I just wanted to put out one last reminder about the book launch tonight. I'm pretty excited about it as I think both books are strong. Ragmop is a long-time favourite. When I was just in that phase between reading superhero comics and discovering Vertigo, truly 'independent' titles like Thieves & Kings and Walton's Ragmop really helped to broaden my tastes (and made me an ardent supporter of creator rights and ownership...). I'm really thrilled to see it completed, and in such a great package too.
Meanwhile, Jim Zubkavich is a friend of mine and I really, really hounded him to get Makeshift Miracle into print. It was originally an online comic, serialized on his own site, then at Modern Tales, then... well, he ended up at BitPass. But now you can read the whole thing for free at his website, http://www.makeshiftmiracle.com/. I'm really proud of him and the book, and it printed beautifully. I now completely understand why publishers print overseas, and I now completely understand that it doesn't take 6 months to receive the books either... :P
Anyhow, I think it'll be a fun, low-key night filled with lots of Gin & Tonics. If you're in the neighborhood, come on out.
- Chris PS: TOMORROW: It's gonna be an art day, I think. We've just added a ton of stuff to The Beguiling art store, and I wanna show off some of the pieces. How does a cool piece of art every hour sound?
Here's what's coming in this week! GOOD BOOKS! I mean, the new Acme Novelty Library alone will make everyone experience a $17 week... Right? Right? Batman/Spirit? Ragmop? No? I mean there's BARELY a Civil War book out this week people, what does it take for you to buy a good book?
SEP060215 52 WEEK #30 2.50
AUG063267 ACME NOVELTY LIBRARY VOL 17 HC (MR) 16.95 I honestly thought this had already been released? Anyway, it's GORGEOUS, like you would expect. OCT063401 ACTION PHILOSOPHERS VOL 1 GIANT SIZED THING TP (O/ 6.95 SEP060308 AMERICAN VIRGIN #9 (MR) 2.99 SEP063388 ANGEL SCRIPTBOOK VOL 1 TP 19.99 AUG060190 AQUAMAN SWORD OF ATLANTIS #46 2.99 JUL063060 ARMY OF DARKNESS #12 2.99 MAR061821 ART OF BRIAN BOLLAND HC 49.99 SEP062179 AVENGERS GALACTIC STORM VOL 2 TP 29.99 SEP062089 AVENGERS NEXT #2 (OF 5) 2.99 SEP060191 BATMAN #659 2.99
SEP060190 BATMAN THE SPIRIT 4.99 It's Darwyn Cooke, J. Bone, Batman, and The Spirit! There's no better use of $5 on this list. SEP063566 BECAUSE IM THE GODDESS VOL 2 GN (OF 3) (MR) 9.99 SEP063593 BECK MONGOLIAN CHOP SQUAD VOL 6 GN (OF 19) (MR) 9.99 OCT063901 BETTIE PAGE BY OLIVIA SGN HC (MR) (C: 0-1-2) 75.00 SEP063567 BIRD KISS VOL 2 GN (OF 2) 9.99 SEP062097 BLACK PANTHER #22 CW 2.99 SEP068131 BLACK PANTHER 2ND PTG VAR #21 CW 2.99 SEP063598 BLAZIN BARRELS VOL 7 GN (OF 18) 9.99 SEP062100 CAPTAIN AMERICA #24 CW 2.99 SEP063296 CASTLE WAITING VOL II #3 3.95 OCT063910 CBG 2007 COMIC BOOK CHECKLIST & PRICE GUIDE 13TH E 19.99 OCT063808 COMIC BOOK ARTIST #11 (O/A) 6.95 AUG063292 COMICS JOURNAL #279 9.95 SEP060013 CONAN & THE SONGS OF THE DEAD #5 (OF 5) 2.99 SEP060304 CROSSING MIDNIGHT #1 (MR) 2.99 AUG063375 CSI DYING IN THE GUTTERS #3 3.99 JUL060027 DARK HORSE BOOK OF MONSTERS HC (C: 0-1-2) 15.95 AUG063116 DEAD SONJA SHE ZOMBIE WITH A SWORD #1 (MR) 3.99 AUG063117 DEAD SONJA SHE ZOMBIE WITH A SWORD ZOMBIE BLOODBAT 3.99 SEP060284 DEATHBLOW #2 (MR) 2.99 SEP060285 DEATHBLOW VAR EDITION #2 (MR) 2.99 SEP052914 DF GEORGE PEREZ STORYTELLER FIRST 30 YEARS HC (C: 29.99 SEP063312 DONALD DUCK ADVENTURES VOL 21 TP 7.95 SEP063452 DONE TO DEATH #5 (MR) 3.50 JUL063509 DUMMYS GUIDE TO DANGER #3 (OF 4) (MR) (C: 0-1-2) 3.25 SEP063204 ELVIRA #163 2.50 OCT060028 EMILY THE STRANGE VOL 1 TP (C: 0-1-2) 19.95 SEP061814 EMISSARY #6 (MR) 3.50 AUG060244 EMPTY EMPIRE VOL 2 (C: 1-0-0) 9.99 SEP063246 ES VOL 3 GN (MR) 10.95 SEP062186 ESSENTIAL MAN-THING VOL 1 TP 16.99 AUG060269 EX MACHINA VOL 4 MARCH TO WAR TP (MR) 12.99 SEP063341 FLARE ADVENTURES #18 3.25 SEP060223 FLASH THE FASTEST MAN ALIVE #6 2.99 SEP062083 FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD SPIDER-MAN #14 2.99 SEP063568 GENJU NO SEIZA VOL 2 GN (OF 13) (MR) 9.99 SEP063609 GERARD & JACQUES VOL 2 GN (OF 2) (MR) 9.99 SEP060030 GHOST IN THE SHELL 1.5 HUMAN ERROR PROCESSOR #2 (O 2.99
OCT063960 GIRL TO GRRRL MANGA HOW TO DRAW HOTTEST SHOUJO MAN 19.99 I'm really, really curious to see this one. It's Colleen Doran's How To Draw for girls. SEP063591 GIRLS BRAVO VOL 6 GN (OF 10) (MR) 9.99 AUG060036 GOON WICKED INCLINATIONS VOL 5 TPB (MR) (C: 0-1-2) 14.95 AUG060201 GREEN LANTERN #15 2.99 AUG060202 GREEN LANTERN REVENGE OF THE GREEN LANTERNS HC 19.99 SEP063678 GRIMM FAIRY TALES 2007 CALENDAR 12.99 SEP063247 GUNDAM SEED DESTINY VOL 2 GN 10.95 SEP060228 GUY GARDNER COLLATERAL DAMAGE #1 (OF 2) 5.99
SEP062117 IMMORTAL IRON FIST #1 2.99 Both Casanova and Punisher War Journal last week were really solid (though completely different) books. Congrats on a good week Matt Fraction, it's too bad all three of your books couldn't have shipped at the same time for a Threefer! Maybe next month? SEP060231 ION #8 (OF 12) 2.99
SEP063265 J BOY GN 16.95 This is a yaoi anthology magazine in 'graphic novel' format. From DMP. I'm curious about this one too. OCT063978 JAPANAMERICA HOW JAPANESE POP CULTURE HAS INVADED 24.95 JUN062843 KILLBOX PKT MANGA VOL 1 GN 14.95 SEP061796 LAST CHRISTMAS TP (MR) 14.99 SEP063570 LAYA THE WITCH OF RED POOH VOL 2 GN (OF 2) 9.99 JUL063189 LIBERTY GIRL #2 3.25 SEP063603 LIFE VOL 3 GN (OF 9) (MR) 9.99 SEP060316 LOVELESS #13 (MR) 2.99 SEP063571 MAIL ORDER NINJA VOL 2 GN (OF 3) 5.99 SEP062170 MARVEL ADVENTURES FF VOL 4 COSMIC THREATS DIGEST T 6.99 SEP062165 MARVEL MASTERWORKS MIGHTY THOR VOL 5 HC VAR ED 69 54.99 SEP062164 MARVEL MASTERWORKS MIGHTY THOR VOL 5 NEW ED HC 49.99 SEP062128 MARVEL MILESTONES ONSLAUGHT 3.99 SEP063314 MICKEY MOUSE & BLOTMAN BLOTMAN RETURNS 5.99 SEP063195 MILTON CANIFFS STEVE CANYON 1953 TP (JUN068131) 17.95 AUG061771 NEGATIVE BURN #6 (MR) 5.99 SEP063248 NEGIMA VOL 12 GN (MR) 10.95 SEP062119 NEXTWAVE AGENTS OF HATE #10 2.99 SEP061797 NOBLE CAUSES VOL 6 HIDDEN AGENDAS TP 15.99 SEP063559 NOSATSU JUNKIE VOL 1 GN (OF 4) 9.99 MAR060026 OH MY GODDESS VOL 3 RTL TP (C: 1-1-2) 10.95 SEP062129 ONSLAUGHT REBORN #1 (OF 5) 2.99 SEP068020 ONSLAUGHT REBORN LIEFIELD SKETCH VAR LIMIT 5 #1 (O 2.99 JUL062012 POWERS #21 (MR) 2.95 SEP063601 PRICELESS VOL 3 GN (OF 3) 9.99 SEP068062 PUNISHER #41 (MR) 2.99 SEP062183 PUNISHER MAX VOL 6 BARRACUDA TP (MR) 15.99 SEP062130 PUNISHER XMAS SPECIAL 3.99
