So, continuing from my last post (http://comics212.net/2010/07/06/japan-2009-harajuku-kiddy-land-tintin-shop/), I spent a bunch of time in Harajuku this time around, and it was great. We set a very relaxed schedule, and planned only to walk around and try to go to places and see things that we hadn’t seen before. That said, I couldn’t resist the lure of either Kiddyland (the awesome toy store) or the beautiful Tintin shop, but we did decide to disappear into the sidestreets and back streets of Harajuku, a mostly residential part of town that didn’t get much in the way of tourists. It was wonderful, and a great reminder that there’s so much to Tokyo–and really any travel destination–than the must-see stops in the guidebook.

Popping back around the corner from the Tintin Shop is the Louis Vuitton flagship, which featured a massive installation of work by and based on the art of Takeshi Murakami, which is… pretty awesome! We explored a little bit and found it utterly delightful, but in retrospect I wish we’d lingered a little longer. They were pretty serious about a lack of indoor photographs, unfortunately.

Keep reading…


Item! My good friend Ben Spiegel came up with a very cool Google Map, mapping out where all of the locations from the Scott Pilgrim graphic novels are in the real world! It’s super-neat and I’m all kindsa proud of him! You can check out the map at http://www.sleepisfortheweak.org/sp/ and a fantastic interview with Ben at Torontoist, at http://books.torontoist.com/2010/07/come-on-pilgrim-the-ultimate-scott-pilgrim-map/. Congrats Ben!

Item! My good friend Eric Kim wrote and drew and self-published a book called “The Complete Plays Of William Shakespeare”, in which he has adapted all of The Bard’s plays as two-panel comic strips! It’s a great book that debuted at TCAF this past May, and while I’m a bad friend for not having mentioned it until now the good folks at The National Post have my back. Check out this great feature on Mr. Kim  http://natpo.st/ccEH0X.

Edit: The morning brings fresh, awesome things.

Item! My good friend Steven Murray writes regularly for The National Post, usually dolling out extremely bad advice and wearing branded-panties in the name of politics, but now he’s stepped beyond the pale and started a regular column about “pop culture” for the post. His first installment is about “nerds”, with the focus being nerd-prom (San Diego Comic Con) that just passed. Check it out at http://bit.ly/dnuiBq.

Item! Last week, just before Scott Pilgrim madness, I got invited over to Mr. Corey Mintz’s house to participate in his next FED column, toasting the release of the sixth Scott Pilgrim graphic novel and Mr. Bryan Lee O’Malley. A whole whack of Bryan’s friends were invited over as well, and we all ate very delicious roasted pork shoulder (prepared three ways). It was a lovely evening. You can read all about it at http://bit.ly/9gd4D8

Being 'Fed': Joel + Bry + Me. Photo by Corey Mintz.

- Chris


What follows is the handout from a panel discussion I moderated on Saturday, July 24th at 3:30pm in Room 26AB, called COMICS IN THE CLASSROOM. The panel was tasked with discussing concrete solutions for educators and librarians looking to utilize graphic novels in an educational setting.

Comics In The Classroom

Comic-Con International: San Diego

Saturday, July 24th 2010, 3:30pm, Room 23AB

Panelists:

Anastasia Betts (UCLA) – https://www.uclaextension.edu/r/InstructorBio.aspx?instid=27588

Christina Blanch (Ball State University) – clblanch@bsu.edu

Deborah Ford (San Diego Unified School District) – http://www2.sandi.net/IMC/,

Tracy White (NYU). – http://www.traced.com

Moderated by Christopher Butcher, manager of The Beguiling books in Toronto and writer for http://comics212.net.

Keep reading…


Drawn & Quarterly has acquired North American English rights to two graphic novel memoirs,Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths and NonNonB?, by one of Japan’s most acclaimed and legendary manga-kas, Shigeru Mizuki, it was announced today by Chris Oliveros, Editor-in-Chief, Acquiring Editor and Publisher of Drawn & Quarterly. – Drawn & Quarterly Blog, http://bit.ly/9idG4m

Best news of the show so far!

- Chris


Heya!

So I’ve been twittering photos live from the floor of the San Diego Comic Con all day–you can follow me at http://twitter.com/Comics212 and see all the fun I’m having. That’s me up top, posing with the Super Pro KO Championship Belt–a neat spin-off of the new Oni Press series that looks great. Anyway, here’s a bit of a photo parade from the set-up and preview night! Enjoy!

The Webcomics area, chock full of webcomics.

Jon Rosenberg and Rich Stevens in the final battle.

Dylan Meconis (Family Man), Gary Tyrell (Fleen.com), and Meredith Gran (Octopus Pie) are having a GREAT TIME!

The Topatoco booth… If you want T-shirts, they’ve got you… covered.

This is the emptiest the show will be all weekend.

Sunday Press, publishers of fabulous books.

Oni Press: They got lotsa books.

Oni Press designer Keith Wood models the Super Pro K.O. belt!

Ever wanted to know what 4,000 copies of Scott Pilgrim looked like? Also shown: Charlie Chu.

Hellboy Skelanimals.

Miles and a statue from anime.

It’s the D&Q booth with the energetic Peggy Burns, keep’n it fully real today.

Look, it’s me and the McClouds! Its me in back, then from left Winter as Envy Adams, Ivy, Scott, Robynne (honorary McCloud), and Sky.

