I can’t imagine a point at which I’ll have time to post this week unless it is to advertise/promote something. So, yeah. Sorry.
I can’t imagine a point at which I’ll have time to post this week unless it is to advertise/promote something. So, yeah. Sorry.
Day 1 of 3 very-long-days is over, and I’m about 20 minutes late for day two. Such is life.
The worst part is, my site seems to be randomly switching from the pretty new design to the default wordpress design. ENTIRELY ON IT’S OWN.Â This is both not good and completely baffling. If anyone’s got an idea why, feel free to let me know. It’s done it twice now…
Actual posting resumes this evening.
I have comment moderation turned on until I’m comfortable with my Spam-catching plugins. Unfortunately, I’ll be away from the computer for the next little while and won’t be around to approve comments. I’m sorry if this causes you a hassle in any way, shape, or form… Just one of the speedbumps on moving to a new system.
I only buy the comics I like which, if I’m to understand many of my customers, my friends, and people on the internet, is something of a rarity. I can’t think of a comic I’ve bought in recent memory to either ‘continue a run’ or just to bitch about. Granted, I have the luxury of working at a comic store and the inherent try-before-you-by aspect of the job is one I take advantage of, but I honestly couldn’t imagine buying most comics… floppies I guess.
When I do buy something, it’s because it’s a challenging, exemplary, or compelling work. I buy All-Star Superman and Casanova, because those books are not only wonderful, but designed to be read an issue at a time. I pick up The Walking Dead and Ex Machina in collected form, because I have the luxury of doing so. It’s more-or-less the perfect way to buy comics, and it’s only very rarely that I get burned on a purchase; sometimes the books just don’t live up to my anticipation of them.
But what about the comics that I don’t buy? There are lots of them, and I find that I probably read 5-10 timesÂ as many comics as I actually take home. Part of it is because, as I mentioned, I work at a comic book store, and as a comic book store employee I have to be able to talk intelligently about comics; knowing what’s going on usually helps that a great deal in the selling of the comics. You’d be amazed how many times in a day you get asked of something is ‘good’…Â Part of it though, is because at 7:30 on a Wednesday night the doors are finally locked and I’m physically and mentally exhausted, and being completely beaten like that is pretty-much the perfect way to enjoy the majority of comics being released on a monthly basis. That sort of euphoric, slightly-hungry, slightly light-headed frame of mind is absolutely essential in getting the mostÂ out ofÂ DC52, or Birds of Prey, or literally any Civil War tie-in. Hell, I even start to like some of them at that point.
I find I enjoy mainstream comics the most when I’m exhausted. After a long day at a convention I sat and read the first Superman/Batman trade paperback, ‘Public Enemies’, and what a thrill-ride that was! Characters changing costumes, revenge teams, Luthor in the SUPER POWERS suit, awesome! If I get really ambitious (or rather to tired to even sit on the floor at work reading comics) I’llÂ borrow 3 or 4 home for bed-time reading. Drifting off to dreamland is the perfect time to subject yourself to Zombies vs. Robots, because who cares if it doesn’t make sense, that the robots catch the zombie plague? It’s nap-time anyway and maybe it was all just a dream!
I guess what I’m saying here, with as much love and respect as I can muster, is that the Top 100 makes a lot more sense once your critical faculties have been significantly dulled by every day life. It’s coming around at the “I only want my comics to be entertainment!” argument from the other end: “I’m at the point where all I can read is things that don’t make me think too hard!” and by God, there are 40 of those fuckers every week. It’s kind of great, letting the Id and Ego of the (mostly) men who write brightly-coloured fiction wash over you in a blaze of 4-minute reads (seriously, the averageÂ mainstream comic takes me 4 minutes to read). Of course, that also makes you susceptable to things like eye-being-gouged-out-with-spoons or RAPECOMICS or darkness or whatever, and that can really harsh your mellow. Worse still, in that state really good comics make you cranky; they’re very difficult to read and make you feel dumb. No Ignatzes without a full night’s sleep first…Â It took me three tries before I figured out Casanova #1, and the third time I sat down in the middle of a brightly lit room at a table at noonÂ and really read it. Casanova is not the kind of comic you can read sammich’d between Daredevil and Y The Last Man, that’s for sure.