AUG063113 RAGMOP TP 29.95 HEY! The conclusion to Rob Walton's RAGMOP finally ships this week. I've got a copy of this one (the perks of throwing a release party this week) and it printed great. It's got the whole story, plus all of the Adam Smith Capitalism strips, and all of the back-up stuff too. RAGMOP is a bit like The Invisibles by Chuck Jones. But crazier? Anyway. I'm a big fan, and highly recommend it. If your shop has one in stock Wednesday, buy it. If not? Come on out to the Launch! Thursday! Etc.! SEP063604 REBOUND VOL 16 GN (OF 18) 9.99 JUL060188 RUSH CITY #3 (OF 6) 2.99 AUG061777 SAVAGE DRAGON #130 2.99 JUN061723 SEA OF RED #13 (MR) 3.50 SEP063399 SENCILLA FINALE SC (MR) 50.00 SEP062084 SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN #32 2.99 SEP063634 SHONEN JUMP JAN 07 #49 (C: 1-0-0) 4.99 SEP063561 SOMEDAYS DREAMERS SPELLBOUND VOL 1 GN (OF 4) 9.99 SEP063081 SONIC THE HEDGEHOG #169 2.25 SEP063564 SOUL RESCUE VOL 1 GN (OF 2) 9.99 SEP063400 SPARROW PHIL HALE 11.99 JUL061715 SPAWN #162 2.95 SEP062087 SPIDER-MAN FAMILY FEATURING SPIDER CLAN 4.99 AUG062070 STAN LEE MEETS DR DOOM 3.99 SEP060041 STAR WARS LEGACY #6 (C: 1-0-0) 2.99 AUG063429 STARSHIP TROOPERS DEAD MANS HAND CVR A #4 (OF 4) ( 3.50 AUG063430 STARSHIP TROOPERS DEAD MANS HAND CVR B #4 (OF 4) ( 3.50 AUG063431 STARSHIP TROOPERS DEAD MANS HAND CVR C #4 (OF 4) ( 3.50 JUL063420 STEAM PARK GN (C: 0-1-2) 16.95 SEP063596 SUIKODEN III VOL 11 GN (OF 11) (MR) 9.99 JUL060149 SUPERMAN BATMAN #30 2.99 SEP063676 SURGE VOL 1 GN 12.95 SEP063249 SUZUKA VOL 2 GN (MR) 13.95 AUG063139 TALENT #4 (OF 4) 3.99 SEP063180 TAROT WITCH OF THE BLACK ROSE #41 (MR) 2.95 SEP060256 TEEN TITANS #41 2.99 SEP060259 TEEN TITANS GO #37 2.25 SEP063368 TRANSFORMERS ESCALATION #1 3.99 SEP063380 TRANSFORMERS INFILITRATION MANGA VOL 1 TP 10.99 SEP061831 TRUE STORY SWEAR TO GOD IMAGE ED #2 2.99 SEP063605 TSUKUYOMI MOON PHASE VOL 5 GN (OF 8) 9.99 SEP062076 ULTIMATE POWER #2 (OF 9) 2.99 SEP062079 ULTIMATE VISION #0 2.99 SEP063337 ULYSSES HC (MR) 14.95 AUG060048 VAMPIRE HUNTER D VOL 6 PILGRIMAGE O/T SACRED & PRO 8.95 SEP063599 VAN VON HUNTER VOL 3 GN (OF 3) 9.99 SEP063351 VATICAN CITY LAS VEGAS GN (MR) 14.95 SEP063087 VERONICA #176 2.25 SEP063318 WALT DISNEYS CHRISTMAS PARADE #4 8.95 SEP060255 WARLORD #10 2.99 SEP060288 WETWORKS #3 2.99 SEP060289 WETWORKS VAR ED #3 2.99 SEP062138 WHAT IF WOLVERINE ENEMY OF THE STATE 2.99 JUN062973 WHISPER #1 3.99 SEP062151 X-MEN #193 2.99 SEP062140 YOUNG GUNS RELOADED SKETCHBOOK 3.99 SEP063600 YUBISAKI MILK TEA VOL 3 GN (OF 6) (MR) 9.99 SEP062156 ZOMBIE #3 (OF 4) (MR) 3.99
AUG063380 ZOMBIES VS ROBOTS #1 (OF 2) 3.99 HOLY SHIT FINALLY SOMETHING TO STOP THE ZOMBIES!
I've got a very funny story about DC's Minx, a girl-centric young adult graphic novel line, but it's not mine to tell. If you ever see me in person though, feel free to ask. Well the New York Times broke the silence on the long, long, long-rumoured line of books today, leading off with a quote from the woman in charge, Karen Berger:
"“It’s time we got teenage girls reading comics,” said Karen Berger, a senior vice president at DC Comics. And DC, the comics powerhouse best known as home to Superman and Batman, has a program to make that happen."- From the New York Times Article
The article does address the popularity of manga, and even in a way the failed launch of the CMX imprint, which is very interesting. It mentions that the new Minx line will be launched with actual money and a Marketting firm, unlike CMX, where "The marketing then was similar to that used for DC’s other titles." Heh. More and more, CMX just feels like it was sabotaged on purpose, doesn't it? But I digress.
"With Minx, though, DC has taken what, for it, is the unusual step of seeking outside help. It has joined with Alloy Marketing + Media to promote Minx. ... Alloy Entertainment, a division of the marketing company, has helped to make hits of books like “Gossip Girls” and “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.” Alloy was also the so-called book packager behind “How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life,” a first novel by a 19-year-old Harvard sophomore named Kaavya Viswanathan that was pulled from stores earlier this year when it was learned that numerous passages had been copied from novels by other writers. "
I dunno about you, but that's not necessarily a fact I want splashed across MY New York Times Puff-Piece.
The article is very interesting in its language (and what is omitted), and is an absolutely rivetting counter-point to Valerie D'Orazio's Occasional Superheroine memoir published about 7 or 8 days ago. Still, the cold-hard facts are what you come here for, so:
“In terms of consumer marketing, it’s got to be the largest thing we’ve done in at least three decades,” says Paul Levitz. The article says that the company is spending about $125,000 to promote the books, which will only enrage superhero fans at Newsarama CONVINCED that that money would be better spent promoting a girl comic we can all get behind, like, I dunno, Hawkgirl or something.
EDIT: According to Shannon Garrity at Andi Watson's livejournal, the announced books are: Clubbing, by Andi Watson and Josh Howard; Re-Gifters, by Mike Carey, Marc Hempel, and Sonny Liew; Good as Lily, by Derek Kirk Kim and Jesse Hamm; The P.L.A.I.N. Janes, by Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg. All of the books sound pretty good, actually. Strange that there's one female creator in the group.
The books are all going to retail for less than $10, and be about 150 pages or so.
It looks like they'll be black-and white and likely manga/digest format. (This is interesting, because I've seen a full-colour sequence from Derek Kirk Kim and Jesse Hamm's book...).
The books will be launched as part of a large online lifestyle network, similar to what Tokyopop is trying to do.
