Sporadic Sequential
Friday, June 29, 2007
Moonlighting Marjane

Marjane Satrapi + children's books = two of my favorite things about reading together in one delightful package! Satrapi's Monsters Are Afraid of the Moon tells the story of a young girl bullied by monsters every night, so she cuts the moon out of the sky, hanging it in her room to ward off the monsters. Of course, this causes problems elsewhere, especially for cats, who are overrun by rats taking advantage of the total darkness to loot the city. How can order be restored while still protecting the girl from her tormentors?

"I swear, Your Majesty, there were like a thousand rats that ganged up on us!"

This really is a cute book, with plenty of kid made-up-on-the-spot-storytelling logic. And the ending has a nice fable feel to it, explaining how it was that a certain custom came to be. I look forward to reading this book to my daughter when she's a bit older.

After reading this book, I began to wonder what children's books from other comic creators would look like. Can you imagine Frank Miller's Sin City Babies? "Miho is a hooker. Miho is also a ninja. That means Miho gets to have sex with people AND kill them. Miho's work sure is interesting! Wouldn't you like to be a ninja hooker someday?"

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Thursday, June 28, 2007
The P.O.W.E.R. of Positivity

If the (under)representation of women and minorities in the comic industry concerns you, head on over and join P.O.W.E.R. in Comics, a new social network established by retailer Lisa Lopacinski to "Promote Ownership of stores and publishing houses, Writing & Drawing of comics, Editing of comics & Reading of comics and graphic novels for women and minorities." At the moment, Lisa is asking for ideas on how to increase the group's visibility by performing some sort of action outreach, so stop over and offer your suggestions. Lisa has also come up with an idea to publicize independent (i.e., non Marvel and DC) comics by female and minority creators and is asking for recommended works that fit the bill.

As Lisa writes in the site's mission statement, "This community is a positive one, where people can share ideas on how to increase the activity of women and minorities in the comic book industry rather than just complain about how it hasn't happened yet." Lord knows I enjoy bitching about bad comics, but I'm excited that someone is trying to channel the energy of the blogosphere in an effort to bring about positive change. (Besides, there's always this blog as an outlet for negative snark.) So if you have ideas on how to make the comic industry more appealing for everyone, step up and make yourself heard.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Straight from the Horse's Mouth

After approving yet another 30-day order extension for Akira Club, I decided to email Dark Horse to see if the book would ever be published. Director of Publicity Jeremy S. Atkins was kind enough to reply quickly to my inquiry, and it looks like it will be coming out after all:
We've had some licensing issues which have caused continual delays. I can promise you, this book will be out soon. It's at the printer now. Thanks so much for your patience!
According to the updated product listing for Akira Club, it's currently scheduled for a Sept. 12, 2007 (!) release. Either this date is being set far into the future so they don't have to change the date again, or that's a really slow boat from China.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007
So Much for 24/7

It figures: the one time I want to look something up on Tokyopop's site (actually, on ChunHyang72's blog), I get this:

I'll be curious to see (1) if the site's usability improves any, and (2) how many of the redone links end up broken all over again. (But u guys will do our beta testing 4 us, right?)

UPDATE 6/29: Well, the original relaunch date of 6/27 has come and gone and now it's anyone's guess (including Toyopop's) when the new site will go live:

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How Did They Know My One Weakness?

OK, if this is what I think it is, Marvel's upcoming indie anthology may prove too tempting to resist: It looks like R. Kikuo Johnson will be contributing a short story featuring the Thing, Alicia Masters, and the Puppet Master:

I'm a sucker for anything drawn by Johnson, and this short story featuring one of my favorite Marvel characters looks too fun to pass up. Also, if this is the first in-continuity appearance of Alicia's seeing eye dog, I'm sure the issue will skyrocket in value some day! (Found via Flog.)

EDIT: Just noticed this bit in the Newsarama article on the upcoming anthology: "We've got at least one manga-ka contributing a story." Can I dream that it's Junji Ito or Tite Kubo on Spider-Man?

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Super Happy Manga Shark Jump!

