Monday, October 10, 2011

Women Working in Comics Results

The results of the Women Working in Comics survey are in! This survey received 72 responses - not the kind of numbers you'd want to hinge a national election on, but it's enough to get a general trend for our purposes.

(Note: Some questions were based on responses to previous questions, and a few respondents seem to have plain ol' skipped questions, so there are some where fewer than 72 respondents answered.)

The respondents to this survey were relatively young. 61% were between 19 and 30 years old, and another 28% were between 31 and 40 years old. The older the age group, the fewer respondents - this makes sense, given the rise in interest in comics in recent years. Only one respondent reported being younger than 19 years old.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Women Working in Comics Survey: Respond now!

It's not much of a secret that I'm wild about surveys - this blog's Women and Comics readership surveys are prominently featured and frequently plugged (such as here, for example!)

So it's no surprise that my little crush on surveys has led to a new one: This time, for women working within the comics industry!

If you are a woman over the age of 13 who
  • creates comics
  • sells comics
  • publishes comics
  • reviews/reports on comics
or is otherwise involved in the production or promotion of comic books, graphic novels, manga, or other long-form comics, please take a few minutes to fill out the survey, which can be found here:

The survey has 18 questions, most of them multiple-choice with a few write-ins. It is completely anonymous and does not ask any identifying questions beyond your age group and a few determining the nature of your work.

Even if you don't fill out the survey, if you know any women who work within the comics industry, tell them about it! More responses means better information and a clearer picture of the women working in this field.

    Monday, September 12, 2011

    Read this: Life, Love and Storytelling: Craig Thompson's 'Habibi'

    The cover to Thompson's latest graphic novel.

    Craig Thompson, the cartoonist behind several critically acclaimed works, is getting ready for the debut of his latest graphic novel, Habibi, a 672-page epic set to hit shelves on September 20th. Included in his prep is an interview with Publisher's Weekly where he shares many insights into the creation of the book, such as incorporating Arabic calligraphy:

    I don’t know Arabic. I can’t speak or write it. So the Arabic calligraphy you see in the book is more of sort of a collage sampling. [. . .] And it’s almost better to not see the words when you’re looking at them and you can just appreciate them for their visual aesthetic, rather than have the meaning of the words get in the way. Sometimes I would just have to create my own compositions and look up words in the dictionary. And then I would have to create my own calligraphic compositions, but then some of them are tributes to famous calligraphers whose calligraphic compositions were a big inspiration.

    Thompson is best known for his memoir Blankets, a book that's introduced many readers to the comics medium. Habibi will surely be another fine read for people who appreciate the occasional bittersweet work of literature.

    Wednesday, September 7, 2011

    Graphic novels for as low as $1?!

    Top Shelf's page announcing the sale.

    It's too good to be true, and yet it is! Top Shelf - one of the more artsy, literary comics publishers in the US - has apparently hit a bit of a speed bump, thanks to the less-than-pleasant economy. To make it easier for them to produce the next batch of comics masterpieces, they've set up a ginormous sale.

    Through September 23rd, nearly 200 graphic novels and comic books from their catalog are going on sale. The price reductions vary depending on hardcover/softcover, page count, and so on, but generally speaking they're all really sweet deals. The most expensive item on the list is $35, while over 100 separate books are as low as $3 or $1.

    Top Shelf produces some incredible stuff, much of it perfect for readers stepping into the medium for the first time - especially those who enjoy "indie"-style stuff in other mediums such as film and music. They've also got a healthy selection of fantastic children's comics for the discerning junior reader.

    Tuesday, August 23, 2011

    I Recommend: Wandering Son

    Find the first volume of this series at: [Amazon] [Barnes & Noble]

    Let this be clear: Wandering Son is possibly the best story about transgender characters I've experienced in any medium, period. (Granted, I haven't seen/read that many.) It's about two fifth-graders, Shuichi and Yohsino as they begin to come to terms with, and practice, their preferred identities. Shuichi delights in performing a female role in the class play, Yoshino revels in uniform-clad anonymity on the opposite side of town, etc.

    Creator Shimura Takako really puts the "slice" in "slice of life," delivering the story one little vignette at a time. It makes the transitions feel a bit jumpy at times - it can be hard to tell if two scenes are supposed to be one class period or a whole day apart, for example - but ultimately benefits the pacing. Takako delivers layer after layer of emotional punches, builds up to a major heartbreaking (or heartwarming) blow, and begins the process all over again. Her artwork fits perfectly as well, with characters drawn sweetly enough to show off their innocence without getting overly "cute."

    As a special feature, the English version by Fantagraphics includes a short essay on the use of honorifics in the Japanese language. While honorifics are largely incidental in most manga, their relationship with status and gender give Wandering Son yet another sheet of emotional substance.

    Thursday, August 18, 2011

    So what are webcomics?

    Welcome to the final installment of the So What Are...? series. We finish off with one of the newest comics formats: webcomics! (To read previous articles in this series, check the tag.)

    So what are webcomics?
    Webcomics, as you may have guessed, are comics . . . on the web! Webcomics are posted directly onto the internet, usually with no previous form of publication. They've been around about as long as the internet itself, with the earliest comics debuting in the mid-1980s, but really started taking off in the late 1990s. Today there are countless webcomics out there. (Seriously, any attempt to count them all would take ages.)

    Tuesday, August 16, 2011

    So what are manga?

    Part four of our five-part series on comics and comics formats is here! Previous parts can be found in the so what are...? tag. Today's topic: manga!

    So what are manga?
    Manga are, quite simply, comics from Japan. (In Western usage, at least - in Japan it simply means comics in general, homegrown and foreign ones alike.)

    Sunday, August 14, 2011

    So what are graphic novels?

    This is part three of a five-part series about comics and several comics formats. For previous installments, check out the so what are...? tag! Today, we'll discuss graphic novels.

    So what are graphic novels?
    Graphic novels are, bluntly put, "comics with a spine." (That's a book-style spine, not the body part - ew!) There are two types of graphic novel:

    Thursday, August 11, 2011

    So what are comic books?

    Welcome to the second in a five-part series discussing the medium of comics and several of its formats. (For other parts in the series, check the so what are...? tag.) Today we'll be discussing comic books!

    So what are comic books?
    Well, for one thing, they'd probably be more accurately named "comic magazines", but the word "books" stuck so there you go. Comic books are published on a regular basis - typically monthly - in issues of roughly 20-30 pages each.

    A single issue of a comic book is roughly equivalent to a single episode of a TV show - depending on the series, it can either be its own mini-story or a small piece of a larger narrative.

