Sporadic Sequential
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Bargain Fantagraphics Books

Barnes & Noble is having a big holiday clearance sale, with savings of 50% or more. The Graphic Novels & Comic Books section isn't that large, but I did manage to find a number of great bargains on Fantagraphics books:
All of those were $5 apiece, except for the Chicken Fat book, which was only two bucks!

Plus, spend $40 or more on your MasterCard and you get $10 off.

UPDATE: Looks like I was too quick on the draw in placing my order. Turns out there were other good graphic novels buried elsewhere, including The Clouds Above, Last Lonely Saturday, Clyde Fans, and MOME volumes One and Two.

GODDAMMIT, BARNES & NOBLE, WOULD IT KILL YOU TO ORGANIZE YOUR CLEARANCE BOOKS INTO THE CORRECT CATEGORIES???? Browsing around even more, I found several other comics on clearance that weren't listed in the graphic novels clearance section: The Chuckling Whatsit, Mad Night, El Borbah, Pussey!, Billy Hazelnuts, Fred the Clown, Monologues for the Coming Plague, Anywhere But Here, The Kid Firechief, Chewing Gum in Church, and several of the Barnes & Noble editions of Marvel Masterworks. Heck, there's even manga on clearance. Needless to say, I just placed a second order.
Friday, December 22, 2006
Have Yourself A Keroro Little Christmas

None of the images are as memorable as my favorite holiday greeting ever from the manga, but here are some festive holiday screen captures from the Keroro Gunso anime episode (#39) where Keroro discovers Christmas:

Keroro searches for the true meaning of Christmas -- presents!

Meanwhile, back at the Hinata household, friends and family gather to celebrate the holiday.

What the--? I thought Keroro was trying to find Santa, not fill in for him.

Is this some evil invasion scheme cooked up by Keroro?

Wait, what's this? Keroro is giving that gift to small, adorable children? Is it some sort of evil alien torture device?

Awww -- it turns out that, like that other green-hued humbug, Keroro is powerless before the power of cute kids on Christmas.

In other Keroro-related Christmas news, I want to send out a very special thank you to the wonderful Jeff Lester for sending me such an amazingly thoughtful and generous gift. That's right, it's...


The only downside of Jeff's thoughtful gesture is that after putting this one model together, I'm already scouring the net looking for more Keroro sets to assemble. (I never understood the appeal of "Gunpla" before, but after putting one together, I am strangely hooked. I think it's partly a factor of being impressed with the ingenuity behind the designs of these model kits. More than once while assembling Afro Gunso, I found myself wondering, "How the heck did they ever make this stuff so it's all so small and mass-produced, yet it still all fits together?!?")

For more photos (including full scans of the instructions) visit here. (And, yes, I know I look like a dork.)

For more Keroro kits and other collectibles, visit here. (And here's another site that has a bigger image of the box cover.)

Ah, what the heck -- here's that image of my favorite holiday greeting again:

Happy Holidays, everyone! See you in hell!!
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
The New Parisian?

The New Yorker has featured work from some of the top artists working in comics for a while now (Chris Ware, Seth, R. Kikuo Johnson), but I was still surprised to see this illustration in last week's issue:

Yes, that's art by Dupuy & Berberian, whose wonderful series Monsieur Jean I'm hoping we'll see more of soon.

(And browsing through their site, I just realized my surprise at seeing their artwork grace The New Yorker is more a function of my poor memory than anything else. They've done several pieces for the magazine before.)
Sunday, December 17, 2006

A strange review of Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie's Lost Girls appeared in my local paper on Sunday. Actually, the review itself wasn't that strange, but the accompanying image used to illustrate the review was certainly odd:

That image looks like something out of the adult ads in the back of the free weekly papers. (I'm wondering how many customers are going to be upset when they shell out $75 and find out the model pictured in the review isn't anywhere in the book.)

So why was this fetish photo used instead of representative artwork from the book itself? Perhaps the editor in charge of the Star Tribune's books section took reviewer Eric Hanson's advice too literally:
Perhaps it's not so provocative, considering the apparent appeal of costumes that put sexy adult spins on the tights and blue dresses that Dorothy and Alice made iconic. (Google "Dorothy" and "costume" or "Alice" and "costume" and see the scanty things that anyone could have seen strolling through Uptown on Halloween.)
Apparently those same search terms work on Shutterstock.com as well. (Note that Shutterstock gets the photo credit in the published piece.)

