Welcome back to the guided tour of my trip to Japan! For those of you just joining me, my husband and I took our first trip to Japan in September 2007, and I’ve been cataloguing the trip here at comics212.net, partly because there’s so much comics content, and partly because it’s my blog and I get to make decisions like that. :)

It turns out I took more than 300 pictures in 8 hours on our day-trip to Harajuku, so I’m going to break this day up into a couple of posts just so I don’t crash anyone’s browser.


First stop? Harajuku station. Looks kind of… Bavarian… doesn’t it? Harajuku is considered the fashion-capital of Japan… or one of the fashion-capitals, anyway. Street style is the name of the game, and the area is divided into what seemed like three pretty distinct areas; the network of main and side-streets filled with fashion boutiques; the Meiji Shrine forest; Yoyogi park, a huge public park. We’re looking at the Takeshita-dora entrance, which lets out into the fashion-district. Before tackling shopping though, we decided to visit the shrine and soak up some (old) culture. You can’t do that, though, without running through a labyrinth of…


Gothic Lolitas! And their admirers, of course (see bottom-right corner). The bridge over the rail tracks is filled, Saturdays and Sundays, with ‘rebellious youth’ decked out in outre fashions of all stripes, though the ‘gothic lolita’ style (think: creepy babydoll) is the most famous. This wasn’t actually the first costumed person we bumped into, though.


This was. Yes, those are live goldfish.

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Featuring Svetlana Chmakova and Faith Erin Hicks
Wednesday, December 19th, 4pm-6pm
The Beguiling, 601 Markham Street, @ Bathurst Subway


The Beguiling is proud to celebrate the release of two new graphic novels by Canadian authors Svetlana Chmakova and Faith Erin Hicks! These writer/artists have crafted two fantastic new works, and they’ll be signing books from 4pm-6pm at The Beguiling, Canada’s foremost authority on comics and graphic novels.

Svetlana Chmakova is the author of the series DRAMACON, a world-manga titled published by Los Angeles-based TOKYOPOP. December will see the release of the third and final volume in this series about young comics creators trying to break into the manga publishing industry, and DRAMACON VOLUME 3 promises to be an explosive send-off!

Faith Erin Hicks is a long-time creator of webcomics and self-published mini-comics. ZOMBIES CALLING is her first graphic novel, a book-length tale of hardcore zombie movie fanatics who become trapped in a real zombie attack. You’ve never seen a ‘spork’ do so much damage! ZOMBIES CALLING is published by San Jose-based publisher SLG, a veteran publisher of independent voices for over 20 years.

The Beguiling is Canada’s premier purveyor of comics, comix, and high-art funnybooks. 2007 marks the 20th Anniversary of The Beguiling and their commitment to excellent comics from Canad and abroad. Our 20th Anniversary has been marked by dozens of comics signings and events, including events featuring Scott McCloud, Bryan Talbot, Adrian Tomine, Rutu Modan, James Sturm, Bryan Lee O’Malley, Noel Tuazon, Jeff Lemire, Liam O’Donnel & Michael Cho, Chris Ware, Seth, Chester Brown, and Joe Matt, and The Beguiling was also the lead sponsor of the 2007 Toronto Comic Arts Festival.

For more information, visit http://www.beguiling.com.

- Christopher


Next: Harajuku.

- Chris

Due to unforgivable oversight, I hadn’t linked Christopher Bird’s website MightyGodKing in the side-bar here… Mr. Bird just showed up in the store here (he’s local) and I recognized my oversight immediately. Anyhow, Chris and I got to talking about the current state of the comics industry and his most recent blog post. I don’t want to misrepresent Mr. Bird’s position so I’ll only talk about my own: I may be a loud-mouthed jerk with a blog, but I know I don’t know better than the creators of my comics when it comes to how those comics are distributed.

I really don’t understand the entitlement of a fan/torrent distributor/comics scanner to say that their desires supercede those of the people who create the work that we’re scanning, distributing, and/or possibly enjoying? I appreciate that Marvel is a terrible corporate and comics citizen, that their online initiative is naive and their promotional interviews are content-free and full of double-speak; it’s all a terrible situation but so what? That doesn’t change the fact that they’re the ones who say what goes with Spider-Man at the end of the day. My frustration extends as far as the end of my nose… and my fingertips as far as the blog is concerned… but no farther than that. Just because Marvel’s comics have a shitty interface or an unwanted run of Gambit comics doesn’t validate my pirating their stuff, it doesn’t excuse or justify it or give me any moral or ethical high-ground. If I’m stealing their IP then I’m a thief, and I either make my peace with that or I don’t, and stop stealing.