So that’s what my Wednesday’s are usually like. They all sort of end up in a blissful wash of fantasy, which is a good way to end a long day at work, you know? Besides that, it helps me develop empathy for people who really love terrible comics, because on some level I can appreciate what they’re reading as well, or at least why they’re reading them. Well, most of them anyway. You poor bastards who love like Ms. Marvel or Hunter Killer or, God help you, comics adaptations of 80s toys? You’re on your own.
P.S.: Street Fighter is okay though. Totally 90s.
Kind of a Big Deal…
Sit down with critically acclaimed graphic novel creator Bryan Lee O’Malley, the man behind the witty and hilarious Scott Pilgrim series, selected as the Independent Comic of the Year by Entertainment Weekly (2006). Bryan chats with The Beguiling’s Peter Birkemoe and you never know, he might just give away a few exciting teasers about the highly anticipated new volume of Scott Pilgrim.
North York Central Library (Concourse)
Tues. Feb. 20, 6 – 7:30 p.m.
Also: Live chat with Bryan Lee O’Malley!
Can’t wait until the 20th? Chat online with Bryan a day before the event on Book Buzz: Toronto Public Library’s Online Book Club. It’s the perfect appetizer to what will be a highly memorable event.
Mon. Feb. 19, 4-5 p.m. FREE.
I have to say it’s pretty cool seeing the store logo up there with the LCBO and STARBUCKS, sort of the perfect triumverate of vice… At any rate, Keep Toronto Reading is a pretty big deal in the city, a publically-funded month-long literacy initiative by the Toronto Public Library, and the mayor even gets involved and declares it “Keep Toronto Reading Month”. Having a graphic novel event as part of the proceedings is very chic, and says good things about the library’s commitment to “graphic fiction”. All in all? The Beguiling couldn’t be more pleased to be a part of the event, and I think it’ll be a lot of fun.
The following is a list of books scheduled to ship to The Beguiling Books & Art in Toronto next week. This doesn’t mean they’re shipping to every store, but it’s probably at least worth asking about if these books don’t show up in your local shoppe.
…finally, a big week for comics. It seems like the last couple of weeks saw a lot of ‘oddball’ titles that made our subscribers happy, but very few of the broad-ranging, broad-interest titles that drive customers into the store. What are those titles? Well, because of the handy-dandy ‘read more’ function on WordPress, I’m going to put the list as a whole behind a cut and just list my picks for the week. Lemmie know what you think of the format…
Chris’s Picks of the Week:
NOV063549Â CALVARIO HILLS #1Â 7.95
NOV063560Â REFLECTIONS #2Â 7.95
NOV063562Â THE END #1Â 7.95
The new IGNATZ books are shipping this week, for reals. Fantagraphics is always a little eager to announce their book releases, counting “it’s in stores” as “It’s in our store, Diamond will get it 2-4 weeks from now.” It’s a little frustrating explaining this to our customers, but I can understand their enthusiasm: there’s no line of books out right now as consistantly attractive both aesthetically and authorially as the Ignatz line. By no means is every book a success, but I certainly enjoy the successes a great deal. This selection of books features the debut titles from American Anders Nilsen and Spanish creator Marti, and the second installment of Italian Marco Corona’s Reflections. Cool beans.
NOV062292Â DAREDEVIL #93Â 2.99
OCT060273Â EX MACHINA #26 Â 2.99
SEP061832Â WALKING DEAD #34 Â 2.99
A bunch of ongoing genre comics that I enjoy reading, though primarily in trade paperback (or in hardcover as Walking Dead goes…). Still, if I didn’t have the luxury of waiting for the collection, these are three titles I’d be picking up every week thanks to the visceral and immediate satisfaction they provide… I guess it’s no surprise that Brubaker, Vaughan, and Kirkman are have die-hard fans; they write comics that people want to read, not feel that they have to read because they tie into 300 other titles…
NOV063327Â GARTH ENNIS CHRONICLES OF WORMWOOD #1 (OF 6) Â 3.99
I’ll give this a shot, it feels like more Garth Ennis Hellblazer, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
NOV060011Â USAGI YOJIMBO #100 (NOTE PRICE)Â 3.50
I just wanted to take the opportunity to once again commend Dark Horse for bringing these trade paperbacks back into print to celebrate the anniversary of this great series. It makes this issue considerably less shameful than just a few short months ago. Congrats to Stan Sakai on an amazing run!