In his latest Flipped column, David Welsh (like Johanna and Jeff Lester before him) realizes that his enthusiasm for Sgt. Frog is waning. Once I got past the sheer WRONGNESS of his opinion, I wondered about manga series that I no longer enjoy as much as I used to. Which books had grown stale over time, and why had they stopped appealing to me? Here's what I came up with:

Battle Royale - The first manga I dropped before finishing, I believe. At first I was enjoying the tale of teenagers trapped on an island and forced to kill each other (in the same way you might enjoy a mindless exploitation flick what new gruesome method of death will they dream up next?), but after reading the highly superior original novel, the over-the-top violence and gratuitous sex seemed even more unnecessary and exaggerated than before. (Keith Giffen's reworked script, which added a nonsensical reality TV angle to the story and tried too hard to be shocking, certainly didn't help.)

Made it to: Volume 5, but only because I was still preordering my comics online back then; I'd wanted to drop it after volume 3.

Death Note - Man, I loved the early volumes of this series, with the mental mind games between the main characters. They were pure crack in comic book form. And unlike many others, I didn't mind it when certain changes happened about midway through. But even I grew weary of the Endless! Exposition! in the last few books. It's like they decided just to cut and paste writer Tsugumi Ohba's overly wordy script directly atop Takeshi Obata's artwork. (To his credit, Obata did manage to make the talky scenes as dynamic as humanly possible, with lots of dramatic angles and lighting.)

Made it to: All the way to the bitter end, volume 12.

Oh My Goddess! - Ah, the bittersweet sting of faded manga love. David mentions this phenomenon in his remarks on Sgt. Frog ("it was one of the first manga series I truly loved"), and it certainly applies to my relationship with Oh My Goddess: One of the first manga series I followed, Oh My Goddess has always held a special place in my heart. But lately the passion just isn't there, so it's time to call it quits. The interminable delays certainly didn't help hold my interest, but for me the final nail in the coffin was a scene in one recent volume where Keichi grows flustered because Bell falls asleep on his shoulder. Having thought the series was long past the point of playing up Keichi's awkwardness for laughs (I swear there were scenes where Keichi and Belldandy were able to show affection towards each other without it turning into an excuse for lazy comedy, but perhaps those encounters only ever existed in my fan-fic imagination), it was disappointing to see the character regressed for the sake of cheap laughs.

Made it to: Volume 26, with some of the earlier material bought twice when Dark Horse switched to the unflipped format.

Hikaru no Go - This is a weird one it's a good series but it never grips me. Often I buy a new volume and forget to read it for months. It has great art, solid plotting, likable characters (who undergo actual development), but it still lacks something for me. Oh well, I'm sure this is a series that I can find at the library if I'm ever curious to see how later volumes turned out.

Made it to: I think volume 9 is still sitting around unread somewhere.

Yakitate!! Japan - I'll admit, I enjoyed the first few volumes, and there were always several bits in later books that made me laugh, but overall the series became much too repetitive much too fast. Plus, I think I'm still traumatized by the embarrassing experience of having a female Barnes & Noble cashier looking creeped out when I handed her this volume at the counter.

Made it to: Volume 4, with all of its attendant shameful memories.

Naoki Urasawa's Monster - This is a book I was buying on autopilot, which was made easier by the gorgeous scenery. But even Urasawa's brilliant linework can't mask the fact that I've been bored with this book almost since it began. The plot plods along with very little actually happening from volume to volume (Tenma still performing medical miracles throughout the countryside despite the fact that he's a wanted fugitive? Yep! Lunge still obsessively tracking Tenma? Yep! Johan still acting vaguely creepy? Yep!) and the characters are all stock types with no depth to them. I might have stuck it out just for the joy of looking at Urasawa's accomplished cartooning if the story were wrapping up soon, but this series clocks in at eighteen volumes! Looks like another good candidate for an eventual library read.

Made it to: Volume 8. Damn the lure of pretty pictures!

So, how about you? What books no longer have that same magic that they used to?

Bonus round: On the flip side, what manga that everyone else has given up on still rings your bells? (For me: Bleach, Sgt. Frog, Vagabond.)

