Sporadic Sequential
Friday, September 29, 2006
I Need A New Hobby

A follow-up to this post, here's how the release dates for upcoming volumes of Oh My Goddess! stand at the moment:

Anal-Retentive Tracking of Updates to Oh My Goddess! Release Schedule
BookOriginal Release DateRevised Release Date
(as of 2/2/07)
Release Date on TFAWRelease Date on Amazon
Oh My Goddess! ColorsAugust 2005 *12-21-06
apparently cancelled
No longer available on TFAW's site
* Release date still listed as 12-21-06 but availability shows as "This title has not yet been released"
Oh My Goddess! Volume 3June 2006 *11-15-06

Oh My Goddess! Volume 24August 200610-25-06
Oh My Goddess! Volume 4October 200611-01-06 **
Oh My Goddess! Volume 25December 2006 01-24-07

Oh My Goddess! Volume 502-14-0703-21-07
Oh My Goddess! Volume 2604-11-0704-11-07
Oh My Goddess! Volume 606-13-0706-13-07
* Release date changed several times between initial announcement and revision noted on 9/29, but I'm not going to list all the interim revisions

** Indicates a discrepancy between dates on Dark Horse's site and TFAW

I fully expect these dates to change again, so I'm creating this page so I can update it when future scheduling revisions come out.

If Oh My Goddess! Volume 3 really does come out on Nov. 15th 22nd, it will have been almost half a year since the last volume of Oh My Goddess! came out.

(This all started when I remembered that Sebastian / Althalus had posted a question on Dark Horse's message boards about when Oh My Goddess! Colors would be coming out, since the release date of Sept. 6th had come and gone and the book still hadn't appeared anywhere. I checked the thread and there were no updates from anyone at Dark Horse. So I looked at the product page for the book and HA HA HA Dark Horse had pushed back the release date yet again, adding almost four more months to a delay that was already more than a year late.)

UPDATED 10/18/06: Three books have been pushed back even further. Dates have been updated in the chart above. Strangely, Oh My Goddess! Colors is no longer listed with the rest of the series, but it's still listed on Dark Horse's site as of this writing, and it even shows the same release date of 12/21/06. Searching the site for "Colors", however, doesn't return the book. I wonder if this is an indication that Dark Horse is going to be cancelling the book.

UPDATED 12/19/06: OMG Vol. 3 did come out (I got mine a couple weeks ago from Buy.com, which is still running those great Google Checkout deals) but other volumes have been pushed back a week or two. And Oh My Goddess! Colors still doesn't show on the main series page, but Amazon and Buy.com do list it. Meanwhile, fans on the Dark Horse message boards aren't too happy with the publisher's silence on the delays, even going so far as to wonder if Dark Horse has lost the license to the manga.

UPDATED 2/2/07: Some additional slippage for a couple volumes, but at least the series is actually coming out again. Also: Dates in bold indicate books that did come out (presumably on the dates listed, although I often ordered them later). Finally, here's a link to a page that's tracking delays with all of Dark Horse's books. UPDATE #2: Apparently Oh My Goddess! Colors has been cancelled according to this post over at the Anime on DVD message boards.
Sunday, September 24, 2006
Civil Planning

So that clone of Thor didn't work out too well. And call me skeptical, but something about that new Thunderbolts group seems doomed for failure. Luckily, Reed Richards and Tony Stark have plenty of other brilliant contingency plans lined up to deal with Cap's anti-registration faction, and -- unlike earlier schemes -- these programs are all 100% safe and guaranteed not to backfire!