UPDATE: I changed the link to the Star Tribune's review, since they apparently purge content older than a few weeks off the site but still leave the "printer-friendly" versions of the articles active. I've also uploaded a copy of the review to my webspace in case the Strib deletes the other version of the review as well.
Monday, December 11, 2006
Damn You, Spell Check!

ICv2 breaks the news that there will be a sequel to the popular First Second book Sardine in Outer Space:

Sardines in Outer Space!

Or, wait, is this the sequel to something else entirely? I get confused.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Compare/Contrast: Tintin vs. Turner

Tintin Pantoja has updated her LiveJournal with some thoughts spurred by the blogosphere's reaction to her manga-influenced Womder Woman proposal. It's a great post, but I especially liked this section:
While the medium called sequential art is fully capable of conveying literary and powerful stories "of great sound and magnitude", we often forget that the etymology of the words 'comics' and 'manga' share connotations of playful, frivolous entertainment. The Wonder Woman manga was conceived in the spirit of the latter.
I think that sums up a big reason why my sequential art reading list is almost entirely manga these days: I get a sense of fun from manga that I don't see in many Western comics*, especially those from Marvel and DC. I'm guessing Tintin's playful approach to her Wonder Woman project is part of the reason why it resonated with so many comic fans who have little or no interest in reading the "regular" WW comic.

Consider the following two images: Which one conveys a sense of fun?

Tintin Pantoja's Wonder WomanMichael Turner's Wonder Woman

I love that image on the left: It really communicates a sense that Wonder Woman herself enjoys her powers of flight. If there's any sense of wonderment in the second image, it's astonishment that Turner's female characters can move about at all after having their internal organs removed. (Seriously, what the heck is up with WW's waist in that picture?)

Here's hoping that someday everyone who was excited by Tintin's proposal gets a chance to read the full story, in whatever form it might take. And here's hoping that DC eventually gets around to offering alternative presentations of its great female characters that don't alienate readers who don't like seeing women depicted as sexual objects.

* Please note the "many" qualifier. If manga = fun, then Western comics like Banana Sunday, Bone, Steven Weissman's "Yikes" books, and the Adhouse "Project" anthologies are manga. OK, really I should have just said it's books from the "Big Two" that are lacking in fun for me.

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Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Shōjo WW Watch: Special Fanboy Rampage® Edition

OK, we know the blogosphere loves Tintin's manga WW proposal, but what do the message boards think? Based on this thread from Gail Simone's "You'll All Be Sorry" forum at CBR, I'd say reaction is...mixed. (Brought to my attention by David Welsh, who I assume just wanted me to see someone telling me to "piss off" repeatedly.)

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

I've just heard from a reliable source (who wishes to remain anonymous for the time being) that "another publisher has expressed interest."

So we may get to see Tintin's Princess of Paradise project after all, just not from DC.

UPDATED 12/6: Pantoja contacted me to confirm that she has been approached by another publisher, but nothing has been finalized yet. Meanwhile, Blog@Newsarama is the latest to gush about Tintin's proposal. Somebody'd better scoop up this hot property soon!

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Sunday, December 03, 2006
Shōjo WW Watch: Day Five

Still no announcement from DC about when Pantoja's Princess of Paradise will be published, but there's plenty of discussion about the proposal around the comics blogosphere.

Over at MangaBlog, readers are divided over whether or not a manga reimagining of Wonder Woman is a good idea. Tina Anderson isn't fond of "making manga from Western comics" and if I think of the unholy abomination that was the Marvel Mangaverse, I'm inclined to agree with her. However, I think that Pantoja's Wonder Woman manga pitch looks like a special case where subject matter (Wonder Woman's origin and roots in Greek myth) and style (shōjo manga presentation) match up almost perfectly. As David Welsh wrote in the previous post's comments, "how much more 'magic girl' can you get?"

Unlike her male counterparts in DC's Triumvirate, Wonder Woman doesn't suffer from overexposure. Heck, she only has one regular book, and that doesn't even come out monthly. And looking at DC's backlist, there aren't very many special projects focusing on WW. (In contrast, just try to count the number of Batman books available for order every month. I just tallied up the number of books tagged as "DC UNIVERSE: BATMAN" under the DC Backlist section of this month's order form and it came to 134 Bat-books. "DC UNIVERSE: SUPERMAN" books number 83. Meanwhile, poor WW doesn't even get her own section, instead lumped in with the rest of the "DC UNIVERSE" backlist. But then I suppose fourteen books isn't enough to justify its own section)

