Okay, so I hadn't had any caffiene and apparently everyonelinked the CPM statement.
However, I seriously haven't seen a link to this Toronto Star profile of Scott Pilgrim creator Bryan Lee O'Malley that ran this past Saturday. Big Arts-Section Page 3 story, with lots of art and even an author photo! Not too shabby at all...
"I didn't originally have the whole thing planned out, but when the movie people came calling, I had to sketch out the rest of the ideas, which I think was a good thing," O'Malley says.
Ah, yes, the movie deal. Universal Pictures optioned the series last year, enlisting director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead) and screenwriter Michael Bacall to adapt the comic for the big screen.
"I met with them in Toronto last October, showed them the neighbourhoods, and it was great. I've been very involved, which is very nice and doesn't happen a lot, I think," O'Malley says of the film, which has yet to begin production.
Congrats, Mal. :) Oh, and Saturday evening's release party for Dinosaur Comics and Scott Pilgrim went really well I think?
The most unfortunate manga-related news to emerge this weekend was about the layoffs at and potential bankruptcy of Central Park Media (or CPM). Publishers of Alien Nine and the Be Beautiful line of Yaoi, CPM had a pretty gruelling year after a little-reported legal battle with Diamond Comic Distributors and had looked to be picking themselves up and dusting themselves off. The massive layoffs and rumours were kind of depressing, so I went to the source and e-mailed CPM President John O'Donnell, whom I met at the New York Comic-Con this winter. He actually had an official response for me, and I figured I'd pass it along to you:
As our business has been significantly impacted by Musicland's bankruptcy filing, we are facing tightening sales conditions and are currently focusing on a cost cutting program which will structure the company for future growth without our largest customer. A number of very talented and dedicated employees have unfortunately lost their jobs through no fault of their own. CPM will be happy to assist these fine staff members find employment opportunities, so any company seeking experienced and professional employees are requested to email CPM at HR519@teamcpm.com for further details.
I can't tell if that sounds like the beginning of bankruptcy protection or not, but whatever the case I hope they get back on their feet soon.
We're running on radio silence at the moment, thanks mostly to this weekend's Anime North convention. It's probably the biggest convention of the year for the store, which is kind of odd because "obviously" I don't know much about manga or anime. Heh. Seriously though, this is taking a lot of time and planning on my part and so blogging had to take a back seat.
I've got about 15-45 minutes of free time right this second though, mostly because I'm making other people work right now, so I figured I'd maybe update my blog with what is happening on the internet and the blogosphere.
First: My site. I added a bunch of new blogs, comic strips, and people to the sidebar. Of note are the One Step archive by my friend Jim Zubkavich (under blogs); J. Bone's two blogs (under Comic Artists and Friends); Comic Strip by Chip Zdarsky, Makeshift Miracle by Jim Zubkavich, Moresukine by ????, and Rehabillitating Mr. Wiggles by Neil Swabb (under Online Comics). I thought there were more? Anyway, go check them out.
One I didn't add (because it hadn't launched yet) was Graphic Language, a new group interview blog by my associates Kevin Church and Ed Cunard, and Chris Tamarri whom I do not know. Although it doesn't seem to be on a set schedule, it launched with an interview with reviewer Douglas Wolk, and updated this week with an interview with comic store owner Alex Cox.
At The Beat (I always type that "The Bear", freudian slip much?) Heidi MacDonald posted a great BEA wrap-up yesterday afternoon that makes me regret missing BEA. I think that, along with E3, I'm going to try and head out there next year. Assuming I'm not completely dying from Toronto Comic Arts Festival-related stress this time next year, which will be compounded by the Anime North-related stress...
Mal (Bryan Lee O'Malley) just called me from the airport to let me know his plane landed safely, so it looks like Scott Pilgrim 4 is still in the cards. Which reminds me to post a couple of links! First off, Scott Pilgrim creator Bryan Lee O'Malley, Dinosaur Comics creator Ryan North, and Jellaby creator Kean Soo have just been announced as last-minute guests at Anime North. They'll be signing at The Beguiling table more-or-less all weekend. Also, there's the big party thing too, happening Saturday Night. It looks like we're going to do a live Scott Pilgrim reading? And music? And Ryan is going to create a new Dinosaur Comic right on the spot, with help from the crowd? And stuff? It should be... awesome...? Also, Ryan North was interviewed by Torontoist for the new Dinosuar Comics book. Mal was interviewed by Chase Sequencefor Scott Pilgrim 3.
My buddy Kagan McLeod just started a new weekly comic strip where he draws comics about Rap music. SWEET. It's called SICKWIDIT.
"It's plot-twist time. The fantasy gay-male sex in Yaoi is leading to a lot of actual sex between women.
Terry and Smith aren't just comic collaborators, they're also lovers. "A lot of the Yaoi community is bisexual," Terry says. "What I found — me included — is that they like living out these Yaoi fantasies together."
Terry says that's because straight men generally aren't willing to dress up as androgynous homosexuals to turn on their girlfriends. Gay men, meanwhile, are too busy with each other. If Yaoi women want to act out their fantasies, they're on their own.
"It allows them to play out a fantasy that is really unattainable," Terry says."
Then the always-depressing Toronto Sun actually turns in a fairly-positive (I guess) article with a truly outstanding title:
"Whatever. The thousands of kids who line up for hours to get into this thing are not there to see guests or gadgets, they are there to see each other.
Specifically, they are there to take thousands of digital pictures of each other in costume, then trade them all back and forth on the Internet. Anime North is a chance to role-play and switch identities. It is about being part of a fantasy.
... Why do they go? I asked my 16-year-old daughter, Katie. "Because I'm a big nerd," she said.
Most of the other kids I spoke with seemed more than okay with their inner-nerdiness.
As one dude's homemade sign read, "No, I live in YOUR mother's basement!" "
Anyway, we'll be set up in The Beguiling Pavillion this weekend, and we're bringing Bryan Lee O'Malley, Ryan North, and Kean Soo. Stop by and say hi, buy a book.
Miriam Katin in Toronto 63 year-old first-time Graphic Novelist presents WWII memoir http://readings.org
I'm just working on my last couple of pieces on First Second, but this press release arrived in my mailbox and I wanted to make sure I didn't forget to post it. It's for a reading/presentation of Miriam Katin's new World War 2 memoir We Are On Our Own, published any-day-now by Drawn & Quarterly. I'll reprint the relevant sections of the PR here, but this is precisely the kind of graphic-novel event that is of interest to both fans and newcomers to the medium of graphic novels; it's a great way in for the curious or uninitiated.
International Readings at Harbourfront Centre is pleased to welcome celebrated New York graphic artist Miriam Katin to the Brigantine Room stage as a part of International Readings at Harbourfront Centre. Katin will read from her new memoir We Are on Our Own, along with readings by Laurie Gough and Alayna Munce, on Wednesday, May 31, 2006. Katin’s captivating and elegantly illustrated book tells the story of her and her mother’s struggle for survival in Hungary during WWII. This book has garnered much critical praise and was recently called, “a powerful reminder of the lingering price of survival” by Publishers Weekly, where it also received a starred review. For tickets, the public may visit http://www.readings.org/ or contact the Harbourfront Centre box office at 416-973-4000.
Wednesday, May 31, 2006 Laurie Gough, Miriam Katin, and Alayna Munce Brigantine Room Hosted by Christine Sismondo
Miriam Katin presents her first full-length graphic novel, published at age sixty-three. The captivating and elegantly illustrated We Are On Our Own is the story of Miriam's childhood in Hungary during WWII; a stunning memoir of a mother and her daughter's survival during the war and their subsequent lifelong struggle with faith. Miriam first worked as a graphic artist in the Israel Armed Forces. She then moved to the United States in the 60s and became an animator for Disney and MTV.
Details on winning free tickets and the like coming soon.
TORONTO, CANADA – The world has waited for this day and it’s finally here: The release of Canadian graphic novelist Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim 3: Scott Pilgrim and the Infinite Sadness. But the Canadian hipster icon has brought friends: a whimsical Tyrannosaurus Rex who populates the panels of the new comic-strip collection Dinosaur Comics by Ryan North. And they’re having a party.