PlanSafeguards EnactedPlan Goes Horribly Wrong When...
Unleash flesh-eating virus on entire populace in hopes of decimating underground heroes as well.Offer vaccine to registered heroes and non-superhuman citizenship.Vaccine production stalls, leaving millions vulnerable to virus. Facing political embarrassment, Stark calls in Hydra and A.I.M. to help speed up production. An untested vaccine is rushed out and has the unfortunate side effect of turning subjects into flesh-eating zombies.
Go back in time to kill and/or recruit oppositionAll time-traveling staff required to watch cautionary training video produced by Kang Immortus Rama-Tut Scarlet Centurion Security, Inc.Spider-Man accidentally steps off path, killing a butterfly. When they return to the present, it's a divergent timeline where Chihuahuas are the dominant lifeform.
Sign deal with demons from Mephisto's hell dimension to break will of resistance members via temptation.Deal reviewed very, very carefully by Foggy Nelson. (Wanted Matt Murdock but were told he was unavailable.)Obvious-in-hindsight loophole in contract condemns pro-registration side's loved ones to cruel, ironic tortures for all eternity.
Clone Hitler to draw Cap out of hiding.Hitler Clone required to attend twelve hours of diversity appreciation and sensitivity training.Hitler proves surprisingly adept at modern American politics and soon ends up in the White House.
Gather all the anti-registration heroes in one spot and drop a couple nukes on them to blow them to Kingdom Come.Check with Distinguished Competition; nothing went wrong when they implemented their version of plan, did it?Unfortunately, due to a bureaucratic mix-up, the bombs are dropped on Stamford, Connecticut. And this being the Marvel Universe, the resulting radiation creates thousands of new heroes who now have an unrelenting hatred for the U.S. government.
Threaten to let Galactus eat Earth if renegade heroes don't turn themselves in.Giant dummy expiration label created and affixed to Earth so Galactus will think planet is well past freshness date.Galactus eats it anyway in Ambien-induced sleepwalking eating binge, then accidentally pushes Ultimate Nullifier, obliterating entire universe and causing new Big Bang that turns out to be the origin of the Ultimate Universe.

Man, am I ever glad I'm not reading this crap.

Thursday, September 21, 2006
Rude Thoughts on Toth Rudeness

After seeing several sources link to this Alex Toth critique of Steve Rude's work on an old Johnny Quest comic, I thought people might be interested to see Rude's reply, which starts with "[H]e was so wrong with some of the things that he brought up. There was something that I actually had a lot of help on the research that went into those eight pages, and Alex was actually completely ignorant of what I was drawing." and goes from there. Taken from his interview in TwoMorrows' Draw #11:
[Click for larger images]

I haven't yet read Toth's full critique, but criticizing Rude's work on this book strikes me as odd for two reasons: (1) Rude has never been one to skimp on research or reference material; and (2) I don't recall those old Johnny Quest cartoons as being especially authentic when it came to things like locales and technology.

UPDATE 9/22: Heidi MacDonald has a fresh response from The Dude himself over at The Beat.
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
The Merry Marvel Mangling Meme

So apparently Marvel has decided it wants some of that negative press that manga publishers get whenever they make an edit in the art to censor something. The Groovy Age of Horror has scans illustrating some edits that were made in Essential Tomb of Dracula Volume 4. [WARNING: Unedited images are NSFW.] Of all the edits, the one below is my favorite because of the crazy properties of that strap. Why it is stretching like that? Is that really Mr. Fantastic's arm covering the woman's breasts? (You can see the original NSFW image here.)

I think one reason fans get upset over edits like this is because the changes are so dull. Maybe if the edits were more creative, fans wouldn't get so riled up. Again, that image with Reed Richards molesting the poor woman's breasts is almost fun enough to make the censorship worthwhile, but it doesn't go far enough in my opinion. It should be even more ridiculous and absurd!

That's where you come in, dear reader: How would YOU edit this image (again, NSFW) to cover up the woman's boobies while still making the resulting image something appealing to the readers? Here's my effort:

With this edit, Marvel achieves the dual objectives of: (1) covering up the naughty bits, and (2) appealing to hardcore manga purists who want to see the unedited image of a guy strapped to a stone crucifix in print.

Send me your altered images (via email or a link to your own site) and the best entry will win a special prize: David Welsh's copy of CMX's heavily-edited Tenjho Tenge Vol. 1!

UPDATE 9/21: Dirk Deppey made me realize that I forgot to thank Shawn Hoke for telling me about the Groovy Age of Horror link in the first place; and David Welsh made a "Marvel copying manga" joke before I did. Apologies to both for my lousy blogging etiquette.
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Manga Two-In-One

Over at Comic World News, David Welsh graciously invited me to talk about one of my favorite manga series, Bleach. I tried to include some scans to illustrate the sheer energy and sense of movement in creator Tite Kubo's artwork, but I completely forgot about an image that had been sitting on my hard drive for over a year, waiting for me to get around to writing about this sublime superhero-samurai series. This image encapsulates pretty much everything I love about Bleach into a single panel: kicking bizarre monsters in the face so hard that everything speeds up and slows down at the same time.

And here are links to larger versions of two scans I used in the article as examples of Kubo's amazing choreography and composition when it comes to fight scenes. (As an added bonus, here's a big two-page spread of Ichigo getting kicked in the face by a little girl.)