If DC were really serious about trying to establish Wonder Woman as one of their "Big Three" characters, I think putting out a manga version of the character would be a good way to do that. It might not increase her importance within the "regular" DCU, but it would probably boost her profile in terms of sales and visibility within the popular culture. Even if young girls aren't familiar with or interested in Wonder Woman enough to seek out a manga version of her on their own, I can imagine their parents thinking such a book might make a good gift: "Hey, look at this Wonder Woman book. I remember watching the TV show when I was a kid! And the art style reminds me of all those 'manga' books Jennifer is always reading. Maybe she'd like this, too." (And if DC packaged and marketed the book properly, I really do think manga readers would at least check it out. Based on her sample pages, it looks like Pantoja really "gets" manga and isn't just trying to ape an art style in a crude way that would end up turning off mangaphiles.)

At Resplendent Beard, readers are wondering what other superheroes might benefit from a manga makeover. David Alexander McDonald shares his wonderful Supergirl manga pitch, which sounds like more fun than the last three Supergirl series put together:
A few years ago I pitched Dan DiDio a manga-style take on Supergirl that had Kara as a pop idol, Superman as the lead singer of the Justice League touring rock band (with the Flash as the Fastest Lead Guitarist Alive), and Lex Luthor as an Evial Music Mogul. Obviously it didn't get picked up, and we ended up with Britney Kara instead, but it was fun to do.
It's like Scott Pilgrim with superheroes! It'd be huge!! (So of course DC passed on it.)

Meanwhile, over at The Beat, reader reaction to Pantoja's sample pages is overwhelmingly positive (yeah, I'm just going to ignore that one idiotic comment completely, especially since Heidi deflated it nicely):
Seeing the manga page, I kinda wish DC would actually publish a manga WONDER WOMAN–as a one-shot, if nothing else.

Tintin’s pages are bosting. Shame it wasn’t picked up.

It’s a pity that DC passed on Pantoja’s “Wonder Woman” pitch. Giving this venerable superheroine the manga treatment seems like a great way to introduce legions of younger female readers to superhero comics in a visual language they appreciate.

I got excited for a minute, seeing those manga style pages, that there might be something interesting and new to read.

That manga page is everything I’d love WW to be.

Lea Hernandez even reveals that she attempted to champion Pantoja's proposal (alas, to no avail):
Tintin’s pages actually moved me to write to both Paul Levitz and Shelley Bond at DC and say, “You really need to do this. You really could do a comics line for girls, with your characters, and I’d be willing to work in ‘mainstream’ comics again for that.”

Paul wrote me back every time and pointed me to Shelley. I never heard from Shelley.
Finally, Tom Foss gushes (scroll down to the end), "I also think that the manga Wonder Woman pitch that's been making the rounds looks fantastic," and he doesn't even read manga! C'mon, DC: Can't you see that you have a potential crossover hit on your hands? Why not capitalize on this excitement and give Pantoja's Wonder Woman book the go-ahead?

UPDATE: Lyle at Crocodile Caucus bemoans "the missed potential when DC failed to greenlight a shoujo take on Wonder Woman," saying, "Those pages look really good."

Alas, A Blog (scroll all the way down) describes the proposal as a "really excellent-looking approach that DC rejected."

Finally, I can't believe I missed linking to this earlier, but the comments at Pantoja's LiveJournal are extremely favorable as well.

UPDATE YET AGAIN: Simon Jones, troublemaker that he is, mentions the four words [NSFW] I had hoped no one would bring up in connection with this grassroots effort to get Pantoja's pitch published: Snakes on a Plane. I know it's foolish to expect that any Internet excitement would translate directly into sales, but I'm guessing that this spontaneous, unanimous positive response to Pantoja's proposal means that she's on to something here. C'mon, this is the Internet: When was the last time everyone rallied together to be positive about something? Everyone always complains that all the comic blogosphere does is collectively complain, so isn't it pretty noteworthy that everyone is excited about Shōjo Diana? *

And as for the question of whether DC has already backed themselves into a corner with its public statements regarding their interest in doing OEL manga, perhaps they have, but I would hope that they'd be big enough (and concerned enough about the bottom line) to overlook the possibility of looking like they're eating crow and move forward with something if it warranted it, regardless of how that project might fit with official corporate pronouncements. (I also think the tactic of using the manga WW project to try to defuse the Minx criticism would appeal to DC.)

* And, yes, I realize that by typing that out, I've just invited everyone to find fault with the proposal.

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