I’ve got the most severe case of writer’s block at the moment, which is why posting has been so sporadic. Many apologies. I was going to churn out a linkblog post but I think I just tripped over the only thing that needs linking at the moment. I give you Chris Mautner’s interview with Raw and Toon Books founder Francoise Mouly:

Mautner: That’s interesting considering how companies like Scholastic now have their own comic book line.

Mouly: Actually Scholastic is a case in point. I went to see them in 2003 and offered Toon Books to them. The range of what I was offering at the time also included Bone because I had talked to Jeff [Smith] about doing Toon Books and wanted to show [Scholastic] a comic that’s perfect for the eight-nine year olds. And they had turned Bone down as not something that they wanted to do. Then they looked at my proposal and the response came back, “Oh that’s great, it’s beautiful. We’ll reconsider, we’ll take Bone because we know we can do something with that. But the rest, eh. Too much work.” So a lot of what you’re seeing now is the direct result of the efforts we made.

That interaction I must say was incredibly unpleasant because it also came with “Oh, and by the way you should ask Jeff Smith for a cut.” No thank you, he’s our friend. “If you really want to work for us,” says the head of Scholastic, “You could help us do the comic book version of Shrek 2.” (laughs)

Mautner: And of course you jumped at that.

Mouly: You have Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly in your office and they’re begging to be in your employ so of course you find them the perfect thing. The comic book adaptation of the movie which is a sequel of an adaptation of a book by a cartoonist? Yes, of course, we’re going to jump on that.

That’s Gold, Jerry.

Apologies in advance to my friends at Scholastic, but OMG.

- Christopher


Trevor Brown is an artist that is quite well-known in comics and illustration circles. A favourite of the Juxtapoz Magazine crowd. One of his paintings has been completely ripped off by a band called Crystal Castles, and they’re printing it on their T-Shirts (and quite possibly an album cover) and making a profit off of it. THey’ve not ceased to do so even after being asked by Trevor Brown. Conversations with their management are surreal. They tried to get Brown to sign a truly odious and unfair contract in return for payment… that never materialized. Their behaviour is frankly pretty unbelievable. Here’s hoping that the internet can step in and secure some justice for this artist where decency and doing-the-right-thing have failed.

Check it out on Trevor Brown’s blog: http://www.pileup.com/babyart/blog/?cat=14

Their new CD just got released. I bet this would be a pretty interesting angle for a story, should someone be writing about that CD.

- Chris


nemo.jpg

Go check out the full test for Studio Ghibli director Yoshifumi Kondo’s take on an animated Little Nemo in Slumberland. It’s amazing:

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3342755205038857742

And if you want to see a higher quality video (that mysteriously has about a minute of footage cut out of it…) check out:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fnL-6yLzgWA

It’s pretty darned cool.

Edit: I decided to do a little more digging about this film clip, and found out something interesting. According to Nausicaa.net, one of the best fan-sites around (and devoted entirely to Studio Ghibli):

“Little Nemo” was an American/Japanese joint project, and [Hayao] Miyazaki and [Isao] Takahata were involved in the pre-production stage during 1982 and 1983. However, due to creative differences with the American producers, both quit the project. It was finally made into a movie with different staff members and released in 1989…

The film is currently out of print though it was apparently released on DVD in 2005… It was originally released on laser disc, and as a bonus, the laser disc includes two early animation tests for the film…

There is a rumor that two pilot films in the Japanese “Nemo” LD box set were done by Miyazaki and Takahata, but they were actually done by Yoshifumi KONDOU and Osamu DEZAKI, respectively.

So it seems likely that this clip is from the Japanese LD release… I wonder if the test by Osamu Dezaki is available online as well? I’ve done a cursory search, but no luck.

Anyhow, all of this information and more can be found over at CartoonBrew, the apparent originator in this round of discussion about the work.

- Chris


  1. Last week’s wrap-up of Superman & The Golden Age Legion in Action Comics was really, surprisingly enjoyable and probably the best comic Geoff Johns has ever written. I can now actually recommend a Geoff Johns comic. Who’da thunk it?
  2. On the Secret Retailer Forum, I’d been watching and not one retailer out of the hundreds that participate there was asking for more copies of Secret Invasion #1. Apparently no one at all sold out. And yet… due to “demand” Marvel is releasing a second printing a week later. I’m curious where the demand was… I couldn’t see any. Does anyone believe that story anymore?
  3. Hibbs kicks Wizard in the teeth and deservedly so. Go read it.
  4. I have no problem at all selling manga, specific manga, to non-manga readers at the comics shop. Stuff that would otherwise fit their tastes of course… But I will never sell a manga to a “superhero” reader, because I don’t think they’re interested in the medium of comics so much as the superhero content via any delivery system. Maybe this is obvious, but the sales of recently-completed series’ Death Note, Dragon Head, and Drifting Classroom to a wide array of people who would say or have said that they “hate manga” really put that into perspective for me.
  5. I’m personally aware that producing regular single issues and competing in the direct market is not “the way” for alternative and art comix, but at the same time I miss having weeks where every single new comic on the stands wasn’t a superhero/fantasy/zombie genre book. No more Love & Rockets, no more Eightball, and a minimum of a year between issues of everything else… I think that except for Young Liars #2 and Ganges this week*, every other comic book is a mainstream/direct market/fantastical element sort of thing, and that’s just a little disappointing…?