The whole city is invited, Saturday, May 27th to the simultaneous release parties (much cooler than book launches) for these hotly-anticipated graphic novels. The event is taking place at the new party-room behind Rocco’s Plum Tomato in the Annex (just south of 585 Bloor West, W. of Bathurst) at 8PM. Both artists will be on hand to celebrate the releases and the evening will feature music, readings, and even live comic strip creation! Best of all? The event is totally free.
Scott Pilgrim 3 / Dinosaur Comics NEW BOOK RELEASE PARTY Featuring Bryan Lee O’Malley and Ryan North Saturday, May 27th @ 8PM Rocco's Plum Tomato (New Room) 585 Bloor West, Just west of Bathurst FREE
Sponsored by The Beguiling, Quack Media, and Sleeman’s Brewery.
ABOUT THE BOOKS
The Scott Pilgrim series features Scott Pilgrim, an aimless 20-something who must defeat the Seven Evil Ex-Boyfriends of his current crush in battle, in order to date her. The series is set in Toronto and such notable landmarks as The Toronto Reference Library, Casa Loma, and Lee’s Palace have served as the backdrops for these legendary battles. The setting for Volume 3? We don’t want to ruin the surprise, but a famous landmark at the corner of Bloor & Bathurst might just be involved. Scott Pilgrim 3 is the fifth graphic novel from Halifax’s Bryan Lee O’Malley, and is published by Oni Press. Find out more at http://www.scottpilgrim.com/.
Dinosaur Comics doesn’t take place in Toronto, but in a world of smart-ass talking dinosaurs who alternately offer lectures about the evil nature of cephalopods (“They’re cannibals!”) and explain to you things that you probably shouldn’t say to someone who just broke up with their girlfriend (“Do you remember kissing her? Are you worried that one day you’ll forget what it was like?”). Dinosaur Comics: Your Whole Family is Made Out Of Meat is published by Quack Media and collects three hilarious years worth of strips from the incredibly popular online comic strip by Torontonian Ryan North. Find out more at http://www.dinosaurcomics.com/.
For media or interview requests, please contact Christopher Butcher at The Beguiling, email@example.com or 416-533-9168.
I have to admit that I had never heard of Mimei Sakamoto or her work before her screed appeared at Mainichi, so I was glad to see Elin Winkler link to one of her comics (in English, no less!) that appeared online at Time Asia.
It's a fun comic and has a rather pointed message about the options available to women in Japan. Not being a woman in Japan, I can't vouch for it's accuracy but I did like it (and the density of information it presented too!). Thanks to Elin Winkler of Radio Comix for pointing me at the strip, and for tipping me off to the article in the first place.
The Fate of The Artist By Eddie Campbell $15.95, 96 pages Published by First Second Books
Reviewed by Christopher Butcher
The fate of the artist is for him to disappear, reinventing himself. The Fate of The Artist, on the other hand is a considered graphic novel wherein creator Eddie Campbell examines his life and his art and finds it all lacking, and chucks it out the window.
So to speak.
The vast majority of people encountering this graphic novel will know Campbell as the artist of From Hell, his collaboration with Alan Moore. They may have even encountered his long-running comic series Bacchus, about the somewhat-deposed God of drinking, and his wanderings through the world. But for my money, Campbell's real strength lies in his autobiographical works, both real and veiled. Campbell's comix stand-in is Alec MacGarry, who has to date starred in three excellent graphic novels: Alec: The King Canute Crowd, Alec: Three Piece Suit, and Alec: How To Be An Artist. In his previous (and previously most recent) graphic novel After The Snooter, Eddie Campbell takes off the 'Alec' disguise and addresses us directly, primarily on the subject of his anxiety at approaching middle-age. It is a step forward for Campbell as an artist and storyteller, the last chapter of the Alec saga with the artist finally having come in to his own. So what is The Fate of The Artist then? Why, it's the epilogue of course.
If this seems to be an awful lot of set-up to even get to the book I'm ostensibly reviewing, well it is actually. You're entirely correct. The weight of Campbell's publishing efforts, his art, and his life in comix, is felt on every page. It's felt on the very first page in fact, on which the artist tells us to "all go to fuck," sick of comics and himself and you too. It is the only time we see Eddie Campbell as 'himself' in this graphic novel, with the image of the artist played by an "actor" for the rest of the book. Campbell's got another mask on (or more properly, someone's got a Campbell mask) and we're back to the artist's life a step-removed. In fact, page three introduces a detective investigating Campbell's disappearance from the narrative. The graphic novel is an autothanatography; the paradox of being both about him and about not-him; what comes after the autobiographies are over. Confused? Don't worry, from page three on the book becomes much more straight-forward. Sort of.
The Fate of The Artist is told through Traditional Comics, yes, but also through: fumetti (photo-comics); comic strips; diagrams; and illustrated text pieces – all more ubiquitous forms than The Graphic Novel, with which the general public is likely less familiar. It makes for an interesting reading experience; Campbell uses these methods to communicate information relating to the themes and plot of the graphic novel akin to a poet or songwriter using an apt metaphor or striking turn-of-phrase to communicate a deeper intent . Digressions like the 1920s-style comic strip Honeybee comment on marital fisticuffs in the general, but when juxtaposed with the character in the main narrative representing Campbell's wife, an emotional clarity regarding their relationship reveals itself and the digression is elevated in status to 'integral'. Campbell has thrown off the shackles of the panel-page-grid (and after doing 500+ pages of From Hell in that style he's earned the right) and managed to turn the result into a surprisingly readable book.
So if form is no obstacle to the various and sundry new readers to be gained from the promotional push this graphic novel is getting as part of publisher First Second's debut, is the subject matter? I'm honestly not sure. As I've written, the enormity of all of Campbell's past works (save perhaps Bacchus) weigh on this graphic novel. His history as a comics artist is integral to the murder mystery that is the framework for the story. His autobiography (real and veiled) and its effects on his family and friends provide the hook, the emotional core, and eventually the resolution. While Campbell does a good job of introducing his situation and surroundings to the reader in this book, I can't imagine a reader inexperienced with Campbell's ouvere drawing much from the story other than that he's a prat who may have managed to have some sense knocked into him in the end. I could end the review right here, saying that the book is innovative, and a fulfilling read that will engage most of the readers that pick The Fate of The Artist up off of the crowded graphic novel shelves. But the book offers much more to those of us who've followed Alec's journeys since their inception, and so should this review I think.
Incidentally, you should probably stop reading now if you don't want the plot ruined for you.
The Fate of The Artist is that his tendency to write his family and friends into his comics, putting words into their mouths and their likenesses into embarrassing situations (real or imagined) gets him killed. His long-suffering 'best-mate' kills him and stuffs the body onto the library shelves under the dewey-decimal code for graphic novels. You can't help but feel that after being told to "go to fuck" on page one, followed by 79 pages of the artist's family painting a picture of him as an ass, that he got what he deserved. The whole book is Campbell slicing open his own stomach, pulling out the entrails and reading the guts to divine the future; it isn't a pretty picture, for you to think about or for Campbell either. Is this book Campbell owning up to his missteps? An apology to those who felt wronged? Or just recognition, with a promise of change? Again, it's tough to say.
Almost immediately following the grand reveal of the artist's untimely demise, Campbell (as portrayed by an actor) gets a face-to-face with God, who ultimately validates all of his thoughts and feelings on the nature of the universe, in a scene drawn and painted by Campbell. Must be nice! Immediately following that though is the final storytelling shift; a Classics Illustrated-style retelling of O. Henry's The Confessions of a Humourist, staring Eddie Campbell in the lead roll. It is the story of an unassuming man who becomes a professional writer of humour, eventually sucking the joy out of all of his relationships as he doggedly pursues family and friends for material. In the end, the humourist recognizes the value in being a husband and father, putting his typewriter into the service of bookkeeping at a funeral home.