    Tuesday, August 9, 2011

    So what are comics?

    Welcome to the first of a five-part series! Inspired by the apparent format confusion I noticed in 2011's Non-Reader Survey, the So What Are...? series aims to explain the basics of comics and several of their formats. Today's article:

    So what are comics?

    Comics, like any other medium, are tricky to define. Scott McCloud - a comics creator and theorist - came up with the following definition in his book Understanding Comics:

    Juxtaposed pictorial and other images in deliberate sequence, intended to convey information and/or to produce an aesthetic response in the viewer.

    I've come up with my own similar, yet simpler (some could argue more imprecise) definition:

    Thursday, July 28, 2011

    I Recommend: Magic Knight Rayearth

     Find the omnibus collection at: [Amazon] [Barnes & Noble]

    To say the all-woman Japanese creative group CLAMP are giants in the comics world is to make a gross understatement. Producing professional work since the late 1980s, their 20+ series have sold nearly 100 million copies and many have received animated adaptations. (Compare this to the manga biz as a whole, where most artists are lucky to get just one hit series and adaptations are once-in-a-lifetime events for all but the biggest creators.)

    Their first real megahit - and, less than coincidentally, a series that's recently gotten a fancy rerelease here in the States - is Magic Knight Rayearth. It starts off with a typical teen fantasy plot: three girls are transported into a magical realm, where they have been summoned to save a princess. From there, though, it takes off in its own direction, with the twists and turns CLAMP has become famous for.

    It's a great introduction to their work - and fantasy manga in general - with beautifully detailed artwork and an epic story.

    Sunday, July 24, 2011

    Viz launches online manga site!

    A screenshot from Viz Manga's home page. Visible are Bakuman, a teen comedy/drama about comics-making; Solanin, a gritty coming-of-age drama; Black Bird, a creepy teen paranormal romance; and Blue Exorcist, a supernatural action series. Talk about variety!

    This weekend was San Diego Comic-Con, the largest comics convention in the U.S. Just about every comics publisher made a big announcement or two. One of the most noteworthy for comics newbies came from Viz Media: A digital manga store!

    The new site, Viz Manga, works much like Viz's iPhone and iPad apps but, well, without the need for an iPhone or iPad. Instead, select manga can be bought and read right on your computer! And the "select" really is select - Viz has launched the site with top-notch series, and odds are more will join them in the following months.

    As a bonus, prices on the first book in each series are discounted as much as 40% off through July 31st, putting some volumes for as low as $2.99. Not bad for books that settle around 200 pages!

    Best of all, the first chapter of every series is available for free! It's like having a tiny library right in your internet browser. Go take a look!

    Tuesday, July 19, 2011

    Read this: O'Malley, Takekuma, and Aihara mega-interview!

    A photo of O'Malley and the cover of Even a Monkey Can Draw Manga, complete with Scott Pilgrim-like labels, nabbed right from the interview page. Truly, I am shameless.

    It's no secret that Bryan Lee O'Malley, creator of the romantic-action-rock-music-comedy graphic novel series Scott Pilgrim, has been influenced by Japanese comics. One early inspiration was Even a Monkey Can Draw Manga, a parody how-to series by Kentaro Takekuma and Koji Aihara.

    Recently, Comics Alliance - a great comics blog in general, by the way - hosted an interview between all three cartoonists. East-meets-West interviews are a rare treat, and this one makes a fine primer on the differences between comics cultures.

    Here's a brief bit, where O'Malley discusses the split between "mainstream" and "independent" comics in America:

    The whole history of comics in America has been about Marvel & DC superhero characters. New stories and ideas have been in underground or independent comics. I'm generalizing, but that's certainly how it feels to me. I never thought I could have success with my books to the point where I would sell a million copies and have a movie adaptation. It was astronomically unlikely. I would have expected to sell maybe 1000 copies.

    Thursday, July 14, 2011

    Charlaine Harris plans original GN series!

    Popular prose authors and the comics medium are hardly strangers these days - heck, this very blog has an adaptations tag - but this new project is something relatively unique: A novelist creating an all-original graphic novel series!

    And what a novelist, too. Charlaine Harris is the creator of the Sookie Stackhouse series, inspiration for the TV show True Blood (which itself has been adapted into comics) along with series that are lesser-known but still beloved by their fans. Sookie Stackhouse is drawing towards a close - 13 books are planned in total - and next comes a brand new series, Cemetery Girl!

    Harris originally planned for Cemetery Girl to be another novel series, but fellow author Christopher Golden encouraged her to give it a shot as a comic.

    No artist has signed on to the project just yet, but so far Cemetery Girl is planned to be a three-book saga. Here's hoping readers who fell in love with Harris's other series will follow her into this new endeavor, and eventually comics at large!

    Tuesday, July 12, 2011

    Gallery Time: Emma Vieceli

    Promotional art for yet another upcoming project, The Avalon Chronicles.

    Emma Vieceli is an artist from the United Kingdom (Cambridge, to be exact!) who has worked on multiple comics with European and North American publishers. Her best-known projects in the U.S. are the "Manga Shakespeare" books Hamlet and Much Ado About Nothing, as well as the upcoming Vampire Academy graphic novel.

    Tuesday, July 5, 2011

    Win Volume 1 of A Bride's Story!

    The cover to the manga you could win. Who wouldn't want a close-up view of that incredible art?

    It's not too often that I link to contests and giveaways on HWC, but this was just too good an opportunity to pass up: Julie of Manga Maniac Cafe is giving away the first volume of Kaoru Mori's manga A Bride's Story!

    Series description from the publisher, Yen Press:
    Acclaimed creator Kaoru Mori (Emma, Shirley) brings the nineteenth-century Silk Road to lavish life, chronicling the story of Amir Halgal, a young woman from a nomadic tribe betrothed to a twelve-year-old boy eight years her junior. Coping with cultural differences, blossoming feelings for her new husband, and expectations from both her adoptive and birth families, Amir strives to find her role as she settles into a new life and a new home in a society quick to define that role for her.

    I haven't read A Bride's Story yet, but I'm eagerly awaiting the opportunity, and the reviews have been pretty positive.

    Kaoru Mori is known for incredibly detailed artwork and laid-back storytelling. So if you're looking for an easy-on-the-eyes summer read, enter the giveaway and cross your fingers! (The giveaway is limited to U.S. residents only, but the entry form asks for no personal information beyond a name and contact e-mail.)

    Sunday, July 3, 2011

    I Recommend: Pyongyang

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

    North Korea is easily one of the most closed-off, secretive countries on the planet. Very few foreigners are allowed to visit, and photography is forbidden aside from select locations, rendering most outsider accounts of the nation text-only productions.

