You may remember me mentioning my friend Dave Lapp’s new graphic novel from Conundrum Press, Drop-In, a little while back when we did the signing. It looks like Dave got a nice little feature in today’s installment of The Toronto Star, which is pretty cool:

“Dave Lapp has drawn a graphic novel homage to the Regent Park art centre he’s worked in for 12 years. It says as much about him as it does about the centre and the kids who frequent it.

“Drop-In is defined by tension and anxiety, attained through assembling peculiar moments perched on a razor’s edge between awkward and actual danger.” - Ian Marlow, Toronto Star

Congrats, Dave!

- Chris
Header image contains element from photo by VINCE TALOTTA/TORONTO STAR.


So for Christmas I decided to treat myself a to a complete reading of Naoki Urasawa’s Monster, an 18 volume manga series translated and published in English by Viz. I’d read the first five volumes as they were coming out, but unfortunately got sidetracked as the series progressed. Since I had a free day, deliberately clear of any obligations, I decided I’d give it a go.

So, honestly? It’s just an exceptionally well-done comic. There’s no way to look at this and not recognize the incredibly high level of craft, the sheer ability put into this series. The character development, the labrynthine plot, and just how compelling it is as a story! There wasn’t one point while reading that dragged for me, where I wasn’t propelled into the next chapter, the next book. And the art! It’s understated, probably doesn’t give the best impression on the ‘flip-test’, but it’s pretty clear that Urasawa and his legion of assistants can draw pretty much anything; any expression, any angle, any background character, and dozens of unique faces and body-types and even body language. He has a wonderful gift for caricature too, character faces that could seem cartoony (or in some cases grotesque…) work very well within the context of the story. The series is in almost every respect fantastically accomplished.

The thing that bugged me, is bugging me, is the ending. It’s why I am blogging at 5:10am instead of, you know, being asleep for when I have to get up for work in 3 hours. :(

I’m having a hard time reconciling the decisions of some of the characters, and am… unclear… on how some of it played out. I’ve got theories on some of it, and my theories are leading me to be more disappointed than not. I think part of the problem is that enough of the “plot” was resolved, but a lot of it was left open-ended as well, giving us instead the emotional resolution we needed. But in a page-turner thriller graphic novel series, I’m not… entirely… ready to just accept the emotional resolution and forget the rest.

I don’t really want to read it again at this point, as I am tired, but I kind of hope I get to wake up tomorrow and there’ll be lots of discussion in the comments section here. I know there was lots of discussion when this series wrapped up in Japan (and in scans), and lots of… heated… commentary arose out of it, but honestly I tried to stay away knowing that I’d read it all one day for myself.

Anyway, your thoughts would be welcome, dear readership, if you’ve read it yourselves. Maybe I’ll try and coax some of my buddies out for a beer after work tomorrow (today…) and we can try and figure it out.

Until then, feel free to let loose in the comments section!

- Chris


Thanks for reading the site. I hope you and yours have a Happy Holiday Season, and a Merry Christmas.

- Chris


I just read 1200 posts from my feed. Well, maybe skimmed? I read most of them though. Brain’s a little mushy now, but I stand by the last post. Ugh. Anyway, I feel like I’m kind of getting back in the game here, with the blogging and whatnot. So, here are thoughts on the last 2-3 weeks of comics internet:

Spurge, I think manga is going to stay how it is, but it’s going to be pushed more to the extremes: big sellers (high end shonen and shoujo, licenses/OEL) and boutique products with higher price points (yaoi, art manga, porn). We’re going to lose about 50% of the midlist by the end of 09, imho.

I think the artcomix vs. superhero dichotomy is stupid, and I’m kind of done with binary arguments when it comes to comics. Comics is comics, good or bad. Trying to reduce arguments down to us and them is unevolved. Get with it.

The book industry is worried, but it’s actually a pretty good area for comics still, as compared to everything else. Comics still shows growth, or less loss, and comics is still a boutique product when compared to any other section of the bookstore. Again, the midlist is going to get shaken out (I wish it’d get shaken out HARDER personally), but enh. No big.

Speaking specifically to… someone’s… observation on First Second getting reorganized into MacMillan’s children’s group, and how “comics are automatically considered to be for children”, I think that’s jumping the gun. Children’s book editors and publicists are the only people at a publishing company who have experience editing narrative work with pictures. Graphic novels and children’s books share a wealth of common concerns from acquisitions through production through marketing, it’s probably a smart move… Who knows how it’ll play in the long run.

I’m working on my Best of 2008 list, but I have to finish my best of 2007 list first. Lots of good suggestions on other peoples lists though.

Here’s something: I don’t think I read even one post about the Buffy Season 8 comics from the last 3 weeks, but they were our best-selling comics of 2008 by a really good margin. I know that, 20 issues in, the newness of the story has faded a little, but I actually went and read them and they’re really well done, some of the best “licensed” work I’ve ever read and fans of the television show are totally in love with them… There was a bit of rough patch there for a minute, but people seemed to dig the Dracula and Fray arcs. I think the Buffy and comics like it might be their own little industry, operating underneath the radar but doing a lot of heavy lifting.

