Category Archives: General

Furuya Usumaru
X Inio Asano

In my absence, a great blog sprung up called Mangabrog, the proprietor of which has been translating Japanese-language interviews with manga into English for us poor non-Japanese-reading fans. Truly, God’s Work.

I’ve now availed myself of all of the site’s treasures, but I gotta say I loved this just-posted interview between Furuya Usamaru (Lychee Light Club, Genkaku Picasso) and Inio Asano (Solanin, Nijigahara Holograph) from Erotics F magazine volume 79.  Here’s a great bit:

Asano: If you were to ask me what my aim has been with the manga I’ve made up until now, I’d say that I’ve inevitably been making stuff that I myself like — but since I imagine there are a lot of people like me, I figured I could count on there being a decent number of people out there who’ll be able to “get” my manga. The problem, though, is if my readers are people are like me, and I don’t really like people who are similar to me, then that means that I dislike my readers.

Furuya: They do say that people tend to dislike people similar to themselves.

Asano: That’s what it is—it’s hard to like someone when you can see through them like that. I understand the reason people read my manga, what they like about it and what they’re going to eventually dislike about it, so I just can’t fully accept my readers. Hence my urge to mess with them.

The whole interview is fantastic–it’s very honest, and goes into great detail on the creative side of things too.

As for the rest of the site, I’m absolutely loving the two Taiyo Matsumoto interviews that are there, two more interviews with Asano, Daisuke Igarashi, Hiroki Samura, the dude who does Gantz… haha. It’s an awesome site that seems to exist solely for me to enjoy, so I hope you’ll make it more-real by sharing it with me.

http://mangabrog.wordpress.com/

– Chris

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Suddenly, Everything Has Changed

Long story short: My wordpress install for comics212 corrupted in some unknowable way, and could wordpress could no longer be updated except manually, which is a pain in the behind. This necessitated a full reinstall. It meant that everything might break. It means a fresh start.

I’d had my previous site design, my previous, gorgeous site design, for many many years. Nadine Lessio did a lovely job of it, but no web design is meant to last that long and it’s a testament to how solid it was that it lasted as long as it did. I used to redesign my site every week, when I was on blogger. By hand. Nadine’s lasted for 5 or 6 years, I think. Thank you, Nadine.

This blog had very much started to feel like a relic of a previous version of myself. It was written by the guy who was passionate about the worlds of comics and manga, who blogged with that swanky red-white-and-blue design for years. It was nostalgic visiting my blog. That’s awful, in a whole hell of a lot of ways.

So, a fresh start.

I’m hoping it leads somewhere.

– Christopher

2013

It was a very good year and a very tough year, all things considered. I am very fortunate though, that the highs of the year were spectacularly high, that I got to see as much of the world as I did, and that I have a good man to share it with.

Here’s a little of my 2013, and here’s to all of us having a good 2014.

– Chris

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November


December

See ya in 2014!

Apply for Slate’s “The Cartoonist Studio Prize”

Last year, The Slate Book Review and The Center for Cartoon Studies teamed to create The Cartoonist Studio Prize. It’s actually two, $1000 prizes awarded to cartoonists for their graphic novel or their web comic of the year. Eligible works are English language, published between January 1 and December 31 of the previous year.

They’re continuing the award this year! http://www.cartoonstudies.org/index.php/studio-prize/

I’m very happy to announce that I was asked to be the featured guest judge this year, and I’ll work with Dan Kois of Slate, and James Sturm and the faculty of the Center for Cartoon Studies, to determine a winner. I’m also very glad that it’s a largeish group deciding on the best book, as it will minimize the recrimination. 🙂

If you’re interested in submitting your work for consideration, head to http://www.cartoonstudies.org/index.php/studio-prize/ and check out the appropriate forms.

Thanks to Dan, James, and everyone for the opportunity. 🙂

– Christopher

And I’m Off…!

Hey folks,

If you’re reading this I’m travelling right now. If you’d like to say hello while I’m in your neck of the woods, drop me a line at chris at beguiling dot com.