UPDATE: Johanna shares her list of manga she gave up on, and Brigid solicits readers' feedback on which manga they dropped midway through.

UPDATE #2: David Welsh weighs in with his own reject list, and, her memory jogged by David's post, Johanna lists even more series she abandoned.

UPDATE #3: Alex Scott shares his quit list, and it includes not only Sgt. Frog, but Bleach as well. Oh, the humanity!

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Monday, June 25, 2007
Happy Blogiversary To Me

I can't believe I've been doing this blog for a year already. (That's probably because if you measure blog age by the number of posts made, then this blog is still only a couple months old.) But browsing back through the archives, there it is, my first post on this blog back on Sunday, June 25, 2006. That first post was telling, revealing a theme that would come to define this blog: fun ideas that I never got around to developing into actual posts. (In that post it was the notion of comparing the differences between the Sgt. Frog anime and manga; this week I had planned on posting daily content in celebration of the anniversary but that now looks unlikely.)

Still, despite the many, many unpublished drafts clogging my Blogger dashboard, I'm glad that I did start blogging again. There are times where not accomplishing what I'd hoped to adds to my stress level, but overall I'm happy to have an outlet for my sporadic musings about sequential art. So even though my free time is going to become even more limited in less than two weeks (hint: my wife and I have decided it's time to start up the sleep deprivation experiments again), I've decided to keep this blog going intermittently indefinitely. (Apologies in advance for the looming lack of updates.)

Thanks to everyone who read, linked to, or commented on this blog during its first year. Looking back through my archives, I realized that the blogosphere's sense of community (even if it's not always tightly-knit or collegial) is a large part of what keeps me going. My wife often asks me why I spend so much time blogging when I'm not getting paid for it. For me, the reward is in joining the conversation that's taking place. Again, I know people often complain that the tone of the conversation is crass or churlish, but I'm always able to find plenty of enjoyable, engaging material to read. And best of all, it's all free! So I'm happy to provide my own content (what little of it there is) free of charge, and I'm extremely grateful to everyone else who takes time out of their busy day to post material for my amusement -- FOR FREE!!! (Seriously, thanks! You (collectively) rock!!)

And just so this isn't a completely self-indulgent post, here are some scans from the most recent volume of Sgt. Frog (nice way to bring everything full-circle, eh?), which you should all rush out and buy even if it did put David Welsh to sleep.

General creepiness!
(Do I detect a Pinky and the Brain allusion?)

Yakitate!! Japan parody!
(I won't spoil the great visual pun on manga baking competitions.)

Fun with household chores!
(Likewise, I won't spoil the source being parodied/homaged in this episode.
A big part of the fun is realizing what manga-ka Mine Yoshizaki is referencing.)

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007
And Now, A Bit of Negativity To Cleanse the Palate

Found in the comments section of Mike Sterling's post soliciting reader feedback on what they'd like to see more / less of in their comics*:
1)Variety. Most of my comics ordered nowadays are from the big 2. How about some variety like back in the 80s when the direct market was new and the possibilities were endless.
Hmm, this is like one of those brain teasers where the solution is contained somewhere within the problem itself, isn't it?

(For more discussion of this topic, see Mike's two follow-up posts and respective comment threads where he analyzes and reacts to what commenters wrote, although it does get a little depressing reading just how much dissatisfaction fans of superhero comics subject themselves to.)

* I feel like I should have some little macro that will replace comics with superhero comics so I don't have to type out little notes like this every time I run across someone conflating the two. (Not that Mike was in his original post, but that's pretty much how respondents seem to have interpreted the questions.)

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Linkblogging Love

I keep seeing people saying that the comics blogosphere has been too negative lately*, so here's an ALL-NEW, ALL-POSITIVE post focusing on all the shiny happy fun going on in the blogosphere!

One good thing about the whole MJ zombie controversy was discovering the Metamorphostuff blog. Ryan Day has a really engaging writing style, with a nice balance between light snark and lengthy commentary. Here are some of my favorite posts from his blog archives: his review of The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, Vol. 1; 50 Reasons Why Mainstream Superhero Comics* Just Aren't Good Enough**; and Three Cheers for Censorship!

