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.