Does this mean the end of Eddie Campbell: Comic Book Character? Or perhaps more importantly to Campbell's health-and-well-being, the end of Eddie Campbell's Friends and Family: Unwitting and Unwilling Comic Book Characters? I kind of hope so, actually. Not because I'm bored of the adventures of Alec, Eddie, or whichever actor they rope into playing Campbell on the page; just the opposite really. I could go on reading graphic novels from Eddie Campbell of this quality more-or-less indefinitely. But The Fate of The Artist is such a clear epilogue, a bookend to the life of the aspiring young mini-comics creator introduced in the first Alec stories, that it would be a shame to let his death on the page go unobserved.
Eddie Campbell is dead; long live Eddie Campbell.
Post-script: Andrew read this and really liked it, specifically for the themes of an artist doing biographies on the relationships between artists and art. If he ends up reviewing it at his blog, I'll letcha know.
Having read your e-mail a couple of times now, I think I can safely boil it down to the phrase "Stop talking about things I don't want you to talk about!". As such, I am disinclined at this time to take any of it very seriously. However, after a brief legal consultation it was determined that hosting copyrighted images on my server is a legal grey area, so I've instead decided to just link the graphics from Amazon, under the auspices of my Amazon Affiliates account. As DMP, through their book agent, is a participant in this program I trust any further problems with images on my site will be taken up with Amazon.
That said, if you feel the need to send a cease and desist order from your lawyers please do, as nothing would make me happier than having you waste more time and money on an issue in which you are clearly in the wrong.
As to the rest of your letter, in which you suppose and assume a great deal, all I can say is that you are demonstrably in error throughout. To wit: I did read Almost Crying before posting; It does have shota-con overtones; there are no undercurrents of sexuality because the sex is right there on the page, particularly the last story during which one character swallows another character's semen and it reminds him of an incident in their past; even Publisher's Weekly reviewers make mistakes (assuming your reading of their review is not as inaccurate as your reading of my post, of course); I actually own about 6 of DMP's yaoi releases, my favourite is Antique Bakery; I know a great deal about Yaoi; I know a great deal about the works that DMP publishes too.
Also, in future it would be helpful if you could learn that quotation marks are to be used when you're quoting something someone has said. In this instance, you quoted the word "only" and attributed it to me, when the word "only" doesn't appear in any context anywhere in the post in question. A more careful reading of my writing would also reveal that I said that DMP was at the forefront of bringing over manga of this nature, and not the sole publisher doing so.
Finally, and I want to end this off on a positive note, I walked over to one of the 11 bookshelves of manga that we stock at the store I manage, and took a picture for you. It's of our yaoi section, which I maintain and stock.
You'll notice it contains every yaoi title you publish (and forgive me if we've allowed one to slip out of stock).
You see, in addition to being a beloved internet commentator who knows his shit, I'm a retailer at the best manga store in Canada. I'm also a reviewer and champion of manga, having given interviews to tons of newspapers and magazines in the past few years on the subject. More importantly to DMP though, I'm the first person to get up and defend works like Robot or Almost Crying on artistic grounds. I'll donate time and money to promoting comics as literacy, and as Art.
You are working for a publisher who is incredibly likely to land in hot water for the work they publish because it butts right up against societal norms when it comes to sex. This disclaimer you print in your books, that "All characters depicted in sexually explicit scenes in this publication are at least the age of consent or older," isn't worth the paper it's written on, and is assuredly going to be for naught in front of a judge or jury (you should ask your lawyers about that, while you're talking to them...). Considering the nature of the work DMP publishes, I honestly cannot understand a representative of their company rushing to threaten legal action when the spectre of litigation is hovering over you all the time. The work DMP publishes is so much more incendiary than the subject matter of Manga: 60 Years of Japanese Comics that any action surrounding it would dwarf the kerfuffle in Barstow, CA that occurred recently. I'm sure you're familiar with it, the whole thing happened just a few hours from your offices.
The best that I can hope for in reading your e-mail is that your actions do not represent your employer's point-of-view. I urge you, in future, to actually speak with your lawyers or employers before contacting me on any matter to discuss the legality and/or stupidity of your requests, so as to not waste any more of my time.
- Christopher Butcher
Posted and e-mailed, of course.
So, now you know why I try to put 'rabid fanboy entitlement disclaimers' in my messages whenever I talk about manga.
Hi Chris! This is Rachel from DMP. I am sending you this email to ask you to take down the cover images of Almost Crying and Robot Volume 2 from your blog post Sunday May 14, 2006 entitled All Hail the Otaku Queen. I would hate to have to send you a cease and decease letter from our lawyers, but I will if the images are not removed by 12:00pm Tuesday May 16, 2006 PCT.
Obviously you have never read Almost Crying. It is not shota and there are no sexual undertones expressed in the book. Almost Crying was actually reviewed in Publishers Weekly and touted for its cuteness! It would be nice if you would research your facts a little better before posting something so slanderous on the internet. Obviously you have never read any of DMP's yaoi releases. All the characters in DMP's yaoi manga are the age of consent or older. And all of our titles come with very conservative age ratings. I would also ask that you delete your explicit reference to DMP as the "only" publisher releasing hardcore titles that boarder on the objectionable. Obviously you know nothing about yaoi, it's intended audience and any of the works that DMP publishes.
I am hoping that you will delete the slanderous aspects of your post after receiving this letter. I would hate for this escalate to anything more than a simple email exchange.
Rachel Livingston firstname.lastname@example.org Director, Special Interest Market
=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*==*=*=*=*=*=*= Digital Manga Inc.- www.emanga.com 1487 West 178th St. #300 Gardena, CA 90248 (TEL) 310.817.8010/ (FAX) 310.817.8018
Incidentally, I haven't forgotten about the last three First Second reviews. The last three books took a lot of thought on my part, trying to digest them. The Fate of The Artist is up first (fourth?), as I'll have an opinion on the review I wrote in my mailbox when I wake up. Possibly. No pressure Mal.
I'll probably do Deogratias and then Vampire Loves to finish, Tuesday and Wednesday. Then, Renee French's new book, and probably the D&Q Spring/Fall line. I kind of missed reviewing, it's a different sort of critical muscle. Anyway, more soon.