    Guy Delisle's travelogue Pyongyang is a rare and worthwhile exception.

    The book documents his two-month stay in North Korea's capitol as an animator, sent to oversee animation work outsourced there by a French studio. While his visit is as strictly chaperoned as any, the comics format allows him to peer through the cracks in the supposedly happy, healthy country, illustrating sights and events he would never be allowed to record with electronic devices. (Or, for that matter, non-electronic ones - the majority of the book was produced after his visit, from sketches and memory.)

    Pyongyang shows the rest of the world just how strange and contradictory North Korea can be at times. It's a nation that both rejects the West and attempts to emulate it, where citizens claim to adore their government and yet spend half of every conversation glancing over their shoulders.

    Guy Delisle has two other travelogues, one detailing his stay in China (titled Shenzhen) and another detailing his stay in Burma (titled The Burma Chronicles.) All three are excellent reads.

    Tuesday, June 28, 2011

    Read this: A Timeline of Josei Manga in the U.S.

    Erica Sakurazawa's Between the Sheets, one of the josei manga mentioned in the recent write-up.

    Josei manga - Japanese comics written for adult women - are something of an underdeveloped category in the States, especially compared to shojo (for teen/preteen girls) and shonen/seinen (for boys and men, respectively.)

    Still, the amount of josei that's reached our shores over the years is plenty enough for Johanna Draper Carlson of Manga Worth Reading to compile a handy history listing the demographic's most notable titles, publishers, and pieces of discussion.

    Alas, many of the manga mentioned are currently out of print, and may be hard to track down - but most books towards the end of the timeline are fairly easy to find, and even the older ones pop up now and then. If you have a good used bookstore in your area, pay them a visit and see what josei manga they have for you to try!

    Sunday, June 26, 2011

    Comics for charity: Comics Express for Joplin, Missouri

    Image by Comics Express contributors Alec Longstreth (illustration) and Caitlin Keegan (lettering.)

    Every so often, the comics-making community comes together to help those in need. One recent example is the Comics Express project, where creators like Dave Roman Raina Telgemeier, and Jennifer & Matthew Holm (and many others!) have come together to make a free, kid-friendly comic book to hand out to children affected by the recent tornado in Joplin, Missouri.

    They've raised enough money to cover printing and shipping costs, but you can still donate money to go towards the Joplin Public Schools' Adopt-A-Classroom Fund to buy new school supplies.

    Thursday, June 23, 2011

    How to Read Manga

    "Why is it backwards?"

    Many ask this question when they first see manga. (The answer is that Japanese reads from right-to-left, whereas English reads left-to-right. It's not "backwards," just "opposite"!) Translated manga used to be "flipped" to read Western-style - and a few still are - but most creators prefer their artwork to be presented as it was originally drawn, so flipping is rare nowadays.

    So what's a reader to do when presented with this unusual page layout? Sit back and learn! This post will take you step-by-step through the process of reading a right-to-left comic. By the time you're through, you can pick up any manga and read it like a pro!

    Note: If you're new to comics in general, please take a look at the How to Read Comics guide. Japanese and Western comics share the same basic storytelling elements, so understanding one will enhance your enjoyment of the other!

    Tuesday, June 21, 2011

    I Recommend: Fables

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

    Readers these days are no strangers to "fractured fairytale" novels, where childhood stories are re-imagined in strange new ways. The genre has made its way into comics, too, with Fables being the best-known (and in my opinion plain ol' best) example.

    In Fables these classic characters - from Snow White to the Big Bad Wolf - have been driven out of their mythical homelands by a mysterious figure known as The Adversary. The monsters and talking animals live in a hidden farm, while the humans (or those who can fake a human appearance well enough) form a community in New York City. From there, each story arc takes readers on a different adventure - from murder mystery to political thriller - with these displaced fantasy figures.

    Of course, comic book series don't get over 100 chapters, multiple spin-offs, and a small army of on-again-off-again TV adaptation deals without being pretty darn good. And Fables is fantastically good. Writer Bill Willingham weaves one thrilling tale after another, with dashes of humor and tidbits sure to thrill any folklore enthusiast. The art, likewise - usually done by Mark Buckingham - fits perfectly, resembling classic fairy tale illustrations.

    Some consider Fables to be a bit obvious as a new-to-comics recommendation, and . . . they're exactly right. It may be cliche, but for fans of fantasy (urban and otherwise) Fables is just right.

    Tuesday, June 14, 2011

    DC relaunch update!

    It's been bout 2 weeks since DC Comics announced the massive restructuring and relaunching of their main comic book series. Many more details have come out, and superhero-loving bloggers have compiled the cover art and series descriptions into handy posts like this one. Some info that may be interesting to HWC readers:

    - DC being DC, the superhero genre dominates. A few titles seem to blend superheroes with the war, western, and horror genres, though, so even if caped crusaders aren't your favorite there may still be something you'll enjoy.

    - This relaunch was definitely made with new readers in mind. The first issue descriptions mostly sound like introductions, so readers unfamiliar with certain teams or characters can expect to get the basic information necessary to dive into later storylines.

    - A few questionable costume changes aside - this cover featuring Harley Quinn has gotten some criticism - DC seems to have gotten the message that readers like their superheroines in costumes that are both sexy and practical for crimefighting. (Well, as practical as brightly-colored wetsuits ever get.) The vast majority of covers featuring women focus on kicking ass, rather than, um, showing ass.

    Time will tell how well these new-reader-friendly features will stick, but at least for the time being it sounds like DC really is set on inviting a new audience to its superhero universe.

    Speaking of which, check behind the cut for a list of the titles I'm most psyched about!

    Sunday, June 12, 2011

    Read this: Life of a (Rookie) Editor

    Daniella Orihuela-Gruber is a freelance editor. She was a manga editor at Tokyopop for some time, but with the publishing arm of that company's recent closure she has had to find new, often non-comics editing jobs. Such was the inspiration for her recent post at her blog All About Manga, where she discusses the similarities and differences between various types of editing:

    Editing manga is so much more than copy-editing. You have to watch the artwork as well as the grammar, plus you have to worry about how things sound to a reader because of the translation that takes place. While this “ease” of reading is something any editor usually has to look for when reading over any kind publication, it’s especially important and difficult when working on manga.

    It's an interesting insight into a side of comics-making that, while not quite as romanticized as drawing or writing, is essential for giving the reader the best possible experience.

