Monday, August 30, 2010

This looks interesting: Revolver

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

Description from the publisher (Vertigo):
REVOLVER is an original graphic novel by acclaimed writer/artist Matt Kindt (Super Spy, 3 Story: The Secret History of The Giant Man) that's a tale of two worlds — and how both test a man to his limits. Stuck in a dead-end job with a boss he can't stand and a materialistic girlfriend, Sam rises from a late night of barhopping to discover his whole world has changed. Literally.

An avian flu outbreak has killed millions, the nation's infrastructure has crashed and a dirty bomb has destroyed Seattle. Forced to go on the run, Sam awakes to a normal world the next day – and to chaos again the day after that. A single constant between the two worlds will undo all the damage, if he can find it – but that seems impossible. In one world, anything goes. In the other, he's out of danger and sleepwalking through life. So Sam's got an even bigger problem: Which world to choose?

See what some reviewers have to say about this graphic novel:

Friday, August 27, 2010

Read this: Oni Press' Roller Derby "Jam!"

Alex Dueben at Comic Book Resources interviews some of the creators involved in Jam!: Tales from the World of Roller Derby.

Monica Gallagher: My story is 100% autobiographical. It chronicles what happened when I decided I wanted to stop just watching and be a rollergirl. Well, I took a more casual, no-fault approach, I guess. I wanted to be a rollergirl, but since I didn't even know how to skate, I first decided to learn that part. If that worked, I'd go from there. [...] So, my story is about what happens when you're already an adult and discover a world you never noticed before that you have to become a part of, and along with that, decide you want to learn something so far outside of your comfort zone.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Sequential Crush: Romance Comics Blogstravaganza!

One overlooked genre in comics is the classic romance magazine. Packed with dramatic (and often unabashedly girly) stories of young men and women in love - along with the occasional advice column and fashion spread - they sprang up in the 40s and 50s, with titles produced by just about every major player in the comics game.

Sadly, they disappeared by the turn of the 1980s, and modern reprints show up about as often as a comet made of unicorns. Less sadly, there are a number of blogs devoted to them. Sequential Crush just might be the best, with oodles of scans to admire. Most are from the 60s and 70s, which, as you can see from the cover above, is when the best artists really let loose with their illustrations.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Read this: Talking Comics with Tim: Megan Kelso

Tim O'Shea at Robot 6 talks to Megan Kelso about her newest graphic novel, Artichoke Tales:

I’ve always been drawn to silent passages in comics. [. . .] I have a fair amount to say as a cartoonist, and could never pull off an entirely silent comic that was any longer than 4 or so pages, because eventually, I want to SAY some shit, but I think silent passages in comics can be enormously effective, in allowing the reader to have their own thoughts and interpretation of events, and to serve as contrasts to especially talky passages.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Read Comics in Public Day

Now this is my kind of holiday! Brian Heater and Sarah Morean, the head honchos at The Daily Cross Hatch, have put forth a simple-but-brilliant idea: A day of the year encouraging people to read comics in public!

As Brian Heater puts it:
The concept is fairly simple: we’re asking that everyone take an hour or two out of their day on August 28th (also the birthday of Jack “King” Kirby, incidentally) to read a comic book in a public setting—a park bench, a beach, a bus, the front steps of your local library (we do ask, however, that you be mindful of local loitering laws). Let strangers see you reading a piece of sequential art.

Sounds like a good idea to me! If you've been waiting for the right time to start reading your first graphic novel or volume of manga, give Read Comics in Public day a go!

Monday, August 16, 2010

This Looks Interesting: Sorcerers & Secretaries

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

Description from the publisher (Tokyopop):

Nicole Hayes sure likes to daydream - and who can blame her? She studies a subject she has no interest in so she can satisfy her mother, and she works part time as a receptionist to satisfy her growing debt. But when she's alone with her notebook, she crafts a fantastic story and lets her imagination go-go-go! Meanwhile, her old neighbor Josh pines after Nicole's every step but just can't seem to snap her out of her daydreams and get her to notice him. If only he could see what it was she was dreaming about, maybe he could finally win her over!

