Sporadic Sequential
Sunday, October 29, 2006
The More You Buy, The More You Save!!

To anyone looking to catch up on some manga series (or any other graphic novels), Buy.com is running a special through the end of October (I know, only a couple more days, but I just found out myself) where you get $10 off orders of $30 or more if you use Google Checkout. There are some limitations (the offer's only good on merchandise in stock and ready to ship; you're charged right away when your order is placed instead of when it ships; and there's the whole issue of giving your private financial info to Google that might make some people uneasy (me? any privacy concerns I might have are trumped by my inability to pass up a great bargain)) but you can take advantage of the offer as many times as you want. And Buy.com's prices on comics are already generally lower than Amazon's, so this is a great deal.

I just placed three orders, saving $30 on
  • Banya The Explosive Delivery Man Vol. 1 *
  • Dragon Head Vol. 4
  • Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service Vol. 1 *
  • Monster Vol. 5
  • Ohikkoshi *
  • Reborn! Vol. 1
  • Vagabond Vol. 1 (Can't believe I haven't read this series yet)
and a bunch of board books for my daughter. It was like getting one $30 order free!!

* (Three Dark Horse books?? I guess bargains trump boycotts in my book, too.) **

** (No, it was never really a boycott.)
Friday, October 27, 2006
Mail Fraud

So the artwork for the Marvel postage stamps has been revealed and I have to say, I'm a little disappointed that Elektra's comic cover stamp doesn't feature an actual cover from one of her own series. What, was Marvel scared to let the general public see such powerful images depicting a strong, independent female character?
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Reconsideration Reviews: Drifting Classroom

But First, The Audience Participation Portion of the Post: I'm trying out an idea for a new, possibly recurring, feature called "Reconsideration Reviews" where I take a second look at a series or creator I'd previously written off. I already have a couple books (all library copies) lined up that I'm thinking of reading and reviewing, but I'd also be willing to take suggestions. If there's something (or someone) you think I've unfairly disregarded, write to me and tell me why you think I should give it a second chance. I won't guarantee that I'll follow your recommendation, but you may remind me of something I've forgotten about and would be willing to try again. (And, please, only recommend things that are readily available in trade paperback. I'm really not interested in tracking down single issues of anything.)

With that out of the way, let's move on to the first Reconsideration Review.

What's Under (Re)Consideration: Manga creator Kazuo Umezu, this time out represented by blogosphere favorite The Drifting Classroom Vol. 1.

Previous Verdict: Unfavorable. I deemed Orochi: Blood one of the most disappointing comics of 2002, writing "the story was laughably bad - melodramatic and nonsensical" and "if Kazuo Umezu was attempting to give the impression that this tale was being enacted by dolls, he succeeded in his efforts." Ouch.

What Motivated Me To Reconsider: The near-unanimous positive reaction from the comics blogosphere.

Deal or No Deal? No deal. It's certainly an improvement over Orochi: Blood, especially in terms of the art, but it's still much too melodramatic for my taste. Here to explain the biggest flaw with Drifting Classroom is noted comic book creator and theorist, Scott McCloud:

That, in a nutshell, is my problem with Drifting Classroom, a book that dares to be the sequential art equivalent of THOSE ANNOYING EMAILS YOU GET WHERE THE SENDER FORGOT TO TURN OFF THE CAPS LOCK!!!!

Seriously, here are some of the "quieter" opening scenes that happen before all the crazy "loud" stuff gets underway:

Sho discovering he overslept.

Sho learning that his mother threw out his marbles.

Sho imitating his favorite American superhero, Black Bolt.

When even mundane events are depicted with such earth-shattering force, there isn't any room to raise the intensity when events call for it. By the time we get to the bizarre occurrences promised by the book's title, we're already worn out by the ridiculous levels of emotion on display during the build-up. There's no shock left to register because it's all been spent.

Sho's default mood.
(I believe he's sleeping in this panel.)