Here’s where I’ll be:

Oct 15-17, 2013: Manchester, England

Oct 18-21, 2013: Kendal, England. Lakes International Comic Arts Festival

October 23-November 10, 2013: Japan (Tokyo, Kyoto, Sapporo) Various Events

I’ll be a guest of The Lakes International Comic Arts Festival, which you can find out more about here: http://www.comicartfestival.com/

TCAF will be exhibiting at Kaigai Manga Festa in Tokyo Japan, and I’ll be there just after for some of the follow-up events. You can find out about that here: http://torontocomics.com/news/tcaf-to-japan-kaigai-manga-festa-october-20th-2013/

All in all, I’ll be travelling for about a month, and completely circumnavigating the globe for the first time! I’m beyond thrilled, and very fortunate to be able to do some cool things and spread the good word of comics all over the globe. I still feel, too, that the best is yet to come. 🙂

Thanks for reading,

– Christopher

Takeshi Murakami’s Magical Girl Anime

I tend to be very interested in the crossover between Japanese Pop Culture, specifically anime and manga, and the world of fashion and cosmetics, which is usually a few light years away. I like the tension between mass and niche appeal, and mostly I like seeing really great looking products thanks to nearly unlimited fashion/cosmetics budgets. The latest collaboration to catch my eye is the above collaboration between Japanese artist Takeshi Murakami, already renown/reviled for re-appropriating anime and manga ideas into the fine arts sphere, and cosmetics giant Shu Uemura.

The result? Like the title says, it’s Takeshi Murakami’s Magical Girl Anime.

Yowza.

– Christopher

Rest In Peace, Kim Thompson

Statement from Fantagraphics:

Fantagraphics co-publisher Kim Thompson died at 6:30 this morning, June 19. “He was my partner and close friend for 36 years,” said Gary Groth.

Thompson was born in Denmark in 1956. He grew up in Europe, a lifelong comics fan, reading both European and American comics in Denmark, France, and Germany. He was an active fan in his teen years, writing to comics — his letters appeared in Marvel’s letter columns circa early 1970s — and contributing to fanzines from his various European perches. At the age of 21, he set foot, for the first time, on American soil, in late 1977. One “fanzine” he had not contributed to was The Comics Journal, which Groth and Michael Catron began publishing in July of 1976. That was soon to change.

“Within a few weeks of his arrival,” said Groth, “he came over to our ‘office,’ which was the spare bedroom of my apartment, and was introduced by a mutual friend — it was a fan visit. We were operating out of College Park, Maryland and Kim’s parents had moved to Fairfax, Virginia, both Washington DC suburbs. Kim loved the energy around the Journal and the whole idea of a magazine devoted to writing about comics, and asked if he could help. We needed all the help we could get, of course, so we gladly accepted his offer. He started to come over every day and was soon camping out on the floor. The three of us were living and breathing The Comics Journal 24 hours a day.”

Thompson became an owner when Catron took a job at DC Comics in 1978. As he became more familiar with the editorial process, Thompson became more and more integral to the magazine, assembling and writing news and conducting interviews with professionals. Thompson’s career in comics began here.

In 1981, Fantagraphics began publishing comics (such as Jack Jackson’s Los TejanosDon Rosa’s Comics and Stories, and, in 1982, Love and Rockets). Thompson was always evangelical about bandes dessinées and wanted to bring the best of European comics to America; in 1981, Thompson selected and translated the first of many European graphic novels for American publication — Herman Huppen’s The Survivors: Talons of Blood (followed by a 2nd volume in 1983). Thompson’s involvement in The Comics Journal diminished in 1982 when he took over the editorship of Amazing Heroes, a bi-weekly magazine devoted to more mainstream comics (with occasional forays into alternative and even foreign comics). Thompson helmed Amazing Heroes through 204 issues until 1992.

