An interview with my friend Jocelyne Allen

My friend Jocelyne Allen is a translator and interpreter, and I’m fortunate enough to work with her a bunch on TCAF. One of her favourite things to say about her job is that “Translation should be invisible, the translator should be invisible,” meaning that the job of the translator is to bring the strongest version of the original author’s words and intent to the focus in this secondary language, and the translator should use the lightest touch possible… which is why I chuckled to myself when I saw that she consented to be the subject of a (very) long interview over at Tofugu. There’s even a lovely illustrated portrait!

I thought Allen-san¬†offered some nice insight into her profession, though having spent many long conversations over a pint with her I know that this interview just scratches the surface of the intricacies of translation and her own thoughts on the art of it. I’d like to interview her myself one day, I think… For now though, go check it out! ūüôā

– Chris

Illustration by ??? I couldn’t find any credit at the Tofugu site…!

My friend Deb Aoki has a new website!

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

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

Comme des Garcons X Katsuhiro OTOMO X NoBrow

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

Three people talking about three comics I like…!

Some good writing in my feed this morning, as three different folks (in two different articles) took time out of their days to talk about some comics that I really enjoy. All three are different in tone and style and execution, but all three are very much worth your time and money.

First up, at Manga Bookshelf, Melinda Beasi and Michelle Smith have a nice conversation about¬†Taiyo Matsumoto’s¬†SUNNY¬†and Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima’s¬†LONE WOLF & CUB.¬†Sunny recently debuted at The Toronto Comic Arts Festival, and I was quite fortunate to be involved in that debut and welcoming author Taiyo Matsumoto to North America for its premiere. The book is phenomenal, quite possibly the strongest of his long career, and its surprising strength has pushed both Beasi and Smith to immediately want to go and read his other work, while they wait for volume 2. That’s high praise indeed, and Sunny is an extraordinary comic that is worth of the praise.

Smith and Beasi follow-up their discussion of Sunny with the impending re-release of¬†Lone Wolf & Cub, now in an omnibus edition with a larger size and page count (volume 1 is 5″x7″ and 712 pages). I have a funny relationship with¬†Lone Wolf & Cub, in that I absolutely love it but I haven’t yet finished the series. I stopped about 3 or 4 volumes from the end, despite being utterly consumed with the story and the world, because I wasn’t prepared for the series to end, and for the inevitable conclusion. I will probably finish it one day, and this re-release from Dark Horse may give me the impetus to do so… but I’m not there yet.

Finally, over at The Comics Journal, Craig Fischer writes an extended appreciation of the “Paul” series of books by Michel Rabagliati. The piece is very good at explaining what’s great about Rabagliati’s comics, and¬†even better¬†at explaining why it’s important to give his work a second or third look if you felt slightly unimpressed by it the first time around. I’m still working on my grand unified theory of why it’s so hard to develop a North American audience for French cartoonists, but Rabagliati is definitely on the list of folks whose work is extraordinarily popular and well-regarded in its native land (in Rabagliati’s instance that’s Quebec, rather than France) but has had difficulty finding an audience in English. I’m so happy to see articles like Fischer’s pushing for a reappraisal of Rabagliati’s work while it is still being published, still incredibly vital, and better-still, still in print. Go and track down Rabagliati’s catalogue at your earliest opportunity.

– Chris

Go, Read: Akino Kondoh’s LADYBIRD’S REQUIEM

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to letter a very cool short story by acclaimed experimental mangaka Akino Kondoh. The story is written and illustrated by Kondoh, translated by my good friend Jocelyne Allen, and it was published online for free at Words Without Borders is a unique organization that “promotes cultural understanding through the translation, publication, and promotion of the finest contemporary international literature.” Filled with short stories, comics, interviews, and more, the site is fascinating and filled to the brim with great content.

You can read Ladybird’s Requiem at¬†

Stick around the site and you can read more comics (and read non-comics stuff too, if you want) by some of my favourites, including¬†√Čtienne Davodeau,¬†Fran√ßois Ayroles, and Killoffer, amongst others.

Thanks to Words Without Borders and Jocelyne for the opportunity!

– Chris


My first Japanese Language Interview

While I was in Japan two weeks back, I have an interview to the Yukari Shiina from AnimeAnime. I was having a lovely dinner with Deb Aoki ( and Yukari, and we decided to turn it into an interview (hopefully) offering some insight into the North American manga market. I dared to criticize scanlation, so I’m sure it will go over well.

Check out both parts of the interview if you read Japanese, or if you trust Google Translate. ūüėČ

– Chris

No more gatekeepers

I feel pretty good about comics right now. This thought was spurred by the news that, the week after the Batman movie opened, the bestselling graphic novel in the country was Raina Telegemeier’s¬†Smile, a semi-autobiographical account of a young girl finding her way through middlegrade. It’s a full-colour graphic novel for kids, girls in particular, and it’s been on-and-off the top of the bestseller lists for the better part of the two years since it was released. Telegemeier’s next book,¬†Drama,¬†arrives at the end of next month and is likely going to do just as well.