JUN063099Â BEASTS HCÂ 28.95
Well, the Fanta blog has been talking up this collection of illustrations by top artists for so long that I’m genuinely curious to see if it can live up to the hype. Looking at the list of participants, it’s not hard to imagine that it’ll be excellent. For the record, that includes: Craig Thompson, Souther Salazar, Jeff Soto, Glenn Barr, Dave Cooper, Tim Biskup, Seonna Hong, Anders Nilsen, Art Chantry, Brian Chippendale, Brian Ralph, Bwana Spoons, Colleen Coover, Jason Miles, Jesse LeDoux, Johnny Ryan, Jordan Crane, Keith Shore, Kevin Scalzo, Marc Bell, Martin Cendreda, Mat Brinkman, R. Kikuo Johnson, Richard Sala, Sammy Harkham, Stan Sakai, S. Britt, Steven Weissman, Ted Jouflas, Tom Gauld (and many more…).
OCT060288Â DOOM PATROL VOL 5 MAGIC BUS TP Â 19.99
NOV060237Â SEVEN SOLDIERS OF VICTORY VOL 4 TP Â 14.99
You know Grant Morrison is cursed when even his trade paperbacks are delayed. Poor guy. I hope 2007 is much kinder to him. It’s already going to be kind to us though, with the publication of this classic and acclaimed series, and the conclusion to the most interesting (and successful…) superhero project of 2006. It’s all out in trade paperback now folks, no messing about. Make sure to pick it up!
NOV063235Â RED EYE BLACK EYE GN Â 19.95
Apparently this is a post-9/11 journal comic about rediscovering America, by Thor Jensen. I have so many conflicting ideas about what this could be like… I’m curious to read it though. It’s apparently got a blurb from Perez Hilton of all people too. Just… wierd. Worth flipping through in the store I think.
NOV063863Â HEAVEN!! VOL 1 GN (OF 3)Â 9.99
This is the first of Tokyopop’s “Direct Market Exclusive” titles… I’m curious if that affected sales at all. I know we’re gonna do a little thing in store to help promote it and track the sales pretty closely, but… yeah. If you happen to be curious about it though… it sounds like stereotypical manga. Seriously, if I was going to describe popular manga to someone who had never heard of it, I’d say “Well, it’s a bit like… a girl who can see and exorcise ghosts, right?Â The school punk saves her from getting hit by a truck, but ends up in a coma himself, and so she, and his disembodied spirit must defend his prone body from being possessed by this, that and the other local spirits. Unfortunately, she fails in her task, and an ancient playboy takes over the punkâ€™s body, leaving him to inhabit a pink stuffed monkey. Hilarity ensues.”
I’m gonna get in trouble for this…
NOV063489Â MUSHISHI VOL 1 GN Â 12.95
I was really curious about this one myself, but then Jog went and saved me the trouble of wondering and wrote up an extensive, glowing review of this first volume.
“If itâ€™s really the authorâ€™s wish that fabulous creatures do exist, her greatest success is in prompting the same feeling in her readers, despite the horror that understandably courses through the thoughtful authorâ€™s world. She manipulates the senses, like a Mushi herself. Sheâ€™s got me hooked, and Iâ€™m not going to be the last.” – Jog, http://joglikescomics.blogspot.com/
It soundsÂ almost likeÂ manga-as-magical-realism, actually, which I can’t really think of too many examples of in manga.
AUG060058Â SATSUMA GISHIDEN VOL 2 TPÂ 14.95
Apparently, Dark Horse and/or Diamond put this stupid fucking book on a shipping list before Christmas some time, and we’re JUST getting it this week. Lots of angry, annoyed customers that don’t understand how both Dark Horse and Diamond are both saying this book is out, BUT IT ISN’T AT THEIR LOCAL STORE. I only ordered like 15 of these things, but thanks for making me look like an asshole anyway guys, really appreciated.
So, alright, let’s see if I can work the “more” feature. The complete shipping list is behind the cut…
You know what I love? Comics.
Granted, the comics-related phrase I utter most often in a week is â€œfuckâ€™n comics,â€ but then no one can break your heart like the one you love. Yeah, I totally love comics, and the schizophrenic state of my bookshelves will explain that it is not a certain genre, style, or delivery format that I love, but comics as a medium.
