Thursday, April 29, 2004

Sick blogging... 

Well, I've been a bit under the weather the last couple of days. That combined with all manga news has me a bit overwhelmed. I have a bunch of stuff saved as drafts that I want to expand on. Hopefully I'll get to most of it by the weekend.. In the meantime, thanks to everyone who is keeping track of all this stuff. :)

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Superhero yo-yos by Higby... 

Thought some of you might get a kick ouf of this. Higby has some superhero yo-yos for sale that he painted. Cool stuff!

Noir playing cards? Menchi plush? 

Alright, one of my many hobbies is collecting playing cards (though I don't do much of that anymore). From a recent
press release, it appears there will be Noir playing cards and a Menchi plush (from Excel Saga) among other things. Not the cheapest merchandise in the world, but those may be things I'll have to pick up. Hmm.. and maybe the Excel Saga magnets.. :)

Hellboy parody in Abenobashi? 

Just came across this:

"one of the episodes on the last volume of Abenobashi has a section where Arami and Sasshi are drawn in Mike Mignola-style (switch the vid-notes on to spot it), so his work does have recognition from Japanese animators."

I've seen a couple of episodes of Abenobashi, and some of the parodies are very funny. I'll have to look out for this part...

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Top 10 movies in Japan last weekend 

NeoEra posted this list, which I have to say is pretty interesting:

1. Haunted Mansion new
2. Detective Conan: Magician Of The Silver Sky
3. Crayon Shin-Chan: Arashi O Yobu! Yuhi No Kasukabe Boys
4. Kill Bill Vol. 2 new
5. Casshern new
6. Cold Mountain new
7. Lord Of The Rings: Return Of The King
8. Ocean Of Fire (aka Hidalgo)
9. Peter Pan
10. Quill

Like your typical otaku anime film, Appleseed dropped from the top 10 like a rock while the general audience anime films hung in there pretty well. And more people thought Haunted Mansion looked like a worthwhile film to check out than Casshern? Boo!

I'm not familiar with all of these but I do know that Detective Conan and Crayon Shin-chan are animated movies based on popular series (mystery and comedy respectively). Hmm.. I think watching Casshern and Kill Bill 2 in a row would be quite the head trip. Also interesting to see Peter Pan up there. I'm not sure when it was released in Japan, but it does seem like the sort of thing that they'd "get" more than in the US.

Monday, April 26, 2004

Three more Ghibli movies on the way! 

Yeah! This is great news.. I haven't seen any of these movies yet:

In some really good news, there's word from Nausicaa.net of more Ghibli releases coming out this year, courtesy of information provided by none other than Isao Takahata and Steve Alpert during an LA screening of several Takahata films. According to various reports sent to Nausicaa.net, the three films will be My Neighbors the Yamada's, Pom Poko and Only Yesterday.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Donnie Darko re-released to theaters 

Thankfully, I can balance out the news of the previous entry with something very positive. What a great movie that has unfortunately overlooked by so many people. If you don't want to go to the theaters, the DVD can usually be found at a very inexpensive price (along with stuff like Pi). I bought the DVD based solely on good reviews and am really glad I did. :)

Home Movies cancelled 

Bah... I'm really sorry to hear this. I really grew to love Home Movies and I'm sorry to hear it go. When you see this show and realize just how realistic some of the dialogue is (despite them having unusual knowledge of films..heh), you really have to stop and think about how kids and conversations are often portrayed on TV. The first episode or two had some issues, but after that it settled into something pretty remarkable IMO. It also ditched the Squiggle-vision which I know annoyed some people (like my Mom), though that never really bothered me. I really hope it manages to get on DVD one of these days.

Friday, April 23, 2004

Tokyopop TV news spreads slowly... 

Most of today I searched out other people reporting on the Tokyopop TV commercial story. I was starting to get depressed as it seemed like no one was picking up on it, but it seems my fears were misplaced.

First, Franklin actually beat me to the punch, which I somehow missed. Though Balloons picked it up later in the day, and Neilalien has the story as well.

