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Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Swiss Army Yo-yo... 

One more yo-yo picture for today.. ;) Check this out! Very cool... from the Yo-Core group in Hungary.

Collinsville in IMDB! 

Wooo! Collinsville is a film that several people at work have been involved in. Marty Langford wrote the original screenplay and Warren Amerman was one of the actors. Not the most amazing movie ever (director modified the plot a lot due to budget constraints, etc.), but I've seen much worse. :) Very nicely shot and the lead actress is very good (cheers for having a black lead character without it being made into a big issue). Plus, at least one fun bad quote "Where's your hourse?!" ;)

It is neet to have a somewhat more insider perspective on something like this, and I'm glad that the DVD made it all the way to distribution and into IMDB...

Rose Freehand 

Wow.. another nice paintjob!

no-www site... 

Hmm... I find this fairly amusing. :)

How Gyroscopic Flop Works... 

Aha! Between Andy and Captain Yo, I understand how it works.

It actually makes perfect sense, since I was somewhat aware of gyroscropic precession. So in the trick, the strings are next to each other on the axle and pulled from opposite sides, which trys to turn the yo-yo, but the fact that it is spinning makes it tilt instead.

This is actually behind the "string twist" method of long sleepers as well. Twisting the string makes the yo-yo want to rotate, but instead it tilts to the position you want it at, keeping the string away from the sides of the yo-yo.

Cool stuff.. :)

Project Gutenberg teams with Kazaa 

This is pretty interesting.. in a recent mailing Greg Newby had this to say:

Project Gutenberg has worked with Kazaa to make our eBooks available via peer to peer file sharing networks. Recently, a Magnetlinks download option was added to search results via our 'find an eBook' page at http://gutenberg.net/find.shtml

Magnetlinks is an open standard to allow Web browser programs with the Magnetlink plug-in to find items on peer to peer networks. If it is unavailable, a regular http or ftp download is used.

For more information, read the Project Gutenberg File Sharing HOWTO at http://gutenberg.net/howtos/p2p-howto.shtml

Just more proof that P2P can be a positive force.

Very good article on plight of animators 

Wow, this article from the LA Times is very well-written and pretty heartwrenching (scroll down to bronnie's post). I'm so sad to see the state of the animation industry these days. I hope some of these people can manage to do their own productions and that they succeed. While it is nice to see some of the people able to move on, they really shouldn't have to...

Edit: Whoops.. Kevin already had a link to it on another site here.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Esperanto tidbit.. 

Never know when it might come up. Gxis...

Hellboy display contest winners 

Wow.. some really nice stuff in there. Shop keepers take notice!

Tokyopop non-returnable? 

Hmmm.. I hadn't thought of this. Dibble points out (in the comments) that this means comic shops won't be able to order any manga on a returnable basis anymore. Is it true that the volumes will be non-returnable under this deal? That makes it even worse of a deal.. I'm not sure how many shops were going with Cold Cut and others versus Diamond. Hopefully this won't cause a downturn of sales despite the new discount...

ADV Officially Mentions 37 New Series 

AoDVD has up the press release. I've barely heard of any of these titles before, but a bunch of them sound pretty interesting. It is nice to see so much diversity in the listings. It is still mostly titles involving action or romance, but there is some interesting concepts for some of those, as well as a couple of mystery titles thrown in.

Despite the fact that I'm sure many of the Marvel and DC offerings are good, I just don't find myself all that excited about ANOTHER rebot of X-Men or Batman. With so many different titles coming out in the bookstores, and my own eclectic tastes, I'd much rather check out some diverse titles. Actually, one of my big troubles is having a ton of #1s and not as many full series! heh

Scholastic Pulls Shonen Jump 

Geeze.. talk about bad news. And I was so happy to see them carrying it. I'm still not entirely sure if it is pulled from the whole country or just Penn, but I fear it is the whole thing.

It is somewhat ironic, too, since Jump has occationally edited stuff out (like some DBZ characters giving the finger in a side-illustration) but they got nailed on a ton of other stuff. I think the swastica was actually explained in the magazine itself at the beginning of that particular arc...

I'm sure most 10-11 year-olds can handle the content of Jump, but oh well. Just when you think companies are being too paranoid, something like this happens...

[ala Kevin]

Del Rey goes for quality... 

ilaughead has posted Del Ray's latest e-mail newsletter and it sounds quite good. First of all, the notice on the cover warning about content (originally the were going to edit the content) is actually a sticker and it basically says 16+ and mature content (originally it was going to say something like Explicit Scenes.. which was way too strong wording).

But the other thing is that they'll be translating sound effects and having cultural notes at the back, both of which I support.

Not only that, but it sounds like they'll be trying to concentrate on a couple of titles at first instead of trying to shove tons of stuff out the door. I think all of the above really bode well for the company's approach. They've listened to fan and retail issues and seem like they aren't overextending themselves. I'm not too too interested in most of the titles they have announced at the moment, but I may check out XXXHolic since I really like what I've seen of the style so far...

Tech TV and G4 connect... 

I'm of two minds about TechTV and G4 combining. It'll be nice that I won't have conflicts of shows on both channels, and it'll probably shore up both of them in terms of pure content. Still, it was nice that they each had their own specific focus. They may have been stretched a little thin in some areas, but it also meant there was room for growth. Plus, this means if something is a repeat or boring, you can't just switch to the other one...

Oh well.. at least Screen Savers and x-play and the anime block are sticking around...

Tokyopop Goes Exclusive With Diamond 

Geeze.. talk about dropping a bombshell! Tokyopop will now be distributed in comic shops only by Diamond (this doesn't apply to bookstores). From the sound of it, this could be really bad for a lot of the other distributers like Cold Cut, since Tokyopop has such a large amount of titles.

While in some ways this could be good for retailers (sounds like there will be higher discounts and Diamond is pledging to not ship to bookstores earlier as has happened in the past), and I'm thinking that this will cause the Diamond stats to better represent how the titles are doing in comic shops, but I hate the fact that this will once again kill off diversity. Manga had so far managed to work a bit outside the normal schemes, so it is disappointing that the biggest company would follow Marvel and DC to an exclusive Diamond contract...

Oh well, I guess we'll have to see how this all plays out. Keep an eye out on the April Diamond numbers to see if there is any change on that front...

Valerian turned into anime series (and reprinted) 

ICv2 has this article today about a French space opera called Valerian being turned into an anime and aired in France. That is cool in itself, but it also lists that the original series will be put back into print in English. I hadn't heard of this series before, but it really sounds interesting.

Monday, March 29, 2004

Yo-yo attracts movie attention.. ;) 

So, I was yo-yoing today outside work (pretty nice out today) and two people stopped to watch and we started talking. They asked if I worked at Veritech and I said yes and we talked a bit about the different stuff that goes on here (cd-roms, websites, video stuff). Ends up that one of them was here visiting his dad (the one with him) and that he does some work on indy movies (some photography, acting, etc..).

Some of the people at work have put together their own movie production company Glowing Screen with the sci-fi thriller Magdalena's Brain in the works. So, I mentioned that and he gave the address to FilmCrash, which I passed on to the people at work.

Fun stuff.. you never know what might happen in a day... :)

The retail display of manga (and other stuff)? 

Now, this is a pretty interesting thread, IMO. Talks about how people think titles should be displayed at retail stores. Should titles be split up by age across the store? B&N used to have teen manga in the teen book section, but aparantly many people didn't know that and just thought they had a bad selection. Now they have it all grouped together. Even if they are grouped together, should there be age or genre distinctions in there? Should mature titles be shrink-wrapped? Are age-ratings on the books doing enough? Should American comics in a "manga style" or even Korean and Chinese comics be in the manga section? Fans and retailers weigh in on it with an variety of opinions..

Personally, I tend to think of comics as a medium, so I prefer not having everything totally mixed together with novels. I'd hate to have to go all around the store just to pick up different comics, though it may just be fandom speaking. Having a couple of copies mixed into other sections may not be a bad idea, though.

But after having everything in a comics section, I'm a lot less sure. It has generally worked fine for me to have the american and japanese titles separate (even across the store in Media Play), but what does that do for showing all the diversity? Manga is just a point of origin and not a genre, so should they really be separated. Personally, I see too much separation even online. A lot more crossover is happening between the two communities of fans lately, but it still seems a bit tenuous.

Just to pick out an example, how about Comics Worth Reading. I love the site, and it was absolutely invaluable to me to get a handle on comics after re-entering the scene. In the Recommended section, everything is mixed together, but for the single reviews, there is a Manga Reviews area. But it is a tricky widget. Marvel and DC have sections which seems fine due to the amount of output they have. The rest is Independant. But does manga fit as Independant? And even though their outputs are large, is there enough reviews to make separate Tokyopop and Viz sections worthwhile? You could go by foreign titles translated from non-english versus local, but then what happens if DC releases manga, as it sounds like they may? And things are further complicated by stuff like Geisha and Rumble Girls being listed in the manga section, though they have American creators. No easy answers, but just goes to show how hard it is to organize and label things.