Starting at P, my bookshelf reads Palestine by Joe Sacco, Pazzo di te by Giovanni and Accardi, Paradise Kiss by Ai Yazawa, Past Lies by De Phillipes, Weir, and Mitten, Peng by Corey Lewis, Pedigree Girls by Sherwin Tija, Perfect Example by John Porcillino, Persepolis by Marjane Satarapi, Pervert Club by Will Allison, Perverso by Rich Tommasi, Phoenix by Osamu Tezuka, Pip & Norton by Dave Cooper, Le Piquer dâ€™Etoiles by Shizuka Nakano, Pizzeria Kamikaze by Karef and Hanuka, Placebo Man by Tomer Hanuka, Planetary by Ellis, Cassaday, and Martin, Planetes by Makoto Yuklimura, Pokemon: The Electric Tale of Pikachu, Pop Gun War by Farel Dalrymple, Powers by Bendis and Oeming, Preacher by Ennis and Dillon, Pride of Baghdad by Vaughan and Henrichon, Princess of Darkness by Yuichiro Tanuma, Projectâ€™s Romance, Superior, and Telstar by various, Project X: Cup Noodles and Seven Eleven by various, Promethea by Moore, Williams, and Gray, Pussey! By Dan Clowes, and Put The Book Back On The Shelf by Various.
This all-encompassing love of comics is not universally shared; Iâ€™ve known this for a very long time. I try not to let the clique-ism and self-consciousness bother me when it comes to people dismissing work out of hand, but honestly? I think about the same of someone who writes off manga as a whole as someone who writes off comics as a whole: not much. And itâ€™s not just manga, but any genre/format/style/countryâ€™s work. It seems so completely limited in scope, and more often than not those words seem spoken from a position of ignorance rather than any considered or researched position.
Every once in a while Iâ€™ll come across an essay, blog post, or even snarky comment from someone whoâ€™s been through a fandom and come out the other side, and when they have grievances I tend to give them a bit more weightâ€¦ as in any weightâ€¦ and really listen to what they have to say. I stumbled over a discussion about â€œMoeâ€ a few months back that was like that, and it was really interesting because of itâ€¦ I learned something, it was great. But coming across a series of columns like Bob Holtâ€™s â€˜I Love Comicsâ€™ at comicsnob.com? Not so much. I canâ€™t even pull out a quote to illustrate why I think the column is weak, so much as the columns just belie a shallowness of experience and thought on the subject. Rather than write on the subject I was just going to be content to leave a comment, but according to Bob:
â€œI guess it comes down to this. Everyoneâ€™s entitled to an opinion (I think someone once remarked that theyâ€™re kind of like a certain body part). Iâ€™d like to think that we encourage discussion from people of all levels of experience here. If someoneâ€™s inexperience is a factor, all we can do is recommend something for them to check out. I think limiting the discussion to those select few that can be universally ordained as â€œexpertsâ€ is dangerous and narrow-minded, especially if weâ€™re interested in how neophytes to the world of comics perceive our little world here.â€ â€“ Bob Holt, ComicSnob.com
Really? Iâ€™m more of a â€œIâ€™d rather here what people who know what theyâ€™re talking aboutâ€ kind of a guy, than a â€œpeople making pronouncements based on their under-informed opinionsâ€ kind of a guy, but then this is the internet. In the end, weâ€™ll just agree to disagree that basing your opinions of manga on 15 different books and hear-say picked up on the internet constitutes something worthwhile.
In a related, though not entirely dissimilar situation, I personally think Jacob Covey is one of the most talented designers working in the comics industry at the moment. Heâ€™s probably best known for his stunning design on the recently released Popeye Volume 1 Collection from Fantagraphics books, but heâ€™s probably second-best known for the following comment, posted to the Fantagraphics blog:
â€œI said Manga is crap. The only reason I said this is that Manga is crap. As David notes, however, “The general dismissal of manga’s artistic merit isn’t anything new, but the added doses of cynicism and condescension made it seem somehow special.” True. I AM cynical and condescending to a special degree but I am uncomfortable with an entire genre of comics being dominated by a single “look” that, furthermore, relies heavily on a masked fixation with adolescence. Perhaps that’s too psychological of me but, friends, it’s gross.â€ â€“ Jacob Covey, Fantagraphics.com/blog (archived by John Jakala)
Jacob, where to start? Is it with all of the manga porn that your employer publishes? I guess that could still be â€˜crapâ€™ thoughâ€¦ How about the non-porn manga that Fantagraphics has published, including Anywhere But Here by Tori Miki, or Screw Style by Yoshiharu Tsuge in Comics Journal #250? Crap as well? I think the art-comics establishment might disagree with you there, sir. To say nothing of the â€œartcomix-friendlyâ€ manga published by D&Q, Fanfare/Ponent-Mon, or Verticalâ€¦ I dunno about you but I wonâ€™t be the one standing up to loudly proclaim Abandon The Old In Tokyo as crap.