AdHouse’s 2009 line-up looks great.

Look for Comics Festival 2009! in the Previews catalog tomorrow. Nice new cover by Emmanuel Guibert.

Okay, that’s it. We’re getting our new comics on Christmas Eve, in Canada, and I need to be at work in a little over 5 hours. Wish me luck.

- Christopher
Photo of Kewpie Doll toys from Japan by me, because it’s weird.

I’m kind of sorry I ever picked on Blog@ previously… This whole new crew is just brutal. I’m done, delisting them from the sidebar, last post even talking about them until they shape up.

What pushed me over the edge? Well I’m about a week behind on my feed reading, but I just came across a post at the Blog, talking about Naruto and Bleach anime at iTunes in Canada. Which is a non-story, and just sort of lame, but fine. What pushes the whole thing into all-caps LAME is that they illustrated the article about Naruto anime… with Fan Art. Like they have no idea what Naruto anime looks like. Better still? Fan Art by COREY LEWIS (Sharknife). Not exactly an unknown creator, you know? And they didn’t credit him, or link his site, they just used his art commercially without asking him. And they didn’t correct the story when folks wrote in in the comments section saying “Hey, what’s up with this?”

Just… just amateur hour. I don’t need to be reading this site.

If you need to see for yourself, it’s a December 17th entry. I’m not linking them.

Merry Christmas.

- Christopher
P.S. Check out Corey Lewis’ stuff online at

Just received from Archie Comics in a press release:

“Ever since Archie’s first appearance in 1941, Archie Comics has prided itself with keeping up with the fads and fashions of the times.  That includes technology.  Photocopiers, fax machines, microwaves, video players, compact music players, the internet. you name it. Archie Comics has been there through every innovation, exploring each with hilarious humor as the classic cast of characters both utilize and wrestle with modern technology.  This March, several stories highlight the latest gadgets in goofy fashion, as only Archie Comics can!”

The part that they forgot to mention is that they are consistently 10 years behind in doing so. For example, I present the rest of the press release:

“ARCHIE #595: “Home Insecurity”: After robbers break into his safe, Mr. Lodge upgrades his security system to protect his property. but who will protect him from the ever-pervasive new system?!”

I hate to be all “Simpsons Did It”, but just in terms of “keeping up with the fads” The Simpsons did wacky-home-security-antics with Pierce Brosnan 2 years ago. Yikes.

Other issues that month will have (not joking) Archie addicted to text messaging, Betty & Veronica joining “The Geek Squad” (like Best Buy! Only not-litigious!), and Reggie having some sort of problem with camera phones. I hear Archie might even get Vista for Christmas… next year.

Watch out Ellis, Archie’s nipping at your body-modified, cybernetically-enhanced heels.

- Chris


A Drifting Life
By Yoshihiro Tatsumi
$29.95, Trade paperback, 6.5 x 8.75 inches, 840 pages, b/w.

The 840 page epic autobiography of a manga master, edited and designed by Adrian Tomine.

Over four decades ago, Yoshihiro Tatsumi expanded the horizons of comics storytelling by using the visual language of manga to tell gritty, literary stories about the private lives of everyday people. He has been called “the grandfather of Japanese alternative comics” and has influenced generations of cartoonists around the world. Now the visionary creator of The Push Man and Good–Bye has turned his incisive, unflinching gaze upon himself. Over ten years in the making, A Drifting Life is Tatsumi’s most ambitious, personal, and heart–felt work: an autobiographical bildungsroman in comics form, a massive 840 page book edited and designed by Adrian Tomine. Using his life–long obsession with comics as a framework, Tatsumi weaves a complex story that encompasses family dynamics, Japanese culture and history, first love, the intricacies of the manga industry, and most importantly, what it means to be an artist. Alternately humorous, enlightening, and haunting, this is the masterful summation of a fascinating life and an historic career.

[Chris' Note: This is so awesome.]



Shortcomings: New Trade paperback edition
By Adrian Tomine
$ 14.95, Trade paperback, 6.5 x 9 inches, 104 pages, b/w

The 2007 New York Times Book Review Notable Book, now in a new paperback.

Lauded for its provocative and insightful portrayal of interpersonal relationships, Adrian Tomine’s politically charged Shortcomings was one of the most acclaimed books of 2007. Among many interviews and reviews in outlets around the country, Tomine was interviewed by Terry Gross on NPR’s Fresh Air and also in The Believer, New York magazine, and Giant Robot. Shortcomings landed on countless “best of” lists, including those in Entertainment Weekly and The New York Times; was praised by Junot Díaz in Publishers Weekly; and was the subject of a solo review in The New York Times Book Review that drew comparison between Tomine and Philip Roth. The groundbreaking graphic novel now returns in paperback.



32 Stories: Special Edition
By Adrian Tomine
$ 19.95, Box with 8 facsimile mini comics, 5.5 x 8.5 inches, varying page lengths for each mini comic.

Adrian Tomine’s first book, now redesigned in a special box set edition.