See what some reviewers have to say about this series:

Friday, August 13, 2010

I Recommend: Death Note

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

The American manga market, you may have noticed, is dramatically different from the American novel market. Aside from the obvious (manga have pictures, novels generally don't,) there's the matter of "classics." Novelists like Twain, Vonnegut, and Austen have been selling like hotcakes for ages. The manga market is a lot younger, and series fade in and out of vogue more quickly. Only a few titles from the early days are still in print, much less popular.

So when a manga series manages to stick on bestseller lists two years after the final volume's release, you know there's something good going on.

That goodness is Death Note, the story of a young man who finds a notebook. He discovers that anyone whose name is written in the notebook will die, and begins using it to pick off killers, crooks, and thieves - and anyone else who gets in his way. Tsugumi Ohba weaves together one heck of a psychological cat-and-mouse game, helped along by Takeshi Obata's gorgeous, insanely detailed illustrations.

It's all very Dexter, but with a lot less relationship drama and a lot more ink.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Why I'm doing this

Few things do a better job of illustrating why I'm so passionate about introducing people to comics than this news:

The Japanese publisher Shueisha is producing 3.2 million copies of the 59th volume of Eiichiro Oda's One Piece pirate manga - the latest volume in the series to set a manga record for the most copies in its first printing.

3.2 million copies. That's enough to give everyone in the state of Iowa their own copy, with plenty left over. To compare, the first print run for the first graphic novel adaptation of Twilight - one of the most anticipated adaptations of one of the best-selling novels of the decade - was 350,000 copies.

Granted, most manga in Japan aren't quite as popular as One Piece, but it still bums me out a little that a country with one-third of our population buys so many more comics than we do. Come on, American ladies! Let's show these publishers we mean business!

(British ladies, Canadian ladies, and ladies from other countries are welcome to join in too.)

Friday, August 6, 2010

Read These: The Guardian's graphic medicine series

The Guardian (a British newspaper, for those unfamiliar) recently ran a series of articles by Cian O'Luanaigh, covering the ways comics and medicine have overlapped through the years.

Comics put patients in the picture
Fies uses the tools of comics to illustrate metaphors in a literal way. He drew his mother drowning in medical jargon, for example, and walking the tightrope that was balancing her medication. "In comics I'm able to apply these metaphors literally ... a unique application of a unique medium."

Osamu Tezuka: Father of manga and scourge of the medical establishment
Black Jack remains one of the most popular manga of all time in Japan. "I have never met a Japanese person who wasn't familiar with Black Jack, even those who don't usually read manga," said Palmer. "If Astro Boy is the Japanese Superman, Black Jack is the Japanese Batman. Everyone knows him, even far outside the comics world, and when people think of him people think of his fierce critique of the medical world."

Comic superhero Echo fights stereotypes of deaf people
"Most of the people who write or who are artists are hearing, and as a result, traditionally there have been other reasons to portray deaf people. So, for example, they are plot devices; they are catalysts; they are means of reflecting particular aspects or features of a hearing character; they move the plot along, but they're not developed in their own right."

They're all worth a read for those interested in this often-overlooked corner of comics.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Read this: An Interview with Moto Hagio

The treasures from Comic-Con are still trickling in! Here's an interview with Moto Hagio, one of the pioneering creators of shojo manga (those written for teen and preteen girls.)

When I first started working as a professional manga artist, a lot of my stories had people dying and other sad endings. My first editor at Kodansha tried to stop me from drawing such grim material. So I tried to make my stories more cheerful, but he still said, “Too dark!” Then Junya Yamamoto took a liking to my work. He let me draw whatever I wanted, even if it was too dark.

Monday, August 2, 2010

I Recommend: Yotsuba&!

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

Cute. Charming. Adorable. Fun. Sweet. Silly.

Words like these only begin to convey how good this series is at giving readers the warm fuzzies. Yotsuba doesn't spend her days fighting monsters or catching crooks or traveling across the universe (at least, not outside of her just-active-enough imagination.)

Instead she worms her way into the hearts of her neighbors with a cheery disposition. Kiyohiko Azuma is a master of comedic timing, and his simple style is perfect for drawing his young heroine's wide-eyed wonder.

Anyone who parents or works with young children - heck, anyone who's ever been a child - is bound to adore Yotsuba and her everyday antics.