But I guess what I take the biggest issue with in Mr. Coveyâ€™s blog entry is the ridiculous assertion that manga â€œrelies heavily on a masked fixation with adolescence.â€ Mr Covey?
Defend Western Civilization in 100,000 words or less. Use graphs.
So, those are my thoughts on cultural and artistic elitism, at the moment anyway. If Frederick L. Schodt, or hell, even Toren Smith, would care to show up in the comments section and debate the relative merits of manga versus other forms of artistic expression in comics, or even declare it all crap, by all means, Iâ€™m willing to listen. Everyone else has got to qualify their positions a little bit better than they have been for me to pay any attention from now onâ€¦
Well, that’s better.
A few years ago I realised that what I wanted from a comics website wasn’t what I was providing, and that it was time to put up or shut up. So, for the most part I shut up, not having the time, energy, or ability to put together the kind of site I would hold in high regard. Quite a few new blogs and various websites have stepped up to the plate, and for that I’m grateful, but if I’m going to be applying for those ‘Journalist’ passes to get into comic conventions, it’d help to have a professional-looking website, eh?
Enter my friend Nadine, who in no-time at all whipped up what you see before you: a new WordPress-driven blog that will allow me the versatility and functionality to do something great. Thanks to Nadine for the hard work, and to all of you reading who, whether you knew it or not, shaped my decision-making process. I hope you like it, but if you don’t there’s a whole-new comments section to bitch into 🙂
Thanks for reading,
A handy guide to stalking me…
So my first piece of advice for 2007? Don’t get sick, ever. I’m currently behind on every single project I’m involved in. Some only minimally, some massively, and one in particular I may have completely blown. If you’re reading this Anne, I’m sorry…
Things are shaping up for the year though, with lots of freelance in the offing (writing, lettering, whatever) and lots of other big plans. I figured it’s been long enough without a post that I better do something, and writing up my schedule for the year will be nice for both of us, dear reader. Maybe you’ll learn something about me!
January 29th: New Blog – Keep your eyes peeled Monday, and make sure to update your RSS feeds.
February 20th: Bryan Lee O’Malley at TPL – As part of Toronto’s Keep Toronto Reading month, The Toronto Public Library is bringing in library-friendly graphic novelist Bryan Lee O’Malley (Scott Pilgrim) to do an on-stage interview/presentation that I might be co-hosting? It’s at 6:30pm at North York Central Library, but I’ll be inundating you with reminders about that soon enough… I’m going to see if I can talk him into previewing the first chapter of Scott Pilgrim 4 there, which will make it a can’t-miss event. View the schedule of events at http://www.keeptorontoreading.ca/
February 22nd-26th: New York Comic Con – I’ll be participating at a couple of panels at this year’s NYCC and blogging from the floor again. It should be a lot of fun, I think. The only announced panel appearance so far is “The Buyers Panel” retailers-only programming on the 22nd. I think I’ll be on a few though, and wandering around for the rest of the time. Oh, and speaking of wandering around, I’ve got the better-part of a day to kill on Monday, so if anyone wants to hang out lemmie know. http://www.nycomiccon.com
February 27th: COMICS FESTIVAL 2007! Orders due – The last Tuesday in February is the last day that retailers can place their orders for COMICS FESTIVAL 2007, the Free Comic Book Day Offering that I’m co-editing with Chip Zdarsky. Darwyn Cooke, Bryan Lee O’Malley, Hope Larson, and many, many more contributors. Plus the book will be half-colour, and feature one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen in a FCBD comic, a secret I don’t wanna give away just yet. Comics Festival 2007 is going to be the book to get on FCBD, believe-you-me. Please make sure to tell your retailer that you wanna see copies of this one in… Going up against 45 other comics is kind of… completely insane, and not every retailer is going to splurge on every book. Thanks!