NOV050225 ALL STAR BATMAN AND ROBIN THE BOY WONDER #4 (RES) 2.99 NOV050226 ALL STAR BATMAN AND ROBIN VARIANT COVER #4 2.99
I wonder how much more of an embarassment this book can become to DC? I wonder when Wizard will get an exclusive interview with whoever is responsible for this book being so late? Anyway, I actually like the fake-batman's-ass shot cover way, way more than anything in the actual book so far, but let's hope that we get something as good this issue as "SWEET CHUNKS" in the last one. MAR063276 ANGEL SCRIPTBOOK #3 3.99 MAR062075 ANNIHILATION NOVA #2 (OF 4) 2.99 MAR060306 AQUAMAN SWORD OF ATLANTIS #42 2.99 FEB061995 ARES #4 (OF 5) 2.99 MAR063547 BACK ISSUE #16 6.95 DEC052790 BARON GONG BATTLE VOL 5 GN (MR) 9.99 MAR060279 BATMAN LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT #205 2.99
MAR060287 BATMAN YEAR ONE HUNDRED #4 (OF 4) 5.99
Not only has this series been good, but this issue in particular draws the whole thing to a wonderful close, and I was kind of curious if Pope could wrap it all up. In fact, this issue raises the stakes considerably and manages to deliver on the action, intrigue, characterization, and even the superhero bits. If all superhero comics were this good I'd have no need to say another negative thing about the genre ever again. Buy this. MAR062904 BEAR VOL 2 DEMONS TP 14.95 MAR062961 BETTY & VERONICA SPECTACULAR #74 2.25 MAR060380 BITE CLUB VAMPIRE CRIME UNIT #2 (OF 5) (MR) 2.99 MAR062150 BLACK PANTHER BAD MUTHA TP 10.99 MAR060022 BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL #113 (MR) (C: 1-0-0) 2.99 MAR061846 BOMB QUEEN #4 (OF 4) (MR) 3.50 MAR062080 CAPTAIN AMERICA #18 2.99 MAR062138 CAPTAIN AMERICA WINTER SOLDIER VOL 2 PREMIERE HC 19.99 FEB063387 CASE CLOSED VOL 11 GN (C: 1-0-0) 9.99
MAR063205 CASTLE WAITING HC 29.95
Um, buy this too. Fantagraphics were nice enough to send us a galley of this complete collection of Linda Medley's Castle Waiting, and I read the whole thing on vacation and just completely and thoroughly loved it. Again. I admit I walked into this one with a bit of a chip on my shoulder, as I was thoroughly pissed off at the publishing schedule of the title over the last few years, not to mentioned being jerked-around by promises of collected editions that never materialized (Dark Horse) and no new work. By the time I put down the finished book, all was forgiven. In talking to Linda Medley at The Paradise Comics Toronto Comicon a few weeks back, I found out that many of the delays weren't down to anything she had any control over (Dark Horse) and so the book has landed, somewhat awkwardly, at Fantagraphics (Genre fantasy for young readers? At Fantagraphics?). The thing is, it's really good. And did I mention I got to hold a copy of the hardcover in my hand and it's GORGEOUS? Beautifully printed, with every issue of the series (plus two hard-to-find short stories AND The Curse of Brambly Hedge). I couldn't be happier to have this series back in print, and to have it in such a fine edition. Recommended for fans of Bone, fantasy, and fairytales. Er, for grown-ups too. FEB063265 COMIC CREATORS ON X MEN SC (C: 0-1-2) 17.95 MAR063560 COMICS BUYERS GUIDE AUG 2006 #1619 (C: 0-1-0) 5.99 MAR060032 CONAN #28 (MR) 2.99 FEB060060 CONAN VOL 3 TOWER OF THE ELEPHANT & STORIES HC (C: 24.95 MAR061881 CYBERFORCE #3 2.99 MAR061882 CYBERFORCE LEE B&W CVR INCENTIVE #3 2.99 DEC050356 DC NEW FRONTIER POSTER 7.99 FEB060307 DEVIL DOES EXIST VOL 6 (C: 1-0-0) 9.99 SEP052917 DFE RED SONJA FOIL CVR #6 14.99 MAR060382 DMZ #7 (MR) 2.99 MAR063224 DONALD DUCK AND FRIENDS #340 2.95 OCT052943 DORK TOWER #33 3.49 MAR062159 ESSENTIAL DR STRANGE VOL 1 TP NEW PTG 16.99 FEB063139 FALLEN ANGEL IDW #5 (OF 5) 3.99
FEB062980 FAMILY GUY VOL 1 GN (OF 3) 6.95
We're... lucky. There's, a family, guy. Lucky... there's a, man, who; positively, can, do: All, the things that, make, us... laugh--and cry. He's a family... guy. NOV051739 FEAR AGENT #4 2.99 NOV051740 FELL #5 1.99 FEB068169 FELL 2ND PRTG #3 (PP #712) 1.99 FEB068168 FELL 4TH PRTG #1 (PP #712) 1.99 AUG050041 FRANK MILLERS SIN CITY LIBRARY II HC (C: 0-1-2) 150.00 FEB060309 GALS VOL 6 (C: 1-0-0) 9.99 MAR060316 GREEN ARROW #62 2.99 FEB068199 GREEN ARROW SECOND PTG #61 2.50 MAR062136 HAUNT OF HORROR EDGAR ALLAN POE #1 (OF 3) (MR) 3.99 FEB068195 HAWKGIRL SECOND PTG #50 2.50 JAN063036 HOTWIRE COMIX AND CAPERS GN 19.95
DEC052998 INNOCENCE & SEDUCTION ART OF DAN DECARLO HC (MR) 34.95
This should make a lot of artists very happy. It's nice to look at, but it doesn't do as much for me as some of the other collections (I think Don Flowers is my favourite). JUL051657 JACK STAFF #10 3.50 FEB062921 JEREMIAH HARM #3 3.99 MAR062962 JUGHEAD #173 2.25 MAR063568 JUXTAPOZ JUNE 2006 VOL 14 #6 (C: 0-1-2) 4.99 FEB063390 KEKKAISHI VOL 5 GN (C: 1-0-0) 9.99
MAR063209 KRAZY & IGNATZ 1937-1938 SHIFTING SANDS DUSTS CHEE 19.95 NOV053124 LITTLE NEMO IN SLUMBERLAND HC 1905-1910 (C: 3) 120.00
In addition to a new collection of Krazy & Ignatz, a second-printing of that massive LITTLE NEMO: SO MANY SPLENDID SUNDAYS collection shows up in stores everywhere this week. Everyone hurry up and get theirs before it disappears again... Possibly FOREVER! MAR060369 MAJESTIC #17 2.99 MAR060284 MAN-BAT #2 (OF 5) 2.99 MAR060331 MANHUNTER #22 2.99 FEB063391 MAR VOL 7 GN (C: 1-0-0) 7.99 MAR062092 MARVEL ADVENTURES AVENGERS #1 2.99 MAR062101 MARVEL LEGACY 1970S HANDBOOK 4.99 MAR063226 MICKEY MOUSE AND FRIENDS #289 2.95 DEC052915 MILTON CANIFFS STEVE CANYON 1950 TP 17.95 MAR063092 MILTON CANIFFS STEVE CANYON 1951 TP 17.95 MAR062107 MOON KNIGHT #2 2.99 MAR062106 MS MARVEL #3 2.99 MAR062105 NEW MANGAVERSE #5 (OF 5) 2.99 FEB068200 OUTSIDERS SECOND PTG #34 2.50 FEB063394 READ OR DIE VOL 2 GN (C: 1-0-0) 9.99 MAR060372 RED SONJA CLAW DEVILS HANDS #3 (OF 4) 2.99 FEB061786 RETRO ROCKET #2 (OF 4) 2.99 MAR061860 REX MUNDI #18 2.99
NOV053237 RIVAL SCHOOLS #1 ALVIN LEE COVER B 4.95 NOV053236 RIVAL SCHOOLS #1 REY COVER A 4.95
Holy shit! The first issue of Corey "The Rey" Lewis' Rival Schools finally ships this week! Sweet! In case you need to be reminded, Corey is the creator behind SHARKNIFE and PENG! I'm very happy to see more of his work on the stands, f'realz. MAR060283 ROBIN #150 2.99 FEB068197 ROBIN SECOND PTG #148 2.50 MAR060350 SCOOBY DOO #108 2.25 MAR060337 SGT ROCK THE PROPHECY #5 (OF 6) 2.99 MAR060335 SHADOWPACT #1 2.99 FEB063141 SILENT HILL DEAD ALIVE #5 (OF 5) (MR) 3.99 MAR063071 SIMPSONS COMICS #118 2.99 MAR063072 SIMPSONS VOL 5 BIG BOUNCY BOOK OF BART SIMPSON TP 13.95 MAR062967 SONIC THE HEDGEHOG #162 2.25
FEB062823 SQUEE #3 (O/A) 2.95
I just want to take a second to say that Slave Labor, by keeping these issues in print and available might just be the smartest indy publisher on the block. Every time we Slave Labor does an "offered again" on Vasquz or Dirge's work, we order another 3-5 copies. And we always need them to, and sometimes they don't last until they're offered again and we need to 'top-up'. Despite putting out some neat looking books lately, new printings of SQUEE and JOHNNY and LENORE blow everything else out of the water... It's shocking. Congrats though! FEB060050 STAR WARS HONOR AND DUTY TP (C: 1-1-2) 12.95 MAR060052 STAR WARS REBELLION #2 (C: 1-0-0) 2.99 JAN060295 SUPERMAN BATMAN #25 (RES) 2.99
FEB068061 SUPERMARKET #1 2ND PRINT (PP #710) 3.99
Speaking of which, IDW could totally learn a thing or two about getting speedy reprints to market. This took something like 7 or 8 weeks to make it to market after Supermarket #1 sold out. For a project a) by Brian Wood b) with tons of unmet demand c) that sold low compred to his other projects, you'd think that MAYBE they could work a little quicker. Everyone at IDW was very nice and very cordial when I e-mailed them about the second printing, but they were both nice and cordial in telling me that it would take 7-8 weeks, which is really, really unacceptable. Also, I want SWALLOW #1 back in print too guys, money on the table.