Thanks to David for asking me to participate in this discussion. David has long been one of my favorite bloggers, columnists, and reviewers, so I was honored to be a part of his wonderful Flipped column. It was a lot of fun to bounce ideas off each other, and hopefully our conversation will convince comic book fans to check out Bleach. And special thanks to Shawn Hoke for working out all the formatting issues and getting everything posted!
Monday, September 18, 2006
Sincerely, Abraham J. Simpson

Now that Tokyopop has backed off from their online exclusives program, it's time to pester another manga publisher about their perplexing practices. So, borrowing an idea from Chris Butcher and Dave Lartigue, here's my open letter to Dark Horse:

Dear Dark Horse Manga:

I'm writing to you as a long-time customer who has grown frustrated with the ongoing delays with your manga titles. I understand that occasional delays will occur for almost every publisher, and that many of the delays are completely out of your control. However, with Dark Horse, delays seem to be the norm rather than the exception.

I've noticed your delays before, but tracking the delays around one specific book really served to highlight just how significant the problem is. Oh My Goddess: Volume 3 was originally scheduled to ship back in June 2006 when I ordered it online. Time went by and the book hadn't arrived when I received an email from the retailer advising me that the product would be delayed by a month. I decided to keep it on order and wait for the book, but when the revised release date rolled around, I received yet another email from the retailer rather than the book itself. It was delayed yet again and I was being asked if I still wanted it. Once again, I approved the order extension. And now another month has passed and I still haven't received my book. So I went online to check when Oh My Goddess: Volume 3 would be released. According to Barnes & Noble, the book was published in June of 2006 but they don't have any copies in stock. Amazon shows the book as having come out on September 13th, but they say it will take 5 to 7 weeks for them to ship a copy, a sign that they don't actually have it in stock. Finally, checking the Dark Horse site, it turns out that the release date for Oh My Goddess: Volume 3 has been pushed back all the way to November 15th, five months after it was originally supposed to come out.

Again, this isn't an isolated incident. Another book in the Oh My Goddess series, Oh My Goddess: Colors, has been delayed for over a year: Originally scheduled to come out back in August of 2005, it's now September 2006 and the book still hasn't come out. (Your site shows the release date as September 6th, but I have yet to find a retailer that actually has a copy on hand and ready to ship. Even your retailing partner TFAW only lists the book as available for pre-order.)

Now, I'll admit that delays like this are a minor inconvenience at most. Not having these books when I expected them isn't a huge deal in the overall scheme of things. But even small things can have a big impact if they add up, and in this situation I've gotten to the point where I have no confidence in your release schedule whatsoever, and that lack of confidence influences my purchasing decisions. Today I was putting together an order at an online retailer and I was trying to hit the threshold for free shipping. I looked at a couple of your manga titles that were listed as available for purchase but they all had the qualifier "Usually ships within 5 to 7 weeks," which to me indicated that they weren't really out yet. And even if they were, I didn't want to add any of those items to my order and have them hold up the entire shipment by several weeks, so I passed on all of the Dark Horse books.

In short, I'm tired of having to actively follow your release schedule, and I'm guessing that I'm not the only one. As the customer, I shouldn't have to work this hard to get your product. There are too many other entertainment options -- including manga from other publishers -- that come out reliably for me to expend this much time and energy keeping up with the constant changes in your publication dates. It's unfortunate, because Dark Horse holds a special spot in my memories when it comes to manga: Oh My Goddess was the first manga series I ever followed, and Super Manga Blast was a wonderful anthology that expanded my exposure to the growing category of Japanese comics. But nowadays Dark Horse isn't the only manga publisher on the block, and I've seen that other companies can do a better job when it comes to maintaining a schedule.

I do hope that you're able to correct the problems that you've been having meeting your schedule. I'll probably still buy your books if I happen to stumble across them, but I'll no longer actively seek them out as I don't need the accompanying headache of tracking your ever-shifting release dates.

Thank you for your time and attention,

John Jakala

If anyone has specific contact information for the appropriate individuals at Dark Horse, please let me know. The only thing I could find on Dark Horse's site was a generic "Contact Us" web form and an email address for their PR dept. And if you have complaints about Dark Horse's chronically late-shipping books, let them know.

UPDATE 9/20: Well, yesterday I received a reply from Carl Horn, editor of Oh My Goddess!, but he has asked that I not post his full email here. The gist of his response was: Dark Horse is aware of the delays and they're taking steps to correct them. When I inquired what those steps were, he declined to provide details. (Really, it's no huge loss that I can't reproduce his email in its entirety; if you're familiar with the standard corporate boilerplate response, you can probably compose a fairly accurate reconstruction of the email yourself.)
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Happy Happy Happy!