Johanna gets quoted, AND gets a link to her blog! Nice!
Jim Rugg gets quoted, and comes off like the thoughtful and intelligent guy he is. His excellent series Street Angel also gets a nod. Nice!
All in all, I'll be VERY interested to see what these books are like. I really hope we are getting more salable, appropriate graphic novels that we can recommend to teen girls and especially to libraries, but at the same time the teen girls and libraries are REALLY HAPPY with manga right now, so who knows? I'd like to wish the best of luck to all of the authors involved, and despite everything I'm happy to see DC Comics using their position within the publishing industry take some initiative and get behind their books... even if they needed to start a new line of books to do so!
- Christopher (Get over to the article soon, before it goes up behind the firewall.)
I just finished our PREVIEWS order for the month, which always tends to put me in a worse mood than I should be in. Posting now is probably ill-advised. However.
Dark Horse gave Stan Sakai's Usagi Yojimbo the back cover of PREVIEWS in honour of its 100th issue at DH! It's going to have an oversized tribute issue featuring stars like Frank Miller and Sergio Aragones! Cardstock wrap-around cover! Whoo! But you know what would be a fitting tribute?
If Dark Horse had more than four volumes of his series in print. Seriously. If you want anything other than Usagi Yojimbo Volume 10, 13, 15, or 20? You're SOL. That's four volumes out of 14 that they've published. Happy Anniversary, Usagi! We're letting your books languish out of print!
Oh, and as a point of comparisson? All seven volumes of the Fantagraphics Usagi books are in stock and available from Fantagraphics, and at better comic stores everywhere. (Usagi 1-7 are published by Fanta, and 8-20 + 'Space Usagi' were published by Dark Horse).
Depressing. I hope Stan Sakai is shopping his samurai bunny around. Maybe Scholastic can do a Bone on it or something.
A comment at Jog's blog reminded me that I absolutely loved this cover when I was 15. I had never bought an issue of The Punisher (and really haven't since, save a few issues of Ennis' run), but this cover seemingly had everything. It was die-cut! Wrap-around! It had dones of bullet casings everywhere! A screaming dude looking right at you! Shooting RIGHT AT YOU! FIRST ISSUE! Yeah. In retrospect I feel kind of stupid, but it helps me keep some perspective when I look at how many fucking terrible comics are on the racks now, you know? Maybe Greg Fucking Land means just as much to some 15 year old as that JRJR cover did to me? I mean, I really hope not, because I'm looking at that cover and it still holds-up alright, and Greg Land's stuff is going to look like that shitty first-generation CGI in about 4 or 5 years when people get really good at tracing photographs... hmm, I've digressed again. Anyway.
The last time I talked about the despicable treatment of women in the comics industry was earlier this year, regarding sexual assault at the Mid-Ohio Comic Con. I got a press release Thursday about Mid-Ohio's plans for their next show and immediately flashed on the event. What a shitty mnemonic that must be for the organisers, eh? Though that was also the day that the latest bombshell about sexual politics in the comics industry was dropped, Good-Bye to Comics, "a “theoretical” memoir of what *might* have happened in the life of a woman in the field and fandom of comics." Writer of the "Occasional Superheroine" blog 'Video Store Girl" has wiped away all of her previous writing about the comics industry and instead posted a little over 20 entries that do everything but name-the-names in her memoir about being an editor in comics. Theoretically. Maybe.
I've read the whole thing and it's harrowing; it's a bit like a Margaret Cho-style screed but without the distance and pollish that turns a truly horrible event into something empowering. It's funny, but the kind of funny where you're looking around nervously to make sure everyone else is laughing too. I mean, the entry headers have titles like "The Broken Vagina Monologues," about a torn cervix. It's the blackest of black comedies. Unsettling.
All the more interesting for the fact that the writer was castigated a few months back by female comics bloggers for "actively belittling what feminists are actually fighting for" in regards to the comics industry, and even defending sexism (to paraphrase). In short, there are an awful lot of layers to this story that are going to get peeled back over the next few weeks. The names will come out. I'm sure Rich Johnston will pipe up with something, particularly as "Gilgongo! Comics" isn't publishing anything of his right now. But nothing will, for me anyway, take away from the power of what's been written. I sincerely hope her writing does make it into a book, a sort of 'Devil Wears Prada' for the comics industry. Lord knows we could use one.
The following books are currently scheduled to ship to The Beguiling in Toronto, Canada on Wednesday. Sometimes that means you won't get them in your store, and sometimes that means WE won't get them as PATH OF THE ASSASSIN VOL 3 mysteriously just didn't show up this week and it was 'confirmed'. I dunno. It's a bit of a crap-shoot.
Good week for comics, with three new books from Drawn & Quarterly (Moomin volume 1, Gabrielle Bell's very enjoyable Lucky HC, and Don't Go Where I Can't Follow, which I can't even open) and a couple of highly-anticipated collections featuring Y The Last Man and Morrison's New X-Men.
Oh, and Matt Fraction has two books out on the same day! Casanova #6 and Punisher War Journal #1. Comparing and contrasting both of them should be a lot of fun...
SEP063067 100 GIRLS VOL 2 TP (RES) 9.95 SEP063363 24 NIGHTFALL #1 (OF 6) 3.99 SEP060214 52 WEEK #29 2.50 SEP060202 ACTION COMICS #845 2.99 JUN063594 ALBERTO VARGAS WORKS FROM THE MAX VARGAS COLLECTIO 45.00 OCT063271 ALEX RAYMONDS FLASH GORDON VOL 6 HC 19.95 SEP062091 ALL NEW OFF HANDBOOK MARVEL UNIVERSE A TO Z #11 3.99 JUL061941 AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #536 CW 2.99 SEP063389 ANGEL AULD LANG SYNE #1 3.99 SEP063294 ANGRY YOUTH COMIX #12 (MR) 3.50 SEP063072 ARCHIE & FRIENDS #105 2.25 MAR063127 ARMY OF DARKNESS COLL HC 24.95 JUL063063 ARMY OF DARKNESS VOL 4 OLD SCHOOL TP 14.99 SEP062096 AVENGERS EARTHS MIGHTIEST HEROES II #2 (OF 8) 3.99 AUG060177 BATMAN DARK KNIGHT ARCHIVES VOL 5 HC 49.99 SEP063774 BETTIE PAGE BY OLIVIA HC (MR) (C: 0-1-2) 29.99 SEP063162 BIG BANG COMICS PRESENTS PROTOPLASMAN #3 3.95 AUG063269 BIG QUESTIONS #9 (MR) 6.95 AUG063290 BLAB VOL 17 GN 19.95 AUG063257 BLOODRAYNE PLAGUE OF DREAMS CVR A #2 (OF 3) 3.99 SEP060219 BLUE BEETLE #9 2.99 SEP060293 BOYS #5 (MR) 2.99 SEP062177 CAPTAIN AMERICA RED MENACE VOL 2 TP 10.99 SEP060263 CARTOON NETWORK BLOCK PARTY #27 2.25 SEP061810 CASANOVA #6 (MR) 1.99 JUL061957 CIVIL WAR FRONT LINE #8 (OF 11) 2.99 AUG063199 CLASSIC BATTLESTAR GALACTICA #2 3.50 AUG063200 CLASSIC BATTLESTAR GALACTICA VIRGIN CVR INCV #2 3.50 JUN063104 COMICS JOURNAL LIBRARY VOL 7 HARVEY KURTZMAN TP 19.95 SEP060012 CONAN #34 (MR) 2.99 SEP060229 CONNOR HAWKE DRAGONS BLOOD #1 (OF 6) 2.99 SEP060222 CREEPER #4 (OF 6) 2.99 JUL068354 DAILY BUGLE DECEMBER NEWSPAPER (BUNDLE OF 50) (NET PI MAY062901 DAMAGED #1 2.99 SEP062104 DAREDEVIL #91 2.99 JUL063508 DEAD AT 17 VOL 2 #2 (MR) (C: 0-1-2) 3.25 MAY063368 DEVILS PANTIES #6 4.95 JUL063106 DONT GO WHERE I CANT FOLLOW GN (MR) 17.95 SEP063257 DRAGONLANCE CHRONICLES VOL 2 KURTH CVR A #3 (OF 4) 4.95 SEP061786 DRAIN #1 (MR) 2.99 SEP060023 DWIGHT T ALBATROSS THE GOON NOIR #2 (OF 3) 2.99 SEP061813 ELEPHANTMEN #0 2.99 JUN062976 ENIGMA CIPHER #1 (OF 2) (C: 1-0-0) 6.99 SEP061872 ERIC BASALDUA SKETCHBOOK 2.99 SEP062185 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SPACE (Canada's answer to the Sci-Fi network for all of you Americans) is is running a nice little interview with Melinda Gebbie about Lost Girls at their website. It's one of their 'Hypa-Space' segments, and you can view it by going to http://www.spacecast.com/hypaspace.aspx and then clicking on the link in the right-hand list of interview content. The piece is running this week in celebration of Lost Girls being cleared by Canadian Customs.