Wait, I'm not going to end this on a negative note: As much as I've been enjoying Local, Wood's book from Oni, this title is more 'up my alley' so to speak, and I've loved the hell out of both issues. And sold the hell out of them too. The art is awesome, the production is great, and issue 3 is one of the books I'm most anticipating. But man could I have sold another 30 copies of #1 if we'd had them.
Whoops, still ended on a negative there.
Positve again: Click on the image to the right to see the second printing issue 1 & 2 covers (stolen from Brian Wood's blog). FEB062920 TALENT #1 (OF 4) 3.99 MAR063311 TALES OF TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES #23 3.25 MAR063268 TRANSFORMERS GENERATIONS (IDW) #3 (NOTE PRICE) 2.49 MAR062062 ULTIMATE X-MEN #70 2.99 MAR063719 VERVE EVER MEULEN TP (C: 0-1-2) 49.99 MAR063229 WALT DISNEYS VACATION PARADE #3 8.95
FEB063184 WAR FIX HC 15.95
New Joe Sacco? Don't mind if I do. JUN052876 WINSOR MCCAY VOL 7 EARLY WORKS (MR) 19.95 MAR062152 WOLVERINE CLASSIC VOL 3 TP 14.99 MAR062126 WOLVERINE ORIGINS #2 2.99
MAR068170 WOLVERINE ORIGINS PROMO VARIANT #2 2.99
Apparently, this is an ultra-rare variant cover limited to one per store.
The kind of thing I imagine drives certain collectors absolutely fucking bonkers.
MAR062914 WONDERLAND #1 3.50
All of that said about Slave Labor (see: Squee #3, above), we've had a lot of advance interest in their new series based on Disney's Alice in Wonderland continuity. Sonny Liew (My Faith in Frankie, Malinky Robot) is illustrating and I have to admit the colour art looks really interesting. I went and checked out the preview at Slave Labor's Website.
I wasn't really going to comment on this, but I tripped over the preview at
Mile High Comics, and it had really lovely painted art and a reinterpretation of an Japanese folk-tale. The lettering is reaaaaaaaaaaaaally distracting though. If CB is reading this, pick up a copy of FLIGHT or FLIGHT 2 to see how to do effective lettering over digitally painted comics that isn't so distracting.
FEB060341 Y THE LAST MAN VOL 7 PAPER DOLLS TP (MR) 14.99
This is one of five or six ongoing series where we order more of the trade paperback than we do of the issues. Interestingly, they're all writer-driven and usually involve either Brian K. Vaughn or Robert Kirkman...
"This fetish you call 'moe' is a pedophiliac fetish and is nothing more than perversion. It's not really something you should be gushing over," the manga artist says, addressing the otaku. "In other countries, they'd call what you're fantasizing over 'child pornography' and you'd all be arrested. I'm ashamed that these 'otaku' who are perpetual criminals have entered the mainstream and started an otaku boom."- Mimei Sakamoto, Japanese manga-ka
The always-interesting Mainichi Daily News has this piece with a hardcore otaku manga-ka (and the creator of an apparently very popular series in Japan) ripping to pieces the current otaku culture, over everything from commercialism to its creepy sexual overtones to the fact that they aren't real otaku enough for her liking. It's... it's kind of awesome. It's like if someone took one random vaugely-crazy message board poster's screed and reposted it in the New York Times.
I always get a little... not worried I guess but maybe uneasy about certain members of fandom getting up and lashing out at other members of fandom for not 'keeping it real', and I think that's colouring my whole opinion of this otherwise entirely accurate shreading of the new Otaku culture. The article is really good, by the way, linking the rise in Otaku culture to a popular nerd-story in the mainstream with the trademarked Japanese-precision-marketting and a few creepy slang words to tie it all together. It's just the teensiest bit alarmist, but at the same time it isn't the sort of ridiculous yellow journalism that marked the 'outcry' against Manga: 60 Years Of Japanese Culture in California last month.
The thing that's most interesting to me is that, particularly through the mainstreaming of scanlations, yaoi, and character-graphics, more of this type of material than ever is available on this side of the Pacific. I decided to comment on this article at all because of something my friend Derek wrote about Digital Manga's release of the (stunningly beautiful) Robot Volume 2 this week: "...the first short [in Robot Vol 2 by artist] YUG in particular pushed the envelope of acceptable-North-America-Child-Nudity," and it did. I don't think it's going to get anyone arrested, even in the creepy states, but there was an envelope and it was pushed (luckily the book is shrinkwrapped). Much like any new medium that gets brought into the mainstream, the whole Japanese manga/anime culture has a lot of sharp edges to it that are going to poke and prod folks. Not just conservatives that hate change in any form, or liberals who wish someone would think of the children, but moderate folk who don't want their kids downloading what they consider child porn.
This post is soooo going to come up in all of the wrong google searches.
I've been waiting for publishers to try and sneak this stuff under the radar, and with many of DMP's yaoi artists having MUCH more hardcore material available online just by typing their name into google, it looks like DMP are going to be the ones on the bleeding edge here. Which is going to create huge problems down the line when the desire for bleeding-edge material butts heads with North American sensibilities. The rabid-fanboy-entitlement I've talked about (and that most publishers actually encourage in a lot of different ways) won't let the fanbase accept anything but '100% pure manga', which is to say "If you can't leave all of the child-porn in the manga, then you shouldn't translate it at all (and let us keep downloading the scans)!" Ah, fanboy entitlement.
For the hardcore Otaku eager to defend against any implied threat: I realize that I'm conflating yaoi, scanlations, and loli-con for the purposes of digestability to the larger audience, but it's pretty clear that there's little-to-no difference between the loli-con stuff being discussed in the article and the clear shota-con overtones of many recent yaoi titles, not to mention scans are how this material is making it's way on to your hard-drives in the first place. It's all done out of convenience and no one is arguing that all scanlations are pr0n etc., but within the context of discussing this article and how the trends it mentions relate to North America, I'd say I'm on pretty safe rhetorical ground here.
I don't know what the answer is though. As downloading scanlations gets easier and easier, the material is going to remain available whether mainstream publishers will touch it or not. And if they won't, we'll probably end up with a bunch of 'unofficial' sales, because bootleggers can justify anything they want. Maybe public shaming by semi-famous people is the way to go? Take your Loli/Shota pride and put it right back in the closet? Or, at least keep it off the streets, says Mimei:
"I'm a fully-fledged otaku. I used to shut myself away from the world. A real otaku would never go out and about in the world because they wouldn't believe anything good could happen to them if they did so, anyway. They all believe the world is out to get them... Real otaku should go back and shut yourselves off from the world again. The true value of being a real otaku lay in the belief that nobody else understands you." - Mimei Sakamoto, Japanese manga-ka
Sardine in Outer Space (Sardine Book One) By Emmanuel Guibert and Joann Sfar 128 pages, $12.95 Published by First Second Books
Review by Christopher Butcher
In all that it attempts to do, Sardine is perhaps the most successful graphic album for children that I have ever read. To clarify, creators Guibert and Sfar have captured how children think, act, behave, and most importantly tell stories, and translated it all to the page whilst missing out on the two most deadly pitfalls of children’s literature: dumbing the story down, or infusing it with an extraneous morality or message. In short, this is a series for kids...
The book starts out in media res, which is to say that the lead character Sardine (a boyish young lady with an oversized pirate hat) rescues Uncle Yellow Shoulder, Captain of the space-faring vessel “The Huckleberry”, from the nefarious clutches of Supermuscleman (chief executive dictator of the universe). It appears that Supermuscleman (and his henchman Doc Krok) want to capture all of the children in the universe and put them into ‘training orphanages’ to make them well-behaved. Captain Yellow Shoulder, Sardine, and their trouble-making friend and sidekick Little Louie go around the universe rescuing kids and generally foiling evil plots (you can click the image at the left to get introduced more thoroughly to our cast).