And even on message boards.. a lot of them have sections either by company or subject or broad scope (superheros, indy, etc.). But there is often a manga section. Actually, a lot of the time it is an anime/manga section. On the one hand, I like this, since I can often find something of interest easily... Then again, I hate the fact that manga gets sidelined into its own area where people from both sides can ignore each other. A lot of times when a topic involving manga comes up on something like Newsarama, some interesting dialogue comes up. A lot of times there is still people ranting against manga and such, but I think it is lessening as time goes on and hopefully will continue to do so (like not every news story on comics has the Bam Pow!... Comics aren't just for kids anymoe spiel..).

But getting back to the subject at hand... I'm basically ok with ratings on these things. People make the argument about no ratings on books, but I think everyone is just way more sensitive to pictures than to writing. One of the posters on the thread points out how he used to have his Mom buy sci-fi books for him that were pretty much pornographic, but never knew because it was text. Can't do much against that.. I don't mind plastic, but as also was pointed out, they tend to get ripped off...

I suppose at this point, my preferred thing would be to have all graphic novels mixed together in the same section, but perhaps a basic age or genre split. Though I still think the sections are small enough to not HAVE to be split up, it might not be the best thing to have little kids flipping through Card Captor Sakura and Paradise Kiss at the same time. Then again, if they want that stuff I'm sure they'll seek it out anyway, and the divisive thing would have to be a parent checking out the rating or flipping through it before purchase..

Anyone else find it funny how, for the most part, things are now getting separated by size more than anything else?

Sunday, March 28, 2004

The power of Buddha... 

So, I was at Modern Myths yesterday looking for the newest Nausicaa. Seems like I was thwarted once again (a lot of stock was at i-con). However, I didn't want to leave empty-handed.

I almost got Mr. O, which really does look fun. But it is kind of thin for $13, even being a hardcover. I'll probably still get it at some point.

Considered the first volume of Age of Bronze and Hellboy... I almost went for the first Iron Wok Jan, which I keep putting off. But I could get that most places and wanted to get something a bit harder to find at regular locales..

In the end, I went for the first volume of Buddha. I know people have been a bit divided on if they like it or not, but flipping through it, I couldn't help but be impressed by Tezuka's visual style. The classic style of figures and animals and sense of pacing and panel layout is just really nice. The story also sounds pretty fascinating to me. And I'm usually ok with humor juxtaposed with serious elements, so hopefully I'll enjoy it. Plus, hopefully it'll be a good cash infusion for Mr. Crocker and Vertical Inc. (which from the sounds of it hasn't sold all that many volumes of Buddha). I'll give a review once I get a shot to read it..

(I also picked up the latest NewType USA. Lots of neat stuff in there as well. But more on that later).

Marvel monthlies distributer for bookstores... 

I haven't seen much talk about this yet. I thought there was already some comics on spinner racks at places like Waldenbooks? I have to say that I am kind of skeptical on how well this is going to work. I'm all for more comics in bookstores, but I do think the monthlies are not as well suited to a more general retail environment as the GNs are. Mostly in terms of how easily they are damaged and the lack of dollars for the space. I guess we'll have to wait and see how successful this is...

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Manga Academy's winning entries online.. 

If you hadn't heard, an online site for helping to draw has had a contest running. If I'm remembering correctly (where is this info. on the site??), the winner will get their title translated to Japanese and they'll get flown out to the Comiket convention in Japan (largest comic convention in the world) to have their own table to sell it.

Well, the winner and two runner ups are online. You can read the entire entries at the bottom of the slideshow page. Money and Tug of War are both RTL direction BTW, probably to help with the later transition...

Anyway, I thought there were pretty nicely done, especially being short stories from unknown authors. Money is a crime story of someone in over their head, with a twist. Nice artwork with a pretty western style. This wouldn't look out of place in an indy anthology IMO, and Pazz is a pretty interesting character...

Pink tackles the topic of abortion. I think the last page of exposition isn't necessary, but you can't say there isn't a statement being made... Nice to see this topic being addressed at least..

Tug of War involves girlfriend versus basketball battling over the heart of a star player. A bit generic, but I like how it plays out in the end.

Go check 'em out! :)

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Sodipodi 

On my continuing quest to get good free software on my new computer, here is a vector drawing program. I hope it is stable on windows, because some of the stuff in the gallery is pretty nice (even anime examples..heh).

A Complete History of Tux 

All you ever wanted to know about the Linux mascot.. and more! :)

OSS and the Scientific Method... 

Hmm.. never made this connection before:

It's the result of the open source methodology, which is based on the scientific method: published results, peer review and modular development...


The day that comics changed 

There's a good thread on Sequential Tart on what title/s caused you to re-think what comics were capable of. I'm having trouble remembering for myself, but I'll think on it some more...

CWN Interviews ADV's Publishing Editor 

Yukino mentions this interview with Susan Itin. A decent interview with the usual questions (how did you get started, what is your day like) and the interesting tidbit that ADV Manga already has 30 employees (not counting freelance translators and graphic artists). Growing fast to be sure!

BTW, I've read a little Azumanga Daioh and it is quite funny. Be sure to check it out if you get the chance. :)

Dragon Voice... 

According to this thread, Dragon Voice has been picked up by Tokyopop. This story is by the same author as REbound/Harlem Beat and sounds pretty fun. Mazus gives the description blurb:

Anyway this manga is about a teenage boy, Rin, who's good looking and great at dancing but he has one major flaw. He has a voice that sounds like gravel. It really puts a damper his dream of being a singer. But after a chance meeting with a popular up-and-coming boy band called "BEATMEN" will Rin finally have his chance in the spotlight? Find out when TokyoPop releases this to a store near you!

I'm not the biggest boy band person around, but this sounds pretty funny.

Media Blasters's Flesh for the Beast anthology... 

Wow, yet another company gets into publishing but interestingly enough this is a combination of american and japanese creators. It'll have a cover on each side, one by Becky Cloonan and the other by Yoshihiro Komada of Studio Zombie (one side is left to right and the other right to left). At 272 pages for $9.99, this sounds pretty interesting. Be sure to check out the full list of creators which has some interesting names. It is pretty cool that MB decided to try something like this first before launching into the regular manga reprints. Good show MB.. :)

FCBD Troubles... 

Well Gail Burt has some of the same worries I read about earlier. She says 35% of her regulars (who could usually have good word of mouth or bring family) will be out of town on July 3rd and probably so will a lot of the general public. The more I think on this, the more it doesn't bode well. I think the voters seriously didn't think this date through...

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Open Source in the business and desktop... 

So, what prompted my last entry was my quest to continue to get apps for the new machine. One thing I wanted to grab was OpenOffice. I'd tried an old version of StarOffice and it worked pretty well, though I wasn't into some of the weird integration that was going on. But since then it has evolved quite a bit and pulled a Mozilla (going open source and feeding the new versions of StarOffice). It has a ton of features (including working with MSOffice documents, saving as pdf, etc.) and is availible on many platforms for free (Linux, Windows, I think Mac..).

I'm constantly being amazed at how far things are getting. Sites and apps that used to look unprofessional are quickly turning into powerhouses with nicely designed websites and an amount of polish in the programs themselves.

OpenOffice has some links to news feeds, and I found some interesting stuff from there. First up:

The Myths of Open Source - This one looks at how big businesses anre starting to use more and more open source software and how the old stereotypes are being proven wrong in practice. A very nicely done article with real companies interviewed (like Siemens).

At Future's Gate: The Kansai Open Source and Freeware Conference 2003 - An article where one of the OpenOffice people visited a conference in Japan that talked about open source and the desktop. The list of apps in there is what got me thinking of GIMP again.

I still remember how I installed Linux on a machine a couple of years ago and saw that there was a lot of promise, but it still seemed far away from having my Mom using it or having all the apps that I'd need. But more and more stuff keeps coming out and once the code is out there it doesn't go away and it keeps getting built on. First there was mp3 players and now there is whole office suites. I have to say I am pretty excited. :)

Tokyopop publishes another Rising Star... 

Well.. they're doing it again. This press release details that Van Von Hunter from Pseudome Studio (Mike Schwark and Ron Kaulfersch) will be published as its own series in early 2005. It looks like Van Von Hunter is a parody title which got second place in the last Rising Stars of Manga anthology and is also a web comic.

I'm not sure if it'll be reprinting the previous entries of the web comic or if this will be totally separate from that, but in either case it is nice to see Tokyopop supporting more American creators..

GIMP Turns 2.0 

Wow.. this was certainly a surprise. After looking at some open source sites, I decided to check on the GNU Image Manipulation Program, and it finally has a new version out as of yesterday!

For those that haven't heard of it before, GIMP is a powerful free Photoshop-like program. It already had a lot of good features in the 1.2 version but it looks like this release has given it a lot more polish in regards to interface and handling of text and paths, along with many other improvements.

While it doesn't have all the features that the newest Photoshop versions do (it has layer modes but not the editable layer effects), there is tons of plug-ins and a powerful scripting engine. Can even use it for real-time image manipulation on a web server.