    Tuesday, June 7, 2011

    I Recommend: Oh My Goddess

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

    Personal history time: Aside from a handful of Pokemon comics, Oh My Goddess was the first manga I ever read. There's no telling if it was this series in particular that inspired me to fall in love with Japanese comics, but it certainly didn't hurt.

    Oh My Goddess follows Keiichi, a down-on-his-luck college kid, who one day accidentally calls the Goddess Technical Help Line. They send a goddess named Belldandy, who informs Keiichi that she can grant any wish he wants. Suspecting his friends are pulling a prank, he says he wishes for Belldandy to stay with him forever. He soon learns that it's not a prank - Belldandy really is a goddess, and now the universe will do anything it can to keep them together!

    Oh My Goddess is the longest-running manga in America, published here continuously from 1994 to today. It's no wonder why it's been a hit for so long: Kosuke Fujishima's art is beautiful (though the first few chapters definitely show their age) and the plot grows right along with the characters, weaving a technological take on Norse mythology in with the romantic comedy mishaps.

    Being a romantic comedy originally aimed at men, there is the occasional focus on chests (or backs, or legs, or . . .) but these are always drawn with care - more classic pin-up than modern sleaze mag.

    Tuesday, May 31, 2011

    HUGE news: DC to relaunch 50 titles!

    Promo art (maybe part of a cover?) for JLA #1, one of the first titles to be relaunched.

    Geez, is this the spring of big announcements or what? The latest headline to rock comics is word that DC (the "Big Two" publisher that handles Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman, and a ton of other superheroes) is going to launch 50 revamped titles in September. That means 50 new #1 issues - perfect for readers who've wanted to try reading superhero comics but felt uneasy diving in to a long-running series.

    Since the relaunch was just announced today, details are few and far between, but one interesting tidbit is that these refreshed titles will be launched "day and date" on digital devices - that means the new, say, Justice League #1 will be available to read on your iPad the same day it's available in comics shops. The major publishers have typically shied away from day-and-date releases, so DC deciding to try it now is a good sign that they're taking this relaunch seriously.

    As DC artist and co-publisher Jim Lee says in this USA Today article:
    "We're allowing people who have never bought a comic book in their lives to download them on portable media devices and take a look," Lee says. "Having the ability to give people access to these comics with one button click means we're going to get a lot of new readers."

    Sunday, May 29, 2011

    Twi-hards, rest easy: The second graphic novel is on its way!

    Even if you don't like Twilight, you have to admit that combined-cover image is pretty cool.

    Yen Press is the champ of book-to-comic adaptations, especially with Young Adult novels. (It probably doesn't hurt that they're a part of Hachette, one of the biggest publishers in the US!) Hot on the heels of their previous adaptation news comes an announcement sure to thrill teen vampire enthusiasts - the continuation of their hit Twilight graphic novel adaptation!

    Volume 1, released last year, sold 66,000 copies in its first week alone - impressive numbers in any medium, but downright awe-inspiring for comics! - and covered the first half of Stephenie Meyer's first book. Volume 2 is slated to hit store shelves (and e-books) in October 2011, just in time to get readers revved up for the Breaking Dawn movie. (Not that Twilight fans need any help getting excited!)

    The first volume got some criticism from within the comics community for an, er, unorthodox approach to panel layouts and word balloons. A quick expedition on Google reveals that most Twilight fans, however, didn't mind the unusual lettering, and even the harshest critics had to admit that artist Young Kim does an amazing job illustrating the story. Some fans even think her take on Edward Cullen is a better fit than Robert Pattinson!

    So whether you've been awaiting volume 2 for months or never even heard there was a comics adaption, you vampire enthusiasts be on the lookout for that book come October!

    Thursday, May 19, 2011

    I Recommend: Azumanga Daioh

    Find the 4-in-1 omnibus edition of this series at: [Amazon] [Borders] [Barnes & Noble]

    4-koma manga - roughly meaning "four-panel," somewhat similar to American-style comic strips - are very popular in Japan. Some have been brought to the United States, the most popular (and one of the best) being Azumanga Daioh.

    Created by the same genius of adorability that brought us Yotsuba&!, Azumanga Daioh follows a class of high school girls going through the daily adventures high school girls go through. Studying for tests, competing in gym class, and gossiping about teachers are rendered with a style of domestic surreality not too far removed from TV sitcoms like The Office and Modern Family.

    The cast is full of characters to identify with (or at least laugh fondly at,) from the ditzy Osaka to the kid genius Chiyo to the intimidating-but-actually-shy Sakaki. And Kiyohiko Azuma's art is drawn in a clean and precise style, ensuring that the quietly clever puns and slapstick take center stage.

    Azumanga Daioh is especially good for people new to reading Japanese comics - the basic 4-koma format (and the handful of chapters drawn in full-page style) are a great warm-up for right-to-left reading.

    Tuesday, May 17, 2011

    Castle fans, meet your new must-read graphic novel!

    The cover for the Derrick Storm graphic novel, with artwork by Carlo Pagulayan.

    The television detective series Castle is no stranger to tie-ins, thanks to real editions of Richard Castle's Nikki Heat novels. Soon there'll be another medium roped into the series: comics!

    Due in September, the graphic novel - tongue-twisterly titled Castle: Richard Castle’s Deadly Storm - is an adaptation of one of the in-show Derrick Storm novels. (A real-world comics adaptation of a fictional novel from a TV show? My mind, she is blown.)

    As a Castle fan myself, I'm mildly bummed that the graphic novel won't be about Castle and Beckett themselves. Their banter would be golden on a comics page! But with star writers Brian Michael Bendis and Kelly Sue DeConnick set for the script, and the artwork in the capable hands of Lan Medina, it's sure to be a worthwhile read anyway.

    Sunday, May 15, 2011

    Read this: The Comic Shops of Philadelphia: A Walking Tour

    A view from inside Brave New Worlds, one of the stores explored on the tour.

    This article is a month old, but the content's still fresh: Brian Heater of The Daily Cross Hatch went around Philadelphia and scoped out a half-dozen comics shops. It's a nice look at how varied comics specialty shops can be, from general pop-culture hideaways to treasure troves of graphic novel goodness. (And if you live in the Philly area, it's a great guide to which shops to check out on your comics-reading adventures!)

    Sunday, May 8, 2011

    Gallery Time: Madeleine Rosca

     A circus-themed piece from Madeleine Rosca's gallery.

    Madeleine Rosca is an Australian cartoonist best known for her kid-friendly OEL manga series Hollow Fields (Published in the U.S. by Seven Seas Entertainment,) which was recognized by Japan's International Manga Awards. Outside of her comics, she's done freelance illustration for a variety of clients, including Australian rock musician Sarah McLeod. Her artwork - as can be seen in her official gallery - is colorful, fun, and detailed, with a dash of steampunk stylings.