Oh, and we've got 30 copies in stock at The Beguiling right now, first-come, first-served.
OEL Manga creator Queenie Chan has posted an absolutely fascinating document at her blog, a long essay about the challenges she faced in structuring and pacing the plot of her story “The Dreaming”, published as three volumes from Tokyopop.
"The Dreaming" was originally conceived as a single story, using the Three-Act structure. However, because of the 3-book format, I had to do this to it: a) Break this SINGLE story in THREE EQUALLY-LONG PARTS b) Make each part RELATIVELY SELF-CONTAINED c) Make each part have its own NARRATIVE ARC (ie. build-up, climax, resolution) d) Make ALL THREE PARTS be in chronological order e) Make ALL THREE PARTS fit into a SINGLE OVER-ARCHING NARRATIVE f) Bonus challenge: This is a mystery-horror series " - Queenie Chan, from her LJ (all quotes by Queenie Chan)
I really liked the creator exploring and explaining where exactly the creative and business decisions meet on these books, as that discussion in general fascinates me. I’m always very conscious in anything I do of who the end-user is, the person who reads or purchases the work. Apparently that way lies madness, according to many professional writers, but honestly if you’re not writing your work to be seen then why are you using it in a commercial setting? Anyhow. Queenie Chan felt pressured by her story being broken up across three books, when it was meant to be more of a done-in-one type of idea. She then blames the three act structure for shortcomings in these types of narratives:
“From this perspective, it's almost inevitable that "The Dreaming" is structured in a Three-Act Structure. Does that mean that the three-act structure suits the 3-book format? Heck, no. This is because the 3-book format requires each book to be of equal length, which is NOT what you're supposed to do with the three-act structure. The first act, mostly of set-ups and introduction, ought to be shorter than the other two acts, acting as a "hook" to draw the reader in. Over-extend the first act and your readers will start wondering when the plot is going to start. And yet, that's EXACTLY what you have to do for the 3-book format. In other words, anybody who uses the three-act structure in the 3-book format is bound to hit against a similar wall. To be true, nobody complained about that aspect of "The Dreaming" vol1 to my knowledge (except me), but I thought vol 1 was too long, and it's a flaw that I couldn't fix as long as I used the three-act structure.”
And that’s where her essay stopped me dead in my tracks. I’ve re-read her essay a number of times and I can only assume that she’s serious, and that she firmly believes that adhering to a three-act structure actually means that each physical book needs to be an ‘act’ of the story. I can only call this a spectacular failure of imagination on the part of her or her editor. Having an overarching narrative in three acts is fine, but why not, say, have the first act “end” half way through the first book, introductions and premise out of the way, and then start your second act with plenty of action? Why not have your second book recap a brief introduction and then just get progressively crazier, with the climax of your story coming on the last page? Why not have your third volume offer the climax resolution (the end of act two) and then offer the dénouement (act three)? Where’s the rule that says the acts have to rigidly adhere to your publisher’s formatting decisions? Because in any sort of creative writing class I've taken, I have to admit to never encountering that rule. The fact that Queenie Chan, and seemingly other OEL creators have accepted this as gospel truth of pacing is a little upsetting. There are hundreds of multi-book series’ on the racks, manga or otherwise, and none of them that I've encountered follow this model.
“Japanese manga is written in serialised format, something that requires a VASTLY different story structure to the current OEL/global manga books. If "The Dreaming" was written as a serial, it would be completely different, with different pacing, and the order of events shuffled around. When Western fans read Japanese manga, they don't care that each volume isn't self-contained, because they know the original format of the manga was in weekly 20-page bits. The takouban form is just the collected volume of the original format, whereas the OEL/global manga is the other way around. Its original format is in single-book form. People KNOW that. So inevitably when reviewers get their OEL/global manga fix, they don't evaluate it by the same standards as they would Japanese manga.”
I think it’s pretty naïve to assume that manga creators in Japan a) aren’t aware of where the breaks between volumes of manga are going to be, and b) that translated books get a free-ride because they were originally serialised. Starting with that last point first, Japanese manga get hammered in reviews all the time, or simply not talked about at all, when seemingly “nothing happens” in a volume of a popular series. Working in serialisation is far different than doing original book-length work, of course, but the insinuation that Japanese manga is reviewed “differently” in regards to story structure than OEL books is offensive. Speaking as a reviewer, my concern is about how engaging a story is as it’s presented, whether it was originally serialised, or done-in-one, or envisioned as a single story and then brutally segmented by an uncaring publisher. It either works… or it doesn’t. Walking Dead Volume 5 doesn’t work as a collection, it ends in the middle of the story (in a particularly obnoxious way), and that was serialised first. Dramacon 1 and 2 both work splendidly because each story stands on its own, though the ongoing meta-narrative regarding Matt and Christie’s will-they/won’t-they romance continues from volume to volume.
I have no doubt that all of the various OEL titles would read very differently if they were serialised first. That’s still no guarantee of their quality though, or that they’d be reviewed more favourably either.
"...And let's face it. The three-act structure was never meant to be split into three parts. It's called a three-act structure because it's meant to be a SINGLE STORY."
That’s a bit circular, but I do get what she’s saying. The problem is that it’s just completely wrong.
Let’s take something like RANMA 1/2 for a convenient example. The first act of Ranma 1/2 introduces the characters, and ends with the statement of the overall plot: Ranma and Akane have an arranged marriage that neither one of them knew about. This is the very first stand-alone story in RANMA 1/2, and runs for like 50 pages in Volume 1. Then, act two starts. It runs from the second story in Volume 1 until, oh… Volume 34, with plenty of zany hi-jinks, side-stories, and generally entertaining filler building up the characters. Volumes 35 and most of volume 36 are the climax, and then the dénouement is like 30 pages in volume 36. The end.
What I’m saying here is that Queenie Chan'ss ‘single story’, a horror-mystery apparently, could be one volume as she’d wished, or it really could have been stretched out to 36 or more, if necessary. Because act 2, where we find out about the characters and progress towards the end, can go on indefinitely. But saying that you need a whole book to introduce your characters because that’s just the way it goes is… well, I think it’s unnecessary and really baffling.
“…It's not that I or anybody like having long set-ups. It's that the OGN format requires you to deliver your single-story in chunks, and the first chunk almost inevitably ends up being the set-up and introduction. Of course there are exceptions to that problem, but you ought to ask yourself whether the stories being told are the same in structure. It's one thing to break a single story into 3 parts, and another thing entirely to have 3 separate stories that take place chronologically in the same universe.”
And again, I think it’s a failure of imagination to assume that it’s an either/or situation.
“"Fool's Gold" falls into the former category, and that's why I thought Christopher's review of it was a bit too harsh.”
I haven’t read Queenie Chan’s The Dreaming, so let’s talk a little bit more about the story structure in Fool’s Gold, my original example. Warning, spoilers follow.
The 'Harry Potter' series of novels' meta-narrative is the conflict between Harry and He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named, and each volume advances that plot somewhat while also offering up other, more-immediate, worries. Fool’s Gold’s overarching narrative is… Well, honestly, I’m not sure. Author Amy Reeder Hadley didn’t really clearly establish that, as far as I’m concerned. Is the central plot about Penny’s quest to find love, even though she never knew she needed it? Is it about saving her friends from a lifetime of jerks (which gets the lion’s share of the attention in volume one)? Is it about the conflict between Penny and her rival (which bubbles under the surface of the book, but doesn’t really become visible until the second-last page)? Is it about her fashion career which her father doesn’t really understand? Is it actually Penny vs. the boys who are spurned by her club? 180ish pages in, I’m honestly not sure.