Oh, did I mention it works not only on Linux, but also Windows and OS X? It doesn't look like the windows installer is quite up yet, but probably by tomorrow. Definitely check GIMP out before shelling out a ton for PS.

Update: While the page hasn't been updated, the windows installer is now online (but be sure to get the GTK+ 2.2 installer also).

Akira to be published by Barnes & Noble...? 

carpboy posted to this thread about an entry he saw on the computer (works at B&N) that suggests B&N will publish Akira in hardcover form for $15 each. There is still the possibility that this could refer to a film comic (which was canceled a while back) instead of the actual manga, but IMO you'd think it'd be manga if they're going hardcover. Pretty interesting news...

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

FCBD Excitement... 

You know, in previous years I never got around to actually getting any of the Free Comic Book Day titles, but this year there looks to be some really interesting titles. Barry Ween which I've heard a lot of good comments about, Bill & Ted, Teen Titans, Boneyard, Amelia Rules, and even Del Ray is getting into the act with some manga offerings. There's also a lot of smaller companies I haven't heard of before like Keenspot and Silicon Times.

The sense of diversity to these titles is great, and I wish that there was a bit of the same feel in the charts and most shops... Hopefully we'll get a lot of people visiting the shops for this FCBD as it seems like there'll be something for everyone. I had the impression in previous years that it was mostly cheapo one-shots from DC/Marvel, but this list has definitely changed my mind..

One possible dark spot. One of the posters to the corresponding thread points out that while the day might be coordinated with the Spider-Man movie, it is also the day before the 4th of July. With so many people traveling for the holiday or setting up for parties, will people really think to visit their local comic shop??

NBM's Johnny Jihad Makes Booklist Top 10 GN List 

An interesting little press release.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Image takes Flight... 

Woo.. it looks like Flight has been picked up by Image. I'm not usually a huge anthology person (besides Shonen Jump), but wow.. that art looks amazing doesn't it?

[from John]

Mary Jane... 

So, there's a lot of talk lately about the new Mary Jane comic. Scott seems pretty hopeful and it does sound like a good team, but I have some serious reservations about it being able to take off.

First there is the whole manga/superhero divide in bookstores themselves, which someone mentioned in the thread. How many girls who read manga are ever going to look through Marvel's books enough to see this? It certainly is going to need some promotion. And that's at the GN stage. It'll have even more trouble getting noticed in comic form...

But more than that, I there's the issue of the hook. What really is the hook of this book in terms of the story itself? It sounds like it the story of a young lady who has some issues at home, has to figure out her love life, and wants some escapism. That's fine.. but gee it sounds awfully generic. It may sound revolutionary from how the industry usually is, but if we're talking about readers that look at this stuff on a daily basis, what distinguishes it? Spider-Man makes guest appearances? I doubt they are going to care much about that...

Paradise Kiss is very quirky, with a girl roped into being a model for crazy art school students. Kare Kano looks at the lives of two popular over-achievers and how they really tick. Marmalade Boy involves parents who swap partners and live in one big house, along with a possible confused romance with her new brother. Marmalade Boy has an extremely shy artistic girl pairing up with a motorcycle racer and tackles some serious issues.

Now, it could be that the Spider-Man movies have given enough exposure that more people will be willing to give it a shot, but I'm still not so sure. And if you took away Spidey and called Mary Susan instead, would this story bring people in? The writer admited that it go too too far into serious serious issues (which can be fine, but a lot of manga DO tackle these issues) and that it'll be fairly episodic (I think this could be more of an issue.. they talk about it being like a tv format, but most of the popular manga for girls live on cliffhangers). Hopefully a combo of good art and writing will make it striking and charming enough for people to pick up, but I am still a bit skeptical. I did enjoy Sidekicks though, so that gives me a bit of hope..

Manga in France... 

I think I remember seeing one not that long ago, but it looks like there's another article on manga in France. Unfortunately, I can't say that I'm all that impressed. It could certainly be worse, but it seems very surface-level. I'd expect better from the BBC...

[from Thought Balloons]

Iron Wok Jan on CMR 

Woot.. another manga in the recommended list, Iron Wok Jan. I still need to read this series, but from all accounts it looks like something I'm going to love. :)

Also some reviews of Ai Yori Aoishi, Confidential Confessions and Galaxy Angels.

Inuyasha a good seller? 

Speaking of Previews Review, the latest entry has Christopher saying the following:

I don’t usually give away ‘store secrets’ here in the column, but Inu Yasha has rocketed to the top of our best-selling comics/books in the store, and this line of books has sold more dollars worth of product since January than other product line in the store. INU YASHA is huge, essentially, and every volume released is very-much a cause for celebration for us. As for the quality of the book itself, being by megastar Rumiko Takahashi (a female comics creator, responsible for the mega-popular RANMA ½ and LUM manga and anime) a certain measure of quality is met throughout the series, in terms of both the characterization and art. The plot isn’t much to speak of (rough-and-tumble-bad-boy and neurotic-outsider-girl must comb the land, looking for the mystical doo-dads of power while love blossoms) and it seems to just go on forever, but even then it’s fairly successful at keeping you hooked too. I’m kind of surprised that no American comic company has managed to pick up on this style of story yet…

I guess it makes sense that it'd be selling well, but it is nice to see some confirmation. Takahashi has pretty much built an empire on being able to stretch a formula way out while keeping people interested. There's a reason why she's the richest woman in Japan..heh. I generally enjoyed what I saw of the anime for Inuyasha (though the english voice acting and constant recaps kind of dulled it for me).

As Chris mentioned, I wonder about the lack of some of the formulas common to manga. A while back I wrote about how I felt that while many "mainstream" American comics seems to try to take different genres and put a similar covering on top (mystery with superheros, horror with superheros, etc.) a lot of manga seems to take the opposite tact. For instance a sportish theme where the protagonist starts weaker and through hard work and adversaries becomes better. On top of that can be anything from a regular sport, to becoming a ninja or a pirate, or a master chef.

A quest with unlikely partners story goes back thousands of years, for good reason as it is the kind of thing that appeals to many people. But there's a lot of stuff you can put on top of that, whether it mystical ancient Japan or anything else..

Scott Robins blogs for the kids... 

Hey, I am really happy to see that Scott (of Previews Reviews) has a new blog called All Ages, devoted to the subject of kids and comics. This is the sort of thing we really need more of, so hats off to Scott! :)

Tokyopop announced Star Trek anthology... 

According to this thread:

TOKYOPOP will be teaming up with a Japanese publisher to release an original manga anthology based on the Star Trek franchise (Next Gen continuity). More details soon!

Sounds pretty interesting. Seems like they'll also be picking up the second series of Boys Be (romance for guys... I have the anime, which is pretty good).

Tokyopop goes German... 

Again from AoDVD, this press release talks about Tokyopop's move into Germany (original German here). I'm kind of shaky on the details due to automated translation (anyone here read German?). But there was a quote that was pretty interesting:

Manga were in the last three years the growth-strongest segment of the German book trade. The market has a volume of approximately 25 million in Germany in the meantime?



Update: There is a bit more information here.

Nausicaa and Porco Ross street dates? 

Woo, from AnimeOnDVD.com:

As noted by a few forum users this morning, FYE and Suncoast are both listing an 08/31/2004 release date for Nausicaa and Porco Rosso.

Good stuff...

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Masters of Doom... 

Just finished reading the book and wow was it good! I grew up on Wolfenstein 3D and Doom, some Quake and even played a bit of Commander Keen, so learning the behind the scenes story was really interesting to me. I was also out of the gaming scene for many years, so it was interesting to hear about stuff like Quake II and Arena, Diakatana (which I heard vague things about but wasn't really paying attention), Half-Life, etc.

But beyond nostagia and my newfound fps playing, this is just a great book. The two Johns are fascinating people, as well as all other characters involved. It flows so well and delves so much into person things that you might start to wonder if the author (Dave Kushner) is making stuff up. But at the end of the book proves to the contrary. He lists all the people he interviewed personally, which is like 80+ names. He was present at a couple of events. He has a standard bibliography of books referenced. But then he goes even further. He does like a page by page reference thing listing what was from someone's personal stuff, what was from an article, what was from usenet, what stuff he witnessed etc. And even for seemingly throwaway comments like Columbine kid's mods were amateurish, he confirms that he downloaded and played those mods himself. He even has a full index at the back so you can browse directly to Carmack, John: Stubborness Of on page 111. He even talks about the font used in the book.

There's a lot of good facts and realistic portraits (warts in all), but also not trying to demonize people, and a lot of things told from multiple perspectives but not just word-for-word interviews either. Even if you've never played any of these games before, I think it is a very fascinating story, and also gives some good perspective to where things are now. As Kushner mentioned, there hasn't been nearly enough documentation on something that has become a huge industry and tightly woven into our culture. I love reading the history of popular culture like video games and comic books. It is a lot more important than most people give credit, and it is so easy for history to vanish if no one is paying attention.