May 5th: Free Comic Book Day – We’ll be doing another big event at The Beguiling! Plus, hopefully Comics Festival 2007 will be available nationwide!
May 25th-27th: Anime North Toronto – The biggest show that we at The Beguiling do all year. It really is something to see, and I think we’re gonna try and do something a little different and a little stupid at AN this year (good-stupid) to up the ante. Last year we brought Ryan North, Bryan Lee O’Malley, and Kean Soo to the event and had a book-launch for Ryan and Mal that weekend. This time out, I’m sure we can come up with something better/crazier and really promote the hell out of TCAF too. http://animenorth.com/
June 8th-10th: Paradise Comics Toronto Comicon – This is the not-evil mainstream comics show in Toronto. Guests include Terry Moore, Matt Wagner, Kaare Andrews, and many more. The Beguiling will be set up as per usual with a good mix of stuff, and a great time is generally had by all attendees at this event. http://www.torontocomicon.com/
June 22nd-24th: MoCCA Art Festival in New York – I never miss a chance to attend MoCCA, as it combines a ton of great comics creators with NEW YORK CITY, and who would want to miss-out on that? Plus, I’ve got my own Fest to promote two months later. I will say that MoCCA is just an amazing show to attend, busy and fun but also surrounded on all sides by business and fun too (not to mention the food). If you’ve never been, it’s worth going. If you can only go to one east-coast show though, uh, scroll down two-entries. http://www.mocca-ny.org
July 5th: I’m turning 30. I’m hoping to throw a bigger party than we did for the wedding. You? Invited!
July 26th-29th: San Diego Comic Con – It’s pretty-much guaranteed that I’ll be at San Diego this year, although I felt a bit aimless at last year’s without being tethered to a booth. Maybe I just need to psych myself up a little more for this one? 4 days though and I still don’t feel like I saw it all… http://www.comic-con.org
August 18th & 19th: The Toronto Comic Arts Festival – Oh, you so totally have to come, it’s going to be amazing. We’re holding it this time out in a 100 year old University building! Three floors! Hundreds of guests! An amazing kick-off party on Friday night! It’s kind of like a non-stop, 3 day party I guess, though I don’t unclench until Sunday night at about 9pm. Details at http://www.torontocomics.com/tcaf. Expect the 2007 website to go live soon, with our preliminary guestlist (note: it’s pretty darned great if you’re a fan of this blog…)
After: It looks like I’m going to Japan in the fall with my hubby for a delayed honeymoon, which will be great. JAPAN. Yay! Also, Christmas, but that one might be just a little too-far-away to think about.
Anyway, thanks for reading this little trip through the future. Here’s hoping you’ll catch me at one of these events and we can raise a glass or two…!
Called out by Bart Beaty
In his newest Conversational Euro-Comics column at Comics Reporter, Bart Beaty provides an overview of the forthcoming “Angouleme Essential Awards”, to be handed out at Festival International de la Bande Dessinee. It’s a great article and totally essential reading, so hurry up and go read it. He also name-checks me in the article, when talking about the manga entries on the 50-volume list of books elligible for the top prize:
“Manga is also well-represented by Avant la prison (Kazuichi Hanawa), Gyo (Junji Ito), In the Clothes Named Fat (Moyoco Anno), Jacaranda (Kotobuki Shiriagari), Ki-Itchi (Hideki Arai), Non Non Ba (Shigeru Mizuki), Sorcieres (Daisuke Igarashi), and Zipang (Kaiji Kawaguchi). I’m not sure which of these seven series is available in English (I’m sure Chris Butcher or Dirk Deppey can help us there).” – Bart Beaty, Comics Reporter.
So I figured, why not? Let’s talk about which manga are or are not available in English.
Avant la Prison, by Kazuichi Hanawa. Hanawa’s Doing Time is published in English by Fanfare Ponent-Mon, and it’s a monotonous, unflinching portrayal of life in a Japanese prison. While it’s considered a fairly difficult read, I can definitely recommend it as a unique and engrossing manga. This volume acts as something of a prequel to Doing Time, and we all hope to see it follow Doing Time to the shelves… Eh, Stephen?
