that’s what it seems like after a quick glance at tomorrow’s ComicList.
Del Rey also delivers the fourth volume of Hitoshi Iwaaki’s Parasyte, for that tried-and-true, old-school manga weirdness.
And you can pretty much guess that anything released by Last Gasp is going to be at least a little bit unusual, and it will probably also be pretty great. At least that’s my theory about Yusaku Hanakuma’s Tokyo Zombies. And the title is apparently entirely accurate. And Ryan Sands, of Same Hat! Same Hat! fame translated it, and his credentials in the area of weird manga are absolutely impeccable.
Manga Month may still be down the road a ways, but it seems like it’s Boutique Week on the ComicList, with welcome arrivals from smaller publishers.
Take the pick of the week, Fumiyo Kouno’s Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms from Last Gasp. The U.S. publisher of Keiji Nakazawa’s legendary Barefoot Gen offers another perspective at Japan after the atomic bomb, and I’ve heard nothing but enthusiastic responses from people who’ve read it in scanlation or Japanese.
Fresh on the heels of MangaBlog’s interview with Stephen Robson, Fanfare/Ponent Mon releases the third volume of Times of Botchan, scripted by Natsuo Sekikawa and conceived and drawn by the superb Jiro (The Walking Man) Taniguchi, and re-offers Yukiko’s Spinach, written by Frédéric Boilet and drawn by the fabulous Kan (Kinderbook) Takahama.
Okay, CMX is an arm of DC, so it’s not really boutique-y, but Kaoru Mori’s Emma feels boutique-y, and I’m holding on to this theme with my fingernails. The third volume ships on Wednesday, and it’s lovely.
And Blu offers Hirotaka Kisaragi’s Innocent Bird, which I bought over the weekend because it seemed like it would be enthusiastically tawdry but turned out to be sort of interesting and thoughtful instead. I liked it, but I can’t say I’m not a little bit disappointed by the smut shortage. Stupid plastic wrap.
It’s Manga Month again in Diamond’s Previews, and while that’s not all the volume has to offer, there’s plenty of noteworthy new stuff from all over.
Del Rey debuts the first volume of Ai Morinaga’s My Heavenly Hockey Club. I keep hoping someone will pick up the rest of Your and My Secret, which vanished after one volume from ADV. Maybe this will provide a satisfying, substitute Morinaga fix. (Page 269.)
None of this month’s listings jump out at me, but it’s really nice to see Drama Queen’s offerings on the pages of Previews. (Page 288.)
:01 First Second unveils their spring season highlight (for me, at least): Joann Sfar and Emmanuel Guibert’s The Professor’s Daughter, a Victorian romance between a young lady and a mummy. (Page 294.)
I know printing money actually involves specialized plates and paper with cloth fiber and patent-protected inks, but it seems like there could be a variation involving delicately handsome priests at war with an army of zombies. Go! Comi will find out (as will we all) when they release the first volume of Toma Maeda’s Black Sun, Silver Moon. (Page 298.)
Last Gasp promises “catfights, alien safari adventures, evil experiments, and a girl who dreams of becoming a pop idol singer” in its re-release of Junko Mizuno’s Pure Trance. Since its Mizuno, I’m sure that description doesn’t even begin to describe the adorable, revolting weirdness. (Page 313.)
Mike Carey’s work as a comics writer is hit and miss for me. I’ve loved some of it, and found other stories to be pretty tedious. One of my favorite examples is My Faith in Frankie (Vertigo), illustrated by Sonny Liew and Marc Hempel. So I’m inclined to give the creative team’s Re-Gifters (Minx) a try. (Page 109.)
Pantheon releases a soft-cover version of Joann Sfar’s sublime The Rabbi’s Cat. This was my first exposure to Sfar’s work, and I’ve loved it ever since. And in some cultures, the release of a soft-cover means a hard-cover volume of new material might be on the way, which would make me deliriously happy. (Page 324.)
The Tokyopop-HarperCollins collaboration bears fruit with the release of Meg Cabot’s Avalon High: Coronation Vol. 1: The Merlin Prophecy. The solicitation doesn’t include an illustrator credit, which is an unfortunate slip, and neither does the publisher’s web site. Maybe Cabot drew it herself? (Page 333.)