The overarching idea behind Sardine is about as straightforward as it gets, but the success of the stories comes in the rambling, near-stream-of-consciousness telling. Each of Sardine’s short adventures (and there are 12, 10-page stories in this volume) are told almost exactly the same way that the target audience of young readers tells their stories; plot-driven and in a very matter of fact way. The story “A Poke in the Eye” could be encapsulated thusly:
“Sardine and Captain Yellow hear the ‘unhappy child detector alarm’ ringing, and then they go to the planet but the kid that’s unhappy is a monster, and they’ve got a small space ship that’s shaped like a hand with a pointer finger, and the monster kid is sad because his big brother is mean, and his big brother is a cyclops, and so they fly the pointer-finger-ship into his eye and poke him in the eye, and then the sad monster kid goes and lives on the pointer-finger ship, and they point it at the planet where the big brother is and hang a sign on the ship that says “DANGER!” and then everyone’s happy THE END.”
It’s a perfectly-told short story for kids, that feels like it was written by a kid with enough twists and turns and ‘kid logic’ to keep it from seeming either stupid or fake and enough gags to keep them laughing all the way through. I don't use ajectives like rambling or stream of consciousness lightly, there's clearly a great deal of skill and thought that have gone into making everything read so smoothly. Sardine is a great comic for a kid, in an industry that is terrified of comics for children. The term “all ages” is about the worst thing to happen to comics in the last 20 years; it’s a horrid stop-gap by a bunch of embarrassed superhero publishers who were terrified to publish a comic that might not be of interest to their core demographic. “Sure, it’s appropriate for kids, but you can read it too 35-year-old fanboy!” There are lots and lots and lots of comics out there just for grown-ups, and it’s pure selfishness to say that there can’t be books out there just for young readers too. Sardine is that book. And if you happen to be an older reader who gets something out of it more power to you, because there’s just nothing there for me.
Which is to say I appreciate Sardine, I just didn’t really enjoy it. I appreciate the economy of the storytelling, and it’s great to see Sfar’s art change and strengthen over the course of 128 short pages. It grows more accomplished quickly, from a roughed-out style that doesn’t quite come together on the first story to something approaching his Rabbi’s Cat material towards the end, though still much more open and with fewer panels per page. I even giggled at a few of the jokes, and liked the meta-textual nature of the villain changing his costume half-way through the book. I was a maybe a little annoyed by the fact that the colours weren’t “trapped” (and there was some unintentional mis-registration on all of the copies that I saw), but that’s a small complaint. But it’s pretty clear throughout that this isn’t a book for me or my age group. There’s none of the underpinnings of existential despair that marked A.L.I.E.E.E.N., and unless I wanted to start reading something into Captain Yellow Shoulder being drawn with a HUGE package most of the time, yeah, this one is for the kids.
And they’re going to love it.
I heartily endorse Sardine in Outer Space and recommend it to readers old enough to figure out what all the words mean (and the reading level is fairly high, with words like miserable and wheras, which I thought was an interesting choice for a children's book). I don’t feel that there’s any real content to worry about other than a little bit of gross-out humour, and in one panel they ‘pants’ the bad guy and you see his bum. Evil villain-bum aside, if you’ve got kids, get them this book. Oh, and the sequel too, which comes out in the Fall.
Lost Colony Volume 1: The Snodgrass Conspiracy By Grady Klein 128 Pages, $19.95 Published by First Second Books
Reviewed by Christopher Butcher
Publisher First Second Books' launch line up is filled with English-language editions of some of the best and most interesting works from France, a gripping and award-winning tale of Rwandan genocide, and the new graphic novel from the co-creator of From Hell. But the book which has seemingly moved to the forefront of their promotion and attention (even garnering a prestigious limited edition hardcover) is one from an American, the only from an American, and an American first-time comics creator as well. How then does Grady Klein's The Lost Colony Volume 1 stack up to this attention?
Klein's graphic novel is set in a vaguely mythological pre-Civil War 'deep south' on an unnamed island. Rather than ignore the spectre of slavery that hovers over that period in history, The Lost Colony confronts it head on through the varying ethnicities of the island's citizens; African-American, Caucasian, Native, Asian (Spanish?), and Steam-Powered Mechanical Man. Man's enslavement of himself and others are the lynchpins upon which four or five of the book's plots rest, including one where a cute little girl wants to buy a slave so she'll have someone else to do her chores. I found the treatment of slavery on the whole well-meaning, but really distasteful and awkwardly placed in what is essentially a bumbling comedy of errors.
The Lost Colony features four or five overlapping plots, as I'd mentioned, but also more than 20 named characters and it seeks to introduce an entirely new world, based on but clearly set apart from our own. It's ambitious, particularly for a first graphic novel, and Klein has gone to Europe for inspiration on how to put such a graphic novel together. The pages are often quite dense, averaging about 11 panels per in order to try to cram in all of the characters, plots, and setting that Klein feels the story needs, a mark of the dense oversized-albums of France and the rest of Europe. At 128 pages The Lost Colony is nearly three times the length of your average graphic album; the story suffering from a lack of European economy and (more importantly) clarity, particularly when you compare the work to the other adult-oriented graphic novels in First Second's line.
The overly complex story is not in any way aided by the art or storytelling, the styles of which are perhaps even more dense and more complex. I should note that Klein uses colour in each panel masterfully though. His palette of pastels is gorgeous; the interaction of the warm summer oranges and yellows and the cool blues and greens is incredibly lovely. Klein also uses colour shifts very well to indicate flashbacks, altered states of consciousness, emotion, and even imagination. Further still, Klein saturates the colours on the characters in the foreground in order to 'pop them' and make them the star of each panel. Individual panels in this book are worthy of framing, and any time the storytelling opens up into a splash page (or that lovely cover image), the art is really quite amazing. Unfortunately though, it feels like very little attention has been paid to how all the panels on the page interact with one-another. Because of the overall density of the book, the shifting colours for realistic background representation, emotional states, and the frequent deeply-saturated extreme close-ups on various characters are all fighting one another for your attention on each page. There's rarely anywhere to rest your eye, and the colours do nothing to lead your eye across the page as a whole.
Also problematic is the use of black. With upwards of 10 panels per page, as a reader you sort of hope for as much clarity in the storytelling as possible. Unfortunately, Klein has eschewed the use of 'gutters' (the white space between panels commonly found in comic books) and instead has panels separated only by thick black lines. Each page is first-and-foremost a thick grid of black lines, with all of Klein's lovely colours butting up against the black. Worse still, most of Klein's characters feature a fairly heavy black outline which butts-up against the grid, putting the linework and the panel borders on the same visual plane, an effect which is often disorienting and distracting. Again, many artists seem to be able to use a lack of gutters to effect, but usually their panel-per-page ratio is much lower which gives pages a clearer focus, and a general clarity of storytelling not found here.
(And, completely as a snarky aside which I feel I should apologize for (sorry!), the whole book is told in perfectly square or rectangular panels, with no curves or diagonals in sight. I don't know if this is supposed to signify that the story is being told before all the degrees on the compass between 0 and 90 were invented, but a little variation certainly couldn't have hurt the storytelling in any way...)
In preparation for writing this review I read Tom Spurgeon's very good interview with creator Grady Klein at The Comics Reporter, in an effort to understand some of his choices regarding the story. Klein's description of working in and around animation and illustration (rather than comics) begins to explain the storytelling. Klein is clearly enamoured with gesture and body-language, but it's often to the point of crippling the narrative flow; characters pause and gesture and pause and reflect and every action is shown until there are 14 tiny square panels on a page. Klein is very effective at communicating movement and framing a shot, I'm just not convinced that we need it all to tell the story that he wants to tell.
As thoroughly imagined and elaborately designed as the world of The Lost Colony is, I think Grady's infatuation with his setting makes it difficult for him to tell a clear and compelling story on it's own merits. Even as bumbling comedy-of-errors' go, the story lacks a clear protagonist and as such a hook or narrative "through". The ostensible star, Klein's slave-desiring little girl ("Bertha") is sharing the spotlight (or eclipsed entirely) at any given time by any of the other 6 or 7 characters upon whom the other plots rest. There's enough going on for 3 or 4 shorter graphic albums in The Lost Colony Volume 1, and there's enough set up in this volume for another 3 or 4 graphic novels this length in the future. It's just too much.
All of that said, the ultimate success of this book is that I'm genuinely interested in seeing The Lost Colony Volume 2.