- Chris
*: I totally forgot about Criminal #2, which I just read, and was fan-fucking-tastic. Best book of the week. Faith in comics: Maintained!


junko-closeup.jpg

I was out wandering the various Asian malls that make up Toronto and surrounding areas, and was reminded by this poster just how awesome Junko Mizuno is. Mizuno is a mangaka whose work has sporadically been published in English, primarily as part of the defunct Pulp line by Viz. Her three fairy-tale inspired graphic novels, Cinderalla, Hansel & Gretel, and Princess Mermaid mix her trademark cute-grotesque style of art with an end-of-the-millennium Japanese cultural mania and inject them into classic and seemingly comforting tails. In addition to the triumverate of colour fairy-tale manga, Mizuno has also had two black and white manga translated into English; Pure Trance and The Life of Momongo (which appeared in the out of print anthology Secret Comics Japan). Pure Trance is probably Mizuno’s masterpiece, a sprawling and depraved journey through the end of the world and the breakdown of society, as viewed through a sort of Kabuki-cho-Powerpuff-Girl lens, though Momongo is probably my favourite for its distillation of Mizuno’s themes and style down to a short, sharp story.

junko-closeup-2.jpg

As you can see above, that top illustration is just a small part of this larger poster, the art of which inspired these plush toys from the PostPet line… I didn’t end up buying the toys, sadly, though I could’ve got the pair for $40! Maybe they’d have thrown in the poster too? Anyway, if anyone loves me as much as $40, now you know what I’d like for my birthday.

Back to our subject… Mizuno has always been a solid illustrator, and recently she’s been moving more and more into the illustration/high-end vinyl toy/fine art world, much to comics’ loss (though there are still many volumes of her work that remain untranslated… I’ve got 3 myself!). In addition to these plush toys, there’ve been a ton of great vinyl adaptations of her work and you can see more at her blog (linked below). An outstanding collection of Mizuno’s illustration is on display in the Mizuno art book Hell Babies, as notable for all of the great illustration it contains as it is for its superlative presentation; puffy, sparkly vinyl covers house die-cut rounded pages and multiple paper stocks. Published in North America by Last Gasp, Hell Babies is out of print at the moment but fret not! A new edition of Hell Babies was released in Japan last year with an additional 16 pages, and I’ve been led to believe we’ll see an English edition sooner than we think…

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Of course, for those of who can’t wait, The Japanese edition is currently in stock at The Beguiling, thanks to a trip to Japan… It’s pretty awesome, and looks lovely as part of my little Junko Mizuno collection. If you want one drop us a line at mail at beguiling dot com, but they should be available everywhere by the end of the year.

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Oo! Look! Extra pages with the shiny paper! How can you resist?

For more information on Junko Mizuno, here’re a few links:

jaPRESS (Mizuno’s North American Agents): http://www.japress.com/
Junko Mizuno @ Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Junko_Mizuno
Junko Mizuno @ Viz: http://www.viz.com/products/products.php?series_id=86
Junko Mizuno Website (Under Construction): http://www.h4.dion.ne.jp/~mjdotcom/
Junko Mizuno’s Blog: http://jmnews.exblog.jp/

- Christopher


I’ve never posted this sort of list before but I figured it’s kind of interesting to see what our numbers are like versus what the numbers are like for the rest of the industry. I’d say that, in general the big trends tend to hit us the same way, though you can see the benefits of hand-selling and engaged and happy clerks making their presence felt around the middle of the list.

It’s also worth noting that All Star Superman #10 from a few weeks ago would have charted just on a standard best-seller list, as would Dragon Head Volume 10 and a few other graphic novels… and it was a sort of a light-week for graphic novels. I felt that this list was a little more interesting though…enjoy. I’d love to hear comments or see similar lists from my retailing friends…

Top 20 Best-Selling New Comics at The Beguiling Last Week
buffy-13.jpg1. Buffy The Vampire Slayer #13
2. Secret Invasion #1
3. Kick-Ass #2
4. Angel After The Fall #6
5. Action Comics #863
6. Casanova #13
7. Amazing Spider-Man #555
8. Omega The Unknown #7
9. The Boys #17
10. Countdown to Final Crisis #4
11. Detective Comics #843
12. Anna Mercury #1 (Multiple Covers)
13. Dark Tower: The Long Road Home #2
14. The Twelve #4
15. Young X-Men #1
16. Trials of Shazam #12
17. Abe Sapien: The Drowning #3
18. Jonah Hex #30
19. Walking Dead #48
20. Project Superpowers #2

