Friday, July 30, 2010

Read this: A womanly chat with Vanessa Davis

Drawn & Quarterly is one of the top "indie" publishers in comics, bringing us work far outside the typical swords and superheroes fare. One of their upcoming graphic novels is Make Me A Woman by Vanessa Davis, the subject of this interview at Robot 6:

When I decided to start drawing comics, it was a challenge to know how to do it. It seemed like real cartoonists were much more polished, had a visual language that flowed out of them like speech. So for me, I felt like I needed to tighten up and get to that point. I was overwhelmed  by not knowing how to start, or what I wanted my comics to look like, so I decided to keep a sketchbook diary, where I could teach myself these things as I went along, make those decisions as they came up.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

This Looks Interesting: Market Day

Find this graphic novel at: [Amazon] [Borders] [Barnes & Noble]

Description from the publisher (Drawn and Quarterly):

An expectant father, Mendleman's life goes through an upheaval when he discovers he can no longer earn a living doing the work that defines him— making well-crafted rugs by hand. A proud artisan, he takes his donkey-drawn cart to the market only to be turned away when the distinctive shop he once sold to now only stocks cheaply manufactured merchandise. As the realities of the market place sink in, Mendleman unravels.

See what some reviewers have to say about this book:

Monday, July 26, 2010

The 2010 Eisner Awards

The Eisner Awards are, to borrow an award-show-comparing cliche, a bit like the Oscars of the comics industry. All the Eisner Awards are missing, really, is the nationally televised awards show. They get the next best thing, though: a ceremony held at San Diego Comic-Con.

The 2010 ceremony - the award's 22nd year - was held this weekend. Taking a look at the winners, as well as the nominees, is a good way to get a glimpse at some of the best comics of the past year.

Below is a selection of some of the winners. A full list can be found at the official Comic-Con International site.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Comic Magazine Yen Plus Goes Digital

In 2008, Yen Press (the comics imprint of Hatchette) began publishing an anthology magazine called Yen Plus. The magazine was cancelled several months ago, (this month's issue is the last to hit stores,) but with that news came an even more exciting announcement: Yen Plus is moving online!

The online launch started today, and as a special treat, the August issue is free. From September onwards, those who choose to subscribe will pay $2.99 a month for access to the two most recent issues.

Yen Plus is aimed at older teens, with adaptations of Young Adult novels like Maximum Ride and Gossip Girl alongside original series and Korean manhwa. Most of the comics are several chapters in, but this issue does have two new series and one short story, along with quick recaps for the ongoing series.

As the digital edition is still brand new, there are a couple of bugs, but for the most part it runs smoothly and loads quickly. Anyone who likes YA action and drama should give this sample issue a try.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I Recommend: Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei

Find the first volume at: [Amazon] [Borders] [Barnes & Noble]

Seinfeld + Harold and Maude + Peanuts = Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei.

That's pretty much the only way I can describe the way this series feels. The protagonist doesn't just see the glass as half-empty, he's convinced someone else has spat in it out of spite. To make matters worse, he teaches a class full of losers, delinquents, and plain old freaks, including a girl who sees things as positively as he does negatively - so much that she's convinced people who hang themselves are just "trying to make themselves taller."

Much of the humor comes from Koji Kumeta riffing on Japanese culture. This could have been a disaster for American readers, but thankfully the translators at Del Rey pack the end of each volume with pages full of translation notes and cultural trivia, (something they do for many other series,) making Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei almost as informative as it is hilarious.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Read This: “Hey, so how’s that graphic novel coming?”

Novelist Sara Ryan is working on the script for her new graphic novel, and takes some time to share the ways writing comics is like and unlike writing novels.

The process is not simply about determining what happens to which characters, and how to transition between different parts of the story. It’s about how the reader will see it all play out on the page. Close on the characters, for nuances of expressions and body language? Tiny silhouettes against a complex and crowded background?

It's a neat look at the creative process, and shows how comics authors must learn to "write" with pictures, even if they aren't drawing the final art.

(And in other news, I adore the design of Sara Ryan's website. It's like all my favorite colors on one page!)