But let’s just say that it’s about Penny’s quest for love, because that seems to fit the best. Which means that the ‘pyrite’ stuff, the rival, the best-friend, all of it is plot-fodder to move the main idea along. In that case, the cute/weird boy she meets is the motivator for that plot, and his arrival comes too late in the book and their interaction/fight even too-later still (heh). What was the climax of the first book? Was it the Dance? Penny’s first kiss? Was it Penny’s rival exposing the club at the very end of the book? Because if the cute/weird boy is at the centre of the main plot, he was barely involved in the Dance, and not-at-all in the other two possible climaxes. In short, the various elements of the plot don’t tie together at all, regardless of whether or not the book is working on a modified three-act structure.
The film version of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ is a three-movie quest narrative, and you can argue for the overall story-integrity (they even moved some events from the book around to make each movie work better indivdually...) of the films all you like but the end result is that they generally start, and generally stop, and still manage to tell a much larger story when viewed together.
I can think of a dozen ways to have tied Fool's Gold together, given it a stronger sense of closure and made it a more satisfying reading experience without fundamentally altering the plot. I even just wrote one out but deleted it, because what I would've done really isn't the point. As a reviewer all I get to do is point out when something works for me or doesn’t, and especially why. I think I did that pretty well too, though according to Rivkah I could've been a bit nicer about it. While I really do appreciate Queenie Chan offering up a peek behind the curtain into the creative process and why she felt that she and other OEL creators needed to make the choices that they did, I think she’s dead wrong about the nature of her constraints.
If Tokyopop is giving these creators a lemon of a format to tell their stories, I invite them to make Lemonade. Hell, make a three-course lemon-inspired meal. But don’t think that you’re duty bound to include 2 pounds of appetizers, 2 pounds of the main, and 2 pounds of desert…
- Christopher P.S.: I had been writing Queenie Chan's name as Queenie-chan, which is incorrect, and I've gone back and fixed it throughout. My apologies for the error.
The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service Volume 1 By Eiji Otsuka and Housui Yamazaki 208 pages, $10.95 Published by Dark Horse Comics
Reviewed by Christopher Butcher
A little over two months since its release, I’m a little late to the party with this review of Eiji Otsuka and Housui Yamazaki’s wonderful Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service Volume 1. I don’t care though, this fun little episodic graphic novel series is easily worth recommending months or years after it’s in-store date; this corpse has got legs.
The plot, that of five-and-a-half supernaturally gifted Buddhist University students who team up to solve mysteries, has reminded many readers and reviewers of ‘Scooby Doo’ and the similarities are definitely there. But where Scooby and the gang debunk ghosts and monsters at every turn, this gang knows that ghosts are real, and is primarily concerned with laying their spirits to rest and revelling in the karmic (and occasionally monetary) windfall that follows.
More than anything Kurosagi reminds me of a defunct manga series named Voyeur (and later Voyeurs Inc.), part of the PULP line of quirky and mature manga from Viz. The sadly defunct PULP line, it should be stated. Kurosagi, with it’s charmingly crude art style and gang of good-natured weirdoes (and multiple beaver-shots) is like a polished Voyeur, and would slide in comfortably between Dance ’Till Tomorrow and Uzumaki in the PULP catalogue. Kurosagi is being published by Dark Horse, however, as part of their recent push towards more mature (Seinen versus Shonen) manga titles, primarily horror manga and stories with tie-ins to popular Asian films. As such it features a surprisingly excellent and unique design, an exceptionally high production quality, and a schedule that is, at best, unreliable. In fact, the back of this volume features an advertisement for another manga called Mail from the artist of Kurosagi, with the tag 'Available in August 2006' nestled at the bottom. As of this writing in November of that year, we have yet to see Mail. We’re very fortunate indeed that every chapter of Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service is self-contained--we might never see another one.
I think the thing I like best about Kurosagi is that the characters seem decent. Too often authors, both manga and otherwise, confuse characterization with just being fucked-up. Particularly in the most popular contemporary manga, the leads are utter shit heads (“With a heart of gold!”) and it’s refreshing to see a group of people who are at least a little selflessly motivated (though I think it’s amusing that they had to be Buddhists to make it work in the context of the story…). I genuinely want the protagonists to solve the mysteries and be rewarded (and I was even a little put-off by a few of the stories ending with them seeing nothing at all in terms of renumeration).
Yamazaki’s art has a matter-of-factness that effectively conveys the mundane nature of many of the events: driving around; hanging out in the woods; dragging a giant chest filled with a corpse through a landfill site. His presentation is similarly straight-forward and economical, with both of these facets of the art serving the tone of the story very well. These kids are supernaturally attuned corpse-deliverers, the odd dead body or death isn’t going to freak them out and such events are depicted naturally for the reader. When the supernatural does start to intrude on their every-day, the storytelling becomes more cinematic and intense, with the art often trying to both unsettle and disgust the reader. A decaying corpse is alright, but when that corpse stands up and starts puking blood onto the face of some guy, you know, that’s a little different.
(It’s worth noting that the translation notes included in this volume mention that Kurosagi is based on an anime of the same name; this may account for the straight-forward presentation of the material to a degree but I still feel that Yamazaki’s art is consciously paired-down.)
It’s rare to get a manga on these shores that doesn’t feel tied to a certain time and place, something consciously designed to look popular, thus ensuring that a generation (or even a year or two) later it will look woefully out of date. To my eyes, Akira Toriyama’s Dragonball, for example, has a timeless quality while his later Dragonball Z work (or anything after volume 20 or so in the original numbering of the Dragon Ball manga) looks really of its time, and dated. I don’t think that’s a fate that the Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service will face as it is drawn in an open and realistic style with few art or storytelling quirks, but please don’t let that stop you from picking this up right away. Good, unique manga are all too rare in North America and generally suffer much poorer sales than their shonen and shoujo cousins. If you like a good story draped in the bodies of the dead, then rush out to your local comic shop (or national chain book store) and pick this one up.
Hey all! I had been trying to post reviews every day but booze conspired to keep me away from my laptop, now locked up at work, where all of the reviews I'd written are stored. So I hope you've been enjoying everything, but you're gonna have to wait until I get back to work tomorrow morning for the next one.
It's of Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service though, so it'll be worth tuning in for...!
We've got two special birthdays today! First up is one of my favourite people in the whole wide world:
James Lucas Jones
James is currently much hairier than shown in this photo (imagine if he were wearing the dog on his face as a beard), but I still love him. To celebrate James' birthday, you should probably head over and check out his completely awesome Royal Tenenbaums Theme Sketchbook. Being insanely jealous of his Sketchbook would probably make him happy, though I hear he's got an Amazon wishlist as well.
And Birthday Boy or Girl #2? Why it's...
Happy Birthday, Heidi. Heidi took my favourite picture of me ever and I find her writing genuinely enjoyable. Heidi, I hope you get to take the evening off and enjoy those fine $28 New York Martinis. Also, if you're doing any programming at New York this year, put me on a panel and I'll consider taking down this photo. ;)
For those of us born on: November 15 Happy Birthday! The months ahead are likely to start with you slipping into a fairly laid-back frame of mind. You’ll certainly be in the party mood as the countdown to Christmas begins, and for a normally introverted sign you’ll be the life and soul of any gathering! However, after the New Year you’ll feel more inclined to knuckle down, as achievement becomes your main aim, but a distraction in the form of a serious looking romance will stop you in your tracks in the spring! The summer looks set to be a little challenging, as an opposition between your ruling planet and the sun in Gemini will make you less reliable and more fickle. Don’t over-commit yourself at this time! This will pass and a rather hectic summer will slip into a much calmer autumn, during which time you’ll be able to recharge your batteries! Also, you should totally not hold a grudge about pictures of you posted on the internet. For-serious.
Shirtlifter #1 By Steve MacIsaac 32 pages, $3.95 Published by Drawn Out Press
Reviewed by Christopher Butcher
Shirtlifter #1 is the recipient of the first-ever Prism Comics Queer Press Grant, designed to ease the publication of queer comics (that's gay/lesbian/bi/trans, not just 'odd' by the way...). It's a great idea and having read Shirtlifter #1, the award was obviously well-deserved.