Sure it's just too much all at once; too much that needs to be pared down or cut away entirely. But there is obvious thought behind the decisions that are made in telling the story, there is a style being developed and a world to explore. I'm curious to hear the further tales of this island full of misfits (maybe I'll even grow to like one or two of them at some point), but I sincerely hope that after getting his world out onto the page at last Grady Klein will pull the focus in much tighter for his next outing.
Post Review: I decided to play around with a busy page from LOST COLONY and see what it would look like with 'traditional' panels, and with all-white gutters. I think the traditional panel designs are a lot clearer, but I'm curious to hear your feedback. Anyway, click the image below for a much bigger version.
A.L.I.E.E.E.N. By Lewis Trondheim 96 Pages, $12.95 Published by First Second Books
Reviewed by Christopher Butcher
Poop. Blood. Getting beaten with a stick. Dressing up in your dead friend's skin. Poop. Getting your eyes gouged out. Oh, and poop. This is what stories for boys are made of.
Kicks the crap out of snips and snails and puppy dog tails.
The central conceit of Lewis Trondheim's graphic novel A.L.I.E.E.E.N. ("Archives of Lost Issues and Earthly Editions of Extraterrestrial Novelties") is that Trondheim discovered this alien graphic novel while out picnicking with his family in the forest. It is presented here, photographed from the original with all of the stains, smears, mis-registration and strange burnt paper bits as were found in Trondheim's copy. In it, a series of adorable alien creatures encounter tragedies both physical and philosophical, and the whole thing ends in a literal river of bullshit.
This is a book for children.
Funny anecdote: I don't think he will mind me sharing this, but my friend Mark Askwith passed his preview copy of this graphic novel on to his daughter, who I believe is 8 or 9? He hadn't really read it first. By page 3 she was in tears, sobbing that the cute little blue creature had gouged out his eyes on a haphazardly-placed series of surprisingly sharp branches.
She did not finish the book.
I can't help thinking if that she were another year older and perhaps a boy (gender stereotyping!) that this would have set her (him?) alight with giggles. As it is though, she was thoroughly terrified. I was really tempted to conduct an experiment by slipping copies of this to my friends who have male children, but then decided that I didn't want to be responsible for all of my friends' kids' nightmares. I'll leave that to the news.
So from my thoroughly adult and male perspective, the whole book is darkly, darkly funny. The litany of comical miseries foisted on characters that resemble "French Pokemon" is hilarious. Better still are the cruelties that the adorable little bastards perpetrate on one-another. It's like Happy Tree Friends but much better drawn and not so bloody obvious. Still bloody, though.
It's gorgeous, by the way. As with all of First Second's books A.L.I.E.E.E.N is lushly printed, all glossy paper, cardstock covers and French flaps. The book is as wonderfully illustrated as all of Trondheim's work and has a glorious artificial colour half-tone (complete with printing errors) that gives it the subdued and respectful tone of an artefact, obviously at odds with its subject matter (gross-out humour, cute little baby-chick looking characters, intense physical violence). It's not just surface though, the tone and the subject matter are put into the service of a master cartoonist. The book is comprised of a series of short stories of varying length, little anecdotes that are effectively wordless (there is some alien language that I haven't be able to translate). The stories move forward and backwards in time, illuminating events from different angles and perspectives with the overall effect of compounding both the tragedy and the laughter; it's much funnier to know that the lonely purple character surrounded by death planted the tree that gouged out the eyes of the little blue character as a gesture of good will to the universe. Much funnier.
The book is alien and full of aliens, but there are reactions and are emotions that are universal; I feel that kids will pick up on the central themes and ideas of the book right away. Sure there's the cruelty and crushing despair of the universe, but let's not forget the bullying, protection-rackets, and desire to fit in that mark the lives of the target audience that are also inherent in this work. In short, it's a graphic novel that is essentially about being a stranger in a strange land as a metaphor for being a child in a world of adults, but the work is also decidedly for children and told in the language of the things they love (poop) (and if you don't believe me, try reading some Japanese children's comics at some point) (not Shonen Jump, the stuff for little kids). Granted, the work is probably most appropriate for children with strong constitutions.
I really liked A.L.I.E.E.E.N but then I'm almost 29. The French (like the Japanese) have a culture which is much more comics-oriented and much less protectionist regarding their children's upbringing. As such, this wordless and brightly illustrated tale would have been appropriate for certain kids of pretty much any age overseas. Here though, it's pretty decidedly 12-and-up, unless you're the kind of parent who is very liberal about poop and blood (there's your great visual image for the review) or who doesn't mind getting up to assure their children at 2am that, in fact, a 100-eyed worm-creature is not going to pull back the skin from their face.
So last/this week, new publisher First Second Books' spring line drops, and since I've had the books for a while I thought I'd review them. I'm going to try to do a review a day from now on. Wish me luck. Anyway, starting Tuesday and every day for six days, I'm going to take you on a guided tour of their line pointing out the hits and misses, and where to spend your money.
(Incidentally, after this I'm taking weekends off ;)
Hey! It's next week's books! List will be updated with commentary when I've got a skootch more time to spend. Still, all of the 01:Second books are coming in, as is the Pantheon edition of Goodbye, Chunky Rice and the long-out-of-print Kings In Disguise. Good week for the mainstream book publishers.
MAR060309 52 WEEK #1 2.50 FEB060052 AEON FLUX TP (C: 0-1-2) 12.95 MAR060366 ALBION #5 (OF 6) (RES) 2.99 FEB063050 ALIEEEN SC (C: 0-1-2) 12.95 MAR063545 ALTER EGO #58 6.95 MAR060379 AMERICAN VIRGIN #3 (MR) 2.99 FEB063117 ANGEL SPOTLIGHT ILLYRIA ONE SHOT 3.99 MAR062078 ANNIHILATION SUPER SKRULL #2 (OF 4) 2.99 FEB061995 ARES #4 (OF 5) 2.99 JAN063521 ART OF CARS HC (C: 0-1-2) 40.00 FEB063397 ART OF KIKIS DELIVERY SERVICE (C: 1-0-0) 29.99 FEB060316 AUTHORITY MAGNIFICENT KEVIN TP 14.99 FEB063075 BABY-SITTERS CLUB VOL 1 GN 16.99 MAR060286 BATMAN SECRETS #3 (OF 5) 2.99 MAR060344 BATMAN STRIKES #21 2.25 NOV053052 BLUESMAN VOL 1 GN NEW PTG 6.95 MAR063338 BORROWED TIME #1 (MR) 6.95 MAR062120 CABLE DEADPOOL #28 2.99 MAR060368 CAPTAIN ATOM ARMAGEDDON #8 (OF 9) 2.99 MAR060347 CARTOON NETWORK ACTION PACK #1 2.25 MAR062905 CEMETERIANS #1 2.95 FEB063388 CHEEKY ANGEL VOL 12 GN (C: 1-0-0) 9.99 FEB068198 CRISIS AFTERMATH BATTLE FOR BLUDHAVEN 2ND PTG #1 2.99 MAR060304 CRISIS AFTERMATH THE BATTLE FOR BLUDHAVEN #3 (OF 6 2.99 FEB060261 CRISIS ON MULTIPLE EARTHS VOL 4 TP 14.99 FEB062919 CTHULHU TALES #1 6.99 MAR063221 DEOGRATIAS TALE OF RWANDA GN (C: 0-1-2) 16.95 FEB063398 DESCENDANTS OF DARKNESS VOL 11 GN (C: 1-0-0) 9.99 FEB068192 DETECTIVE COMICS SECOND PTG #817 2.50 FEB068191 DETECTIVE COMICS SECOND PTG #818 2.50 FEB063456 DUNGEON JUNE 2006 #135 (C: 0-1-2) 6.99 MAR060343 ELFQUEST THE DISCOVERY #3 (OF 4) 3.99 FEB062947 ELVIRA #156 2.50 JAN060356 EX MACHINA #20 (MR) 2.99 MAR060385 FABLES #49 (MR) 2.99 MAR062084 FANTASTIC FOUR FIRST FAMILY #3 (OF 6) 2.99 FEB063052 FATE OF THE ARTIST HC (C: 0-1-2) 25.00 FEB063051 FATE OF THE ARTIST SC (C: 0-1-2) 15.95 MAR060315 FIRESTORM THE NUCLEAR MAN #25 2.99 MAR063149 FORGOTTEN REALMS DARK ELF SOJOURN SEELEY CVR A #2 4.95 FEB062988 FORGOTTEN REALMS DARK ELF TRILOGY VOL 1 HOMELAND H 29.99 JAN063010 FOUR CONSTABLES VOL 4 TP 13.95 FEB063399 FROM FAR AWAY VOL 10 GN (C: 1-0-0) 9.99 MAR062877 FULL METAL PANIC OVERLOAD MANGA VOL 5 TP 9.99 FEB063389 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I was just going through the solicitations for Tokyopop's new titles on the retailer website, and I noticed a couple of things;
a) The solicitations leave out creator credits (for the most part) b) Without seeing the creator credits and knowing whether the books were 'manga' 'manwha' or 'OEL', my gut level reactions to the premises and solicits were very different.