Which isn’t to say I’m not a thief, a criminal. We all are, in different ways. Jaywalking, taking a free refill when you’re not supposed to, parking illegally for 5 minutes because “you’re just running in and out”. Whatever, we all break the law every day. The difference is the rhetoric surrounding these infractions and the ones against creators, both ‘real’ and ‘legal’, of our favourite entertainments. In the latter case, it’s a bunch of people screaming very loudly that information wants to be free (or variants thereof) and that the market will sort itself out as long as they get to do whatever they want. In the former case, there is no rhetoric because everyone knows they’re doing something wrong, they’re just taking their chances and maybe donating a few extra dollars to The United Way at Christmas so they feel like a good person.

No matter how egregious, wrong-headed, or flat-out stupid the online policies and initiatives of the publishers of our favourite comics, at the end of the day that’s their business, and they’ll fail or succeed on their merits. Making, hosting, or distributing material that’s illegal? I just don’t have any sympathy for folks getting shut down for that, no matter how good their intentions are.
On the other hand, a work that’s transformative? That parodies, significantly alters, or illuminates an existing work? Excerpts for review? Educational purposes?  Making fun of shit on your blog? Go for it! I’m right there with you! Which is why I wanted to link to Christopher Bird’s MightyGodKing in the first place, because he does superhero comics parodies better and on a more consistent basis than anyone, and he makes me laugh… I just can’t say that I agree with his positions all the time.
- Chris

manara-butterscotch.jpgDude, listen. I’m not a prude, alright? I’m about the most liberal guy you’re going to meet. And in case you didn’t notice? I’m actually SELLING the porn, so clearly, I don’t have that much of a problem with it. Whatever you want to buy is your business, I’m just here to take your money. But do you really have to be so incredibly awkward about buying your porn? Really? Because it’s… it’s making it hard for me to deal with you. Like, stop pretending that you are here for anything other than porn. Yes, you’re very interested in the magazine rack… for about 10 seconds. Let’s also stop pretending that you don’t know EXACTLY WHAT THE NAME OF THE BOOK YOU WANT is, because we both know from your awkward stumbling that you’ve been researching it on the internet for weeks. “I… I think it might be called ______?” Yeah, you think. Good one.

Listen, buddy, whatever floats your boat. I’m even here to put you at ease and facilitate your purchase, but honestly? You’ve gotta acknowledge that you’re buying porn and then move on… because you’re really not making this a very pleasant transaction for either of us.


- Christopher
(P.S.: He kept asking for “Anime” over and over again like he had aspergers, and then I would show him the anime, and then he’d be like “No, I want the Anime books” which is manga, and I’d explain that and… yeah. It turns out in the end he wanted Butterscotch by Milo Manara, which is very not-manga. Now he’s digging through every porn title wanting to take it out of the shrink-wrap… We won’t be doing that. Those are shrink-wrapped for our protection as much as his.)

ageofbronze_vol3_sm.jpgHappy Turkey Day, AMERICANS. Thanks to your little holiday, it seems as though we got The Beguiling’s shipping list a day early. Since everyone has taken the day off, that means I’m probably THE ONLY PERSON UPDATING, and it’s about next week’s comics, which no one can resist! I’ve got 100% marketshare! Quick, bid on my Project: Wonderful ads while they’re only 20 cents!


There’s a fucking ton of comics coming next week. Floppies, manga, graphic novels… Something for everyone and then some. Here are some of the highlights:

Man, I haven’t read this since half-way through the second trade. It’s gorgeous, but it’s so dense and detailed it takes me forever to get through a volume. That’s not a complaint, it’s more like intellectually psyching yourself up to read a real book after you’ve subsisted entirely on PEOPLE Magazine for 4 months… Age Of Bronze is an under-appreciated gem of a book, do your part by picking it up today!

I just don’t understand how people don’t like this.

SEP071981 CASANOVA #11 (MR) 1.99
This story-arc has been excellent. I’ve finally settled in to the Acid-Blue tones of the book, and all of the characters (new and old) are delicious. I hope you’re reading this… it’s only two bucks!

SEP074035 DAN DARE #1 (OF 7) 2.99
I’m really, really curious to see Ennis’ take on this character. I really enjoyed his two WAR STORIES mini-series from Vertigo a few years back, and this feels very similar…

This whole line has been powerfully depressing, because these books are SO GOOD and they dribble out at no pace at all. Still, I’m happy to see a new issue at least.

icewanderer.jpgJUL073549 ICE WANDERER GN (RES) (C: 0-1-2) 21.99
Holy shit, a new Jiro Taniguchi book! Fucking yes. Thank you, Fanfare/Ponent-Mon, for continuing to translate this wonderful nouvelle manga. I wish it sold well enough that we could have a new book every single week. By the way, whether-or-not your local comic book store ordered this book is how you tell a poor-to-average store from a great store. This book, this publisher? They’re the dividing line. Now you know.