So JD Arnold and Rich Koslowski put tigether a special box set for their new album BB Wolf, complete with all kindsa bonus stuff… I forgot to ask how much it was!

- Chris


Chris with Megaphone. Photo by Paul Hillier, http://www.flickr.com/photos/roadragebunny/

I swear, I was much happier than this last night.

Seriously, that was a pretty ridiculous night. We feel like there were over 2,000 people at the event, we did counts on the line and there were over 800 people lined up for Mal for the midnight signing (that went until about 3:45am). About that many in the “I just want my book” line, and people milling out, seeing bands, playing video games, listening to music, drinking, having a good time.

In short, it was the most successful event I’ve ever run. Thanks to everyone who helped out. Thanks to our sponsors. Thanks to Oni for helping us set it up. Thanks for coming out. Thanks for not calling the cops. Oh, and thanks to Mr. O’Malley, who basically killed himself in the service of comics… that’s all I really ask of anyone :)

- Christopher


“I have to admit, I think it’s nice that Robert Kirkman and Bryan Lee O’Malley are due big, crazy weekends at CCI tied into comics work they own and control; I think a weekend-long display of the virtues of that arrangement is a positive for comics. I mean, it’s nice when a big corporation has a big corporate movie for you to enjoy, but I like those projects where if you stare back you can see the primary creator fully invested — figuratively and literally — as opposed to perhaps the latest caretaker who may even be paid for those “handling” duties more than original creator was rewarded.” – Tom Spurgeon, ComicsReporter.com

Well, yes. Yes exactly. I haven’t done a very good job of covering non-me-related happenings at San Diego Comic Con this year, but luckily Spurgeon has, and he’s got the perspective on the show most in tune with my own, on the con floor. So assuming you’re not already doing it, go check out http://comicsreporter.com

- Christopher


So in the interest of nibbling at the hand that feeds me, I wanted to talk a little bit about TWIN SPICA, the new manga series from author Kou Yaginuma, and published in English by the good folks at Vertical publishing.

I want to write about it first and foremost because I thought the first two volumes (now available in better comic and book stores everywhere) are really wonderful stuff. They’re inspiring and strange–a mix of magical realism and science-fiction that’s rare in North American publishing. Essentially, the story is about a group of teenagers that are vying to be a part of Japan’s revamped space program. They enter a highschool set to train young people to go into space (or become support crew) and have trials and tribulations, but it’s set against an awful disaster in the space program that cost hundreds of lives. It’s got drama and pathos, there’s a lot of great research into space and astronaut training that’s evident in the stories, and the lead character’s wistful optimism and is-he-real/isn’t-he-real imaginary friend keeps you guessing at the whole thing. I’m eagerly anticipating the third volume, and the fourth, and the rest of the series really. :)

Now, unfortunately just liking a book isn’t really enough to get me to blog lately (as it is I am late for work typing this out). Yesterday in mentioning this book on twitter, I couldn’t help but mention that people should try it despite it’s cover… And I felt I should elaborate on that a little. As a retailer, I’ve attemped to share my enthusiasm with many customers, but I’ve been thwarted somewhat because… well… you can see that cover right?

The audience for the book in North America is probably older teens and people in their 20s (at least I hope so because the teen market is saturated and full of thieves…). But more importantly, as part of Vertical’s line (folks who have heretofore only published work intended for adults, primarily by Osamu Tezuka) there’s a natural adult crossover. As a bookseller, I look at the people who enjoy Sci-Fi and Drama, people who might’ve really loved the critical-hit / sales-flop PLANETES and want something new to read. But every time I put a copy of Twin Spica in someone’s hands, they take one look at the cover and go “that’s not really my thing”. Why? Well it’s got a moe little girl on a magical background holding glowing orbs… It’s precious, and awkward, and looks verrrrry young by North American standards.

But the book is great.

So I’ve been offering up a money-back guarantee and at that point most people “bite” because I’ve got a good track record with recommendations and there’s almost no risk. But I’m not in every store. I mean, I heard about the book months and months ago through a licensing announcement, and I got excited, and then I saw the art and was convinced that there were two series in Japan called Twin Spica. I’m on board and even I have reservations.

Of course, none of this is to admonish Vertical–far from it. They produced a version very faithful to the Japanese edition, and seeing as this series has a large fan-base they might’ve ended up in a situation similar to the one with Yen Press and the Spice & Wolf novels. Hardcore fans don’t really care if the cover of a book makes it difficult to sell, they want it to be as close to the Japanese as possible without bothering to learn Japanese. They don’t really get that making something a success in the marketplace means that more of that thing can keep coming out in the marketplace, for the most part, and from what I can tell Twin Spica has some very hardcore fans. I don’t think it was in anyone’s best interests to alter the cover design if it meant alienating the people most likely to buy it, but at the same time, I’m kind of in a pickle because that book? Tough sell to the casual manga fan, the 20+ year old manga fan, the non-manga-fan who’d probably enjoy it. Hell, it doesn’t look like any other book Vertical has ever published. Which isn’t even a bad thing. But it does make it pretty difficult to give it a retail context.

Anyway, the point of all of this is: Read Twin Spica. It’s a delightful series that’s off to a great start, and like Vertical’s other recent releases Peepo Choo and Chi’s Sweet Home it’s an interesting step for the company to take, and one they should be rewarded for with sales. Because you really can’t judge this book by its cover.

(You knew that was coming, right?)

- Christopher