    Thursday, May 5, 2011

    Free Comic Book Day this Saturday!

    Keep an eye out for this sign on Saturday!

    That's right, ladies (and the occasional HWC-reading gentleman) - this Saturday, May 7th, Free Comic Book Day will be sweeping comics shops across North America. FCBD pretty much explains itself, but since this may be the first time some readers have heard of it, I'll lay down the basics:

    1. No, not every comic is going to be free.
     . . . so don't expect to snag a shiny new copy of Amazing Spider-Man #1. Instead, publishers have put together special publications - some new stories, some reprints, some previews of upcoming titles - for shops to give out on FCBD.

    2. But yes, all of those comics are totally free.
    Some shops put limits on just how many of the free issues you can pick up, but all but the stingiest of stores will let you walk away with a good-sized stack of reading material.

    3. It's not just DC and Marvel doing this.
    Not interested in superheroes? No problem! Just about every publisher in the industry is pitching in. The buffet of free comics options includes comedy, fantasy, horror, crime, and even a couple of non-fiction titles! (And if you do want to read some superhero stuff, never fear! A healthy selection of capes-and-tights goodness is available as well.)

    Gobs more information on this event can be found at the official Free Comic Book Day website.

    Tuesday, May 3, 2011

    (More) comic books in a Barnes & Noble near you!

    The bookselling world may have taken a hit with the . . . whatever is happening-ing of Borders, but the other big bookstore chain, Barnes & Noble, seems to be chugging along okay. And, according to this news, they're taking the comics industry a-chuggin' along too!

    Barnes & Noble has been selling graphic novels, comics collections, and volumes of manga for years now, and single-chapter comic books have shown up in the magazine section from time to time. But from the sound of this, B&N plans to seriously ramp up the number of comic book titles they stock along with other periodicals.

    There's no official list of which series will be stocked just yet, but their offerings are likely to include top titles from major superhero publishers DC and Marvel, as well as semi-indie imprints and publishers like Image and Vertigo. Movie-inspiring series are also bound to show up - Thor, Green Lantern, and Captain America, anyone?

    For those of you who have been hoping to dip your toes in single-chapter comic books but live woefully far from a good comics shop, this deal will should bring some popular titles a little closer to your neighborhood!

    Sunday, May 1, 2011

    I recommend: Beasts of Burden: Animal Rites

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

    Beasts of Burden is your typical paranormal mystery story: A ragtag bunch of characters use magic to track down and put a stop to the terrifying troubles haunting their small town, most of which go unnoticed by the average citizen.

    Oh, yeah - and the main characters are all dogs, plus a cat or two.

    With this, Beasts of Burden goes from "great mystery comic" to "great mystery comic with a clever premise." Anyone who's ever wondered what pets get up to when their owners aren't looking will get a kick out of the canine culture dreamed up by writer Evan Dorkin (though, given the sometimes copious amounts of _____-on-dog violence, I hesitate to call it "a perfect read for animal lovers.")

    The whole project is held together by Jill Thompson's gorgeous painted artwork. Each panel has a carefully chosen color scheme, and she is a master of giving each character recognizable expressions without ever losing their animal qualities.

    Curious readers can check out this preview, featuring three Beasts of Burden short stories as they originally appeared in publisher Dark Horse's anthologies.

    A note to parents and teachers: While kids love talking-animal stories, Beasts of Burden is not appropriate for young children. Adults and older teens can probably put up with the violence (on-page and off) and occasionally very unhappy endings, but younger readers are better off with tamer mystery-solving pups like Scooby-Doo.

    Tuesday, April 26, 2011

    Adaptation update-apalooza!

    Man, it must be National Get Attention From Book/TV Fans Week for comics publishers, because over the past few days various blogs have been buzzing over sneak peeks of upcoming adaptation and continuation comics. Possibly of particular interest to HWC peeps:

    Pushing Daisies

    A wordless (so far?) sequence from the Pushing Daisies comic.

    Pushing Daisies fans are known for two things: Being incredibly devoted and being incredibly disappointed. There's no known cure for the first, but a remedy for the second seems to be on its way: series creator Bryan Fuller recently tweeted a preview of the first page of the long-awaited comic-book-format continuation! Details on when the actual comic will debut are still fuzzy, but judging by the lovely artwork, it'll be just what Daisy-ites need after all these years.

    Soulless by Gail Carriger

    Character sketches of Felicity and Evilyn Loontwill from Soulless.

    At last year's Comic-Con, the fine folks at Yen Press announced that the latest in their line of Young Adult novel adaptations would be Gail Carriger's Soulless series. Yesterday they finally gave us a glimpse at the work in progress: character sketches by adaptation cartoonist Rem! (Best known for her adaptation work on another YA series, Vampire Kisses.) Rem's style seems especially well-suited for Victorian-style outfits and hairstyles - I can't wait to see more art when the project gets closer to completion.

    Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

    The cover of the Vampire Academy graphic novel: Awesome-looking? Awesome-looking.

    The most extensive of the recent sneak peeks, this USA Today article about the graphic novel adaptation of the bestselling series Vampire Academy is one you can really, ahem, sink your teeth into. (I'm here all week, folks.) It features tons of tidbits about adaptation cartoonist Emma Vieceli, such as this fan-reassuring quote:

    While Vieceli wasn't familiar with the books before she was approached about the job, the British artist quickly fell in love with them. "I ate through the entire series and, like many, found myself wandering aimlessly about the house after Last Sacrifice, not knowing what to do with myself now that it was over," she says.

    Best of all, there's a big ol' preview of the graphic novel attached - the Scribd viewer calls it 6 pages, but it's really more like 10. Behold the glory of two-page spreads!

    Sunday, April 24, 2011

    What we can learn from the Women and Comics survey

    ("We" meaning comics creators, publishers, retailers, and others who care about the future of the comics medium!)

    With this year's Women and Comics survey (see the results in Part 1 and Part 2,) we've learned an awful lot about how women - both those who read comics and those who currently do not - relate to the medium. For those of us who like tidy little lists, here are 7 tips for those who hope to attract new women readers and treat existing readers even better:

    1) Get 'em while they're young.
    Okay, that sounds creepy, but you get the point: Many women discover comics when they're girls. The vast majority of current readers began reading comics before they were 18, and many current non-readers indicated that they had read comics when they were younger. Comics that appeal to girls - from the frilly sparkle enthusiasts to the rough-and-tumble tomboys - are vital to maintaining a healthy readership.