In his remarks on Drifting Classroom, Christopher Butcher wrote "it's a lot of fun to compare the 1970s suspense-horror of Drifting Classroom ... to Dragon Head." It is an interesting comparison, and one that I actually made while reading Drifting Classroom. Although in my case it was only to wonder what someone like Dragon Head creator Minetaro Mochizuki (or Junji Ito) could do with the concepts in Drifting Classroom. The basic premise of an entire grade-school building being uprooted and transported to god-knows-where is a fantastic idea for a survivalist horror manga; it's just not executed particularly well here.

Bonus Nitpick: Throughout the book, I was totally distracted by the way Umezu depicted Sho running. If there were a "Viz Direct" action figure of Sho running, the only things that would move would be the arms, and only at the arm sockets.

The Many Running Styles of Sho
Monday, October 16, 2006
Your Meta Manga Moment

In a very meta moment, Bleach character Mayui Kurotsuchi addresses series creator Tite Kubo directly.
Friday, October 13, 2006

Or, "Civil War Claims Another Reader"

This is why Marvel will always win:

Two months ago: "Screw Civil War. I am going to go spend my money on timely products made by companies that want my business."

Today: "I have to admit, seeing this [variant cover for Civil War #5] makes me want to go buy the next issue, if for no other reason then to watch Frank Castle kick some serious butt."


To be fair to Heidi, she only says that she wants to buy the next issue of Civil War, not that she definitely will. But it still reads like a foregone conclusion to me. And even if she doesn't buy Civil War, she's still supporting Marvel by buying dozens of their other books. And I do understand the pull that favorite characters can have (just this week I had my own "OMG!" moment when I saw that there was going to be a new ongoing Dr. Fate series spinning out of a series of one-shots), so I'm certainly in no position to criticize anyone for getting excited over a particular character's appearance.

But I do think this points to why Marvel and DC don't take online pronouncements of outrage very seriously: Chances are, nothing is going to change in the long run. Customers may threaten to boycott a certain title (or even the company's entire output) but in the end most fans will plunk down their money for the very books they're complaining about, and that's the only thing the publishers pay any attention to.
Monday, October 09, 2006
Très Stormy, Swear To God

It’s official. CBR will hire anybody.
- Tom Beland

C'mon, that's not a very nice thing to say about the guy who publishes your book.
Sunday, October 08, 2006
A Side of Giroro You've Definitely Never Seen Before...

Some disturbing gender-bending images from episode #30 of the Keroro Gunso anime:

Surprisingly, these gags weren't part of the original manga chapter (Encounter LXIV) adapted in this anime episode. And I thought creator Mine Yoshizaki never passed up an opportunity to depict T&A!
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Bleach Blitz

It looks like Viz is making a big promotional push for Bleach. They've added a Bleach mini-site with episode guides for both the anime and the manga. There's going to be Bleach gear you can buy "exclusively at Hot Topic and Borders/Waldenbooks in October." (You also have a chance to win "a Bleach T-shirt or Zip-up Hoodie" by filling out the Shonen Jump reader survey. (Shonen Jump purchase required.)) And in the November issue of Shonen Jump, Bleach is featured on the cover and in a chapter-long manga excerpt:

It's been just under a month since the Hollows took over your TV, since you became suspicious of your sister's stuffed animals, since you started thinking you were seeing... dead people.

It's been just under a month, that is, since Bleach debuted on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim block. This issue we provide a sneak peek at the latest volume of the manga with a full chapter, a preview of the next batch of anime episodes and profiles of the nastiest Soul Reapers we've met yet.

All that, plus a free Yu-Gi-Oh! card, Bo-bobo fun, exclusive Naruto CCG and video-game tips... and much much more in the November 2006 issue of SHONEN JUMP, in stores today!

That's right, a full chapter of Bleach manga this month, plus a four-episode anime guide, cool new patches and key chains, and a guide to the meanest Soul Reapers of all...

I may actually have to buy an issue of Shonen Jump off the newsstand. Plus, it'll give me a chance to catch up on all those manga series I haven't followed since I let my SJ subscription lapse after the first year.