- Christopher


prada-james-jean-building-1.jpg

What you’re seeing above is the de-lovely Prada ‘epicentre’ in Tokyo, decked out in the new face of the line, illustrated by James Jean. I’d previously mentioned the Fables and Umbrella Academy cover artist’s work with Prada a few weeks ago, after realizing that no one was covering this story and I felt it was a big one… Anyway according to Wallpaper* Magazine, the James Jean illustration is now covering the Japanese flagship store in honour of the release of the second installment of the Trembled Blossoms animation. Pretty damned impressive! Wallpaper* also had another nice photo of the Prada spring/summer 2008 show that featured Jean’s art that I thought I’d include.

testuser5_apr2008_07_prada_030408_am_g_qcohgb_d4yhjg.jpg

I hope that James get all that’s coming to him out of this…

- Christopher
Photos apparently Copyright 2008 Wallpaer* Magazine.


In the last week of 2006, I was an incredible smart-ass and decided to treat the weekly shipping list like chicken entrails or tea leaves, using it to predict what would go on in the comics industry in 2007. Mostly I just wanted to take the piss out of the comics industry (as I am wont to do) and crack a few easy jokes… Going back over the archives today I was kind of surprised at the… accuracy… of some of my predictions though. I suppose that’s why I get paid the big bucks? Anyway, you can find the original predictions here, but I wanted to call out some of the ones I got right:

NOV060196 52 WEEK #35 2.50
2006: 34 weeks of mediocrity, only 18 to go. Omen for 2007: A constant top-20 presence proves once again that people would rather have a constant stream of pablum than a great meal that takes some time to prepare. Look for much more of the same next year…

Yikes. Called that one.

AUG062018 AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #537 CW 2.99
2006:
Spider-man shows face, penis, to world. Omen for 2007: This was just a blip. Superheroes will remain faceless eunnichs for nerds to project themselves onto. DON’T WORRY.

I’ve never been so happy to get one wrong. While I’m not really one for his work normally, I’d like to thank Alex Ross for giving characters packages every once in a while. Of course, fanboys completely lost their shit when it happened, causing the illustrations to be altered before they were printed… So I’m going still going to count this one as correct…

JUL062970 BARRONS GRAPHIC CLASSICS TREASURE ISLAND SC (C: 0- 8.99
2006:
Savvy small publishers and major publishing houses alike realize that there’s a huge gap in the book market featuring adaptations of classic literature, and race each other to the shelves in their bid to ‘update the classics.’ Omen for 2007: Adaptations almost always suck, horribly, and 2007 will be the year that everyone finds that out, hopefully.

Yeah, I fucked that one up (damn my optimism). We’re getting more classic literature adaptations than ever (thank you, public domain) and for every solid and artful adaptation like Neil Babra’s take on Hamlet, we end up with a line of factory-style creations that bring nothing to the table except some pretty mediocre art and poor storytelling.

AUG062033 CIVIL WAR #6 (OF 7) 2.99
AUG062035 CIVIL WAR 1 FOR 75 TURNER SKETCH VAR #6 (OF 7) (NE PI
AUG062037 CIVIL WAR FRONT LINE #10 (OF 11) 2.99

AUG062034 CIVIL WAR TURNER VAR #6 (OF 7) 2.99
2006: Marvel’s Civil War topped the sales charts, coming off of the poorly-received and ultimately-disappointing House of M crossover. Omen for 2007: Marvel’s World War Hulk tops the sales charts, coming off of the incredibly late and ultimately-disappointing Civil War crossover. No one learns anything.

2008: Marvel’s Secret Invasion tops the charts coming off of the only-a-little-late and ultimately-disappointing World War Hulk crossover (seriously, no one liked that last issue). Care to make a guess for 2009?

SEP063297 COMICS JOURNAL #280 9.95
2006: The Comics Journal continues its return to becoming an essential industry periodical by actually engaging the industry as a whole, and increasing coverage of manga, female creators, new mainstream, and ‘outsider’ comics artists. Then Dirk leaves for the internet. Omen for 2007: Well, at least Dirk’s still on the internet.

Yeah, I’ll stand by that one.

MAY051534 HELLSHOCK DEFINITIVE ED VOL 1 HC 49.99
2006:
Holy shit, this is actually coming out. And just in time for… oh, wait, that was last week. Omen for 2007: Joe at Dynamic Forces does not, in fact, buy me a blue drink after me making fun of the company on my blog. That’s more of a personal sort of omen, but, important nonetheless.