I really enjoyed Ed Cunard's MoCCA post (even if it does inspire a little jealousy that I can't attend). Ed's rundown of everything he's looking forward to reminds me of what a great time this is to be a comic book fan, with so many great comics being created that it's hard to keep up with all of them. Here's hoping Ed posts a follow-up report after the show. Also fun: Ed's tour of his newly-designed nerdroom.

Speaking of too many good comics out there to keep up with, Dave Lartigue looks at six recent graphic novels (AKA "comics for big kids") that all sound interesting. Thank goodness my local library system is so good about adding new graphic novels to their already impressive collection.

Dave Campbell stirs up some superhero nostalgia with his look at the late, lamented Power Company series by Kurt Busiek and Tom Grummett. I even show up in comments to reminisce about one of my favorite issues from that series.

Lyle Masaki comes up with a great idea: a book club for manga readers! I think this could be a great way for publishers to encourage readers to stick with anthologies and buy their favorite series again in collected form.

Lots of bloggers do weekly looks at what's coming out at the comic shops, but one of my favorites is the one Kevin Melrose and Chris Mautner do over at Blog@Newsarama. They always feature plenty of amusing commentary, and they usually remind me of something interesting that I would have otherwise overlooked. This week looks like an especially good one, with new volumes of several of my favorite manga series: Banya The Explosive Delivery Man Vol. 4! Death Note Vol. 12!! Yotsuba&! Vol. 4?!??!?

This might seem like a cheat (since some will complain it's negative), but Tom Spurgeon's droll descriptions of superhero comics ("Civil War, with superheroes on two sides punching each other .... World War Hulk, where the Hulk punches people regardless of side") always make me smile.

* I suspect these critics really mean the superhero comics blogosphere has been too negative lately, because most of the comic blogs I read are fairly positive. But then again most of the comic blogs I read focus on manga and indie comics and the bloggers there generally buy and read comics they expect to like, not just comics featuring the characters they've always collected.

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Friday, June 15, 2007
Bleached and Rested

OK, I'm depressed that I spent that much time discussing something Marvel-related, so here's something fun to cleanse the palate:

"Bleach Spa Day" by the always-talented Telophase

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Thursday, June 14, 2007
Come for the Controversy, Stay for the Commentary

Some thoughts on others' thoughts on the whole Mary Jane zombie thing.

I was surprised that Heidi MacDonald wasn't at all bothered by the cover. Sure, she might not find the idea of a half-eaten, rotting female corpse still trying to seduce the viewer with a come-hither look troubling, but I would have thought that she'd be a little annoyed by the fact that Marvel was once again mixing its signals about how this popular female character is being marketed. After all, the original cover was the image Heidi used to open her "Night of the Feminazis!!! Part ii" piece where she wrote:
Mary Jane is one of the main characters in the most successful movie serial of all times. While I can’t see MJ being used as a role model for kids, there have been not even one, but SEVERAL attempts to market her as a YA character: The mini series SPIDER-MAN LOVES MARY JANE, as mentioned here being one.
I think that was the main point Chris was getting at in his post (and one that Dorian and Dirk both picked up on as well): It's creepy and unprofessional for Marvel to be taking a character aimed at YA readers here from a cover of a series featuring that character specifically geared for YA readers and warping her like this. (Then again, I think the whole Marvel Zombies concept is warped.)

(If I were conspiracy-minded, I might suggest that Marvel decided to zombify that image because Heidi featured it in her post. But I don't think Marvel is that organized. Then again, I'm really at a loss for why they picked that cover, since it features a version of the character different from the one in the Zombie-verse and it's not at all a classic cover, so maybe Marvel did crank this out because they thought it would be funny.)

UPDATE: Heidi goes into greater detail about why she doesn't think this cover rates offsense or controversy.