Among Thompson’s signature achievements in comics were Critters, a funny-animal anthology that ran from 50 issues between 1985 to 1990 and is perhaps best known for introducing the world to Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo; and Zero Zero, an alternative comics anthology that also ran for 50 issues over five years — between 1995 and 2000 — and featured work by, among others, Kim Deitch, Dave Cooper, Al Columbia, Spain Rodriguez, Joe Sacco, David Mazzuchelli, and Joyce Farmer.. His most recent enthusiasm was spearheading a line of European graphic novel translations, including two major series of volumes by two of the most significant living European artists — Jacques Tardi (It Was the War of the TrenchesLike a Sniper Lining up His ShotThe Astonishing Exploits of Lucien Brindavoine) and Jason (Hey, Wait…I Killed Adolf HitlerLow MoonThe Left Bank Gang) — and such respected work as Ulli Lust’s Today Is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life, Lorenzo Mattotti’s The Crackle of the Frost, Gabriella Giandelli’s Interiorae, and what may be his crowning achievement as an editor/translator, Guy Peelaert’s The Adventures of Jodelle.

Throughout his career at Fantagraphics, Thompson was active in every aspect of the company, selecting books, working closely with authors, guiding books through the editorial and production process. “Kim leaves an enormous legacy behind him,” said Groth, “not just all the European graphic novels that would never have been published here if not or his devotion, knowledge, and skills, but for all the American cartoonists he edited, ranging from Stan Sakai to Joe Sacco to Chris Ware, and his too infrequent critical writing about the medium. His love and devotion to comics was unmatched. I can’t truly convey how crushing this is for all of us who’ve known and loved and worked with him over he years.”

Thompson was diagnosed with lung cancer in late February. He is survived by his wife, Lynn Emmert, his mother and father, Aase and John, and his brother Mark.

I only met Kim Thompson once, but we talked quite a bit over the last two or three years about TCAF things, and I respected what he had to say. My condolences to his friends and family.

I hope no one minds that I’ve reproduced Fantagraphics’ statement here, in full, as their site is understandably being slammed right now as people discover this terrible news.

– Chris

The Manga Industry 2012-2013

The talk of the town, so far as manga publishing is concerned, is Brigid Alverson’s excellently-researched piece on manga publishing in 2012 and 2013, over at Publisher’s Weekly. [link]

“… ICv2 CEO and industry analyst Milton Griepp offered a grim take on the manga market: while sales of comics and graphic novels as a whole were up, … manga sales have declined for the past three years and were down 35% in the first half of 2012. The next day, as if in some alternate reality, fans dressed as anime and manga characters crowded the halls of the Javits Center, lined up to get autographs from Moyoco Anno, packed a large room to hear Yoshitaka Amano speak, and competed enthusiastically in trivia games to win swag featuring anime and manga characters. What’s going on here?” – Brigid Alverson, PW

I was interviewed for the article, but unfortunately, due to my own stupid schedule, I got my response to Brigid’s questions in too late for them to be included. Because I couldn’t be a part of the article, I asked Brigid if she would mind me posting my thoughts here (in a slightly edited format). She agreed, and you can feel free to read the following as a footnote to the PW article. 🙂

I was surprised to see in the ICv2 White Paper that the market had continued to decline because, for us at The Beguiling, sales had stopped falling and plateaued over the past 2 years. Manga remains as important a category for The Beguiling as its been in my decade as the Manager here–and it is the best and most effective category overall for outreach to young readers, and way up there for readership in general.

The demographics have changed and we’ve seemingly lost a generation of readers in their late teens and early 20s to piracy, but the midlist remains very strong in manga as a category and young readers and folks in their thirties and above are still buying books–though probably in conjunction with digital ‘sampling’. The smash hits are fewer and farther between though, and I wouldn’t mind one or two more of those per year.

I continue to be baffled by the inability for the direct market and manga publishers to work together… I’m equally frustrated by Diamond’s reluctance to keep books in stock–or even to reorder them when retailers ask for them!–as I am with publishers’ not recognizing the need for greater education, canon-building, and the continued literary value of their own books. There are titles that remain continually unavailable to the Direct Market, that are part of comics’ literary canon (let alone their extremely prestigious place in manga publishing)… it’s a spectacular failure at every part of the system. As a retailer I regret not making as much noise as I should about the issues, and not fighting as hard as I can.