Redesigned to coincide with the release of Shortcomings in paperback is a brand new edition of Adrian Tomine’s first book, 32 Stories, that collects his inaugural mini-comics in a special edition. This onetime printing includes facsimile reprints of the seven mini-comics packaged in a slipcase, as well as an additional pamphlet containing a new introduction and notes by Tomine. Between the ages of seventeen and twenty, Adrian Tomine self–published a series of “mini–comics”: small, hand–assembled booklets that he wrote, drew, and distributed himself. Entitled Optic Nerve, these comics were comprised of short vignettes and stories which displayed a youthful energy, an unabashed sense of experimentation, and the first hints of the distinctive, realist style that Tomine would go on to perfect. Over the course of those three years, word of mouth spread about these comics, and something that began as a teenage hobby was recognized as the arrival of a promising new talent. This special edition of 32 Stories presents those rare, early mini–comics for the first time in archival facsimile form: all seven issues in their entirety, faithfully reproduced and collected in one box.


Backlist Offered Again


abandon_the_old_in_tokyo_200.jpgAbandon The Old in Tokyo (New 2nd printing)
By Yoshihiro Tatsumi
$ 19.95, Hardcover, 6.5 x 8.75 inches, 224 pages, b/w.

New printing of one of Yoshihiro Tatsumi’s key titles.

Abandon the Old in Tokyo is the second in a three-volume series that collects the short stories of Japanese cartooning legend Yoshihiro Tatsumi. Designed and edited by Adrian Tomine, the first volume, The Push Man and Other Stories, debuted to much critical acclaim and rightfully placed Tatsumi as a legendary precursor to the North American graphic-novel movement. Abandon the Old in Tokyo continues to delve into the urban underbelly of 1960s Tokyo, exposing not only the seedy dealings of the Japanese everyman but Tatsumi’s maturation as a story writer.


good_bye_200.jpgGood-Bye & Other Stories (O/A)
By Yoshihiro Tatsumi
$ 19.95, Hardcover, 6.5 x 8.75 inches, 224 pages, b/w.

Yoshihiro Tatsumi’s recent book.

Good-Bye is the third in a series of collected short stories from Drawn & Quarterly by the legendary Japanese cartoonist Yoshihiro Tatsumi, whose previous work has been selected for several annual “top 10” lists, including those compiled by Amazon and Drawn in 1971 and 1972, these stories expand the prolific artist’s vocabulary for characters contextualized by themes of depravity and disorientation in twentieth-century Japan.

Some of the tales focus on the devastation the country felt directly as a result of World War II: a prostitute loses all hope when American GIs go home to their wives; a man devotes twenty years of his life to preserving the memory of those killed at Hiroshima, only to discover a horrible misconception at the heart of his tribute. Yet, while American influence does play a role in the disturbing and bizarre stories contained within this volume, it is hardly the overriding theme. A philanthropic foot fetishist, a rash-ridden retiree, and a lonely public onanist are but a few of the characters etching out darkly nuanced lives in the midst of isolated despair and fleeting pleasure.


push_man_and_other_stories_200.jpgThe Push Man & Other Stories (O/A)
By Yoshihiro Tatsumi
$ 19.95, Hardcover, 6.5 x 8.75 inches, 224 pages, b/w.

Groundbreaking first book by Yoshihiro Tatsumi.

Designed and edited by one of today’s most popular cartoonists, Adrian Tomine, The Push Man and Other Stories is the debut volume in a groundbreaking new series that collects Tatsumi’s short stories about Japanese urban life.

Tatsumi’s stories are simultaneously haunting, disturbing, and darkly humorous, commenting on the interplay between an overwhelming, bustling, crowded modern society and the troubled emotional and sexual life of the individual.


scrapbook.jpgScrapbook (O/A)
By Adrian Tomine
$ 24.95, Trade paperback, 8.5 x 12 inches, 204 pages, color

The ultimate collection by one of the most recognized talents in graphic novels.

This essential book includes over a decade of comics and illustrations Adrian Tomine, from Pulse to The New Yorker and Esquire, collected together for the first time in one sharply-designed book. Scrapbook is the first comprehensive Adrian Tomnie collection. here you’ll find the complete run of strips which was originally published in Tower Records’ Pulse Magazine which Adrian started when he was only 17, along with comics originally published in Details and a host of other magazines of the past decade. A large section of Scrapbook is dedicated to Tomine’s extensive illustration and design work, featuring his best material over the years from virtually every major publication in America including The New Yorker, Details, Esquire, and the late JFK Jr.-edited George. Tomine’s art has also graced popular album covers and posters for bands such as The Eels and Weezer and posters and it’s all included here in this beautifully packaged book.


sleepwalk_200.jpgSleepwalk & Other Stories (O/A)
By Adrian Tomine.
$ 17.95, Trade paperback, 7.5 x 10 inches, 102 pages, b/w

An early key title by Adrian Tomine.

Collecting the first four issues of Adrian Tomine’s acclaimed comic series Optic Nerve, this book offers sixteen concise, haunting tales of modern life. The characters here appear to be well-adjusted on the surface, but Tomine takes us deeper into their lives, subtly examining their struggle to connect with friends and lovers.