So.. read this book! :)

Friday, March 19, 2004

Mister O! 

Hah.. this comic sounds cool..

Vertical Numbers... 

Yukino links to a NYT article on Vertical Inc. a newer publisher of manga and novels.

Besides the regular interview and history stuff, they give some hard numbers. Aparantly the Buddha hardcover has sold 1,400 copies, Ring novel sold 7,900 and Twinkle Twinkle just 130.

AoDVD's new Deals page 

Well, AnimeOnDVD has always been good about having a forum for people to discuss deals and a while ago they started showing some on the main page. But that made it a bit cluttered, so now they have their own Deals Page. Basically it'll list if online stores have some coupons or sales on anime or manga at the moment. Good stuff!

Thursday, March 18, 2004

New computer up and running! 

So, the new computer is actually working! I was my first time building one from scratch, but luckily the hours of researching online paid off.

The case that I got (Antec Sonata) ended up being really well-designed, which helped a lot. They put a lot of work into making it quiet from rubber rivots for the main case fan, the hard drives cards having rubber where the screws go, and a door in front. It has a glossy paint job (like black keys on a piano). While all that was neat and expected (due to them trumpeting those features), what I really liked was the more practical things.

The 5.25" covers come off easily and attached to each one is two rails! You just pop them off and go, and the drives click in easily. The hard drive carts slip right out and click in. The PSU is above the MB area, so you don't have to remove it. Main door of the case is easy to get on and off, etc.

The only real hiccup was getting the front usb/firewire/audio ports connected to the motherboard. For usb and firewire, instead of having a regular plug, the indivdual wires had their own things that you had to put on the individual pins. I'd guess this is due to incompatible MB formats? Very tedious.. luckily the audio had both individual and a plug...

Much to my surprise, the thing actually turned on and recognized the drives and cards. I set some stuff in bios and then made the Raid0. Woo.. a total 240gb "drive"!

The day after that was working, I went online to make sure I downloaded all the correct newest drivers and installed those. I decided to make two NTFS partitions 60gb for os and programs and the rest for data. After doing some reasearch, it seems like XP doesn't really need a separate swap area if you keep it a constant size, and if the OS died, I'd have to reinstall any programs anyway..

Last night I re-arranged stuff in the computer room. Since the old computer still has all the old apps, I put it on a table connected to the modem and put the new computer where it used to be.

I'll move everything over soon, but in the meantime, I have the demo of Unreal 2004 running! Between the 19" monitor (I had 14" before) and 9800Pro card (I had an 8mb card before) and Athlon XP 2500+ processory (I had K6-2 500mhz before), it is amazing! I put all the settings on high and it works great at 1280x1024. It also is smooth at 1600x1200, but the refresh on the monitor isn't quite so good. The manual says that 1280x1024 is one of the recommended modes and that works at 85Hz, so I may just keep it at that.

I combined that with the optical mouse we'd gotten a month ago and newer keyboard (scroll-wheel and volume control on the keyboard) and I'm so happy!

Anyway.. I know I'm just being a showoff, but this is really exciting. It is such a big difference from what I had before. I'll also be able to organize all the yo-yo videos and AMVs I've downloaded and do backups to DVD. I'll probably do more with Mozilla FireFox with the added speed, and maybe give a shot at learning ASP .NET and more PHP stuff running locally on the machine.

The only real downer is that the capture card that someone gave to me doesn't have drivers for anything after Win98, but I may stick it on my older computer to fuss with. Also, perhaps my webcam's capture feature will work more smoothly with the new computer..

Anyway.. with that out of the way.. the next post is Games!

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

On the Raijin hiatus... 

Well, everyone is talking about how Raijin's anthology and graphic novels are going on hiatus due to lack of enough sales. It all started here, and got picked up by Newsarama and bloggers Franklin and Sean.

I agree with most of the people that while there will certainly manga won't keep growing at the current rate forever, there isn't going to be a massive bloodbath right around the corner. Beside the fact that the bookstore market isn't the same as the DM and that manga series come to an end (keeping a particular series from dominating), there is also the mistakes of Gutsoon itself and also some things perhaps out of its control. I think Alex Scott sums things up the best on Newsarama's board:

Athalus has it right. Gutsoon's been making a series of mistakes since day one. This is what I, as a casual observer, think the problems are:

* Publishing mostly adult comics for a fanbase that mostly consists of teenagers. Fist of the Blue Sky has VERY limited appeal to someone who's mostly read stuff like Love Hina and Kare Kano.

* Mismatched content--why are cutesy manga like Bow Wow Wata and Guardian Angel Getten in the same magazine as First President of Japan and Revenge of the Moufflon? As was said before, Shonen Jump has a much more consistent focus, focusing on action, adventure, and humor. If the first issue included a chapter of Eagle inbetween One Piece and Dragon Ball Z, a lot of people probably would have been scratching their heads.

* Poor distribution. I'm probably just speaking for myself, but I never, ever saw any issues of Raijin outside of a comic store until just two months ago. But I've been seeing Newtype on mainstream shelves for half a year, and Shonen Jump at Blockbuster since issue 3. This ties into...

* Recklessly entering an untested market. If any market is relatively untested in America, it's a periodical manga anthology. If any market's even more untested, it's a WEEKLY one. Raijin went in way over its head.

* Graphic novels. I don't know why they didn't come out sooner. I didn't start seeing them until sometime last fall or winter, and the magazine's been out, what, a year and a half?

* Poor graphic design. This is just my opinion, but most of Raijin's covers that I've seen are just ugly and overbearing, trying way too hard to emulate to the last detail the look of a Japanese anthology. This carries over to the trades, too, which, instead of looking like pleasant paperback volumes that'll look nice on the shelf, look more like digest versions of the magazine.

Anyway, I definitely don't think this is any sort of sign of a harbinger of doom for manga. After all, Raijin failed in Japan, too (where I understand it was mostly to teach English), and I don't see their comic book industry collapsing. Besides, there are plenty of new companies like ADV and Broccoli and to a lesser extent, ComicsOne and Vertical, that are building their own place right alongside Viz and Tokyopop.

The idea that bookstores will get saturated with two big publishers and high profile titles gobbling up everyone else assumes that they work the same way as the Direct Market. I think part of the problem that newer publishers face in the DM is simply that the Big Two have saturated it with so many ongoing superhero comics that'll never end unless sales dip low enough. Almost all manga, on the other hand, is finite, which pretty much ensures that the companies will have to come up with new books (not just imported from Japan, but from American creators as well) to keep sales going when older titles become less popular or go out of print; this includes coming out with more titles aimed at older readers as the current fanbase gets out of high school, and more titles for very young readers who may find manga on the shelves but might not currently find enough aimed squarely at them (though it's only a matter of time before someone finally licenses Doraemon). Larger bookstores and media stores can always expand or rearrange shelf space, as the local BAM! and Media Play have; and used bookstores and online stores can help; and manga specialty shops could always pop up to handle the larger amounts of books that the bookstores can't handle and store the older titles you can't find. You know, pretty much how any other section of the bookstore seems to work.

It's not like the direct market, where previous booms and busts were driven by collecting fads and the market is dominated by a relatively rigid audience and genre, with relatively few options for those who 'outgrow' superheroes (if you want to call it that), and fewer options for newcomers. Manga's appeal tends to be very fluid, otherwise it wouldn't have saturated pratically every market in Japan over the past 50 years.



randy r on AoDVD's thread also has an interesting theory:

I'm going to beat a dead horse some more. Raijin/Gutsoon, ComicsOne, Dark Horse, IronCat- in fact, any of the manga companies served by Diamond as their bookstore supplier, are totally getting left behind at the bookstores like Borders and Waldenbooks. Why? This is a suppisition, but Diamond concentrates on their core business-getting books into the comic book stores. Their record of getting titles into the bookstores isn't the most encouraging. Those companies, ie TP, Viz, and DH Pub, who use a book distributor, are getting much better penetration of their product at the bookstores.

The only way I can get some of these titles is to store order or special order the titles. And yes, many times when I sell one of these titles, the buyer will replenish it. Those companies that use Diamond need to push them to get their titles available at Ingram, as well. ALL of Waldenbooks special orders go through Ingram, and I have run into the wall of the titles not being available at Ingram. After all, they are a competitor with Diamond, and we know companies don't like to support or make it easy for their competitors.


Bill is a Rave Master... 

Bill's latest Manga Minute gives a nice review of Rave Master. I remember being kind of turned off by the first episode of the anime a ways back, but it sounds like I should give the manga a shot. I like quirky stuff like this.

Bill, if you like that, you may also want to check out King of Bandit Jing. From what I've seen of the anime, it mixes standard adventure with some quite quirky and imaginative stuff, and I'd guess the manga is even more so.

As far as Walmart goes, I didn't realize they put the titles into the physicial stores at the cheaper price already. I'll have to go and check it out, even though I may restrain from buying out of a dislike for Walmart in general. I did let Media Play suck me in a week or so ago, though, with a buy 1 get one 50% off deal. 4 volumes for $30 is a very nice deal...

