Hey folks,

If you’re reading this I’m travelling right now. If you’d like to say hello while I’m in your neck of the woods, drop me a line at chris at beguiling dot com.

Here’s where I’ll be:

Oct 15-17, 2013: Manchester, England

Oct 18-21, 2013: Kendal, England. Lakes International Comic Arts Festival

October 23-November 10, 2013: Japan (Tokyo, Kyoto, Sapporo) Various Events

I’ll be a guest of The Lakes International Comic Arts Festival, which you can find out more about here: http://www.comicartfestival.com/

TCAF will be exhibiting at Kaigai Manga Festa in Tokyo Japan, and I’ll be there just after for some of the follow-up events. You can find out about that here: http://torontocomics.com/news/tcaf-to-japan-kaigai-manga-festa-october-20th-2013/

All in all, I’ll be travelling for about a month, and completely circumnavigating the globe for the first time! I’m beyond thrilled, and very fortunate to be able to do some cool things and spread the good word of comics all over the globe. I still feel, too, that the best is yet to come. :)

Thanks for reading,

- Christopher


I tend to be very interested in the crossover between Japanese Pop Culture, specifically anime and manga, and the world of fashion and cosmetics, which is usually a few light years away. I like the tension between mass and niche appeal, and mostly I like seeing really great looking products thanks to nearly unlimited fashion/cosmetics budgets. The latest collaboration to catch my eye is the above collaboration between Japanese artist Takeshi Murakami, already renown/reviled for re-appropriating anime and manga ideas into the fine arts sphere, and cosmetics giant Shu Uemura.

The result? Like the title says, it’s Takeshi Murakami’s Magical Girl Anime.

Yowza.

- Christopher


Hey everyone!

I got a comment on my blog that reminded me about something that I’ve been meaning to post. The Ghibli Museum, a must-visit spot for anyone going to Japan, is still an amazing space and incredibly inexpensive to visit, at only 1000yen!

However, JTB, Japan Travel Bureau, the only way to purchase Ghibli tickets from overseas, has taken to charging customers exorbitant rates, with a ridiculous currency exchange AND huge ‘transaction fees’! Basically that 1000yen ticket (about CDN$10.58 by today’s exchange rate) now costs nearly $40! That’s $13.00 +tax for the ticket, and a $25.00 transaction fee!

While I think this is unacceptable and plan on mailing off a letter of complaint to the good folks at the Ghibli Museum about what their business partner is up to, this is pretty much the only game in town for foreign visitors at the moment. So read on for my suggestions for a Japan-bound traveler on what to do.

Comment Submitted on 2013/10/09 at 6:49 pm

Hi,

I’ve been enjoying your blog as of late as I prepare for my trip to Japan at the end of October. I really want to visit the museum but was wondering about the ticket situation. To buy the ticket from the states, it would cost $40. To buy it in Japan, it would cost $10. I’m a bit of a cheap-arse. Kinda hard to swallow the markup. Do you think it’d be prudent of me to purchase the tickets in the states? How difficult would it be to acquire the tickets in Japan? Great blog! Thanks for the help.

- Jerry

Hey there Jerry,

Thanks for your comment on my blog!

To answer your question–yes, the new ‘transaction fee’ that JTB is charging is insane.  I don’t know that I can 100% recommend either the “buy early, pay through the nose” method, or the “take your chances in Japan” method as being a good deal though.

Here’s what you’re looking at:

Buying Ghibli tickets in Japan:
- Only 1000 yen!
- You can only buy them from a Japanese electronic vending machine, only at LAWSON convenience store, and the machine is Japanese-language only!
- The machine may or may not take your foreign Visa/Mastercard. This has been iffy for me in the past.
- Tickets bought in Japan have an “admission time” on them, meaning you MUST enter at that time or within an hour afterwards, or your ticket is invalid.
- Tickets sell out QUICK, so by the time you get to Japan, all the tickets for your dates may be unavailable.

Buying in North America:
- $40! Highway robbery! a 400% markup is unacceptable for an ‘administration fee’.
International tickets are good all day, no ‘start time’ so you can plan a flexible schedule!
- You can buy international tickets months and months in advance.
- It’s way easier to plan your trip when the tickets are confirmed early.

So! If you’re the type to fly by the seat of your pants, then good, go for the cheap option! Otherwise, swallow your pride (and $30 that could go towards 2 great bowls of ramen) and pay for the convenience. If you need to have your trip set in stone, pay the money for the peace of mind.

Though, frankly, the third option is the best: Beg a friend of yours in Japan to buy them for you!

Thanks,

- Christopher


I’m quite happy to note that folks that live around the above picturesque area, the Lakes District in England, north of Manchester, are holding a comic book festival. It’s called The Lakes International Comic Arts Festival, and they’ve got a robust website at http://www.comicartfestival.com/. The show is just around the corner, scheduled for October 18-20.