Now that I've stopped preordering, I feel kind of left out from one of those regular features on other comic blogs: The Weekly (or Monthly) Shopping List. So to make up for it, I've decided to share with you the contents of a large order I just received from Buy.com. Just look at all this loot!!

  • Eternal Sabbath Vol. 1 - This has been getting a lot of buzz around the blogosphere lately as something that would appeal to fans of Death Note and Monster, so color me intrigued.
  • Project X - Datsun Fairlady Z - The other Project X book was fun in a kind of goofy, stilted way, and I'd love to see more "business" manga translated here, so I thought I'd give this one a shot.
  • Uzumaki Vol. 1 - Replacing the old copy I gave away to I don't even remember who.
  • Yakitate!! Japan - David Welsh's review sold me on this.
  • Bleach Vol. 14 - The next installment of my favorite action manga! Whoo-hoo!!
Nostalgic Superhero Comics:
  • Showcase Presents: Elongated Man - Must...resist...urge to make bad Identity Crisis jokes.
  • Showcase Presents: Haunted Tank - Another purchase inspired by a review from a David, only this time it was Mr. Campbell's impassioned two-part overview that won me over.
  • Showcase Presents: Teen Titans - I already have the Archives edition of the first half of this, but it's still a bargain to get so much classic Nick Cardy art at so cheap a price.
  • Mad Night - I love Richard Sala's quirky cartoonish-yet-dark art, so this should be fun.
  • Walt and Skeezix: Book Two - Book One was one of my top picks last year, so I'm looking forward to catching up with Walt and Skeezix again and seeing how their relationship develops. (Right as my own adventures in parenting reaches its second year as well, so that's a nice bit of synchronicity that should add some emotional resonance to the strips.)
  • Banana Sunday - This was one of my all-time favorite comics when I read the single issues, so I'm happy to have this in a more durable collected form. (Plus, Go-Go reminds me of my daughter in terms of sheer unbridled curiosity and energy, so there's another personal parenting parallel.)
  • Making Comics - I've been eagerly awaiting this book ever since attending Scott McCloud's lecture a couple months ago.
  • Chewing Gum in Church - Steven Weissman's "Yikes" collections always make me smile.
  • Klezmer: Tales of the Wild East - Yay, more Joann Sfar! And in the fancy-pants Collector's Edition format, to boot!!
And for a fun game you can play along with at home, guess how many of these books I'll ever get around to reviewing on this blog!
Patricia Goes Silver-Agey

It's two fun memes that go great together!

The sad thing is, adjusting that text to fit the thought balloon made me realize I'd never cut it as a manga touch-up artist.
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
First Impression Reviews: Q-Ko-Chan & Omukae Desu

Q-Ko-Chan: The Earth Invader Girl Vol. 1

The High Concept Reduction: It's Shadow Star meets Alien Nine by way of Precious Moments.

The Verdict: This is one of those incomprehensible books that still manages to appeal to me based purely on the strength of its art and atmosphere (see also: Shadow Star; Alien Nine). After my first read, I honestly have no idea what was going on in this book, aside from a young boy finding a girl mecha who wants him to "ride her right." Perhaps it'll make more sense if I read it again. Still, something about the minimalist visuals really grabbed me, despite the creepy children populating the narrative.

Distracting Details: I've heard of writers using the "Alan Smithee" pseudonym to disown work they're ashamed of, but letterers? Perhaps "Alan" saw the narrow word balloons he'd have to work with (which result in numerous instances of stacked text in skinny speech bubbles) and decided he didn't want to be blamed for any odd-looking results.

And, really: Precious Moments.

Breakout Character: Bucket-Man Mecha.

Other Reviews: Greg McElhatton ; Prospero's Manga ; Sequential Tart ; Joe McCulloch ; David Welsh

Omukae Desu Vol. 1

The High Concept Reduction: It's a cuter, cuddlier, more comedic version of Bleach. (Or, for American comic book audiences, it's Deadman, but with the twist that the main character lets ghosts take over his body instead of being a ghost that possesses living bodies.)

The Verdict: It's cute but perhaps a little too disposable. There's really nothing about this first volume that entices me to check out the next one. The humor feels forced and falls flat. The characters are barely one-dimensional. And the conceit of dressing up one of the characters in a pink bunny suit is a random gimmick with no logic or payoff.