Let's see if trackback will work on this...

Masonic death... 

Geeze.. this is like something out of Twin Peaks. [from Sean]

Comics Worth Reading... 

As always Johanna has the goods. First up is the first manga to appear in the Recommendations section: Hot Gimmick. A great long review that really makes me want to pick this up...

Also lots of cool stuff listed inmarch previews (ok, so I'm a bit late..heh). I especially like the look of Salmon Doubts, involving the lives of fish. :)

Gah.. I forgot that Planetes is only three volumes. On the one hand, it is good that it won't be dragged out past its prime. On the other hand, you always hate when something good comes to an end..

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Salaries of manga creators... 

WaiWai strikes again with this article on manga wages. It points out the regular suspects.. creators get a wage for the anthology work, but the real money to be made is of digest releases. As well as the fact that frequently money has to be split with assistants..

What is neat is the specifics given. Translating to US dollars, an unknown makes around $65-75 per page. A moderately successful one at around $185 a page, and a veteran at $450 per. It also mentions that the bigger names can get over $900 a page.

However, an assistant might be paid around $1,800 a month, obviously quickly eating into the profits...

Interesting stuff...

[from this thread by Andrew]

Update: Also, in the thread Carl Horn notes that many creators also supplement their income by selling doujinshi (amateur comics) at conventions like Comiket, where a topselling doujinshi might make as much as $45,000US.

Fakeness of Television... 

For all that WaiWai is pretty much a mini meta-tabloid for strange topics in Japan, they do have some interesting stuff from time to time. Witness this article on some of the instances of obvious fakery on supposedly real events on TV. Some of it is quite subtle, such as a show which points out deals it has found at hotels, deals which were worked out ahead of time between the station and hotels, which of course gives the hotels good publicity in the process.

Obviously that sort of thing isn't limited to Japan. I see it cropping up everywhere and it is especially it is the more subtle aspects of marketing that I find most disturbing.

Looking at something like the shows of TechTV, there are obviously some good stuff going on, especially at Screen Savers, where the people involved seem a little less in the hype machine, but there is still plenty of stuff going around. For instance TechLive might have a story about nanotechnology, but they also can't help comparing the facts to the fiction of something like Jake 2.0. The information might be good, but it is directly tied into promoting the show at hand.

Of course a better parallel to the original article (not just promotion, but outright falsities) is reality shows and a lot of what is on MTV. We might want reality and rebellion, but most of the time we actually get totally distorted versions of these things. One more reason to turn off the tube once in a while..

Adrian Tomine teams with Yoshihiro Tatsumi 

Poster bctarismentions that Tomine and Chris Oliveros (publisher of Drawn & Quarterly) will work together to design and edit a multi-volume collection of Tasumi's work.

Lots of good information thrown in from other posters to the thread. Aparantly the last issue of Pulp was devoted to Tatsumi, and a bit has been published, but his work is more widely known in France.

Carl Horn gives a description of Tatsumi's work:

His manga stories tend to conclude with characters having just ruined their life or ended it. Bitter laughter, locked in a jail cell, moving through a crowd in anonymous guilt, crowds gathering around your suicided corpse.

Imagine the grey, beaten-down people you see walking down the street in the background of JIN-ROH, grab a few of them, hand them a few pages of script from LOVE HINA, and tell them to improv the rest from there. You'll end up with Tatsumi, and you'll begin to see how "gekiga" once raged to swing like a lead sap into Tetsuwan Atom's tummy.


Sounds interesting, though I think I'd have to be in the right mood for something like that...

Manga in Entertainment Weekly 

gpn has this to say:

Looks like Entertainment Weekly magazine has recognized the burgeoning manga market. In the March 19th issue in their "Listen 2 This" section (which I believe is a subscribers only section) the page usually devoted to comic book reviews features all manga. First there's a short article that talks about the new-found manga popularity and attributes this in part to the wide variety of genres available. Then, three short reviews are given: Rurouni Kenshin (A-), The Ring (B+), and Joan Book 1 (A-). Hopefully this taste of manga is not a one time deal and manga reviews will be regularly featured.


Very cool.. I really want to pick up Joan one of these days. A very intriguing concept (several years after the death of Joan of Arc, has another girl been chosen?), and done entirely in color with nice artwork. This is another title that people not into the usual manga fare should give a try...

Freecycling online... 

Another NYT article, this time talking about the practice of giving away or looking for old free stuff online. The main focus is a site called Freecycle. It is split into regions (with a volunteer moderating each one), linking to a Yahoo Group where you can post about items you want or have. They also mention that Craigslist has a "free stuff" section (such as this boston one).

The trouble with both is lack of posts really near to me (much more in eastern Mass than western), but it seems like the sort of thing that'll be less of an issue over time. Especially with Freecycle, it seems easy to get something going locally if you have a bit of time to spare. But I do hope it can get away from Yahoo eventually. It works, but is a bit cumbersome...

As for the idea itself? I really like it. Ebay is certainly a great way of getting rid of stuff that you think someone would pay for, but what about the stuff that is less useful, where dealing with Ebay and/or shipping is just too much effort with likely no buyers anyway? As mentioned in the article, the main aim is to keep things out of landfills. Before throwing something out, just put it online or a couple of weeks and see if someone bites..

When you stop and think, it really is amazing just how much stuff everyone has and how wasteful it all becomes. We tend to think either in terms of throwing away or selling. You never know who might need something that you don't. I grew up fairly poor, so I can certainly sympathise with a setup like this...

Upcoming.org 

Hmmm.. Upcoming.org seems pretty interesting. People can create an account and add events to their list. It seems pretty sparse at the moment, but I think it has some potential.. They list Northampton and Springfield at least.. ;)

[from As Above]

New York Times (and circumvention) 

I just stumbled across the Random NYTimes.com Registration Generator. If you save this page to your hard drive, it lets you access the NYT without doing the free registration. Why not just do the registration? Some of us are just stubborn I guess. :)

Speaking of which, a couple of things at NYT that caught my eye. First, the sorry state of the libraries at some schools.

This is pretty scary, with the mayor of NY firing three school board representatives right before a vote on standardized testing (requiring third graders to get a certain score before making it to the next grade), fully admitting to stacking the members so the vote would go in his favor...

Visualizing a wiki over time... 

IBM has a really interesting set of pages where they show off a program they developed, one that visualizes the changes in documents over time, in this case various entries on Wikipedia. [Courtesy of As Above]

As an aside, I find Wikis to be fairly fascinating, and you can spend a lot of time reading through something like wikipedia. There's a good juggling wiki... now where's the yo-yo and comic ones?

Monday, March 15, 2004

Kicking the Tires of XP Service Pack 2 

I came across these two articles today on XP's SP2. I have to say that it looks pretty positive. Pop-up blocking, firewall on by default, messaging off by default, outlook attachment and html security. Sounds like one worth upgrading to...

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Numbers for February... 

Well the numbers are up! The most interesting thing to me is that the listing now covers the top 100 graphic novels instead of just the top 50. Times are a a changing...

The breakdown of companies continues to shift. Tokyopop seems solid at 5th place and seems to be gaining on Image. Viz and ComicsOne are both down one place. ADV moves up one place to 14th. I predict it'll continue to rise several more places in the coming months as they get more titles out. Where did Archie go? They aren't even on the list this month...

As always, the gn list has a lot more diversity going on. Nice to see 4 shoujo titles in the top 50 this time, including gravitation again. Despite it being written for girls, it seems to be the best selling title with gay protagonists around...

Nausicaa should be higher! :)

Friday, March 12, 2004

The beauty of titanium rings.. 

I don't know how many people reading this are into the yo-yos, but I can't help posting one more really cool one. Behold the Night Moves 3! At $80, I probably won't get one, but wow is it pretty! :)

Computer problems and solutions... 

So, my home computer's cpu fan has been dying for ages now. It is something like 3 or 4 years old, with the first couple of years having no cleaning done to it... The fan started making lots of noise, especially when starting up after being off (usually it is on all the time, but if power went off or something). So, it finally decided to die, with the motherboard giving off audible heat warnings!

I checked and New Egg doesn't carry socket 7 kits anymore, and most retail computer stores don't carry them at all. It ends up that Radio Shack actually had one that I could use. At $20, I'm sure there is some gouging going on, but oh well. You pay for convenience... I considered having a full-size floor fan blowing into the case and stuff, but I don't want to risk messing my system up (and all the data on it!) before I get the new computer built...

This new fan and heatsink was a bit smaller than the old one, but it is 5000rpm and seems to be keeping it really cool (like 39C/100F). I know 5000 is supposed to be loud, but it is really quiet compared to the fact that the other fan was dying..heh. The clip on it scared me a bit (seems like it'd be really hard to take off), but I managed to use the one on my old fan/hs (has a cool latch on it).

The really good news is that a friend online sent me a big bunch of spare computer parts for free! This includes a capture/scsi card that I'll use on the new machine, but also ram! I had one 128mb chip in the machine before and was able to add in two additional 256mb chips! I've gone from 128 to 640! I have to say that I can see a massive difference even doing stuff like surfing the web (I tend to open lots of windows at once).