Gyo, by Junji Ito. As readers of this blog are aware, Junji Ito’s Gyo is published in English by Viz LLC, and books 1 & 2 were released in the 6×9 format in 2003 and 2004. Generally considered inferior to his Uzumaki series, Gyo has an aborted finish, but does deliver some truly terrifying visuals and moments (Sharks… WITH LEGS!). Also available from Junji Ito are Museum Of Terror Volumes 1-3 published by Dark Horse.
In the Clothes Named Fat, by Moyoco Anno. Despite an English title, this single-volume manga by Moyoco Anno is not available in English. It seems like a book worth translating though, as it deals with a woman who tries to lose weight to interest a man, and the body-image-related downward spiral she enters. Luckily for you reader, Moyoco Anno has been published in English before. A lot, actually: Happy Mania from Tokyopop features a desperate 20-something woman looking to settle down and find the right man, but Mr. Right-now will do; Flowers & Bees from Viz actually deals with body-image issues amongst men in a humourous way; Sugar Sugar Rune from Del Rey Publishing is an all-ages affair that has young witches breaking boys’ hearts for power; Anno even has a cute short-story in Japan: As Viewed By 17 Creators published by Fanfare Ponent-Mon.
Jacaranda, by Kotobuki Shiriagari. Totally and completely unavailable in English, and probably pretty unlikely to become so. This single volume appears to be a meditation on the human condition as viewed through the lense of the apocalypse–a giant plant grows up in Tokyo overnight oblitterating the city–but actually might just be a comedy, pages and pages of death and destruction included. I hope we order a copy of this into my store to look at, hint hint.
Ki-Itchi, Hideki Arai. Man, this is so unlikely to come out in English. Evar. Volume 1 is about a hyper-violent three year old boy who doesn’t show any emotions and is constantly lashing out at the world. It’s sort of a more-realisitically drawn Dark Crayon Shin-chan you know? Then, at the beginning of the second volume his parents are killed by a mugger and he’s left with no family and no understanding of what happened. Fierce socio-political commentary. I would totally, totally buy this if it were in English.
Non Non Ba, by Shigeru Mizuki. Oh wow. So I didn’t recognize the name, but following a viewing of the Takeshi Miike movie “The Great Yokai War” I did a little bit of digging on “yokai”, the various Japanese forest spirits and demons that make up Japanese mythology. It turns out that Shigeru Mizuki is probably the best-known manga-ka of yokai stories, and his ‘Ge Ge Ge no Kitaro’ is considered a shonen horror classic. NonNonbÃ¢ appears to be Mizuki’s newest manga, another yokai tale about a boy who befriends a yokai and the problems it causes to his day-to-day life. Sounds really neat, actually, and seeing as we got some of Kazuo Umezu’s excellent classic horror manga this year with Drifting Classroom from Viz, I think some Mizuki would go down nicely…!
Sorcieres, by Daisuke Igarashi. This would be known as “Witch” in English (making it, what, property #4 with that title?), but isn’t currently known as anything because it ain’t in English. We just got a copy of this book in this week at The Beguiling, because it was actually recommended by Black & White creator Taiyo Matsumoto in the back of the sixth French edition of his No. 5 series. Confluence! The plot seems a bit… magical such and such quest for grown-ups, but the art is lovely. It’s like a sketchy euro-Otomo, where every drawing looks absolutely effortless and dashed-off, until you realise that a) they’re beautiful, and b) he is not drawing easy-to-draw things. Absolutely beautiful, and I could totally see Dark Horse picking this up and fitting it seemlessly into their current slate of releases. YOU HEAR ME, CARL? 🙂
Zipang, by Kaiji Kawaguchi. You’re totally unlikely to see this this in English, as Kawaguchi’s previous English-language manga, the excellent socio-political drama Eagle from Viz, did not do well. This series, about a navy battleship from the Japanese Self-Defence Forces transported back to WWII, sounds like a gripping, mature story of tough choices and tougher consquences. So, TS, buy more Naruto.
There you go Bart, et al. I hope you enjoy this little run down of great manga that I cannot read as much as I enjoyed researching it all, only to find out after-the-fact that there’s an English-language description of most of these books in a Festival Program (right click save as) and that David Welsh covered some of this in his column 4 weeks ago. Le Sigh.