Back in the comments at Chris Butcher's original post, Ed Brubaker stopped in to touch on another problematic image that has received its own amount of attention in the blogosphere recently:
I would just like to point out that the Falcon having his costume lit on fire on a cover is not inherently racially insensitive. If he was hanging from a tree while a cross burned, then yeah, I could see your point. But the burning of people isn’t an iconic racist image, it’s iconic for witches and religious heretics.

I didn’t even think of him as a “black man” when I suggested the image to Steve, I thought of him as a superhero whose costume we wanted to get rid of.

I generally like your posts and agree with a lot of what you have to say, but I resent the idea that I’m somehow a racist for treating The Falcon the same as I would treat any other superhero in one of my books. To me, treating different races and genders and sexual orientations differently than I would a white male character is the definition of racism.
A couple thoughts on this:
  • No one ever came close to suggesting that Brubaker is a racist, holds any racist views, or writes racist work. The only thing Chris had written was that the image of "lighting a black man on fire" was one of the recent problematic images to come out of Marvel lately. (Myself, I rather enjoyed several of Brubaker's books, including Scene of the Crime, Sleeper, and even Gotham Central; and I keep meaning to check out Criminal now that it's out in TPB, so this is nothing personal.)

  • I think the image of a black man burning is always going to be problematic, even if there are no trees or crosses involved.

  • Treating all races and genders and sexual orientations exactly the same may not be the fairest or best thing to do since different races and genders and sexual orientations face different circumstances in our society. And speaking specifically about comic books, not all races and genders and sexual orientations have been depicted with equal respect throughout the decades, so attempting to be idealistically colorblind may lead to situations where racially insensitive images or stereotypes are the result.

  • The only way to get rid of the Falcon's costume is to burn it off of him while he's still wearing it?

Over at Metamorphostuff, James Meeley shows up to complain about all the people complaining about this cover, in the process comparing comic book bloggers to CSI because comic bloggers want to be taken seriously or something. James' characterization of most bloggers strikes me as odd. James seems to see everyone as storming the gates of the publishers with pitchforks and a list of their demands. Me, I see most bloggers as involved in conversation, even when they're fiercely complaining. I think most bloggers realize that they're not going to have much effect on comic companies (at least not through simply blogging, which is why I advocate that people stop buying material form Marvel and DC if they really have a problem with their policies, practices, or attitudes) but they still want to share their opinions with each other (and if creators or companies happen to hear the message as well, bonus!) I'm not sure why James thinks fans should be precluded from sharing their opinions from each other. They've purchased the product (or been subjected to the hype); haven't they earned the right to express their opinions?

James also mischaracterizes others' description of the problem. According to James, other bloggers believe in some vast conspiracy willfully orchestrated by the powers-that-be. While this might at first seem like something fans raised on decades of Dr. Doom's dastardly plots would buy into, most bloggers will readily admit that the sexism of the comic book industry is more a habitually ingrained thing than an intentionally malevolent effort -- which is why there's potential value in bloggers continuing to speak out about these issues: Hopefully consciousnesses can and will be raised.

James' distortion of positions he disagrees with is ultimately unproductive: He's not even talking past people; instead, he's talking past imagined positions that no one actually holds. And he continues to move the goalposts when people actually take him up on his challenges. When James demands proof of sexism in the industry, several people ask him what he would accept as proof, and one thing he offers is "Maybe an artist's page of art with liner notes from an editor saying a female character needs more 'enhancment' to be seen as sexy." But when Andrea Rubenstein responds with the example of Frank Miller calling for an "ASS SHOT" of Vicki Vale in All-Star Batman and Robin because "she's got one fine ass," James refuses to accept this, changing his standards in midstream. (James balks because Miller's remarks are only directed at a fictional character, saying it doesn't prove Miller himself is sexist, but (1) no one ever claimed Miller was, so James is again debating a strawman; and (2) it's not what James himself earlier said he would accept as an example of sexism in the comic industry.) [I think this would have been a better example, since it involves an actual editor's instructions to an artist, but the Miller example is pretty darned close to what James was originally asking for.]