He also gave a mb and psu and some cpus, but I'll fuss with that stuff after the new machine is running. This way I can grab drivers and stuff on the old machine. It is a k6-2 500mhz, but with the 640mb of ram, it is quite comfortable for a lot of stuff. Kind of wary of changing it around too much... In any case, it should all work out well because the old machine can be used for older games, surfing the web, word processing, etc. while the new one can be for new games and more intensive programming stuff.

Speaking of which, all the parts on the new machine are in! I'm really excited, but my back has been kind of messed up for the last week or so, preventing me from doing too much (especially trying to tackle the monitor). Later on I'll give the info. on what parts I actually got and maybe some pics.. :)

Comicon Pulse profiles Tsukasa Hojo 

Wow, Sebastian Schwenk did a great job on this Tsukasa Hojo article. He is the author of City Hunter, Family Compo, and others. It has a bio, in depth descriptions of all his series and an overview of licensing troubles in europe relating to them.

I really like the sound of Under The Dapple Shade and Family Compo. Hopefully they'll come out in the US eventually.. Check it out!

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Coolest looking yo-yo ever? 

You have to see the Serpentis Corae! I don't know if I'd actually want that thing staring at me all the time, but wow that had to have taken a lot of time to paint..

Lots of other nice designs on Yoyofactory's 2004 Spinning Art Contest. The Moonage Daydream is really nice also...

Celtic Knot Font 

Someone mentioned The Celtic Knot Font on the origamic architecture mailing list I subscribe to, and I have to say I'm really impressed. It is a regular truetype font with each letter being assigned to a little portion of a knot. So it lets you create the designs in pretty much any program you want. Can easily edit the designs and programs like Illustrator or Photoshop let you add effects or make it as big as you want (as these are vector).

I was disappointed to see that it costs ($20 for one line style.. $50 for all three), but after looking at the gallery and knotwork network pages, I think they're probably worth the money. I love stuff like this that lets you easily be creative...

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Searching the Deep Web (and blogs) 

Salon has a really interesting article which talks about the "deep web". That refers to all of the various databases that can be accessed online, but whos results don't actually show up in a major search engine like Google. I haven't used too too many of those, but an example would be the fact that all the US patents are searchable online with images. You could find the site on google, but not actually search the database itself...

It also lists several really interesting looking resources. One of these is Technorati, which is a search engine for blog entries. Pretty interesting stuff.

Christmas Pudding? 

Well, I just stumbled on Paul's Traditional Christmas Pudding and it does look really yummy! Geeze, that's a lot of ingrediants though.. not for the faint of heart..heh.

I didn't realize there was a traditional pudding and various traditions like doing wishes while stirring, having coins in it, and lighting brandy on it. It seems like something that didn't really make it from England to the US.

At some point I'd like to go searching and find various interesting traditions, even if my family itself didn't do them. You have the power to find and make your own traditions if that is what you want to do. :)

BTW, am I the only one who had a strong sense of the magic of Christmas instilled into them by reading the Dark is Rising as a kid?

Some blogging articles... 

First of all, this is a pretty interesting article which talks about RSS and possible methods to help solve server load for when people increasingly use it (using technologies like BitTorrent). I think one of my next things to look into is the various RSS readers. Now that I have a bit less time, I find myself forgetting to check some of the blogs, etc. It sounds like subscribing to some feeds may be the way to go...

Second is this article from John C. Dvorak, who asks if the combinations of people abandoing blogs over time and big media co-opting it spells doom for blogs. I don't agree that things are in as much trouble as he thinks, but it does make you think. Also, the board has some interesting discussion back and forth...

The most interesting thing to me I guess is the question of what really is a blog? Software used? A format? An attitude? It seems like as time goes on, things get more and more blurred. If a company lists updated news using blogging software, is it a blog? If a columnist uses blogging software to do articles, posting at a consistant schedule (like once a week) and is being paid, is that blogging? Is a person doing an online diary using only html blogging? Where do you draw the line? Does it even matter in the end?

It also becomes interesting in that you could do a blog type thing but with only an RSS feed and no web page version. Is it then a mailing list instead a blog?

And with the tons of free CMS systems out there (here is just a sampling), what does it mean when anyone can easily set up their own online magazine site, complete with news, forum, articles, chat, blogs, and all the rest with multiple contributers?

We're also starting to see more trackers out there to keep you updated and learn of new blogs, as well as the infamous trackbacks...

I guess we'll have to see where all this goes to...

Stopping and starting light... 

I don't think I heard about this when it first came out. Aparantly scientists have found a way to stop light and then start it again. This is really interesting, and hopefully it'll do wonders for computers eventually...

Monday, March 08, 2004

Is Hell endothermic or exothermic? 

Hah.. I someone just posted this on one of the boards I visit. Very funny. :)

NC Sheriff vs. Love Hina... 

Geeze.. what is the world coming to when a baptist minister is defending manga from a sheriff? Actually, I know a priest who is into anime and manga (even though he has since moved away), so it just goes to show that you shouldn't typecast people. :)

But anyway, thank goodness the sheriff isn't trying to actually crack down on the shops somehow, but it does show that Del Ray's concerns about NegiMagi weren't totally unfounded. Thankfully they decided to go with the plastic wrap instead of censorship. We can't let a couple of small towns and recent censorship fervor dictate our content..

(thanks to Kevin for the link)

Star-Bulletin reviews Kindaichi Case Files 

I have to say that this is a surprisingly good review. I really like Kindaichi, so nice to see it getting some good exposure (thanks to Kevin for the link). If the worst thing they can say is that many manga are melodramatic, I think we've come quite a ways from the kiddy/porn dynamic always mentioned in the news...

I've always liked the whole teen mystery type genre and if you are also a fan of these kinds of stories, Kindaichi comes highly recommended. :)

Sunday, March 07, 2004

Tania del Rio of Sabrina interviewed... 

I'll finish off my exursion into Newsarama with this interview. She seems to really have a good head on her shoulders and takes some pains to point out how this isn't just a random cash-in on her part (not that that keeps at least one poster from saying it anyway). There's some actual internal artwork in there also (sans word balloons) that looks pretty cute and with some interesting panel designs..

This looks to be pretty good. I hope Archie continues to give her the amount of freedom that she says she has right now and doesn't try to reel things back in if they evolve too much from the current position...

An intelligent Dragon Ball discussion? 

Wow, check out the latest Your Manga Minute. The posters have some very good discussions on the good and bad points of DB and DBZ. Personally, I am one of those that enjoy DB more than DBZ, with the focus on humor, colorful characters, and adventure. Still, I think DBZ gets more flaq than it really deserves, especially in terms of the comic (which had less filler than the anime incarnation). Just as a warning, some of the posts do you spoilers...

Oh boy... 

From this Academy X thread:

Personally, I prefered the concept of the current New Mutants title. It was nice to see a school with mutants with no expectation of them putting on costumes and fighting Mr Sinister or whoever.

Then:


...Yeah, but the X-Men are mainstream superheroes. They're supposed to put on the underwear and go out and fight the bad guys. Having them sit around in normal clothes and discuss things like boys and zits and the latest Britney Spears whinings is...well, if you want nothing but boring, normal shit like that, I hear Archie comics always need new readers.

For all of me agreeing in my previous entry about Marvel probably not being the place we should aspire to find diversity in that other entry, I'm sure we can spare a little bit of different concepts??? Oh well, nice artwork anyway..


Amazing Chernobyl pics.. 

Wow, now this is pretty amazing (courtesy Simon). Aparantly there is a "dead zone" city called Pripyat which was built in 1970 and abandoned in 1986 when Chernobyl melted down. It is a photo tour from a lady in the area (daughter of a nuclear physicist) who likes riding in the city on her motorcycle, not having to worry about cars and people.

I've always been kind of fascinated by ruins and places of quiet. Walking through areas of Forest Park that used to be more active, with decaying wood steps and overgrown domesticated bushes, and fiction like Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou. So this is especially interesting, but on another level it is utterly terrifying to think of the cause of the destruction and that it isn't totally safe around there even now..

Saturday, March 06, 2004

Diversifying Marvel 

Alexander Danner at Sequential Tart has written a great article called Diversifying Marvel. He makes a pretty compelling argument and I think I have to agree with him.

The first point he argues is that we shouldn't be looking to Marvel for diversity. That Marvel has been and is a niche publisher and it has worked out well for them, and that expecting them to branch out past their speciality is asking for trouble. He compares it to a publisher of Eastern spirituality books who decides to try making spy thrillers, or going to a neurosurgeon to get you sore throat looked at. That it may actually be more destructive to the industry since while the effort will probably be flawed (because of the above), it'll also get a lot of attention (since the company is big), and then could cause problems for people trying to do similar generes outside of the company.

He uses Derek KirK Kim as a theoretical example, but I can think of some examples already out there. If it wasn't for manga being so popular with girls lately, I'm sure that the failure of Trouble would have been yet another example cited by fans and the industry to show that girls don't like comics...