    Tuesday, April 19, 2011

    Women and Comics Survey 2011: Results Part 2!

    It's here, folks! In Part 2 of the results, we'll take a look at current comics non-reading women. (If you want to read about women who do read comics, see Part 1!)

    This survey got only 61 responses (2 of whom seem to have bailed out after answering only a few questions.) That's 10 (12-ish) responses fewer than last year's survey. I reckon there are 3 possible reasons for this drop:
    1. This year's more precise definition of "comics" kept out mostly-manga and mostly-webcomics readers who mistakenly took the non-reader survey last year.
    2. Women who took the survey last year decided not to take it this year.
    3. This blog has been so wildly successful that only __ comics non-reading women are left in the entire world!
    I'd like to think it was #3, but odds are #1 and #2 had more to do with it. (In any case, thanks to everyone who took the survey or helped pass it along!)

    The low turnout means the results are far from precise - but still provide a picture of how these women feel about comics, helped along by some great write-in responses.

    (Click graph for a larger view.)
    The non-readers were older than the comics readers. (Possibly because many of the survey-takers were parents of my teen/20-something friends!) 26-to-50-year-olds made up 50% of the respondents.

    Sunday, April 17, 2011

    Women and Comics Survey 2011: Results Part 1!

    Welcome to the Women and Comics Survey Resultsapalooza! In Part 1, we'll examine the results from the Comics Reader survey and see what makes comics-reading women tick!

    The survey got a healthy 296 respondents, thanks in large part to getting reblogged and retweeted by a small army of internet folk. Thanks to everyone who helped pass the word along!

    Note: All graphs in this post were created at the National Center of Education Statistic's Kids' Zone. Sounds corny, but they really do have a nice graph tool!

    (Click graph for a larger view.)
    The ages of the respondents paints a clear picture: Comics-reading women (at least, those aware of this survey!) tend to be older teens and younger adults. 86% were between the ages of 16 and 35. 19-to-25-year-olds were the largest group, making up over a third of the respondents.

    Thursday, April 14, 2011

    Read this: Image rescues two Minx titles

    2011: It's both Year of the Rabbit and Year of the Saving Teen-Girl-Centric Comics From Oblivion!

    Back in 2007, DC Comics took a shot at creating YA-style raphic novels for girls under an imprint called Minx. The effort was shuttered very quickly - the exact reasons for which will probably be debated until the sun explodes. Despite the disappointing sales numbers, some of the books received critical acclaim, and many in the comics community were left wondering what would become of the announced-but-never-published titles.

    Well, the world can wonder a little less, because Image has rescued two titles originally slated for the Minx line: Poseurs and All Nighter. Fans of Young Adult fiction, rejoice!

    Sunday, April 10, 2011

    Last call for the comics non-readers survey!

    If you've been holding off taking the Hey, Women! Comics! non-readers survey, this is your chance! The survey for comics-reading women has already gotten a tremendous response - but the non-readers survey could use a few more respondents.

    If you're a woman or teen girl who does not frequently read comic books, graphic novels, manga, or long-form webcomics, please fill out this survey. It asks for no personal information and will only take a few minutes.

    If you've already taken the non-readers survey - or are ineligible to fill it out, please pass it along to someone else! The more responses received, the clearer the results will be.

    Thank you, and keep your eyes on this blog for the results!

    Tuesday, April 5, 2011

    Read this: 15 Love rescued from the dust bin of comics history

    A little midriff-y for my tastes, but who can resist bold colors like that?

    I've gotta hand it to Marvel, they've been announcing some pretty cool-sounding initiatives lately. I've already told you about their partnership with Starbucks, and now there's something even more unexpected: A mini-series about tennis!

    Back in the early 2000s, Marvel tried some . . . well, some pretty out-there stuff. Some of it stuck - like the awesome our-parents-are-supervillains adventure series Runaways - but most of it fizzled out after a few issues, never to be seen again.

    15 Love never even made it to print back then, but apparently somebody at today's Marvel likes it, because it's coming out as a 3-part mini-series! The first issue, at a stunning 56 full-color pages and a respectable $4.99 price tag, is scheduled to come out in June. The Beat has a press release and some unlettered preview pages here. Give it a look!

    Thursday, March 31, 2011

    Laurell K. Hamilton on novel-to-comics adaptations

    Any real-life person would complain about wearing pants that snug. Yet another advantage of the comics medium!

    It's a bit of a trend these days for the creators of popular novels to lend their creations to the comics medium. Laurell K. Hamilton is one of the biggest authors doing so, with her Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series. Graphic Novel Reporter has a neat little interview with her about the prose-to-comics process:

    The most interesting thing is you get a black-and-white version with the wording put in with the images. That is really where the difference between a graphic novel and an actual novel with words really begins to change for me. Because words that work really, really well in the novel…the same dialogue might not work in a graphic novel.

    Thursday, March 24, 2011

    Superhero comics in Starbucks!

    Marvel superheroes and Adele? Good lord, it's like Starbucks is trying to appeal to me specifically.

    Coolest bit of news of the week so far! Marvel Comics - the folks behind superhero legends like Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four - are teaming up with Starbucks to offer a digital archive of their comics on the Starbucks Digital Network. (Which is, to my understanding, a special site customers can access while in the cafe. Neat!)

    Best of all, these comics will be available for free, so even if you find the cost of your drink outrageous, your reading material is a bargain.

    This partnership launches in the United States on April 23, so mark your calendar for some coffee and comics!

    Tuesday, March 22, 2011

    I recommend: Demo

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

    In Demo, Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan have crafted a dozen excellent short stories. They range from real world drama to supernatural horror - though even the fantasy concepts are grounded in a modern-day setting - and most come packaged in a gritty, gloomy wrapper.

    Cloonan is a master of style variance - in fact, I had to double-check just to make sure she was really working alone! (She was.) Each story has a unique visual signature, from simplified figures in the (relatively) humorous stories to shadow-laden realism in the most somber tales.

    If you're looking for a light, poppy-fun read, Demo is definitely not your book. But if you like your short stories dramatic, eerie, and bittersweet, it's well worth your time.

    (There's also a second volume coming out this month - if you like the first run, give that one a look as well.)

    Sunday, March 20, 2011

    The Sailor Moon manga gets a re-release!

    The Japanese cover of the enhanced edition. I wonder how Kodansha will re-design it for the North American release?

    Readers of a certain age may remember loving the Sailor Moon TV series as a kid. (Readers of another certain age may even remember being the mom of a kid who loved Sailor Moon!)

