Sporadic Sequential
Monday, February 23, 2009
Make 'Em Laugh

In his latest Flipped column, David Welsh spotlights ten of his favorite funny manga. In the spirit of helping everyone laugh, here are five other manga that are great for giggles (click the link for each series to see plenty of sample scans thanks to other, better bloggers):

1. Club 9 by Makoto Kobayashi - An unfinished classic from Dark Horse*, Club 9 draws most of its laughs from the fish-out-of-water (mis)adventures of lovable country hick Haruo Hattori, freshly transplanted into big city Tokyo. Yet the laughs are never at the expense of Haruo; in fact, Haruo usually comes across as more together and more likable than any of the big-city sophisticates due to her openness, honesty, and sheer big-heartedness. With expressive, exaggerated character work that borders on caricature, Club 9 is not only a refreshing, charming read, but it also looks unlike any other manga out there.

* Dark Horse only published three out of five volumes of the series, but apparently the complete series was serialized in Dark Horse's defunct Super Manga Blast anthology. The three volumes that were published are all available for four bucks apiece over at TFAW.com, where they cruelly still list a "pre-order" for volume four due out on... November 2, 2007. (Sob!)

2. What's Michael? by Makoto Kobayashi - Another manga by Kobayashi, but this is more a series of gag strips than an extended narrative. Plots can jump from a bizarre parody of The Fugitive (only involving a wrongfully accused veternarian rather than doctor) to cute-overload encounters between cats and babies to

3. Slam Dunk by Takehiko Inoue - One of my all-time favorite series, period, Slam Dunk is best known for its incredible basketball action, but it also stands on its own as a comedy. Creator Takehiko Inoue created the perfect comedic foil in Hanamichi Sakuragi, a tough but tender lug who will do anything to impress the girl of his dreams — even play organized sports! Sakuragi's clueless, self-absorbed antics are the perfect fodder for plenty of manga mirth, and Inoue's perfectly balanced cartooning captures the comedy beautifuly.

4. Short Cuts by Usamaru Furuya - Sick, twisted, hilarious comic strips centering around cute Japanese schoolgirls. Furuya's art is a joy to behold, even when he's corrupting a concept in the most disturbing way possible. The humor may be too shocking or offensive for some, but I thought it was a riot. Check out one of my favorite sequences from volume two here (scroll down to the very bottom of the post).

5. Anywhere But Here by Tori Miki** - Miki's delightfully surreal strips may not be laugh-out-loud funny but they'll probably make you stop and think more than any other humor manga out there. Sometimes the gag is obvious, sometimes it's very subtle, but most of the time it's simply strange (yet sweet at the same time). Miki's playful, cute artwork sucks you in and transports you to a world where normal logic doesn't always apply. Think of The Far Side crossed with Charles Addams' old cartoons by way of the Yellow Submarine film.

** Sadly, Anywhere But Here appears to be out of print, but it's still available directly from Fantagraphics for 33.33% off.

Finally, as for whether or not Sgt. Frog is past its prime, I present the following two-page spread from volume 16 as evidence that the amphibian's still got it:

Yes, you can probably guess where this is going, but c'mon, how can you not love the idea of bowling as military training?

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009
The best news you will read all day

I already knew that Joann Sfar was directing an animated version of his wonderful The Rabbi's Cat, but this Variety article on the upcoming film (which they peg as opening in France in 2010, which would put the U.S. release several months to a year behind that) contained a surprising and exciting fact at the very end:
Up next, [Clement] Oubrerie will direct “Aya de Yopougon,” based on the book by Marguerite Abouet that he illustrated.
There's going to be a Rabbi's Cat movie and an Aya movie?!? Holy crap! It's like they're making comic book movies just for me!! If these adapted comics translate to film even half as well as Persepolis did, these should be two amazingly entertaining comic book movies.

And in related happy news, I'm looking forward to the third volume of Aya coming out later this year, Aya: The Secrets Come Out:

If later today First Second also announces when the second volume of Klezmer, "Happy Birthday, Scylla," is coming out, today really will be the best comics news day ever.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Coming Soon: Spider-Man J Vol. 3: Japanese Mournings

Here's a rare occurrence: Something from Marvel's monthly solicitations that actually interests me. Yes, finally Marvel is getting around to my idea of crossing "New Mutants" with "Wedding Crashers" in Astonishing Tales #4: "And Sunspot and Cannonball crash some weddings in MOJOWORLD!"

No, wait. That wasn't my idea. (I'd pitched it with Power Man and Iron Fist.)

No, wait. This is what I was really excited about:

Story and Art by YAMANAKA AKIRA
Translation by YUKO FUKAMI
English Adaptation by MARC SUMERAK
Fresh from Japan...SPIDER-MAN J! Originally published only in that country, SPIDER-MAN J enjoyed a large following of loyal readers. Now, fans here can enjoy Spider-Man J’s manga-styled adventures, as well – collected for the first time in America and translated for your reading pleasure! Reprinting stories from SPIDER-MAN FAMILY #7-9.
128 PGS./All Ages ...$9.99

It only lists reprints from three issues of Spider-Man Family but the page count of this volume is the same as the first (128 pages) so I'm assuming there's material in here that's never seen print in the U.S. before? Plus, it looks like I finally get to see Akira's mangafied version of Doom and the FF! Whoo-hoo!!

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Tuesday, February 03, 2009
'B' is for 'Bargain'

TFAW is having a month-long sale with a twist: Each day select books that begin with the letter-of-the-day will be 28% off. It's kind of like an Advent calendar of bargains! Today's letter is 'B' so as you can imagine there are a ton of Batman books on sale. (Sorry, yesterday was the letter 'A,' so no deals on Aquaman comics.)

If 28% off isn't a big enough discount for you, check out TFAW's clearance section where the reductions are 40%. Or check out the nick-and-dent section where the prices are 50% off.

And when you check out, make sure to use one of the following coupon codes:
  • HUGME - Free domestic shipping on orders $28+
  • BEMINE - $10 off any shipping method
  • FACES - Free domestic shipping on orders $35+
  • EVIL - $5 off orders $50+
And if you're feeling really adventurous, buy one of TFAW's comic book grab bags where you can buy random assortments of Dark Horse, DC, Marvel, or indie comics for 50 cents apiece! Who knows what gems or clunkers you'll be (un)lucky enough to get?

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