Also: It's interesting that someone whose advice on how to handle something you don't like is to ignore it quietly ends up posting (as of this writing) over four thousand words on a topic he dislikes.

Finally: I wonder if James thinks posts like these are part of the problem?
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Amusing Typo of the Day

Found while using Blog Search to see if anyone else had problems with the way the gay character was depicted in The Plain Janes:
"Minx is an attempt on DC's part to attractive women, especially young women, into comics."
- Volcano Todd, Green Lantern Buzz
So Minx is just DC's ploy to pick up hot women? "Hey, babe, I can totally get you a part in this major new comic I'm producing. Interested?" UGLY CHICKS NEED NOT APPLY!
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
The Gay Shorthand

I just finished The Plain Janes, the debut book in DC's new Minx line (short review: You know those movies that are more annoying than bad? The ones where you get the sense the director thinks the film is so clever and topical and daring, but really the whole thing is bland, trite, and poorly constructed? That's what this book is like.), and there's one thing that's still bugging me:

What's the deal with the cartoony way the gay character James is drawn?

What gave me away? The k. d. lang haircut?
The subtle flower adorning my dress? My being kind of new here?

Ha ha ha, because all gay guys think about is clothes and designing and stuff!

The questions? Are you related to Jughead Jones? Is Jughead gay?
Is the reason Jughead eats so much because he's been forced for decades to sublimate his feelings for Archie?

I'm a big fan of Jim Rugg's artwork, so I'm trying to come up with a charitable interpretation to explain why the gay guy looks like he came out of a different, less detailed comic. Is it some subtle visual commentary on the way gay characters in movies and TV are often reduced to the role of comic sidekick, with no real depth or character to define them? Is it a subversive twist on the wholesome, hetero makeup of Archie comics, which is where it looks like James' nose came from? Is it meant to depict James as a lively, carefree individual while everyone around him is weighed down by the crushing concerns of their mundane lives? Or am I just reading too much into an unfortunate artistic discrepancy?
Thursday, June 07, 2007
I Hope There's a Chapter on Cufflinks

Heidi MacDonald has details on the upcoming Friends of Lulu anthology, The Girls' Guide to Guys' Stuff. It's $15 for 176 pages, so it's a good deal right off the bat, plus the samples Heidi linked to look really interesting. I especially like the preview pages from Hellen Jo and Lark Pien, but a big part of the appeal with books like this is discovering new creators to keep an eye out for (I still remember seeing early work from R. Kikuo Johnson in the 2003 SPX Anthology and knowing he was a talent to watch), so I'm looking forward to finding plenty of other creators to follow. Plus, with the SPX Anthology on indefinite hiatus, there hasn't really been an collection showcasing new talent that I've been anticipating, so The Girls' Guide to Guys' Stuff satisfies that anthology jones I get every now and again

Even better, if you pre-order the book directly from FoL, you get (1) free shipping and (2) a gift set of postcards illustrated by several of the book's contributors! (And you're supporting female creators telling stories with characters they actually own, which is probably more productive in the long run than complaining about the shitty things Marvel is doing to its corporate-owned female characters.)

Make sure to check out Heidi's earlier post on The Girls' Guide to Guys' Stuff for the comment thread where several of the book's contributors show up, and there's also a MySpace page with additional preview pages from the anthology.
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Reading Between The Lines

Impressed that DC was actually advertising its CMX titles in an anime/manga magazine, I decided to poke around the CMX site to see how things were looking. One interesting thing I found that I didn't know about was the "Ask CMX" column (like the other "Ask ____" columns DC runs for its various imprints) where readers can submit questions to the editors. As a fan of Kaoru Mori's delightful Emma series, I was particularly interested in this Q&A:
I recently purchased EMMA #1 and read in the author's notes that CMX is planning to bring over the entire series untouched. Does this mean you will be keeping the nudity in the bath scenes later in the series? I've already talked to several other fans and we all agree that we'll "suffer" that the latter volumes be wrapped in plastic if it means we'll get a full, unedited release. We all agree that the nudity involved is tasteful.