I’ve always thought that Direct Market stores could benefit significantly from manga as a category, as we have, with the proper investment of time, energy, and perhaps staff resources. Unfortunately those are three things that seem in short supply at most comic shops. In my experience it’s been hard to convince publishers to invest in the Direct Market as a whole when it’s a constant uphill battle. We’ve had great success on a one-to-one with publishers, and at The Beguiling we’re grateful for our strong publisher relationships… but the DM as a whole? Those non-returnable sales could be a huge boon to any publisher’s bottom line. But because the responses from other markets are generally friendlier, more immediately lucrative, and far, far easier, I imagine that’s where the attention will continue to go. I’d love to be proven wrong, though.

– Christopher Butcher, Manager, The Beguiling

Toronto: Brian Wood Saturday, CBLDF next Tuesday

Hey Toronto! Two great comics events worth your attention…!

BRIAN WOOD @ THE BEGUILING
Saturday, April 13, 2013, 3PM
The Beguiling, 601 Markham Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Free To Attend

https://www.facebook.com/events/323536931083133/

Brian Wood is the multiple-award-winning, critically acclaimed author of literally dozens of your favourite series, and he will be doing a very special signing at The Beguiling on Saturday, April 13th, at 3pm. Bring your comics along to get signed and meet Brian, and check out some of the very cool/rare comics we’ll have available for sale at the event. All attendees at the signing who make any purchase will receive one of two limited edition prints from THE MASSIVE absolutely free.

Brian Wood is the writer of: STAR WARS – THE MASSIVE – MARA – CONAN THE BARBARIAN – THE X-MEN – NORTHLANDERS – DMZ – CHANNEL ZERO – DEMO – ULTIMATE COMICS X-MEN – COURIERS – FIGHT FOR TOMORROW – POUNDED – LOCAL – NEW YORK FOUR – NEW YORK FIVE – SUPERMARKET – TOURIST – WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN ALPHA & OMEGA – LORD OF THE RINGS: WAR OF THE NORTH

KEEP TORONTO READING: GRAPHICALLY SPEAKING – DIRTY COMICS
Tuesday April 16, 2013
North York Central Library Auditorium, 5120 Yonge Street
7:00 PM • FREE

https://www.facebook.com/events/584286594914813/

Once again, the Toronto Comic Arts Festival is proud to partner with the Toronto Public Library on Keep Toronto Reading to present lively and informative graphic novel programming.

This year’s program will feature Charles Brownstein, head of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, to discusses censorship in comics. His presentation will be Followed by a Q&A moderated by Christopher Butcher; manager, The Beguiling, and festival director of the Toronto Comic Arts Festival.

Valentin & The Widow

Ah, well he’s finally done it.

My friend Andrew Wheeler has, for the past few months, been releasing free podcasts of his Victorian adventure novels entitled “Valentin & The Widow.” For these past few months, I’ve been meaning to post about them, but I’d been waiting until I had listened to them so I could give a more qualified recommendation than “My friend did these, and you should support him!”  Frankly, I think qualified recommendations, like “I really enjoyed this, and I can recommend it to fans of X because I also enjoyed X,” carry a lot of weight, and considering the wealth of material available on these internets, a personal recommendation carries a ton of weight.

Except I hadn’t listened to them, because I’m busy, and then I didn’t recommend them, and now he’s gone and released e-books. So there are two completed novels by a close friend, and at this point, I’ve failed for 3 months to mention that he’s been doing this wonderful thing, and, well, priorities, Christopher. 

So!

I humbly invite you to check out the website of Valentin & The Widow, where you can listen to recordings of wonderful books, and, if the mood should strike you, you can purchase e-book versions of said novel.

http://valentinandthewidow.tumblr.com/

I will work very hard to actually read and/or listen to them shortly, Wheeler. Please, readership, do me one better than that and go and check them out with all due haste.

Best,

– Christopher