    Tokyopop published the original manga the show was based on some years ago, and they've been out of print for over half a decade. But now Kodansha Comics - remember them? - has announced a special re-release based on the enhanced Japanese editions.

    Sailor Moon is a modern classic, and it's great to hear it's coming back for both old and new fans to read.

    Thursday, March 17, 2011

    The "Women and Comics" Survey(s) call to action!

    You may remember that H,W!C! launched waaaaay back in June of 2010 with the results of a survey of comics non-reading women. The results were enlightening, but I've always thought the survey itself could be a little better. So I re-wrote it, this time as two surveys: One for women who read comics, and one for women who don't.

    If you have ten-or-so minutes to spare, please fill out the survey that applies to you.

    If you are a woman or teen girl who reads comic books, graphic novels, manga, long-form webcomics, or other long-form comics at least once a month, please fill out this survey!

    If you are a woman or teen girl who does NOT read comic books, graphic novels, manga, long-form webcomics, or other long-form comics at least once a month, please fill out this survey!

    When you're done, please share a link to this post with the women in your life. The more responses, the more insightful the results will be!

    Tuesday, March 15, 2011

    iPad owners, take note!

    Just look at that gorgeous app!

    Viz Media, one of America's leading manga translation companies, recently launched an iPad app, so those of you with said tablet device can read and buy oodles of manga. And for the month of March, they've seriously ramped up, adding tons more volumes and offering all Volume 1s for just 99 cents all month! There's also a sizable selection of freebies, so you can dip your toes in the manga pool without having to go anywhere near your pocket.

    Take a gander at this page Viz has set up, which goes over many more of the app's features in detail.

    Thursday, March 10, 2011

    Read this: Judging a Book by Its Cover

    The way a comic looks doesn't stop at the insides - there's a cover to consider, too! This interview with Colleen AF Vernable (the art and design editor at graphic novel publisher First Second Books) talks about the cover design process, including tons of step-by-step images like the one above.

    Thursday, March 3, 2011

    I Recommend: Bakuman

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

    It's probably worth mentioning to the moms out there that no, this series is not related to Bakugan, the funky collectible game your kid was into a few years ago. No plastic dragon marbles here!

    Every once in a while, a comic creator gets the urge to share their experience with fans. Some do this by writing how-to guides, filming themselves at work, or answering fan mail. And a few, like Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata (the writer/artist team behind Death Note,) go the extra mile by creating an all-new story about the business itself.

    This brings us to Bakuman, the story of a young artistic prodigy and the eccentirc writer classmate who convinces him to embark on a career in manga-making. Their journey gives readers a rare glimpse into the competitive and high-stress world of the Japanese comics biz (albeit with some contrived events to add narrative drama and supply our heroes with the equipment they need to dive right in with the pros.)

    There's also a romantic subplot, as our hero and his love interest enter a pact that ties the fate of their relationship to the success they achieve in their respective careers. Readers who dislike sappy romance will likely find their eyes a-rollin' at those scenes, but for others, it's bound to elicit a heartmelting "d'awwwww."

    Some reviewers have noted that Bakuman isn't exactly the most feminist of works. And not without reason: the male heroes sometimes get swept up in enthusiastic "manga is a man's world!" declarations. Still, it's hardly the worst treatment women have gotten in entertainment, comics or otherwise, and Ohba and Obata have been in the biz long enough to recognize the impact women have on the manga industry - even in the boy-centric shonen demographic the story focuses on.

    Thursday, February 24, 2011

    Read this: 7 Short Series Worth Adding to Your Manga Bookshelf

    One of the titles mentioned in Katherine Dacey's post, and also a perfectly valid excuse for me to showcase some Jiro Taniguchi art.

    Manga! They can be fun, they can be beautiful, but they can also be . . . looooooooonnnnnnnnnnngggggg. It's not uncommon for popular series to have a dozen or even dozens of books, a sight that no doubt intimidates a lot of newcomers.

    Thankfully, there are also plenty of shorter series, 7 of which Katherine Dacey recently featured on her blog The Manga Critic! They range from sci-fi- to drama to romance, and at 2-to-5 volumes each they're good for diving right into without having to buy a new bookshelf.

    Tuesday, February 15, 2011

    Vote in the 2011 Manga Readers Choice Awards!

    This year's nominees for Best New Manga.

    It's that time of year again: Awards season! If you need something to tide you over in the empty space between the Grammys and the Oscars, take a minute to check out the 2011 Manga Readers Choice Awards at If you've started reading manga, this is your chance to vote for your favorites - if you're still looking for a good jumping-on point, here's your chance to see what's hot right now!

    Voting is open 'til March 15, so get votin'!

    Thursday, February 10, 2011

    This looks interesting: You Have Killed Me

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

    Description from the publisher (Oni Press):
    Things just can't get any worse for Antonio Mercer. A private eye by trade, a dame from his past has re-surfaced in his life as a client along with all of the emotional baggage he thought he'd left behind forever. Of course, this unusual client doesn't have just any case - her family is mixed up with seriously dangerous people and the body count is just starting to pile up!

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

    Tuesday, February 8, 2011

    This just in: Canadian celebrities are incapable of interpreting images.

    The fine-looking book an actor, an athlete-turned-politician, an interior designer, and CNN's Chief Business Correspondent all couldn't wrap their heads around.

    At least, that's the gist of this news, about how Jeff Lemire's graphic novel Essex County was the first book voted out of this year's Canada Reads competition. (It was also the first graphic novel ever nominated, so if nothing else, it's a groundbreaking book in all sorts of directions.)

    The judges all seemed to like the story, but some just couldn't wrap their heads around these newfangled "picture" thingies:

    Quin’s fellow panelists weren’t swayed, however, treating the book like an uninvited dinner guest. Design guru Debbie Travis, who is defending The Birth House by Ami McKay, couldn’t get over Essex County‘s “lack of words,” a weakness, in the eyes of the other four panelists, that was consistently brought up. She described the book as “a shortcut.”

    Alas, as the 4-to-1 vote against Essex County shows, this sort of anti-illustration bias is still going strong - and it's exactly the sort of mindset this blog was built to combat. Perhaps next time these fame-adians are tasked with reading a graphic novel, they should take a look at my How to Read Comics guide first.

    Tuesday, February 1, 2011

    Gallery Time: Aoki Mitsue

     "Cute girls and women holding food" seems to be a theme for her - not that anyone's complaining!