Also, are you going to continue to use the rough paper stock found in volume one? The cover tends to bow VERY easily and the texture/color of the paper tends to fuzz out the crispness of the art a bit. Was this done for affect?
Thanks much,
-Nick M.

Dear Nick,
CMX is very proud to present EMMA #1 in its original form, completely untouched! We are sorry that you don't like the cover stock because we have otherwise received very positive feedback about it. We chose it because it seems to have an old-fashion quality to it which compliments the time period of the story. We know how much effort Ms. Mori put into this book, extensively researching the history of the period to get all the details right and we felt that the book deserved some unique touch to set it off from every other manga on the bookshelves of retailers and fans.
-Jim Chadwick, CMX Editor
Hmm, I wonder why CMX wanted to avoid the first part of Nick's question? (Yes, the editor does reiterate that the series will remain "completely untouched" but it would have been nice to receive specific assurances that the nudity won't be edited out, especially since the reader's question was specifically whether the "untouched" qualification also applied to later nudity.)

(And for what it's worth, I'm one of the readers who does like the antiquey feel of the cover stock CMX is using for Emma. For one thing, it's much easier to open the book and actually read it than it was with CMX's first wave of manga titles.)

UPDATE: Dirk Deppey manages to find a sample of the bathtime nudity in question from the German edition of Emma Vol. 4 (scroll down to the Manga section of the post). It doesn't look very risqué to me, but we'll see how CMX handles the scene when the English version is released this month. (Hmm, and according to BN.com, it's already available, so can anyone who's seen the book confirm if the nudity is indeed "completely untouched"?)

EDIT: I just noticed that the editor's response only says that Emma Vol. 1 is presented "
in its original form, completely untouched," with no such assurances for the rest of the series, so it seems even more likely that the nudity in later volumes will be censored. And Dirk Deppey provided a helpful link to even more scans from the German edition of Vol. 4, with even more nudity on display for CMX to cover up.

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007
Naruto A Priori

I stopped by Barnes & Noble tonight to pick up the debut issue of Otaku USA (whose website finally went live well, the main page and the all-important "Subscribe!" page, at least; other sections are still "UNDER CONSTRUCTION" at the moment). I haven't had a chance to read it yet, although flipping through it, it does look nice (and I was surprised to see not only an ad for Gon in the magazine but an actual preview pages as well wow, DC is finally starting to advertise their manga line?), but I did want to share this anecdote:

I took my two-year old daughter with me, and she was quiet as we browsed through the magazine section. I'd finally just spotted Otaku USA (way in the back behind a bunch of other anime and manga magazines) when my daughter got really excited. She was pointing at the latest issue of Shonen Jump, whose cover featured a big close-up of Naruto, and saying: "This! I want this!" Now, she's never seen an episode of Naruto (we don't have cable), and I've never seen any other kids around her wearing any Naruto apparel, so I was surprised by the strength of her request. Her reaction seemed instinctual, almost primal. Which led me to wonder: What the heck is Naruto's secret and how can I as a parent tap into it? Also: Is Viz's "Naruto Nation" campaign some sort of covert operation to take over the world through unstoppably appealing manga?

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Manga So Nice I'd Buy It Twice!

Inspired by this (likely erroneous) news item, David Welsh and I were discussing which other manga series we'd like to see in omnibus form. Bleach was a given for both of us, but here are some other dream manga repackagings I'd love to see. (Hopefully David will be along with his own wish list shortly.)

Love Roma omnibus - Wouldn't it be great to sit down and re-read this charming romance manga in one volume?

What's Michael? fat phonebook editions - I love Makoto Kobayashi's What's Michael? series, but I've never bought any of the collections because they're too slim for the price. But I'd be all over a cheap, thick collection of these excellent humor strips. Plus, a big, fat format just seems fitting for a series that frequently focuses on fat, lazy cats.

Club 9 omnibus - Speaking of Makoto Kobayashi, I'd love to see his Club 9 series collected into one volume, especially since Dark Horse never released the fourth and final volume of their flopped translation. (According to Michael Gombos of Dark Horse, they've thought about putting the whole story in an omnibus edition but there are no definite plans to do so at present. Club 9 fans: Let's let Dark Horse know there's interest in this!!)