The show is being put together, near as I can tell, by Sean Phillips, Brian and Mary Talbot, and some wonderful people who live in the Lakes District. The idea behind the show? It’s a little like TCAF in terms of scale (and name), and a little like Angouleme in terms of their desire to bring the whole town to life with the medium of comics (in this case, the town’s name is Kendal). I find this thrilling. One of my most fervent desires in administering TCAF since its second year has been to more thoroughly involve Toronto in the Festival and the medium of comics, and just in their planning alone these fine folks seem to be doing in their first year what we haven’t quite managed in 10. Granted, Kendal is beautiful and lovely with a population of 28,000, and the Greater Toronto Area is perhaps 100 times that big, but that’s still a hell of a lot of moxy and I’m impressed.

I’m happy to be travelling to Kendal to take in their first show and, where possible, offer any advice or assistance gleaned from running TCAF for the past little while. Mostly though, I’m excited by a strong slate of programming and I’m looking forward to getting reacquainted with guests including the Talbots, Ed Brubaker, and Darryl Cunnighamn, and meeting some of their other fantastic guests including Charlie Adlard, Sean Phillips, Gary Pleece, Kurt Busiek, and more besides. Hell, I don’t think I got to meet their guest Glyn Dillon (The Nao of Brown) when he was at MY show this year!

Now, it’s probably too late for most of you to plan and book a trip to England in two weeks, but if you happen to be in the country I sincerely hope you’ll consider making the trip to see some of the many very cool events taking place, and meeting some of the exhibitors. That website address, again, is http://www.comicartfestival.com/.

If you do see me, feel free to say hello. I won’t be anywhere in particular at the event, just wandering about, but looking in the pub probably isn’t a bad idea. ;)

Best,

- Chris


From the Villains Month FAQ 2.0 that DC sent out yesterday:

5. Why didn’t DC print at least as many copies of each of the 3-D motion cover issues as they do on the regular monthly series?

Orders greatly exceeded DCE’s expectations. We did not anticipate that the demand for these covers would be as large – or larger – than the demand for each monthly series. The 3-D motion covers also required a much longer production time than normal covers, so we had to set print runs on these issues out of cycle. As more retailers saw sample copies, orders continued to build beyond the print runs we had set. There was also a physical limit to how many copies we could print due to availability of the special cover stock.

So there’s a few things in there worth unpacking.

- They printed FEWER total of the special issues than of their standard issues, which means, assuming that everyone who wanted Green Arrow #23 also wanted Green Arrow #23.1, there were always going to be cuts or allocations. This strikes me as exceptionally poor planning.
- This was their two year anniversary month for the new 52.
- This means that for their two year anniversary month, they deliberately planned to sell fewer copies than they normally would be able to sell, on their anniversary.
- And didn’t tell anybody beforehand.

Who goes into their anniversary month saying “Hey, I’ve got a great idea, lets sell fewer comics this month, guaranteed, than we did the month previous!” ? It strikes me as an exceptionally poor business practice from inception through execution, even with the higher unit-price on these books (Villains Month books were about a buck more than usual). If there were “physical limits to how many copies [they] could print due to availability of the special cover stock,” then they could have taken any number of steps to compensate, including fewer overall titles.

I tried to stay out of this because it seems like a pretty standard problem–retailers under-order on books all the time, and in this case, a publisher under-ordered. Fuck-ups happen, you take responsibility, and make it right. But what galls me is the complete lack of contrition, or of someone at DC stepping up to say “Hey, this was me, my fault.” is… it’s upsetting.

I respect people who make mistakes and admit to them. I make mistakes all the time, because I go out there and I try to do different stuff and sometimes it fails. That’s life, but more importantly, that’s business. Ventures fail, or are only partially successful (I guess). But this? Closing ranks and corporate speak? It’s disrespectful, it’s not what I want from a publishing partner.

- Chris

P.S.: If you don’t know what any of this is about, I apologize for not taking the time to create the proper context but you can Google this situation pretty easily. Also, I think the covers look super neat, and it’s a shame that everyone who wants them won’t be able to get them.


Congratulations to my very good friend Deb Aoki, previously of manga.about.com, on the launch of her brand new website today.

http://mangacomicsmanga.com/

Manga/Comics/Manga is where Deb will be continuing her interests in manga and Japanese culture, but not shying away from all of the other sequential narrative that she enjoys.

She’s even launching the site with an important license announcement, a particularly breaking news item that should be of interests to fans here! Seriously, go check her work out, and bookmark/subscribe to the new site however people do that sort of thing in 2013.