So I decided we should make a little blogging game out of it. In the time-honoured tradition of Gay or Eurotrash? I bring you: Manga, Manwha, or Original English Language? We'll try and guess where the book originated and why, laying our biases bare for the world to see. Sounds like a horrible, amusing idea right?
Well, I finally finished with last month's Previews (just uploaded the order in fact!), so I'm allowed to open the new one. Let's see how I faired in my guesses, shall we?
Title: REPLAY VOL 1 GN (OF 3) It turns out the creator is: Christy Lijewski My Guess: OEL Answer: OEL!
That's right, the group of characters with names like MySpace aliases probably were based on MySpace! The series is by Christy Lijewski, the creator of Next Exit over at Slave Labor which I actually kind of like. This one sounds... not as good. Also, it turns out that the title is RE:Play... Which would have made my guess that much more solid.
Title: RETURN TO LABYRINTH VOL 1 GN (OF 3) It turns out the creators are: Jake Forbes and Chris Lie My guess: OEL Answer: OEL!
Two for two! Although this being based on a licensed property, that was kinda easy.
Title: GRENADIER VOL 1 GN (OF 7) It turns out the creator is: Sousuke Kaise My guess: Manga Answer: Manga!
As Derek pointed out in the comments after the fact, this is based on an anime (though I didn't know that at the time). I think there's a quality to the premise that makes it feel Japanese... Anyway. The lead character has huge boobs on the cover, it's kind of shocking.
Title: AFTERLIFE VOL 1 GN (OF 3) It turns out the creators are: Stormcrow Hayes and Rob Steen My Guess: OEL Answer: OEL!
Title: BECAUSE I’M THE GODDESS VOL 1 GN (OF 3) It turns out the creator is: Shamuneko My guess: Manga Answer: OEL (originally Manga) WRONG
Fuck. Should have gone with my first instincts. The obviousness of the solicitation threw me off. But the cover of the book is a buxom young woman in a sort of "Slave Leia" bikini getup... I didn't quite click that obvious was the point.
Title: BIRD KISS VOL 1 GN (OF 2) It turns out the creator is: Eun Ah Park My guess: Manwha Answer: Manwha!
Whew! I'm doing really well so far.
Title: GENJU NO SEIZA VOL 1 GN (OF 13) It turns out the creator is: Matsuri Akino My guess: Manga Answer: Manga!
This was admittedly a pretty easy guess to make.
Title: GO WITH GRACE GN It turns out the creator is: George Alexopolous My guess: OEL Answer: OEL!
Thanks that awful pun-title, George! It made it very easy to figure out.
Title: MITSUKAZU MIHARA SHIGESHOSHI VOL 1 GN (OF 3) It turns out the creator is: Mitsukazu Mihara My guess: Manga Answer: Manga
Title: PEACH GIRL SAES STORY VOL 1 GN (OF 2) It turns out the creator is: Miwa Ueda My guess: Manga Answer: Manga
Title: SAVER VOL 1 GN (OF 7) It turns out the creator is: Eun-Young Lee My guess: Manwha. Answer: Manwha!
Good guessing got me through, though I guess "Lena Ha" (the protagonist) is kind of a Korean name...? Anyway, all guessing.
Title: VOICES OF A DISTANT STAR (HOSHI NO KOE) GN It turns out the creator is: Mizu Sahara My guess: Manga Answer: Manga!
Based on an anime that I'd actually heard of so it was an easy guess.
Title: ZYWORD GN It turns out the creator is: Tamayo Akiyama My guess: Manga Answer: Manga!
Like they said, former member of CLAMP. It was a pretty easy guess.
Yay! I only got one wrong, and that one was just because I didn't trust my instincts. What have we learned? While you probably shouldn't judge a book by it's cover, it is possible to determine where the author is from just by reading about the plot. Also, that there's a fucking ton of extra information in the printed version of the Previews catalogue than there is in the text version (at least in Tokyopop's case)... Retailers really don't have any excuse to feel left out in the cold (at least in my humble opinion).
Coming off the Toronto Comicon (had a great time but was too busy to do a write-up; see Heidi's blog for stuff) the monthly Previews order is due today and to be honest, I've barely cracked the catalogue. So, regular blogging might resume tomorrow.
In the meantime, make your plans to attend:
Jeff Lemire's TALES FROM THE FARM and Zach Worton's CORPSE #2 & #3 Launch Party!
Thursday, May 4th, 8PM @ Clinton's Tavern (Bloor and Clinton, just east of Christie Subway Stn.)
Pay What You Can ($5 Suggested Donation)
See you there!
- Chris PS: To Aman G, there are probably other blogs for you to read more suited to your tastes. You should maybe go there instead.
Butcher: Is 29 years old and lives in Toronto Canada. In addition to the manager of
world-famous comic book store The Beguiling, he is a freelance writer
and comics production artist and the co-founder of the Toronto Comic Arts Festival. He can be contacted at chris at beguiling dot
com , though chances are it will get caught in the spam filter. You're better
off posting in the comments field.
Online Comics: Young
Bottoms in Love: Great gay webcomix archive. Achewood: My favourite webcomic. Penny Arcade: Thrice-weekly comic strip about video game culture. Diesel Sweeties: Pixel-based hipster soap opera, with death robots. Dinosaur Comics! OMGWTF! In a just world, Ryan North would rule us all. Comic Strip: Chip Zdarsky's print/online comic for the National Post. Secret Friend Society: Online comics including Jellaby, Salamander Dream, and more! A Softer World Comics made of photos. Also, check out OverQualified by the same author, which are humourously deranged cover letters for resumes. House of Sugar: Rebecca Kraatz' daily online comic strip. Makeshift Miracle Complete online graphic novel, available via Bitpass. Moresukine Updated weekly from Tokyo, experience Japan through the wonder of comics. Perry Bible Fellowship Very funny short comic strips, very well drawn too. Click on the man with the hat to get to the archives. Rehabilitating Mr. Wiggles Awesome/creepy weekly comic strip. Superslackers Toronto's Steve Manale presents humourous superheroes for children of all ages. The tonic to 'Infinite Crisis'. ButternutSquash Ramon and Rob do an autobiographical comic that people think is farace. It is not. They're just like that. Jay's Days You will not be able to tear yourself away. Serializer.net: Awesome online alternative pay-comics site, worth your support with money. ModernTales.com:
The original, filled to the brim with great comics. PVP: I generally enjoy PVP, but Scott Kurtz is a pretty horrible person.
For more, click
the Resources tab up top.
Non-Comics Blogs: Andrew's Blog: Andrew talks about entertaining things. Andrew's Other Blog: Andrew talks about serious things. David&Kiko.com: My friends in Japan, with a blog. Dahlberg Central: Gus Dahlberg and his adorable family. Booklust: Toronto Illustrator commenting on books and illustration. Interesting stuff. The Torontoist: The Torontoist is a Toronto-culture blog, covering some of the more interesting goings on in the city (and doing it well). Sort of like a freebie-weekly paper, but it pays less and comes out more. Blog T.O.: Another great Toronto-centric blog.
Retired: All Ages: Scott Robins's blog about comics for young readers. A Bear In The City: Gay-comics linkblog, semi-retired. GutterNinja:
Steve Pheley's awesomely-named blog, full of snark.
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