Sporadic Sequential
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
The Batman of the Future from the Past

I was hoping to say more about the utterly awesome Bat-Manga! book from Pantheon (so awesome it even gets a short mention in The New Yorker), but I'm short on time. So for now I'd just like to share one of the many interesting revelations from this engrossing volume:

The manga version of Batman was so ahead of its time that it came up with the look for Batman Beyond three decades before that show debuted!

Also: The Weather Wizard would have been a much more memorable villain if he'd gone by his Japanese name, Go-Go The Magician.

Also also: Professor Gorilla has to be the sensational character find of this or any other year. It's like something out of a Grant Morrison issue of Animal Man. (Can you imagine if Morrison had used his Batman run to introduce wild, imaginative characters like Professor Gorilla to Batman's rogue gallery instead of doing whatever the heck it is he's doing with "Batman R.I.P." and all the bleak storylines?)

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Is There A Whole Firefighter Subgenre Of Manga That I'm Unaware Of?

I completely missed this from last month's DC solicitations, but CMX is releasing a manga titled Fire Investigator Nanase. From the solicit:
Firefighter academy student Nanase is a promising rookie fire investigator, still haunted by her parents' fiery death. Three years ago, she saved a man from a burning building; he turned out to be the arsonist responsible for the death of her parents. Now this serial fire-starter has started helping her solve fire-related crimes. Can Nanase reconcile his willingness to help her with his role in her personal tragedy?

Could this be the series to fill the firefighting hole in my manga reading list now that I've read all of Firefighter! Daigo of Fire Company M?

Labels: , , ,

Friday, October 17, 2008
The Superhero Scourge

My daughter's daycare sent home an interesting letter to preschool parents this week. It was a reminder that, for the second year in a row, they're completely banning all superhero-related material for older students. (My daughter just moved up to a new class so we weren't aware the ban was in place last year.) Clothes, toys, books, whatever — if it has a superhero on it, students are prohibited from bringing it to school. The reason given for the ban is that students are more likely to engage in certain "inappropriate and aggressive behaviors" — punching, hitting, kicking — if they are exposed to superhero imagery. According to the letter, the "decision to eliminate all super heroes during the school day was very helpful in establishing better conflict resolution and behaviors in our classrooms."

I have no idea if viewing superhero imagery causes or correlates with aggressive actions in children (the letter cites research done by David Walsh in his book No to support the policy), but the letter did resonate with my own unease I've been feeling lately. Recently one of my daughter's favorite bedtime stories has been the Amazing Spider-Man pop-up book. We flip through it and I make up a story that tries to tie together all the unrelated profile pages. My daughter loves to call out the names of all the characters on each page. "Doc Ock!" "Kraven the Hunter!" "Mysterio!" We've read this book on-and-off for several months but lately something interesting has been happening. When she sees a page where Spider-Man is punching the bad guy (example below), she scolds, "That's not OK, Spider-Man! You shouldn't hit anybody!!" She's even started referring to Spider-Man as "naughty" and "the bad guy."

And based on everything she hears from her parents and teachers, she's right: It's not OK to hit people. We won't tolerate her pushing her brother or taking things from him, so why is it OK for Spider-Man to use force to get what he wants? (Yes, the situations are different, but try explaining the notion of self-defense to a three-year-old. Soon everything she did would be in self-defense.)

It's not just superhero stories that have made me uneasy lately. I'm also bothered by the Disney princess movies where it always seems that the female has to give up her culture or heritage so she can get married to the handsome prince. Is that really a message we want to reinforce for our daughters, that their unique backgrounds and interests should be cast aside when they find a man, that their ultimate goal in life should be to become a beautiful bride?

I don't have any answers here — just the usual random thoughts. But I'd be interested to hear others' feedback: Do you think superheroes (or princesses or other types of stories) can be harmful to children's psyches? I'm not banning all superhero imagery at home. My daughter still likes superheroes, and I don't want to discourage that interest completely. For example, another one of her current interests is looking at the Arthur Adams Marvel Heroes and Villains print in my office and naming all the characters. She can name almost all of them after just a couple practice sessions, and I think that's pretty neat. Besides, I tell myself, I was raised on a steady diet of superheroes and I turned out OK (I think). But having kids does make me reconsider things that before I was completely blasé about.

One final anecdote: On the day that the school sent home the letter, I went to pick up my daughter and one of her male classmates ran up to me. "Look what I made!" he proudly exclaimed as he help up a Lego creation that looked like a sword or a cross to me. "That's great! What is it?" I asked. "It's Iron Man!" he responded, and he then ran around the room holding the "figure" aloft, making whooshing sounds. So you can take the superhero imagery off of kids' shirts, but you can't take the superhero imagery out of their heads.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, October 16, 2008
The Manga Menace

Viet Nam News has an article about how the recent rise in racy comics has many parents concerned about what their children are reading. It's an interesting cultural issue, as Vietnam struggles with the competing societal forces of opening up its markets and attempting to preserve its conservative heritage. Heck, it's something this country still struggles with, so it's interesting to read one of these "won't someone please think of the children???" pieces of scare journalism as an outside observer.