Friday, July 16, 2010

This Looks Interesting: Oishinbo

Find the first volume at: [Amazon] [Borders] [Barnes & Noble]

Description from the publisher (Viz Media):

To commemorate its 100th anniversary the heads of newspaper Tozai Shimbun come up with a plan to publish the “Ultimate Menu”. The assignment is given to journalist Yamaoka Shiro, the protagonist of the series. With the help of a female coworker, Kurita Yuko, Yamaoka starts off on what can only be termed an epic saga to find the dishes hat will go into the “Ultimate Menu”.

See what some reviewers have to say about this series:

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Read this: Melinda Beasi Talks Japanese Comics

Osmosis Online has an interview with Melinda Beasi, who runs the review blog Manga Bookshelf. In it she talks about the titles that turned her into a fan, what it's like to be a manga critic, and even suggests a few titles for manga newbies.

OO: What was your first exposure to manga? What made you a true fan? And what ultimately made you a critic?
MB: It’s actually kind of hilarious that I ended up getting into manga, because just weeks before I became a fan, I’d made this big proclamation in my blog at the time about why I could never get into comics or animation. Then a friend finally convinced me to try a shonen manga called Hikaru no Go. I went crazy for it, and that was that. There was a sort of pure optimism regarding the nature of humanity permeating the entire story which really appealed to me at the time. It’s a quality I now associate with a specific genre of manga, but in the moment, I found it very refreshing. After that, I was hooked.

If you want some tips on good manga to start out with, or just want to learn about what it's like to be a book reviewer, be sure to give this interview a quick read.

Monday, July 12, 2010

I Recommend: Top 10

Find the first volume at: [Amazon] [Borders] [Barnes & Noble]

Alan Moore is, if not the biggest name in comics, at least worthy of some county fair-type prize ribbons. Several of his comics have been adapted into big-budget Hollywood movies, ranging from "pretty great" to "let's forget that ever happened." Watchmen, his grim and gritty superhero story that inspired hundreds of other grim and gritty superhero stories, has appeared on almost every Top 10 Graphic Novels list ever.

But today there's another Top 10 I'd like to focus on: the two-volume series written by Moore himself. (Okay, there have been a few spin-offs, but it's this first story I know well enough to recommend.)

And boy, do I recommend it. Moore starts with a premise ripe for fun - a city where every resident has superpowers - and ends up with an edge-of-your-seat police drama. The plot twists and turns like a roller coaster, with bright, beautiful art supplied by Gene Ha and Zander Cannon.

Even the backgrounds in Top 10 are a treat, with brief appearances by pop-culture icons like Astro Boy and the Yellow Submarine, as well as a look at what the escapist entertainment of superheroes might be like. Apparently, in a city full of robots and aliens and people who fly, the perfect wish-fulfillment role is Business Man.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Where to Get Comics

So maybe you've found a comic book, graphic novel, or manga series you'd like to read. Or maybe you'd like to surround yourself with comics and browse around. But where to go? Thankfully, there are plenty of options for comics shopping these days.

Comic Book Stores
If you live in or near a big city, chances are you're just a short drive away from a comic book store. The site can show you the stores closest to your ZIP code. Smaller shops tend to have a more limited selection, often focusing on superhero, sci-fi, and horror comics.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

I Recommend: Vampire Knight

Find the first volume at: [Amazon] [Borders] [Barnes & Noble]

Let me make one thing clear: Vampire Knight is not fine literature. It is a known fact of science that most copies of To Kill a Mockingbird would rather go through the shredder than be put on the same shelf as a volume of Vampire Knight.

But that's okay, because Vampire Knight doesn't try to be fine literature.

Instead, it tries - quite successfully, in my humble opinion - to embrace its sparkly, melodramatic, red-and-black-soaked madness. The heroine Yuki finds herself torn (occasionally almost literally torn, skin-wise) between handsome guys of varying vampire-tude, with every chapter delivering a new revelation about who's a vampire and who knows about who's being a vampire and who didn't tell who about who's being a vampire when they really probably should have.

Confusing, perhaps, but deliciously confusing.

If this reminds you of another "teen vampires in love" series, you probably already know how you're going to feel about this manga. Readers not immediately turned off by the idea of gorgeous young bloodsuckers should take a look at Viz's preview of the first chapter.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Watch this: Masters of Manga

Spanish manga translator Marc Bernabé has put together an incredible blog called Masters of Manga, following his journey to create a book about the history of manga. It's already chock full of profiles, interviews, and videos of manga artists at work, like this one of Shuho Sato drawing the protagonist of his series Say Hello to Black Jack.