From the Fanfare Website (with assistance by Jason Azzopardi:

Lost in the Great North, two men are saved by the appearance of an old hunter who divulges a strange legend to them…Surrounded by wolves and fighting for their survival, two explorers head for Alaska to bury their companion…A marine biologist begins a quest to fi nd the mythical graveyard of whales.

In total six shorts with as many stories of men confronted by savage nature which is sometimes cruel, sometimes forgiving but always vast. Through tales filled with respect for animal life, this splendid collection, which lies at the crossroads of poetry and adventure, shows master storyimager Taniguchi at his award-winning best.


From the Sunday Press Books website:

Before his remarkable Litttle Nemo in Slumberland, Winsor McCay created two strips starring young children. This book features all of the Little Sammy Sneeze color pages (1904-05) plus Hungry Henrietta, McCay’s other comic, which appeared on the back of Sammy in the Sunday New York Herald. The unique style of this book presents two other “flipside” comics of 1904: The Woozlebeasts and The Upside Downs, along with the complete 27-chapter saga of Hungry Henrietta. All digitally restored in the original size and colors.

Sounds pretty great…

That’s weird, usually the Ignatz books ship three to a week. Still, don’t go looking a gift horse in the mouth…
Full shipping list behind the cut:

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inoue-smiling.JPGHey everybody! I just got back from the reason for my little sojourn to New York, a rare in-store appearance of manga-ka Takehiko Inoue, author of Vagabond, Slam Dunk, and Real. The event was part of the opening ceremonies for Kniokuniya Books’ new store location on 6th Avenue across from Bryant Park, and it featured an original mural from Inoue-sensei, and a swank little cocktail party followed. I… I actually got to interview Inoue-sensei and I found him to be a charming, thoughtful creator and it really was a once-in-a-lifetime interaction. The results of my interview will be making their way online in the next little while, but I did take a ton of photos of the event that I’m gonna share with you here… enjoy!


Kinokuniya’s new location is lovely, and packed to the gills with manga and anime. The location was decked out in Viz schwag and featured a rather nice Inoue boutique selection.


The centerpiece of the event was this giant mural that greets customers at the top of the escalator. According to reps, each wall took about 3 hours to get to the stage you see them at, and the lower-right side of the standing figure (and the characters eyes) would be finished during the event, in front of an audience.


Fewer attendees picked up on this much smaller painting in the stairwell… but it’s pretty darned great.


Before the event got underway, Inoue-sensei gave a number of interviews which should be making their way onto the internet momentarily. From l to r, Takehiko Inoue and Viz Editor and translator Andy Nakatani.


The show got underway, with Inoue-sensei mixing up his paint and getting ready to finish his mural.



I can think of fewer things more terrifying than trying to paint a mural to be seen by thousands, and doing it while 30 people are constantly photographing you.


Following the completion of the mural, representatives from Viz addressed the audience, announcing that in addition to the launch of Inoue’s Slam Dunk in the Shonen Jump line, Viz will be releasing Inoue’s wheelchair-basketball saga REAL this summer, and will be reformatting Vagabond this fall into an omnibus edition that will collect 3 standard-sized volumes in each new volume, as well as releasing both of Inoue-sensei’s artbooks in English language editions. Inoue then addressed the audience directly thanking them for coming, and enjoying his work. Then we toasted! Bubbly for everyone.


Audience members included indie cartoonist and SVA Professor Tom Hart, and Sva Prof and soon-to-be-Dad Matt Madden.


Towards the end of the evening super-fabulous designer Chip Kidd arrived and the two artistic gurus conversed and bonded over the galley Kidd brought with him of his new book for Pantheon, a collection of Adam West-inspired 1960s Batman manga! (It looks absolutely AWESOME, by the way.)

Then, like all good things, it came to an end and it was time to go. I snapped a few photos of the finished murals on the way out.



Congratulations to Kinokuniya on a fabulous new store, and to Viz throwing a wonderful bash celebrating the work and career of Inoue-sensei, a wonderful creator. I’m looking forward to even more-stuffed bookshelves in the coming months.


Viz’s full press release for the event and the Takehiko Inoue announcements is after the cut:

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It’s wonderful. I’m at a conference for teachers and librarians that I sort of crashed… Why is every singly conference I go to nicer and better-appointed than comics shows? It’s a little depressing. Note to pubs: Splurge on some carpet, your feet (and mine) will thank you for it.

- Christopher