So what do you think a representative of Diamond Comics Distributors, the primary distributor of comics in North America (and let's call him Mr. Diamond for short), said when the book was submitted to him for distribution?
”The writing is not yet up to the standards of the comic book industry,"apparently.
Huh. Because the plot, an examination of contemporary gay relationships set against the backdrop of Japanese culture and a stage-performance of the classic kept-woman play 'Madame Bovary', was actually very good. The dialogue, moving from bored housewives at a business function to cliques of gay men at a club to the strained conversations of a relationship in trouble, it really resonated with me and rang true. Even the silences were particularly well chosen. So, no Mr. Diamond, I don't think the writing had anything at all to do with why you decided not to carry Shirtlifter in your catalogue.
But I just can't figure out what your real reasoning could be.
Much like the number of licks it takes to get to the centre of a Tootsie-Roll Pop, the world may simply never know.
Luckily, creator Steve MacIsaac has been working with alternate distributors and directly with comic book stores to make his excellent comic available. You can even order it directly from his website, if you don't happen to live in a well-populated urban centre. It's worth the order too, as I can count the number of smart, funny, hot queer comics that have been released in the past year on one hand.
Fans of gay comics may recognize MacIsaac's name as the artist on the gay porn comic Sticky (with writer Dale Lazerov). Published as a three-issue mini-series from Fantagraphics a year-or-two back, Sticky has recently been collected in a handsome hardcover by German publisher Bruno Gmuender (also not available from Diamond). MacIsaac had previously had a number of shorts published in anthologies like True Porn, Boy Trouble, and What's Wrong?, though Shirtlifter #1 is his first professionally-published solo work, and it's definitely the strongest project he has done to date.
The story is a melancholy one, about strained relationships and finding ones happiness in life. Derek and Michael have moved to Japan for Michael's job, and a year in Derek still hasn't adjusted to the culture, the people, or being a "kept woman" while his partner brings home the money. We see the story from Derek's point of view; he's treading water. He's committed to Michael and spending a year here for Michael's job, and won't let himself engage the country or culture, let alone take advantage of the opportunity. Teaching English, working out, and fucking other men may take some of the edge off, but in his mind his bags are packed. So of course things aren't going to go as planned. The plot comes to its climax at one of Michael's work functions: The boss' wife has organised a stage production of the novel 'Madame Bovary', a story about a bored, kept woman who fucks around a lot. Will Derek take Madame Bovary's way out, self-destruction followed by suicide?
There's a tendency for artists to, when they become writers, start structuring the books and stories towards what's easiest to draw, and I'm happy to say MacIsaac definitely doesn't take the easy way out here. Every scene is clearly established, with numerous crowd shots, landscapes, and a pleasing attention to detail. MacIsaac also uses shadows very well, with the driving sequence towards the end of the book particularly noteworthy for its use of lighting and silent panels to evoke an especially gripping mood. All of that said, there's a distracting mechanical quality to many scenes that I find frustrating. His work feels as though it's "inked" digitally, and the sharpness and unevenness of his finishes can often work against what he's trying to accomplish (particularly on more delicate features). One of the most notable times this occurs is in those same crowd-shots, which feature characters on the same picture-plane with seemingly random line-weights, making them look a bit cut-and-paste. The drawing itself is often good; a solid layout, realistic characters and body language, and it can look quite impressive. But the finishing is too often problematic, and could have used more attention. MacIsaac should really think more about line-weight and relative distance of the figure/object to the "camera" (reader), as that would dramatically improve the overall consistency of his work.
Another note about the art: there are cocks everywhere, which is important to note as most comics don't really have cocks. They've barely got a bulge, usually. When MacIsaac's characters are taking a shower, they're naked (and not just from the neck up). Breakfast between lovers is a clothing-optional affair. In the sex scene there are no cocks at all, keeping the work if not 'tasteful' by the standard definition of that word, than at least 'HBO' rather than Pay-Per-View. Actually, one of my favourite parts of the book is when MacIsaac yadda-yadda's the first sex scene entirely, a remarkable bit of artistic restraint that builds Derek's personality brilliantly. For those of us who have absolutely suffered through an issue of Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose with its frighteningly large bare-breasts and creepily hairless pussy on every other page, a cock or two is really the tonic for what ails you (Note: Every issue of Tarot is available through Diamond, in the standard ordering catalogue).
In short, Mr. Diamond must simply have been lazy the day he decided not to distribute Shirtlifter #1. It's so much easier to send a form letter out to the author of a grant-winning, engagingly-told comic rather than actually read it, and any check-box on the form would have been as easy to check as the rest. Because Mr. Diamond couldn't have read this book and come to the conclusion that it wasn't any good, and I just can't think of any other reason it for him not to take it.
- Christopher P.S.: The easiest answer is really just a lack of taste on the Diamond reviewer's part, particularly as notable books like House of Sugar and the entire output from Picturebox have recently been denied. But I find the whole situation so particularly galling that I've decided to leave the causality up to my readership to decide for themselves.
Kampung Boy By Lat 144 pages $16.95 Published by First Second Books
Reviewed by Christopher Butcher
If I were trying to get this review quoted on the back of creator Lat’s next North American book, I might say something like “Lat is Malaysia’s Will Eisner, a ground-breaking graphic novelist whose deeply personal stories about society, family, and religion, speak to us all.”
I’d do it with a straight face too, and you better believe I’d sleep well that night. The book really is that important, and very good too. It’s been 25 years since Kampung Boy was originally published, and that’s 25 years too long for this classic graphic novel to have remained unpublished in North America. Kudos to First Second for bringing it over.
Kampung Boy starts with the birth of “Mat,” the author’s stand-in for this series. Born in a rural Malaysian village or “kampung,” Mat is your everyday Muslim boy. He goes to school, gets into mischief, and undertakes his religious education with all of the other boys. He’s a good artist and a bit of a dreamer, and though he truly loves his little village he can’t help his curiosity at the larger industrialized world just outside his doorstep. Soon his whole family outgrows the tiny village, and Mat travels to the big city to begin the next phase of his education.
Lat captures these fairly simple childhood remembrances brilliantly, deftly depicting movement and body language and with an outstanding eye for caricature. The house where Mat grows up, the village (and bigger village just down the road) are beautifully captured by Lat’s shaky, middle-period-Shultz-like line, and while the whole book is practically dripping with nostalgia it never seems trite or hackneyed, due in large part to the artist’s mastery of negative space. What could seem schmaltzy or overly lush is often sparingly drawn; a dense forest surrounding an inky-black river where the young Mat swims gives way to the view under the water: an open and seemingly infinite white space; a metaphor for the larger world that exists just under the surface of his every-day; beautiful. Lat is one of the most effective artists I’ve ever seen at balancing a page, where every line absolutely ‘counts’ and the lack of linework counts just as much, it's a visual treat.
The story itself is, on the surface, a charming and light one, about growing up. It’s the kind of rural coming-of-age tale that, were it set on a farm in the American heartland, would be immediately familiar to readers the world over. What makes it special, aside from the high degree of skill with which the story is told, is its almost reportage-like depictions of a culture and religion that are at the forefront of the concerns of the western world right now. I think that the reader understanding Lat’s world from his point of view could be a very good thing, and the occasional reminder that we’re all human is important. I’m not going to say that art needs to have a ‘purpose’, but I do think that this piece of art does have one (gained largely after-the-fact) and succeeds at it admirably. That said, those looking for a more transparent narative arc will likely be disappointed, as Kampung Boy defines the word "subtle" in reference to comics. It is a leisurely stroll through the past, where the climax of the story is effectively a humourous unexpected reaction by Mat's father. In short, you absolutely need to engage the story on its own merits to really appreciate it, but I guarantee it is rewarding to do so.
While the story may not look like ‘traditional comics’ at first glance, more resembling an illustrated children’s book with the occasional panel or word balloon, this is most assuredly a graphic novel in the tradition of Will Eisner’s use of the term. It's a handsome volume with excellent reproduction that I can recommend as being essential for your shelf. After all, Lat is Malaysia’s Will Eisner, a ground-breaking graphic novelist whose deeply personal stories about society, family, and religion, speak to us all. You wouldn't want to miss out...!
