Tuesday, November 30, 2010

This looks interesting: Lola: A Ghost Story

Find this graphic novel at: [Amazon] [Borders]

Description from the publisher (Oni Press):
Jesse sees dead people, monsters, demons, and lots of other things that go bump in the night that no one else can see. No one except his ailing grandmother - a woman who used her visions to help those living in her small town. The same rural community in all the scary stories Jesse's heard as a child. Man-eating ogres in trees. Farmhouses haunted by wraiths. Even pigs possessed by the devil. Upon his grandmother's passing, Jesse has no choice but to face his demons and whatever else might be awaiting him at grandma's house.

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

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Read this: 2010's Best New Manga

Three good-lookin' manga from Deb Aoki's list.

We're right on the edge of December, and you know what that means: it's shopping season! And whether you're hunting down presents for your friends or looking for a way to treat yourself, odds are you could use some advice to help you sort through the thousands of gifts available.

Thankfully, Deb Aoki of About.com's manga guide has put together a list of the best manga of 2010. Better yet, it's a list of this year's best new manga, so you can follow a series right from the beginning or grab a one-volume masterpiece while it's still fresh from the printers.

She's also put together a list of continuing series, if you want to see what's been hot for the past couple of years, and mentions some duds that you may wish to avoid.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Check this out: Bento Comics

Now here's a clever idea! Take a look at Bento Comics, a collaborative effort of comics creators posting their short stories online. The coolness doesn't end there, though: Readers can choose their favorite chapters and combine them into a custom print-on-demand book edition. It's the best of both worlds: Take a look at the stories online, then buy them to read later!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

I Recommend: Clan Apis

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

Bees? Bees. Bees! They buzz, they sting, they fly around open soda cans and make people feel uncomfortable. It seems like it'd be impossible to make a compelling comic about them - and yet that's exactly what Jay Hosler did with Clan Apis.

It's a sweet, funny, and occasionally heartbreaking story about Nyuki, a honeybee, as she grows from snarky, sassy larva to a snarky, sassy adult bee. It is, essentially, a coming-of-age story, albeit with far more bee trivia than most. (Hosler is something of a bee expert, and devotes large parts of the book to explaining bee society and behavior. Thankfully, he's a good enough storyteller to do this in a way that will keep even the most science-phobic folks entertained.)

On top of that, the artwork is fantastic. The expressions are clear and vibrant, which is especially impressive considering that all the characters are bugs (and, in one case, a flower) with no human characteristics whatsoever. Better yet, the panel layouts are dynamic without being too complicated, making this a fine first comic for anyone who likes books about growing up, biology, or both.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Ask a comics creator!

One of the great things about the comics world these days is that so many creators are on the internet, where connecting with their readers is easier than ever before.

A fine example is Svetlana Chmakova, creator of both Dramacon and Nightschool, who is having a public Q&A session on her Live Journal page right this very minute! She's leaving it open to questions through Sunday, so if you want to ask a question about her inspirations, her creative process, or anything else, give it a go!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

How to Read Comics

Reading comics is often frustrating for beginners. Even the smartest people can walk away from their first try a little confused.

Some people think they're too old or set in their ways to read comics correctly, but that's far from the truth. In fact, most people have years of practice already. Anyone who's ever looked at an instruction booklet or airplane safety brochure has had experience with a rudimentary form of comics.

By keeping the following tips in mind, anyone can transform their relationship with comics from "puzzling" to "pleasant."

Tip #1: Read the pictures.

Many newcomers to the format focus on the dialogue, jumping from word balloon to word balloon and only occasionally glancing at the pictures. While this may work for readers in a hurry, it's far from what the comic's creator intended.

Remember that this is a unique medium, and writers use it for a reason. Comics aren't simply novels with illustrations, just as movies aren't simply audiobooks with a slideshow.

To see how important images are to fully understanding comics, take a look at this panel:

Now compare it to this panel:

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Read this: 10 Lessons For Better Colouring

Brian McLachlan, creator of the webcomics The Princess Planet and Smooth 'n' Natural, recently wrote a wonderfully extensive (and illustrated!) article on how to color comics.

Comics is sequential story telling and therefore its primary goal is not making the nicest picture – its about making the clearest picture to illustrate your story. Just like you don’t draw every hair on a persons head, every pore on their skin and every leaf on a tree, you need to make decisions about what colours you will and won’t include.

It's written primarily for comics creators, but readers (and someday-readers) should give it a look as well. Comics gain a whole new level of enjoyment when you understand exactly what an artist has done to make their work look beautiful.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Read this: Gay for You? Yaoi and Yuri Manga for GBLTQ Readers

Over at About.com, Deb Aoki provides a transcript of Gay for You? Yaoi and Yuri Manga for GBLTQ Readers, a discussion panel at this years New York Anime Fest:

Scott Robins: In just my reading of yaoi, I notice that there's a lot of high tension and desperation, and there's something really interesting about that. I don't think you see that in a lot of other romance comics. It's shown in an especially visual way in these stories; you see the tension in their faces and in their actions. I think that's what makes it appealing.

A bit of background: Yaoi and yuri are genres of manga focusing on male/male and female/female relationships, respectively. While both have their share of gay and lesbian fans, they're often created by and for straight people. It goes without saying that an outsider depicting same-sex relationships can end up as anything from inaccurate to offensive - hence the panel's focus on titles that, from a gay/lesbian perspective, get things mostly right.

Deb Aoki also took the time to post the panel's list of titles recommended for GBLTQ readers. Don't feel like you have to ignore the list if you're straight, though - good comics are good comics, no matter who they're written for.