So, the problem with the industry isn't that Marvel isn't addressing the mainstream. It's that the industry keeps treating Marvel as if it is the mainstream. It isn't. Marvel is, and always has been, a niche publisher. And there's nothing wrong with that. It's an odd quirk of the comics industry that our most successful publisher happens to be a niche publisher, but that's not a problem that Marvel itself can or should attempt to fix. What the industry really needs is for Marvel to stick with what it specializes in, while true mainstream comics publishers — like Oni in print or Modern Tales online — work toward reaching the true mainstream audience.

He then goes on to mention what he feels are the real issues of Marvel, mostly relating to confusion on what audience various titles are targetting. He gives an example of Peter Parker: Spider-Man which sounds like it is trying to deal with some mature issues with little action, but at the same time waters it way down, leaving you with something unappealing to either group..

What Marvel really needs to do is draw lines between which books are meant for adults, which are meant for young adults, and which are meant for children. And even more importantly, the editors need to make it clear to each of their writers which audience they ought to be writing for. Obviously, the MAX line is targeted at adults, and the recently announced Marvel Age line is geared towards kids, but the vast majority of Marvel's main line exist in a muddled middle ground that runs the gamut from early YA to edgy adult fare, with little to no indication of what's what. Even the writers seem unsure of who their work is meant for — as illustrated by the abovementioned issue of Peter Parker: Spider-Man. Worse, the target audience of their books seems to change every time the writer does — with little official guidance, each writer brings their own vision of who the audience should be, so that a book that was previously suitable for young readers can become far more adult without any warning.

But he cites Ultimate Spider-Man as an example of things being done right, in that while it isn't necessarily breaking new ground, actually seems targetted at 14-year-olds and "In other words, it's a *healthy* adolescent male power fantasy, which is a far different creature from Marvel's usual fare." He also that Alias is a good example of something aimed at adults and not constrained. I haven't read Alias, but I did enjoy the first volume of Ultimate SM that I read. It reminded me a lot more of the kind of thing you'd see in Shonen Jump, something with a lot of action and a focus on a kid trying to deal with life and grow up..

I almost didn't read this article, but am so glad that I did. On the one hand, I'd love it if Marvel was suddenly amazingly diverse 20 genres all with great quality, bit I think a lot of the actions lately seem counter to that and I think I can respect the fact that they just want to do their own thing. But it is a difficult thing since several companies make up so much of the industry and we're so used to looking at them AS the industry. With the focus on proprietary characters and work-for-hire and lack of Epic, it is very much its own entity instead of an all-purpose publisher and I guess that is ok really. It seems like we are getting more alternatives as time goes on, and supporting those will probably do much more for diversity in the long run than trying to change an entity into something it isn't...

Price lowered on Trigun Maximum... 

According to this thread, Darh Horse is lowering their price on Trigun Maximum from $14 to $10. The original Trigun volumes that they've had coming out were about $14, but were also huge in page count (mirroring the re-release in Japan). Quite a few were up in arms that they were going to keep the price going even with almost half the pages, so this is pretty nice to hear. It'll be interesting to see if any other titles eventually go down in price like Berserk..

As an aside, I've heard that the art gets much better in Maximum than the original. I'll have to check that out because even though Nightow seems like a decent enough artist, his storytelling ability (in terms of artwork) was pretty bad in what I've read of the first volume of Trigun. It is funny because you read it and come across scenes where you just cannot make out what is going on and wonder if it is just you. Believe me when I say it isn't just you..heh. I think if you like the story, the thing to do would probably be to watch the anime for the beginning of the story and switch back to the manga for Maximum. Of course I still haven't seen Maximum yet, so I'm a bit wary of the artwork still. As they say, I'll believe it when I see it..

Friday, March 05, 2004

ADD interviews Jim Crocker 

Hmm.. how did I miss this one? Even though I love Modern Myths and try to shop there when I can make it up to NoHo, this interview provides a lot of specific information I never knew about...

First, probably the most lucid approach to running a comic shop that I have heard:

First and foremost, I want to run a store that looks and feels like a well-run independent bookstore you’d find in any relatively progressive college town or small city. We can write and speechify and blog until we’re blue in the face that comics are Ready for Prime Time, but if we don’t have places that women, kids, and new readers can feel comfortable and welcome, we’re not going to make much headway.

I spent several years working for the Borders mass-market bookstores, and after that it became pretty clear to me how a specialty store could succeed in their shadow by taking page from their own book, which was to look at what worked in independent bookstores and then replicate it on a mass scale using their size as an advantage. So we looked at mass-market bookstores and replicated what we could while using our size as an advantage. We offer everything they can that we’re able to: liberal return policies; no-obligation special orders; convenient operating hours; parking; clean public restrooms; racking by genre including a dedicated section for young readers; gift certificates; credit card acceptance; computerized inventory; and offset what we can’t with the advantages traditionally touted as the ways for comics shops to compete: a wide selection that includes used and O/P titles and a knowledgeable staff. Hopefully, the balance will appeal to both longtime fans and new readers, which is what we’re shooting for.

More generally, we’re an independent bookstore that happens to specialize in sequential storytelling, so we look to other successful independent bookstores for ideas about advertising, community outreach, and how to deal with competition from the chains, as well as cherry picking the best ideas from the Direct Market. It’s a genuinely mixed blessing when people walk in and remark that “I didn’t realize this was a comic shop… it looks like a regular bookstore.”

And seriously, how many shops go the extra mile to do the following?


Modern Myths specifically includes sexual orientation and gender status as protected classes (along with race, religion, physical handicap, national origin, etc.) in our diversity policy for hiring as well as companies we do business with, and has a standing company policy of offering benefits to domestic partners.


Good stuff all around. I can't help thinking this is really where comic shops are heading. Now that places like chain bookstores are making their impact felt and less people are concerned about the baseball card collecting mentality, the old format of throwing some sutff together in a basement just isn't going to cut it anymore. MM really does feel like a professional alternative bookstore that happens to carry comics. Let's hope others follow his lead...

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Tokyopop goes novels... 

Well, according to this, Tokyopop has several novels in the works including Slayers and Clamp School Detectives. Jake of TP gives some clarifications, and these are indeed original novels being translated from Japanese and not new creations. Will also be priced at around $8 each.

I'm not too interested in either of those, but this brings to mind all kinds of possibilities. Crest of the Stars and Twelve Kingdoms for instance were based on novels, as well as Record of Lodoss War and Legend of Galactic Heroes and countless more. Of course many manga and anime also had novelizations happen after the fact..

This is another one of those things that fans thought would never see the light of day, so it is really cool. Hopefully it'll take off and we'll get a lot more novels coming to our shore... :)

Fun with anti-blogging... 

Ok, so I spent way too much time reading this and the responses. Pretty much a long rant against Movable Type specifically, which also manages to insult just about eveyone else... ;)

Obviously I don't agree with that, and most of his legit concerns are lost in the vitrol, but it did cause me to think about some different things. First, I went to find out just what trackbacking really is. I have to say that the concept is pretty interesting. Surely a lot easier than looking at referrer logs, and maybe not to difficult with the auto-detection methods on some blogs. It seems like there is also pingback method which might not cause so much trouble with google? Then again, I don't see it as that huge of an issue. Maybe it's because I don't search for political info. that often, but I haven't seen much intrusion on search results and usually the top ones have interesting links anyway...

It also made me question Movable Type a little bit. I need to research more, but so far I am liking the look of WordPress, especially since it can aparantly import my blogger posts. I don't know what to do about the halo comments, though...

Also made me think a bit about why I am blogging. On the one hand, people do seem to like my opinions on stuff, and it can be nice to share links with people. On the other, I suppose I've already said a lot of the stuff that I had built up from the years on the subject of comics. Also, while we are in interesting times, I think in some ways there is more understanding out there and more of a wait and see approach. I dunno.. maybe it is just a combination of Dirk missing and not having as much time to read the message boards and blogs. I think maybe I do better responding to other people than just coming up with stuff out of thin air.

In regards to that last point, the newest edition of Sequential Tart is up, and reading some of the articles there got me going a bit on some subjects. I'll see if I can post some stuff in regards to those pretty soon.

But I suppose I've partly just been led into other stuff a bit more lately. Now with the PDA, I'm starting to realize just how much stuff I can get done when I'm not just sitting there wondering what I should be doing (happens quite often with my memory..heh). The house is a big mess in terms of clutter (both Mom and I are seriously sentimental and hate throwing stuff out), and I really need to throw tons of stuff into big rubbermaid containers in the cellar and perhaps just sell or throw out stuff. Now that I have the digital camera, I can always just take some pictures of sentimental items for memory's sake without actually keeping the object itself.

Plus, the old addage of my layout and design teacher was that everything can't be as important as eveything else on a page. If you make everything bold and crazy fonts, it is just a muddle and you can't even read it. Same goes with a house.. just because I want to hang onto things or I might want to use them some day in the future doesn't mean that I should let it all take over and keep me from finding the stuff I most want to be using.