- Christopher [Note: I don't have access to a scanner at the moment, so I couldn't include any art examples. I'll try and do so in the next day or so.]
Today everyone in Toronto is (should be) voting for mayors and city councellors and things. I'll be voting on my way home from work, for example. But what of the other "big events" happening in the city? Particularly the ones that have to do with comic books? Why, there are plenty of those, good sir/madam/M.! Nothing today, mind you, so make sure to vote [for David Miller]. But coming up in the next couple of weeks...?
Sunday, November 19th, 11AM-5PM: Toronto Comic Book Fan Supershow Hey, it's a one day comic show not run by assholes; score for Toronto! Featuring Dale Keown, Ken Lashley, J. Bone and more. It's all happening at the Holiday Inn at 370 King Street West, Regency Ballroom, and admission is $5. More info at http://www.torontocomicon.com.
Sunday, November 19th, 8PM: Jillian Tamaki's Gilded Lilies Book Launch Maybe you're the type of customer that likes a little from column 'a' and a little from column 'b'? Well after the 'Supershow', go out for a nice bite to eat and then walk up to The Cameron House at 408 Queen St. West for this book launch! Gilded Lilies contains lots of comics and illustrations from Jillian Tamaki, and the launch should be a lot of fun. FREE
Sunday, November 26th, 3PM: Triple Threat x 2, featuring Degrassi, Dramacon, and Northwest Passage Last year's Triple Threat event was a huge success for us, and we're following it up by doubling the number of participating creators for the second event! Triple Threat x 2 will feature the official Canadian debut of the new Degrassi: The Next Generation: Extra Credit graphic novels, and creators J. Torres, Ed Northcott, Ramon Perez, and Eric Kim will be in attendence to discuss working on the books. Svetlana Chmakova discussing her new manga Dramacon 2, and Scott Chantler discussing his new book Northwest Passage 3. This all goes down at the Toronto Reference Library, Yonge Street just north of Bloor, at 3PM. This one will have a little something for everybody, and free give-aways for the first 200 attendees. FREE
Thursday, November 30th, 7PM: RAGMOP and MAKESHIFT MIRACLE launch party We're throwing a dual-launch party for two great new graphic novels from Toronto creators. First up is the long, long, long-awaited collection of Rob Walton's Ragmop, now with a complete conclusion! The second book is the print-edition of Jim Zubkavich's celebrated web-graphic-novel Makeshift Miracle. Both books will launch on Thursday, November 30th at 7PM at The Victory Cafe, 595 Markham Street. It's just south of The Beguiling, actually, and right near Bloor & Bathurst. FREE
So, now you know what you're doing for the next few weeks, huh? And so many of them for free too! Don't you wish you lived in Toronto? Eh? EH? Oh, and to keep updated in a more... updatey... way, make sure to visit http://www.torontocomics.com regularly.
Fool's Gold Volume 1 (of 3) By Amy Reeder Hadley 192 pages $9.99 Published by Tokyopop
Reviewed by Christopher Butcher
It’s funny, but the most difficult thing about reviewing any Tokyopop OEL manga is that you have to be ready for the creator to e-mail you within 12 hours of the review going online. Well the creator… or their fans. It’s easy enough when it comes to North American creators working outside of “global manga”; if you write something they just bitch about you on a friends-locked Live Journal post, or send an e-mail cursing your name to a couple of their buddies. This has not been my experience with Tokyopop’s “not-Japanese-manga-creators”. The absolute worst example of this happened to my buddy Scott Robins, who was screamed at by (frankly) rabid Peach Fuzz fans for daring to suggest some of the imagery and language used in the book wasn’t 100% appropriate for their target audience of “very young”. It’s not like Scott doesn’t determine such things professionally, every day, at Scholastic Books. To her credit though, Peach Fuzz creator Lindsay Cibos did step in and calm them down after a little while...
Writing a review is impossible if you stop to consider that sort of thing though, so let’s just pretend that no one is going to read this review or respond to it, especially not the editor of the book, Lillian Diaz-Przybyl, who actually IS on My Live Journal friendslist, and get down to brass-tacks here: Fool’s Gold isn't bad, but it certainly isn‘t great either.
I think my earliest criticisms of OEL manga generally referenced the lack of editorial standards or any editorial hand in the books—something that’s wonderful when you’ve got an accomplished and professional creator putting out their latest graphic novel, but something that’s usually quite dire when a first-time creator is endeavouring to put together the first book in a three-book series. Fool’s Gold is much more solidly put together than many of the first-volume OEL titles that I've read, though it still has a considerably shaky first-half and a lack of resolution that hurts it. A key problem is the lack of overall coherence given to the lead character’s world in the first chapter; there are a real lack of establishing shots in the many scene changes. This is especially problematic given the number of quick cuts (think: music video); the lead character narrates the action, with a single narrative thought extending across multiple scenes and interspersed with dialogue, giving the work a distracting impermanence at odds with the mundane proceedings depicted. For example: A man enters the lead character’s bedroom, berates her, exits: He is not actually introduced until 100 pages later.
This is all very odd for a Young Adult graphic novel.
In my humble opinion.
Fool’s Gold, by the way, may just have the best high-concept for a Young Adult graphic novel I’ve heard of in quite some time: Penny, an artsy, confident girl in high school hates the fact that all of her friends are dating jerks, and after a flash geological insight (seriously), realises that those boys are just like Pyrite, or “Fool’s Gold”. Sure it looks shiny and great on the outside, but it’s really just worthless. She starts a club for all the girls in school to warn them about who all of the real jerks are, and try to set them up with the cute, shy nice guys that would never think of calling them fat or cheating on them. A great idea that Penny needs to work at constantly to make sure it doesn’t fall apart or explode in her face.
Creator Amy Reeder Hadley seems to have based Penny on herself, and she infuses the character with a lot of personality and interests like clothes-making and art. Penny reminds me a lot of myself in high school, desperate to take only what she wants from the experience and get the hell out of there. She’s likeable and attractive (a must for any real shoujo-manga heroine), but if anything she’s almost too likeable and the plot flows along too smoothly. Every obstacle is reduced to a speed bump by Penny’s limitless ingenuity. When even the characters remark “Holy Cow, Penny! You, like, know how to solve every problem!” (a direct quote) you, like, know that this really is going to explode in her face! ...and it doesn’t happen. At least not yet. The first real inkling of the conflict in the larger plot doesn’t show up until the second-last page, making this book an awful lot of set-up with absolutely no resolution whatsoever. It’s an enjoyable-enough ride, with Hadley‘s slightly-stiff art and slightly-cluttered layouts moving you across the pages without stumbling too badly. Much like the myriad of tiny problems that keep the story aloft, the art features some fabulous attention to detail in the hairstyles and fashion that kept me interested in it throughout. But these confections just weren’t enough to distract me from the fact that there’s a difference between “to be continued” and “unfinished”, and that Fool’s Gold is definitely the latter… to its detriment.
Referring back to some of my earlier criticisms of OEL manga versus the types of Japanese manga they’re patterning themselves after, the central conflict in Shoujo manga like Fool’s Gold would have been established by the end of the first chapter, and when it takes 180 pages for the plot to really kick-in the whole project definitely needed to be sent back for a re-write. There’s still a lot of discussion going on right now about how to effectively ‘edit’ graphic novels, mostly because going back and re-drawing a page of art that doesn’t quite work is literally 20 times more difficult and time-consuming than going back and re-writing that same page (let alone a whole scene!). But even at a breakdown stage it should have been obvious that the pacing just wasn’t right on this book, and that‘s probably the biggest problem with Fool’s Gold. It’s an incomplete and ultimately unsatisfying experience, light and fluffy and even fun at times, but failing to live up to its potential or really go anywhere in its 180 pages.
With two books to go in this high school drama, the completed story might just come together; all of the elements are in place in the first volume for a solid YA novel. For now though, the lack of resolution or real conflict will probably annoy high school readers who are also used to much edgier material. This book is more likely to find a home with the kids aspiring to a fabulous high school life, the ‘tweeners whose biggest concerns really are “which guys are jerks?” and might actually say “Holy Cow!” in an unironic way. I’m sure they’re out there. Somewhere.