There's also something odd about the book's pacing: single thoughts or statements are often stretched out over several panels (or pages, even), which makes it easy for the reader to lose the flow, especially when other story elements (other characters' words or actions) interrupt the main thread. (If you have the book, check out the sequence on pages 57-62 for a prime example of what I'm talking about.)

Distracting Details: The paper stock CMX uses for its manga books continues to feel cheap, but at least the binding allows you to open the book and read it comfortably, whereas earlier releases were so stiff they'd snap shut like bear traps if you didn't concentrate on forcing the pages back.

Also, that is one of the plainest cover images I've ever seen. The imprint that publishes the book isn't even identified on the front cover. (The image on DC's site shows the CMX logo on the cover but it's missing from the published book) It's an interesting, low-key approach, but it doesn't do much to establish CMX as a brand that consumers can easily identify.

Breakout Character: Chaga-Hara, the mean friend of overweight teenager Shian Nagasaka. Unfortunately, she only appears in a one-off backup story after volume one of Omukae Desu ends, so we probably won't be seeing her again.

Other Reviews: David Welsh ; Silver Bullet Comics

(Thanks to David Welsh for providing copies of these books for review.)
Monday, September 11, 2006
What's Distracting Patricia?

Dave Lartigue asks: Why does Patricia seem so distracted?

The answer: Patricia suffers from Gundamitis, a little-known illness which renders those afflicted with it unable to focus on smoking, spying on one's neighbors, or world domination.
Friday, September 08, 2006
Coffee and Manga

I'd love to see a manga publisher do some variation of this promotion:

The backstory: Starbucks reneged on coupons for free iced coffee it had sent out, so Caribou has seized on the opportunity to get frustrated Starbucks drinkers to sample their iced coffee.

You can probably see where I'm going with this, but I'll spell it out anyway: What if Viz or another manga publisher took advantage of the uproar over the Tokyopop online exclusives program to promote their titles? "You mat have heard that one of our competitors is trying to make it harder for you to buy their manga by forcing you to buy several of their series exclusively through their website. We here at Viz want to make our books widely available, so we're taking this opportunity to show you how easy it is to find our manga! Simply print out this coupon and take it to any one of the brick-and-mortar stores listed here. It's good for one free manga book when you buy two others at the same or greater price!"

Of course, I mainly like the idea because I like free manga, but I'd also be interested to see if it would lead to a spike in sales (and consumer recognition / goodwill / loyalty) for any publisher that tried it.
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
Ms. Marvel vs. The Mind-Raper Ripper

Your creepy "Chris Claremont depicts the mental rape of a female character" image of the day:

From Ms. Marvel #7

Call me crazy, but I don't think making MODOK tall and giving him killer abs makes him beautiful or lessens his repulsiveness any.
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
Viz Manga Sale at Borders

Borders is currently running a "4 for 3" promotion on Viz manga through September 25th, so this would be a great time to stock up on all those series you've fallen behind on.

4 for 3: All Viz Manga
Least expensive item is free. Offer valid 8/29-9/25/06, in stores only.

Some of my personal recommendations:
  • Bleach - Pure manic energy captured in sequential art form.
  • Death Note - A page-turning thriller about a young man who acquires the power to kill almost anyone.
  • Monster - A pulpy but enjoyable action manga highly reminiscent of The Fugitive or the old Incredible Hulk TV show.
Or you could check out some of those series that are so popular with the young kids, such as Naruto or Fullmetal Alchemist. For myself, after reading David Welsh's mouth-watering review, I think I'm going to use this sale as an opportunity to check out Yakitate!! Japan. (I'm also thinking of checking out Midori Days because the premise of a school tough waking up to find that his right hand has been replaced with a miniaturized puppet-like version of a real girl whose full-size body falls into a coma is so wonderfully bizarre it could either be brilliant or painfully creepy, and either way it would probably make good blogging fodder.) *

* Oh, hell. I just realized I'm about a year behind the curve on this as David Welsh has already read the book and argued convincingly for the "painfully creepy" camp.
Friday, September 01, 2006
Nothing Ever Stays Dead In Comics, Does It?

With Dirk back (not to mention Kevin and Graeme), it's like 2004 all over again. (Although now retailers are angry that manga is leaving their shelves rather than being scared to stock it.) I look forward to lots of great commentary on the comics industry now that Journalista is up-and-running again.