    It's time for another Gallery Time! Today let's take a look at Japanese artist Aoki Mitsue. Alas, her work doesn't seem to have been brought over by a North American publisher yet - but that doesn't mean we can't appreciate her online gallery! (School/work/kids-at-home warning: some of the art in this gallery features simplified, non-explicit naked and underwear-clad women. Scandalous!)

    Sunday, January 30, 2011

    Read this: How I Became A Comic Book Consumer

    A portion of Faith Erin Hicks' current comics shelf.

    Well, not how I became a comics consumer - that story amounts to "read 'em as a kid, read even more now." No, the "I" in this case refers to Faith Erin Hicks, the comics creator who posted her own comics discovery story on her blog just a short while ago.

    But even though I read the crap out of Bone, bought everything associated with Bone and loved it deeply, I was frozen in place with that one comic book, reading and re-reading it and never venturing beyond to read other comics. I completely missed the manga boom of the early 2000s, having no friends who were into manga, and being intimidated by the shelves of it at the big box bookstores. So I read Bone, and occasionally picked up books by Andi Watson, whose Skeleton Key series clicked with me (magicial girls and their friendships, what's not to like).

    It's a good read, both for her personal story (I was a little shocked that such a well-known artist became a regular reader relatively recently - she says it's only been five years since she became "an enthusiastic consumer of comics") and as an example of how other current non-readers can fall in love with the medium.

    Hint hint, ladies!

    Sunday, January 23, 2011

    I Recommend: Hikaru no Go

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

    Quick! Think of all the things you could make an exciting comic series about. Your list probably includes soldiers, superheroes, maybe spies . . . but ancient board games? No way.

    And yet that is the very subject of Hikaru no Go, and I can assure you, it's as exciting as a story about rainy day activities can get. It begins when Hikaru dusts off an old Go board in his grandfather's attic, and discovers Sai, the ghost of a thousand-year-old Go player. Determined to finally play a perfect game, Sai convinces Hikaru - the only person able to see or hear him - to team up with him and play Go, first against classmates and casual players, and later as part of official tournaments.

    Perhaps most remarkable about this series, aside from fine art and fun characters, is how good it is at making readers want to play the game. It's been credited for a boom in the game's popularity among Japanese youth, as well as introducing Go to thousands of players abroad. Plenty of gameplay tips are found in both the story itself and in the breaks between chapters for readers hoping to sharpen their skills along with the protagonists.

    Thursday, January 20, 2011

    News: Archie's first original graphic novel!

    Okay, you've gotta admit, Betty's little dress is completely adorable.

    The book in question, The Archie Babies, is pretty much either a Must Read or Must Avoid Reading At All Costs for most people. But whatever your enthusiasm for the concept, it's a great opportunity for new comics readers to get a look at where the industry currently is.

    See, for a very long time, nearly all professionally published comics (and quite a few self-published ones) in North America were first published in periodical comic book format, one chapter at a time. Eventually, and especially in the last couple of decades, many of these comic book series were collected into trade paperbacks.

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011

    A little fun: Comic Book Runway

    Because sometimes you just wanna sit back and snark about clothes, a hilarious little blog started up this month called comicrunway. There, the sometimes questionable styling choices of comic book artists (mostly superhero genre, from the looks of it) are subjected to snarky rants.

    Aside from being great entertainment for fashion-minded ladies and gentlemen of all stripes, it's also a great What Not To Wear Draw lesson for hopeful comics creators. A style that sounds good in writing doesn't always look good in pictures, folks!

    Thursday, January 13, 2011

    Read this: 2011 New Manga Preview

    Wandering Son, Lychee Light Club, and The Secret Notes of Lady Kanoko: just three of the dozens of new manga to check out this year!

    Deb Aoki, bless her bloggery heart, has come up with yet another list of manga. This time, it's a list of the new manga (and manga-related or manga-inspired books) that are hitting American shores in 2011! (In fact, a couple of the books listed have already been released. Happy mid-January, everybody!)

    From the looks of it, 2011 is going to be a stellar year for manga. If you've planned to make 2011 the year you start reading comics, check out the list and see what books you'd like to try!

    Tuesday, January 11, 2011

    Interview with a Creator: Hereville writer/artist Barry Deutsch

    Super-awesome note: In the time between Mr. Deutsch replying to my interview questions and my actually getting around to posting them, Hereville won the Older Readers category of the Sydney Taylor Book Award, the first comics work to do so. If you needed just onnne more reason to give this graphic novel a read, now you have it!

    The cover of Hereville. If you'd like, there's a preview of the first 15 pages available here.

    HWC: Let's hear a quick summary of Hereville.
    BD: Hereville is one of the best comics about a troll-fighting 11-year-old Orthodox Jewish girl you'll read all year! It's about Mirka, a girl being raised in a very traditional Orthodox Jewish community. But all she dreams of doing is being a hero and fighting monsters, which isn't very traditional for a girl in her community! It's about the magical adventures Mirka has - she meets a witch, and a troll, and an incredibly grumpy pig. And it's also about Mirka's home life and life in her community.

    Sunday, January 9, 2011

    Gallery Time: Moyoco Anno

     "The Black Butterfly", a 2009 work that shows off her distinctive funky-cute style.

    The subject of this Gallery Time feature is Japanese artist Moyoco Anno! One of the most popular manga creators in Japan, several of her comics have been adapted into anime series, as well as live action films and television dramas. In the United States, her best-known works are Happy Mania and Sugar Sugar Rune.

    The gallery on her site can be found here. The navigation is a little mysterious for those of us who can't read Japanese, but a little arrow icon underneath each picture guides you through each section, and playing with the drop-down menu on the right reveals different categories.

    Thursday, January 6, 2011

    This looks interesting: With the Light

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

    Description from the publisher (Yen Press):
    With the Light: Raising an Autistic Child is a simultaneously poignant and heartwarming story of a young mother attempting to cope with an increasingly common affliction. With the Light has been universally recognized for its sensitive portrayal of autism, winning an Excellence Prize for manga at the eighth annual Japan Media Arts Festival.

    See what some reviewers have to say about this series:

    Tuesday, January 4, 2011

    Take the 2011 Graphic Novels Challenge!

    Welcome to 2011, ladies! Are you looking for a fun reading challenge to liven up your new year? Then check out the 2011 Graphic Novels Challenge! There are three levels: Beginner, at 3 books, Intermediate, at 3-10 books, and Expert, at 10 books or more. It's a great way to start reading comics, or just inspire you to read more.

    If you need help picking out titles for your challenge list, feel free to browse the Recommendations and This Looks Interesting tags on this blog. There are already oodles of books to pick from, and more will be added throughout the year for those of you who feel like going above and beyond your list.