Postscript: I wanted to talk a little bit about the idyllic Colorado mountain town that makes up the setting for this book in relation to the idyllic Colorado mountain town of South Park, and how the 8 year olds in that show (at least the first couple of seasons) seem more authentic and representative of who they’re meant to be depicting than the high-schoolers in this book, but I couldn’t quite put it together. Sufficed to say, there’s a sort of a Disney-filter on Fool‘s Gold that you need to either accept or not in the first 10 pages.
So I was going to wait until Monday to start posting reviews, but something came up. Specifically, Johanna got castigated by a reader on her site for not giving a serialized book a fair shake in her review. Johanna's response, essentially that if it's not fair to review the work as it's presented then why is it presented that way, is correct. Her review of Tokyopop's Mail Order Ninja mirrored my review of Tokyopop's Fool's Gold, which I'd written but not yet posted. So I figured I'd put up the review and add to the discussion, because there really is a difference between "To be continued," and simply "Unfinished" and that's something I don't think various creators (or even editors) necessarily understand.
I haven't seen anyone gushing about these yet. When I was in Halifax a few months ago Darwyn was raving about how much fun he had doing these illustrations for a new Criterion box set. Just seems like a bunch of fun films, and who wouldn't want to own this art? Apparently these are going to be released on January 23rd, so not in time for Christmas but just in time for... I dunno. Groundhog's Day? Anyway. Check this out:
Looks like a lot of good books shipping next week! We're finally getting Absolute DC The New Frontier, a new volume of the complete Dennis the Menace, and the third and final iteration of the Train Man manga from Del Rey.
...and how could I forget this? After 50 years of serialization (kidding), the final volume of Ranma 1/2 is released. Round of applause for Ms. Takahashi on a job well done. Also? Kudos to Viz for changing the trade dress on the last two volumes of the series, thereby ensuring no fan will ever have a matching set of these books. That takes chutzpah!
Now, here's the list:
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6) 2.99 AUG063107 EUREKA SEVEN VOL 3 GN 9.99 AUG063776 FABULOUS WOMEN OF BORIS VALLEJO & JULIE BELL HC (C 24.95 SEP063429 FAMILY BONES #1 (OF 10) (MR) 3.50 AUG063231 FAMILY GUY COLLECTED ED TP 16.95 AUG063963 FINAL FANTASY VII ADVENT CHILDREN REUNION FILES (C 47.99 SEP063353 FREAK VOL 2 GN (APR068172) (C: 0-1-2) 10.95 AUG063671 FROM FAR AWAY VOL 13 GN (C: 1-0-0) 9.99 AUG063668 FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST ANIME PROFILES (C: 1-0-0) 14.99 AUG063661 FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST VOL 10 TP (C: 1-0-0) 9.99 SEP062181 FURY PEACEMAKER TP 17.99 SEP062115 GHOST RIDER #5 2.99 SEP063255 GI JOE DREADNOKS DECLASSIFIED MANAPUL CVR B #1 (OF 8.95 SEP063254 GI JOE DREADNOKS DECLASSIFIED SAUVE CVR A #1 (OF 3 4.95 SEP061816 GIRLS #19 (MR) 2.99 SEP061794 GIRLS VOL 3 SURVIVAL TP (MR) 14.99 SEP062968 GOLDEN PLATES VOL 1 LTD ED HC 29.95 AUG063964 GOTHIC & LOLITA BIBLE #21 (C: 1-1-3) 25.99 AUG063333 GRAPHIC BIOGRAPHY MALCOLM X GN (C: 0-1-2) 15.95 SEP060226 GREEN LANTERN CORPS #6 2.99 SEP063300 HANK KETCHAMS COMPLETE DENNIS THE 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SOUTHLAND TALES BK 2 FINGERPRINTS (C: 0-1-2) 12.95 AUG061746 SPAWN ARMAGEDDON VOL 1 TP (MR) 14.99 JUL061994 SQUADRON SUPREME #7 2.99 SEP062167 SQUADRON SUPREME VOL 1 PREWAR YEARS PREMIERE HC 20.99 JUL060034 STAR WARS KNIGHTS O/T OLD REPUBLIC COMMENCEMENT VO 18.95 SEP063406 SUPER BAD JAMES DYNOMITE #4 3.99 AUG060183 SUPERGIRL #11 2.99 AUG060185 SUPERMAN THE MAN OF STEEL VOL 5 TP 19.99 MAY063725 TALES FROM THE CLERKS TP 29.95 SEP060318 TESTAMENT #12 (MR) 2.99 SEP060302 TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE #1 (MR) 2.99 SEP060303 TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE VAR EDITION #1 (MR) 2.99 SEP062134 THUNDERBOLTS #108 2.99 AUG063972 TOKYO SPACE DIARY (C: 1-1-3) 78.99 SEP063250 TRAIN MAN VOL 1 GN (MR) 10.95 SEP063374 TRANSFORMERS SPOTLIGHT HOT ROD 3.99 MAY062816 TRON #2 3.50 SEP062075 ULTIMATE FANTASTIC FOUR #36 2.99 SEP062135 UNION JACK #3 (OF 4) 2.99 AUG063674 W JULIET VOL 13 GN (C: 1-0-0) 9.99 AUG061747 WATERLOO SUNSET TP 17.99 SEP062137 WHAT IF SPIDER-MAN THE OTHER 2.99 SEP062139 WHITE TIGER #1 (OF 6) 2.99 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Hey there. Apparently getting back into the swing of things was a little bit more difficult than I was anticipating. What a long, long week. Sorry about the lack of updates, I promise that things will actually kick off Monday in a more concentrated way. In the interim, the next post will be next week's shipping list.
So I've been away for a week and my e-mail is downloading in the other window. What better time to think about Peanuts?
What would you think about Peanuts softcovers, but in a different format than the current hardcovers? I think the current series of hardcovers are masterful; beautifully designed objects that are a boon to any collector's shelf. Any collector that doesn't have 6 bookshelves of graphic novels and a one bedroom apartment, but... you take my meaning. The problem with them is that they're imposing books for younger readers, something that I have to be keenly aware of when we sell to school and public libraries. Also, they're a little costly for those same institutions which can find themselves on tight budgets. While I think the books are a steal at $28.95 each, in real-world dollars that's 4 volumes of Naruto. Just saying. What would you think of an ongoing series of Peanuts softcovers in the format of the old paperback books? A complete reprinting, from start to finish, but done four-panels per page and a year at a time? Drop the price to $6-$8 a pop. This is just for shits-and-giggles of course, I know a couple of the fanta guys are reading this blog but they're not about to undertake a massive publishing venture on my say so. But I am curious if a publishing format that would make part of my job easier, that of library sales, would also appeal to you as a customer. Lemmie know in the comments!
- Christopher P.S.: I did about two weeks worth of reviews while I was away. First one goes up when I get home from work. Yay, content!
Honeymoon... NO MORE! I just got back fom 25 centimetres of snow to see THIS?
So, that Dick Tracy strips collection came out this week while I was away... Holy shit.
a) I can't believe Ashley Wood would take credit for that design at all, considering how little of it is his. b) I can't believe that Wood managed to fuck up Seth's design in nearly every way. c) Wood is using badly-kerned (spaced) Times New Roman as his font? Are... are you serious? d) Did he "design" that in Powerpoint or something? What the fuck? e) Did... did he actually go to design school? Wood I mean? Because aside from the fact that he should have taken a class on ethics, that design doesn't work. He didn't leave enough room for the bleed on the top or bottom. The print copy I saw was cut so that the top of Tracy's hat is cut off. Amateur mistake. f) That grey box behind "Dailies and Sundays" and "Introduction by Max Collins"? That shit is inspired. All my shit is going to have grey boxes now. g) I seriously hope Seth sends IDW a bill for services rendered. And then tears up the cheque and sends it back to them because I can't imagine he would want to be associated with that travesty. h) I pray that this story gets picked up by one of the many, many book blogs out there. There're a lot of people who love Peanuts (and these editions in particular), and I really want someone other than a loudmouthed blogger to call IDW out on this.
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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212 dot net. All sites linked on this page are the copyright of their
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