I’ve been hoping to see more work from Yuji Iwahara since CMX published Chikyu Misaki. Tokyopop comes through with Iwahara’s King of Thorn. (Page 335.)
Top Shelf offered some all-ages delights last month, which made me happy, and presents a new (I think?) volume of work from Renée (The Ticking) French. Micrographica is a collection of French’s online strip of the same name and offers “pure weirdness.” I don’t doubt it will deliver in a lovely, haunting way. (Page 352.)
Vertical rolls out another classic from Osamu Tezuka, Apollo’s Song, displaying the God of Manga’s “more literate and adult side.” For readers wanting something a little more contemporary, there’s Aranzi Aronzo’s Aranzi Machine Gun, featuring plush mascots on a tear. How can I choose? Why should I? (Page 355.)
I can’t read every series about people who see dead people. I just can’t. I wouldn’t have any money left for food. But Viz ignores my attempts at restraint by offering Chika Shiomi’s Yurarara in its Shojo Beat line. Shiomi is enjoying quite the day in the licensed sun, with Night of the Beasts (Go! Comi) and Canon (CMX) in circulation. (Page 372.)
And here’s an oddity, but an intriguing one: edu-manga from Singapore. YoungJin Singapore PTE LTD (you’ll forgive me if I hold off on adding a category) releases manga biographies of Einstein and Gandhi and adaptations of Little Women and Treasure Island. (Page 375.)
The latest Previews catalog has me in a Veruca Salt kind of head space.
David Petersen’s splendid Mouse Guard (Archaia) concludes with issue #6, but the solicitation text describes it as “the first Mouse Guard series,” all but promising there will be more.
I hadn’t noticed that Housui Yamazaki, who provides illustrations for the excellent Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, has his own book, Mail, also coming out from Dark Horse. This demands further investigation, particularly since the protagonist from Mail will apparently cross over into KCDS. (I don’t like typing “cross over” when discussing manga, but I’ll reserve judgment.)
DC – Wildstorm gives me the opportunity to enjoy a comic written by Gail Simone without having to try and wade through seventy-three different crossovers with the debut of Tranquility.
DC – Vertigo revives a book I enjoyed a lot, Sandman Mystery Theatre, with a five-issue mini-series, Sleep of Reason. Based on the pages shown in Previews, I’m not entirely sold on the art by Eric Nguyen, but I love the protagonists in this series.
Evil Twin Comics unleases another Giant-Sized Thing on the comics-reading public with the second collection of Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey’s excellent Action Philosophers!
Dave Carter notes that the singles of the second volume of Linda Medley’s marvelous Castle Waiting (Fantagraphics) series aren’t doing that well, despite strong sales of the beautiful collection of the first. Fantagraphics gives you the opportunity to correct this sorry state of affairs with the December release of the fourth issue.
Go! Comi rolls out its seventh title, Train + Train by Hideyuki Kurata and Tomomasa Takuma. (In the future, all manga publishers will have a book with “train” in the title.)
I’ve heard a lot of good things about SoHee Park’s Goong (Ice Kunion), a look at what Korea would be like if the monarchy was still in place.
If Marvel’s current efforts at politically observant super-heroics make you roll your eyes, you might find respite in Essential Defenders Vol. 2, which includes mosst of Steve Gerber’s mind-bending Headmen arc. It strikes me as idiotic not to include the entire arc in one place, which this book just misses. It has Defenders 15-39 and Giant-Size Defenders 1-5, but not #40 and Annual #1, the conclusion of Steve Gerber’s deranged masterpiece of deformed craniums, clown cults, and women in prison.
NBM offers two books that go onto my must-buy list. The first is the paperback edition of the eighth installment of Rick Geary’s superb Treasury of Victorian Murder series, Madeleine Smith. The second is Nicolas De Crécy’s Glacial Period. De Crécy contributed a marvelous short to Fanfare/Ponent Mon’s Japan as Viewed by 17 Creators, and I’ve been hoping to see more of his work in English.
Seven Seas unveils another licensed title, Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl, a gender-bending comedy by Satoru Akahori and Yukimaru Katsura. If you’ve been waiting for some shôjo-ai to come your way, now’s your chance.
Tokyopop – Blu promises that Tarako Kotobuki’s Love Pistols is “too crazy to be believed.” Human evolution isn’t just for monkeys any more, people.