Also, what's up with nostalgia itself? We want to remind ourselves of how we were as kids, and yet when you're a kid, you don't think that way. The act of nostalgia itself just shows how far you are from all of that. If you really want to relive your childhood, then get some toys and play with them. Look at the clouds and find animals in them. Don't be afraid to try new things, learn new things, constantly re-evaluate things. Don't let the world suck away your creativity and the good parts of being a child. Instead of setting up stale monuments to childhood, keep some of that kid alive inside of you.. :)

Wow, this entry is really unfocused isn't it? What else can I throw in? I was a little down in that I installed a counter and seemingly had very few hits coming in, but then again my own fault for not writing much of interest lately..heh. Also, someone actually searched for my site in google which was cool, and tangognat and Augie have been commenting, so nice to know some people are still watching. :)

But I do want to do some diversity of content on my sites. My looping guides still get a lot of positive comments, but they could really use some re-writing and illustrations and maybe some videos. Speaking of which, my latest batch of videos still don't have descriptions, and really the whole thing should be made interactive. Currently it is using an xml publishing system called Cocoon, which is really cool, but it is java-based, which most hosting places don't support. I am pretty much generating the pages on my computer, which I can then upload to a site. That works, but is cumbersome and also doesn't let readers do things like search or re-sort.

I may end up doing that part in regular php and mysql myself and then use Coppermine for the gallery and Wordpress for blogging. Then again, maybe I can work with a full content management system like Mambo or Typo3 or something and not have to do much actual coding myself.. I'll have to experiment I guess...

So, I do want to continue blogging, but I think things will still be a bit sporadic as I try to work out everything else both at home and on my sites. But it'll all be cool if it works out.. :)

Ummm.. oookaay... 

The world is a really odd place at times...

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Blog with Blogger or move to Movable Type? 

Woo.. fun with titles. ;) Anyway, I am thinking that I'd like to consolidate some of my sites together. While it'd be perfectly possible to have Blogger ftp to another site instead (leaving this up with some sort of redirect?), I'm wondering if I should try out something else. The hosting site I'm using supports perl, php, and mysql and is known to work with Movable Type, which I know a lot of people use. The benefits I see would be not relying on a third party site (even though Blogger seems pretty reliable), the fact that it has search engine and keyword capabilities, and that there seem to be a lot of windows and pda clients that support adding and editing entries without the web interface (which is faster and some support offline entry).

Any opinions from someone who has used both? Also, what about other software that might be out there? I know there is stuff like PHPNuke, which seem more geared toward news but maybe would work for blogging as well? Any competitors to Movable Type around?

Update: And what about Wordpress?

A trip to the library... 

So, a while back the public library in East Longmeadow (Mass) was torn down and rebuilt. It is just across the street from where I work, but I hadn't had a chance to visit it yet. So, today I finally did (thanks once again to my wonderous PDA reminding me..heh), and it is quite nice. Checked out the Young Adult section and they had some nice stuff (even first editions of two of the Pit Dragon books from Jane Yolen) but not many graphic novels. There was a Bone book, but it was like book seven. There was two Japanese guides with cassettes, but fairly basic stuff. I went back to the New Non-fiction section and ended up picking up like five books. We'll have to see if I actually get around to reading all of them, but here is what I got:

Using Your Digital Camera by George Schaub - Just an entrylevel guide, but I'm still fuzzy on some of the specifics of stuff like ISO and different flash settings and what things to watch out for specifically with a digital camera..

Baha'i Faith from Hartz's line of World Religion books - A thin overview book, but I'm just curious at this point. I've seen Baha'i brought up in relation to Esperanto before so that made me pick it up and flip through it. It seems like it is a religion very much in the all races are equal, men and women are equal, etc, so seems interesting. I'm not a very religious person at the moment, but I do tend to be facinated by the different faiths around the world. Some day I'll try to sit down and learn more all this stuff...

Schools That Do Too Much by Etta Kralovec - Focusing on how schools may be spending money in the wrong areas (too much focus on sports programs?) and overall fractured in a way that can make things difficult. Will be interesting to see how much I agree. She previously wrote a book blasting overuse of homework which I'd probably very much agree with. I was in the Honors Program for a lot of years and also homeschooled for a while, so I am always very interested in education.

When Religion Becomes Evil by Charles Kimball - This looks to be pretty interesting. It is a look at various religions and how things can get warped over time. For instance how did Christianity go from the pacifism of Christ's teachings to the Crusades? I'm sure it'll look at things like Bin Laden as well...

Masters of Doom by David Kushner - Well, I played quite a lot of Doom when it first came out (as well as Wolfenstein 3D before it) and loved the experience. Since then, my hardware lagged behind, but now that I'll have a new machine (and a 9800pro card!), I'll probably finally get back into 3D gaming. Doom changed quite a lot of things (between being the most popular first person shooter at the time, having deathmatches over networks, and letting people create their own add-ons to the game) and so a profile of its creators is very fascinating for me. And in general I like to see historial perspectives on things that don't always get serious treatments, like video games and comics.

Let's hear it for the library system! :)

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

ADV reveals a LOT of titles... 

Ok ok, so maybe that person mentioning about the difficulties of keeping up on manga coming out had a point. Check out the list of around 40 titles that ADV just revealed that they have licensed. Even most of the hardcore people aren't familiar with most of these..heh

It seems unclear right now just how many of these ADV actually plans to release in the near future. It seems like this is basically a listing of the various Mag Garden properties that ADV has access to (they revealed a while back their partnership with this smaller Japanese publisher), so it is reasonable to assume that this is more of an informational thing as opposed to a timetable list. It'll be interesting to see which of these titles they decide to release and promote first... Also, according to a poster who talked to a rep lately, the big announcements are being held for Anime Boston in April. If this list is just their preliminary announcement, it could be very interesting to see what the big-name releases will be...



Puffy AmiYumi cartoon??? 

Johnny mentions that aparantly a cartoon called Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi will be starting up pretty soon, following the adventures of the two and their manager, along with some live-action segments. I must do some research to find out more about this. Could be fun...

And things were right again in the world... 

Well... a while back fans found out from Ken Akamatsu's blog that he was surprised at how severely his manga Magister Negi Magi was censored by Del Ray. Then Dallas Middaugh of Del Ray confirmed the editing, saying 10 panels were censored in order to help with bookstore distribution.

Now, Ken is the author of Love Hina, a series which has already had wide distribution, and the fact is that his nudity tends to be undetailed (no nipples) as well as partially covered up. There's the issue of people maybe getting the title confused with Harry Potter, but this was still a bad thing to do, especially with one of the most prominant of their first wave of titles.

So, if you read the 14 pages in that thread, the community of fans came together to pretty much state how disappointed they were and say they were canceling orders and such. I have to say it stayed amazingly civil, and makes me fairly proud to be a part of animeondvd.com. It has its fair share of overenthusiastic fanboys/girls at times, but overall is a pretty nice place.

Anyway, the decision actually got reversed! It will now be shrinkwrapped with a 16+ and "explicit content" sticker on the front, and will be unedited. It still seems overboard as there is worse content in stuff like Ranma 1/2, but at least it isn't being censored, which is a great step. It is also nice to see that a lot of fans who said they wouldn't have bought the title normally are going to at least get the first issue in order to support this move.

It is a little bit unclear by the wording on whether one of the bookstores said editing was a bad idea, or if in response to the fans, they were able to compromise with the bookstore by doing this. I'm more likely to think it is the latter, but either way good stuff!

You always get nervous when bigger companies start getting involved because they might just ignore fans, but it looks like Del Ray is going to be a good player after all. Let's hope that DC follows suit (and that they notice that manga fans aren't going to take stuff like this lying down).

Monday, March 01, 2004

So... what's up? 

Ok ok... so my excuse before was the juggling festival, but that is past now. What else is going on? A pretty big number of things actually... Mainly I've been slowly getting the parts together on a new computer. This has been a huge learning experiance for me, as I was always more knowledgable on the software side rather than hardware, and never did more than put some ram into a machine.

It is difficult because stuff is always evolving, and there is a lot of contradictary information out there. I've flip-flopped so many times on various issues after digging deeper into the information out there. But it is pretty much all pinned down at this point.

I'll give more information soon. In the meantime, New Egg is like the greatest online computing store of all.

Oh, and I got my permit for the second time today (last time I let it expire). Determined to get the license this time.. I guess I'm just sort of oddball. When you don't go out a lot, it just doesn't seem so important. Now that I'm going to more gatherings and such, it makes some sense to get my act together. Once again, the PDA is also helping me get organized. :)

Oh, and today was beautiful out! Like 50 degrees F. If it stays like this much longer, trees will start to bud... let's hope it lasts a while..

Screen Savers tonight showed how to make ice cream with liquid nitrogen. Not as dangerous as you might think and aparantly makes great creamy ice cream since the quick freezing makes for small ice crystals. This page has a lot of cool things to do with liquid nitro. Seriously, the shaving cream in the car has to be one of the most evil things ever!

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