Sgt. Frog omnibus editions - I'd love to see this hilarious manga series collected in larger and longer editions. For one thing, a larger format would probably make some of Mine Yoshizaki's minuscule background gags easier to appreciate.

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind omnibus - I loved Viz's sepia-toned reprint of this classic manga, but I'd love it even more if the entire story were available in one oversized volume.

Akira oversized hardcovers - At roughly 10 x 7, Dark Horse's reprints are already larger than the standard manga book, but I'd love to see this manga masterpiece released in an oversized and unflipped! hardcover format à la DC's "Absolute" books, perhaps even slipcased as two volumes rather than six. (And, yes, I would totally buy this book again even though I already own it in multiple formats.)

Akira Club art book - Speaking of Akira, I hear there was an art book published in Japan collecting a lot of Katsuhiro Otomo's sketches and miscellaneous Akira illustrations. Wouldn't it be neat if someone published an English edition of this book? Oh, wait...

UPDATE: Here is David's list, and I thought of one more collection I'd love to see: The Collected Works of Usamaru Furuya.

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Monday, June 04, 2007
Viz to Publish Omnibus Editions of Naruto?

I was just wondering about this last week and now it sounds like it may be happening after all. From CBR's BEA report:
They [Viz] have announced plans for further Naruto volumes, including a new story arc and some oversized omnibus issues. [Emphasis added]
I haven't been able to find anything else about this, so I have no idea if it's what it sounds like (and given the reporter's apparent unfamiliarity with manga (I know Gyo and Uzumaki are being re-released, but I wouldn't describe them as "new horror titles"), I'm worried about taking this at face value; I have a feeling what was actually announced was one of the previously-announced "Naruto Nation" tie-ins, such as the art book or the anime profile guides), but if it is, this could be A Very Big Thing.
Sunday, June 03, 2007
Five Great Moments from Curses

AKA, "Five Reasons To Buy Curses":*

The Horror of Unexpected Traveling Companions!

Man's Love/Hate Relationship with Nature!

The Miracles of Modern Medicine!

Action-Packed Theology!

Handy Reference Guide to the Hierarchy of Evil!

All images from Kevin Huizenga's wonderful Curses, available in a lovely hardcover from the fine folks at Drawn & Quarterly.

* Really, I could just scan in the entire book and call this post "148 Reasons To Buy Curses." For more reasons to buy this excellent work, check out Dirk Deppey's thoughtful review. And when you're finally ready to buy it, remember that it's available for only $11.66 $9.33 (58% off!) at Deep Discount with coupon code SUPERSALE through June 16th. [Code no longer seems to be working as of 6/5.]
Friday, June 01, 2007
"I'm Also Sorry Some People Have Chosen To See The Image of a Black Man Set on Fire as Problematic or Racially Insensitive."

Quesada to any reasonable person upset or annoyed by the god-awful Heroes for Hire #13 cover: "I haven't even begun to dig myself into this hole yet!"

Seriously, Joe, at this point you're better off just shutting up and not saying anything at all because any time you do address a concern you only make matters worse. Bonus Manstream points for (1) playing the "I'm a minority" card and (2) managing to apply the idiotic "equitable treatment = special rights" fallacy to fictional characters.

Also amusing: I knew Newsarama had no professional or journalistic standards to speak of (witness the typos and mangled syntax throughout the piece), but even I was surprised by the interviewer's interjection of outright disdain for one side's position in the following question (emphasis added; awkward phrasing from the original):
Despite your (Marvel’s) intentions or lack thereof in regards to the now infamous Heroes for Hire #13 cover, which last week you made clear was not or intended to suggest “tentacle rape” [groan]
Way to remain neutral and present both sides of the issue, Newsarama!

UPDATE: As usual, Resplendent Beard manages to get the point across better with only a couple sarcastic lines: "He's right, you know--seems like every week poor Spidey's getting spikey tentacles jammed up his butt. YOU GUYS ARE JUST TOO SENSITIVE."