Plus, how can you not love an article that asks this crucial question?
But is Japanese society out of control because of manga and are all Japanese children sex maniacs?
I think we all know the answer to that question!

The only problem with the article is that it doesn't come out and list enough of these problematic manga. How are children supposed to know what manga are worth seeking out if they won't name them? The article only specifically mentions one series — Tam Nữ Hiệp — which I'm assuming is the Vietnamese title for Change 123. Performing a Google Image Search for the phrase "Change 123" does result in some images that I'm assuming would be problematic in Vietnamese society. And the Wikipedia description makes it sound like there's plenty of fanservice in the seinen series: "A constant gag with Mikiri is that when she takes control, her body form changes, inevitably increasing her bust size and causing anything less than a shirt (bra, bikini, etc.) to rip apart." Change 123: Coming soon from Shonen Jump Advanced!!

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, October 13, 2008
Meanwhile, At The Latest McCain/Palin Rally...

...John McCain (who was held prisoner in a block of ice for several decades) decided to wrap himself up in the American flag and rouse his base:

[See here for larger version of image]

Man, I am so confused by continuity: I thought Stephen Colbert was the conservative candidate for president in the Marvel Universe?

Labels: , , ,

Dark Horse Cheers and Jeers

Two interesting items from Dark Horse's January 2009 solicitations:

First is Clover, "a long-out-of-print classic from Japan's shojo artist supergroup CLAMP!" that "collects all four of the original volumes into one reasonably priced omnibus, with a brand-new cover design especially for this edition!"

I haven't read much CLAMP, so this might be a nice way to explore more of their work. As I've said before, I simply cannot pass up thick, cheap omnibus editions!!

The second is Oh My Goddess! Colors, a book that long-time readers of this blog will remember was originally scheduled to come out way back in August 2005.

And although it's being solicited in January 2009, it's not scheduled to actually come out until March 2009, which makes the delay a little over three and a half years. I can remember a time when I would have been very excited for this book, but now I've lost all interest in it and OMG! overall as well. I wonder if the delays and current economic conditions will hurt sales on this artbook?

Labels: , , , ,

Sunday, October 12, 2008
The Change We Need

I generally try to avoid politics on this blog. Part of it is hoping to steer clear of interminable shouting matches in the comments, but a bigger part of it is wanting to keep the blog's focus on comics. But the stakes in this year's presidential election are too high for me to remain silent any longer. With the economy in turmoil and war abroad, things have to change. So, yes, I am going to use this blog as a platform to endorse a candidate.

With the financial crisis getting worse and worse and spreading further and further each day, we need a president who understands the complex international interconnectedness of the modern world. We need a president who has a calm, reassuring temperament and is able to keep cool and collected when the pressure is on. We need a president who is able to wade into complex issues and grapple with conflicting advice, emerging with a practical, decisive plan of attack.

With international tensions rising and rogue nations threatening to achieve nuclear capabilities, we need a president who understands how to negotiate from a position of strength. We need a president who is willing to use diplomacy as a tool in order to secure our national interests. We need a president who will do what it takes to capture or kill terrorist elements that seek safe harbor from governments unable or unwilling to hand them over.

With bipartisan rancor at an all-time high and approval of the current administration at an all-time low, we need a president who can bring citizens together and restore confidence in the government again. We need a leader who will inspire faith, hope, and civic pride; a leader who will unite rather than divide.

I know that those who oppose my candidate are trying to sow seeds of doubt about his readiness. There are whispers that my candidate is an outsider, that he's not "one of us," that his years studying abroad have made him a sleeper agent for some other government. These charges are outrageous -- slanderous rumors that attempt to play on people's fear of the "other" in the absence of anything substantive to use against him. It is true that my candidate went to school overseas for a number of years, but if anything, that only makes him a stronger candidate in today's global, multicultural landscape. A candidate who has a first-hand understanding of other cultures and how those cultures view us is better situated to address mistaken notions about our country and convert potential adversaries to political allies.

For these reasons and many more, I truly believe that there is only one candidate qualified to lead our country out of the mess it's currently in, and that candidate's name is Sakuragi Kenichiro.

Three Unarguably Awesome Reasons To Vote for Sakuragi Kenichiro:

He observes proper movie-going etiquette!

He faces down nuclear missiles using nothing but a cell phone!

He makes requests for diplomatic information sound exciting!!

Bonus Round: The Undisputed Awesomeness of a Kenichiro Cabinet!

His Secretary of Defense? A bearded badass with an eyepatch!

His Secretary of State? A former Mark Trail bad guy who hates America.

His Secretary of Commerce? This scantily-clad beauty! Va-va-voom!!

All images from the awesome and sadly in-licensing-limbo First President of Japan, originally published by the now defunct Raijin/Gutsoon.

Labels: , ,

Friday, October 03, 2008

Some good news from Deb Aoki's report about the state of DMP's manga line:
One of these fan-favorite series is Flower of Life, so fans will be happy to hear that the long-awaited Volume 4 of Fumi Yoshinaga's hilarious high school manga series is scheduled for release in May 2009.
I absolutely loved the first three books in this series (especially hilarious meta-moments like this), so I'm very excited to see that the fourth (and final?) volume has finally been scheduled.

Labels: , ,