- Chris


Statement from Fantagraphics:

Fantagraphics co-publisher Kim Thompson died at 6:30 this morning, June 19. “He was my partner and close friend for 36 years,” said Gary Groth.

Thompson was born in Denmark in 1956. He grew up in Europe, a lifelong comics fan, reading both European and American comics in Denmark, France, and Germany. He was an active fan in his teen years, writing to comics — his letters appeared in Marvel’s letter columns circa early 1970s — and contributing to fanzines from his various European perches. At the age of 21, he set foot, for the first time, on American soil, in late 1977. One “fanzine” he had not contributed to was The Comics Journal, which Groth and Michael Catron began publishing in July of 1976. That was soon to change.

“Within a few weeks of his arrival,” said Groth, “he came over to our ‘office,’ which was the spare bedroom of my apartment, and was introduced by a mutual friend — it was a fan visit. We were operating out of College Park, Maryland and Kim’s parents had moved to Fairfax, Virginia, both Washington DC suburbs. Kim loved the energy around the Journal and the whole idea of a magazine devoted to writing about comics, and asked if he could help. We needed all the help we could get, of course, so we gladly accepted his offer. He started to come over every day and was soon camping out on the floor. The three of us were living and breathing The Comics Journal 24 hours a day.”

Thompson became an owner when Catron took a job at DC Comics in 1978. As he became more familiar with the editorial process, Thompson became more and more integral to the magazine, assembling and writing news and conducting interviews with professionals. Thompson’s career in comics began here.

In 1981, Fantagraphics began publishing comics (such as Jack Jackson’s Los TejanosDon Rosa’s Comics and Stories, and, in 1982, Love and Rockets). Thompson was always evangelical about bandes dessinées and wanted to bring the best of European comics to America; in 1981, Thompson selected and translated the first of many European graphic novels for American publication — Herman Huppen’s The Survivors: Talons of Blood (followed by a 2nd volume in 1983). Thompson’s involvement in The Comics Journal diminished in 1982 when he took over the editorship of Amazing Heroes, a bi-weekly magazine devoted to more mainstream comics (with occasional forays into alternative and even foreign comics). Thompson helmed Amazing Heroes through 204 issues until 1992.

Among Thompson’s signature achievements in comics were Critters, a funny-animal anthology that ran from 50 issues between 1985 to 1990 and is perhaps best known for introducing the world to Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo; and Zero Zero, an alternative comics anthology that also ran for 50 issues over five years — between 1995 and 2000 — and featured work by, among others, Kim Deitch, Dave Cooper, Al Columbia, Spain Rodriguez, Joe Sacco, David Mazzuchelli, and Joyce Farmer.. His most recent enthusiasm was spearheading a line of European graphic novel translations, including two major series of volumes by two of the most significant living European artists — Jacques Tardi (It Was the War of the TrenchesLike a Sniper Lining up His ShotThe Astonishing Exploits of Lucien Brindavoine) and Jason (Hey, Wait…I Killed Adolf HitlerLow MoonThe Left Bank Gang) — and such respected work as Ulli Lust’s Today Is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life, Lorenzo Mattotti’s The Crackle of the Frost, Gabriella Giandelli’s Interiorae, and what may be his crowning achievement as an editor/translator, Guy Peelaert’s The Adventures of Jodelle.

Throughout his career at Fantagraphics, Thompson was active in every aspect of the company, selecting books, working closely with authors, guiding books through the editorial and production process. “Kim leaves an enormous legacy behind him,” said Groth, “not just all the European graphic novels that would never have been published here if not or his devotion, knowledge, and skills, but for all the American cartoonists he edited, ranging from Stan Sakai to Joe Sacco to Chris Ware, and his too infrequent critical writing about the medium. His love and devotion to comics was unmatched. I can’t truly convey how crushing this is for all of us who’ve known and loved and worked with him over he years.”

Thompson was diagnosed with lung cancer in late February. He is survived by his wife, Lynn Emmert, his mother and father, Aase and John, and his brother Mark.

I only met Kim Thompson once, but we talked quite a bit over the last two or three years about TCAF things, and I respected what he had to say. My condolences to his friends and family.

I hope no one minds that I’ve reproduced Fantagraphics’ statement here, in full, as their site is understandably being slammed right now as people discover this terrible news.

- Chris


Very good catch and nice little report by Zainab Akhtar at The Beat on the new  Comme des Garcons X Katsuhiro OTOMO X NoBrow collaboration. Apparently NoBrow’s exact participation wasn’t made very clear, but Akhtar did some actual follow-up reporting and got the scoop. Head over there and check it out.

Tons of the actual collab images are currently circulating around Tumblr. You can find a bunch with this link, but feel free to explore as well. Some of my favourites below.

- Chris