Smile started out as mini-comics, and as web-comics, quite a while back. Raina has been making comics and putting them out there for people since before there was a ‘professional’ avenue for her to do so. She was like hundreds of other creators out there in that way, doing work that is (by every other measure) in a popular genre or mode, but where a professional delivery system for that work did not exist in the comics industry.

It does now.

I don’t mean to suggest that there isn’t work to be done of course, but we’ve hit a point where the lie espoused by the industry gatekeepers, that “there isn’t an audience for kids comics” or “there isn’t an audience for girls or womens comics” has finally been put to rest. Oh, the gatekeepers hung onto it as long as they could, “webcomics aren’t comic books” or “manga aren’t comics” or whatever nonsense they dug up. They’re still espousing it to some degree or another–I particularly liked this article by Heidi MacDonald on why superhero publishers will never “get” women–but it’s demonstrably false. Comics for kids sell now, the Lego¬†Ninjago comic has a 425,000 copy first printing, a number that dwarfs most others in comics… and DC had that license at one point btw. Comics for girls (and boys) like¬†Smile¬†continue to sell very well. Despite the gleeful hand rubbing over the demise of manga, it still sells quite well, thanks. And the internet…? The internet is home to a fantastically diverse array of cartoonists either making their living or a significant chunk of it from the online serialization of their work–and they’re coming for print too. ¬†They are COMING FOR PRINT.

Basically, the gates are down. There are smart publishers, and they aren’t turning down projects by rote anymore. Projects with queer characters, for girls, for women, for kids, for people of colour. And where there aren’t publishers, there are now distribution systems for creators to put their work directly in the hands of readers. If your sole desire is to write/draw Spider-Man or Superman (or god help you Batgirl) then, yeah, the gates are tighter than ever. They probably aren’t going to loosen, either. But if your goal is to do¬†comics, and tell stories that reach people, then that’s at least¬†possible¬†now. There is an industry now, where there wasn’t 10 years ago.

It’s bogus to be denied access to the market do to age or gender or ethnicity or sexuality, and those are the gates that I feel have fallen. Now the challenges of these creators are the same, legitimate challenges that established creators have been facing for years–finding and connecting with your audience, digital, piracy, contracts, publishers, distribution, all of that. It’s not easy, and I doubt it ever will be, but I do finally feel that everyone can finally face those challenges together.

– Chris

New Taiyo Matsumoto T-shirts at Uniqlo

Thanks to a note from my friend David, I’ve been informed that there’s a whole new round of Taiyo Matsumoto t-shirts now available at Uniqlo Japan.

The last time I went to MoCCA, the Uniqlo on broadway had an explosion of manga Ts with a ton of Matsumoto designs, and I bought literally one of each of them. This time around, unfortunately, I am not going to be anywhere near a Uniqlo for the foreseeable future, and so I’m a little bummed for myself but super-excited for all of you that will have a shot at wearing the coolest t-shirts ever.

Go check out all 14 designs from Tekkon Kinkreet, Ping Pong, Sunny, and more at

– Chris

NBM to publish Louvre / Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure One-shot!

So here’s a cool thing! To celebrate The Louvre (the renowned Museum in France), the Louvre and a French Publisher co-published a series of graphic novels with The Louvre as the subject. Comics / bande desinee / graphic novels / manga, calll them what you will, these works have been fascinating to read and enjoy and have to date included Nicolas DeCrecy’s Glacial Period, Marc-Antonie Matthieu’s The Museum Vaults, Yslaire’s Sky Over the Louvre, abd Liberge’s On the Odd Hours.

Now NBM brings us the first Japanese co-production, and it’s got a hell of a pedigree. Created by Hirohiko Araki, author of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, comes Rohan at the Louvre, featuring ‘Rohan,’ a super-powered manga creator from the Jojo’s series in a stand-alone, spin-off volume. Araki is known across Japan and Europe for the Jojo’s series as well as for his fashion and art works, including a 2011 collaboration with Gucci to celebrate the brand’s 90th Anniversary this year.

This is kind of a big deal! The solicitation text for the book, as well as a preview of the volume, follows.

More at

Hirohiko Araki

After Glacial Period and The Sky Over the Louvre comes another completely original story with stunning art by a leading mangaka. Rohan, a young mangaka, meets a beautiful mysterious young woman with a dramatic story. Seeing him draw, she tells him of a cursed 200 year old painting using the blackest ink ever known from a 1000 year old tree the painter had brought down without approval from the Emperor who had him executed for doing so. The painting meanwhile had been saved from destruction by a curator of the Louvre. Rohan forgets this story as he becomes famous but ten years later, visiting Paris, he takes the occasion to try and locate the painting. Little does he know how violently powerful the curse of it is until he has the museum unearth it from deep within its archival bowels?

7 ¬ľ x 10 3/8, 128pp. full color hardcover, $19.99 ISBN 978-1-56163-615-0

Preview Page One (read right-to-left):


Preview Page Two:

See the complete 4-page preview at

– Chris @ The Beguiling