I just wanted to mention that Joe did not, in fact, buy me a blue drink in 2007.

NOV062300 IRON MAN HYPERVELOCITY #1 (OF 6) 2.99
2006:
Not enough Adam Warren on the stands. Maybe not ANY Adam Warren on the stands, except for an introduction (!) to the American Mangaka book, and that’s simply unacceptable. Omen for 2007: Perhaps between this and Warren’s forthcoming graphic novel for Dark Horse, Empowered, everyone will wake up and realise just how good of a creator he is. He made Gen 13 REALLY, REALLY GOOD. Do you know how hard that is?

Well, unfortunately Iron Man: Hypervelocity didn’t do much for anyone, but Warren’s Empowered has become a bonafied hit! It’s actually one of our best-selling Dark Horse books overall, and I couldn’t be happier for Warren, who’s a very talented creator.

SEP063658 NAOKI URASAWAS MONSTER VOL 6 TP (C: 1-0-0) 9.99
2006: What a great, great year for manga. Seriously. All the Tezuka (so much Tezuka!), all of the Viz Signature books are great. 3 releases from Fanfare/Ponent-Mon, a new Tatsumi from D&Q, Tokyopop is putting out some great books, and Dark Horse’s ‘horror’ line skirts the edge of J-Horror to bring some really solid, off-the-wall stuff. Great year for manga. Omen for 2007: None of it sells, and all you fuckers get the umpteenth variation on LONELY NERD FUCK-UP MUST TAKE CARE OF 40 SEXY LITTLE GIRLS; HIJINKS ENSUE. Serves you right.

Sometimes I don’t want to be right.

I mean, we got some amazing mature manga in 07 but there were a number of disappointments too… And there are so, so many more lonely nerd fuck-up manga.

AUG062095 POWERS #22 (MR) 2.95
2006:
Brutal schedule this year guys, and all of those issues where Bendis used ‘stand-up comedy routines’ to yell at fanboys? Kind of soured me on the series for a while there. The current arc is very good though, and two issues in three weeks means that the book MIGHT JUST get itself back on schedule. Omen for 2007: Bendis takes on more projects. Oeming takes on more projects. Issues solicited for November 06, January 07, and February 07 all do manage to be released in calendar-year 2007. Maybe even a trade, the crystal ball is a little fuzzy at this point. Or sad, one of the two.

Looks like it really was both a fuzzy AND sad situation in 2007. Despite promises mid-way through the year that the series would be going monthly AND feature more pages, so far that plan hasn’t actually gone into effect, with the last 3 issues coming out in October, November, and… March 5th 2008. 2007 saw the same 6 sporadically released issues of Powers make it to the rack as did the 6 issues in 2006… At last count there were two issues of the series and an annual that are officially late. With only one issue in the first 3 months of the year it looks like good intentions don’t count for much.

NOV060289 SCALPED #1 (MR) 2.99
2006:
Wow. Awkward. I kind of don’t want to put this out for sale on Thursday. Omen for 2007: Vertigo’s new series I Got Jewed does not perform as well as expected.

I had a huge problem with the title of the series Scalped (and probably more-so with the title “incognegro”, a Vertigo original graphic novel last year). But the series is really strong, and continues to sell alright in single issues and trades at the store, with very little of the uproar I was expecting. I’m still not cool with the title though.

NOV062326 UNCANNY X-MEN #482 2.99
2006:
The X-Men had a vibrant creative re-launch spiraling out of a senses-shattering event that left the team changed… FOREVER.
Omen for 2007:
The X-Men have a vibrant creative re-launch spiraling out of a senses-shattering event that leaves the team changed… FOREVER.
Omen for 2008: The X-Men have a vibrant creative re-launch spiraling out of a senses-shattering event that leaves the team changed… FOREVER.
Omen for 2009:
The X-Men have a vibrant creative re-launch spiraling out of a senses-shattering event that leaves the team changed… FOREVER.
Omen for 2010:
The X-Men have a vibrant creative re-launch spiraling out of a senses-shattering event that leaves the team changed… FOREVER.
Omen for 2011: The X-Men have a vibrant creative re-launch spiraling out of a senses-shattering event that leaves the team changed… FOREVER.
Omen for 2012:
The X-Men have a vibrant creative re-launch spiraling out of a senses-shattering event that leaves the team changed… “WE MADE GODS AND JAILERS BECAUSE WE FELT SMALL AND ASHAMED AND ALONE,” HE SAID. “WE LET THEM TRY US AND JUDGE US AND, LIKE SHEEP TO SLAUGHTER, WE ALLOWED OURSELVES TO BE…SENTENCED. SEE! NOW! OUR SENTENCE IS UP.”

Hope springs.

- Christopher