I posted on AoDVD which got some responses but ironically not as "mor" as a thread on a print ad Tokyopop just did. My post to TCJ has nada responses. Loran manages to sneak it into Sequential Tart.

Anyone else? I suppose it being Friday has slowed things down a bit. I hope this blows up a bit at least by Monday.

Still, I can't help thinking that if it was Marvel that was doing this, there'd be insane chatting on every forum and news site by now.. Ahh well..

Anyone else I'm missing?

Hellboy as anime? 

Franklin mentions that aparantly Guillermo is in talks with Gonzo to possibly make a Hellboy anime. I think that has major potential! Some of the anime out there like Hellsing for instance have a very strong visual style, which could work well with Mignola's distinctive stylings. Why does everyone insist on making live-action movies when animation is really the natural progression for many comics?

Bags and Boards should learn their manga ABCs.... 

So, Bags and Boards, a comics blog on Variety.com has an entry on The ABCs of manga. Ick! I hate to say it, but this thing is horrible, especially coming from something related to a print publication, where you'd think there'd be a bit more fact-checking.

Besides the fact that writing comes off kind of stilted (dunno why.. just seems.. choppy) behold:

"ShoJo" is a valid spelling (though "shoujo" is more common), but why is the J capitalized?

"Weekly Shonen Jump" is the Japanese publication. The US one is called just "Shonen Jump" as it isn't weekly.

It is "Chobits" not "Chobit".

Why does Love Hina link to the anime site instead of the manga site?

"tankoban" is spelled correctly in most places, but is "tankaban" in one. More importantly, this term refers to the collected digests, not the original weekly/monthly anthologies.

The part on One Piece doesn't refer to the fact that Luffy can stretch! Also, I'm pretty sure his name is "Monkey D. Luffy", not "DeLuffy".

And it ends it with of course a plug for Anime Insider, saying "It's unique in that it serves all level of fans. We want to reach the Pokemon and the Adult Swim fans."

So, I don't know if this is a case of an oral review where Jevon guessed at spelling (should at least look these things up, though) or Mr. Bricken really is clueless. The definition of tankoban makes me lean a bit toward the latter...

All in all, most of it is very superficial and doesn't give much more than most people already know, while most of the specifics are outright wrong. Maybe I'm just being too hard on them, especially since this is just a blog entry and not an outright article in a magazine, but I wish people would make more of an effort...

Update: Geeze, on top of everything else, even the name of the guy interviewed is wrong! According to the editor of Media Blasters, his name is Robert Bricken, not Richard...

Update 2: After putting a link to here in the B&B's comments, Jevon has since posted a reply. He is quite the gentleman in his reponse, and has since corrected most of the issues in my complaint. I think I was probably a bit on the defensive side (like people who get annoyed at articles saying Biff! and Pow!) and I'm glad to see more people making the effort to try to learn about manga. Don't let this scare you off Jevon. Next time I'll just e-mail you if I have some issues. :)

Johanna joins the blog side! 

Well, it look like it has finally happened. Johanna, it is great to see you join the ranks of the comic blogs. :)

Tokyopop Plans TV Ads for Manga!!! 

Wow! I was not expecting to see this this morning. I have to say this is pretty huge news. The comic news sites had better make a big thing out of this, as IMO this is much more significant than a lot of other stuff going on. It is probably easy for some to ignore since it is "just manga", but comics on TV vs. Icon? I'd say the former is a bigger deal...

I mean, Cartoon Network, MTV, Spike TV, G4, and Tech TV??? That is covering a lot of ground right there. For those curious about the titles involved:

Tokyo Babylon - A 7 volume shoujo series from CLAMP, whose story predates X. It involves a young medium who protects Tokyo from evil spirits with some help.

D.N.Angel - Eight-volume shoujo involving a boy who uncontrolably changes back and forth between his alter-ego as a theif when he sees his crush and when his alter-ego sees HIS crush.

- Nine-volume shonen involving four guys in an adventure inspired (loosely) by the old Monkey King story. While this was technically aimed at guys, it has just as much or more female fans due to the attractiveness of the main characters.

Princess Ai - Three-volume collaboration between Courtney Love and DL Milky (original creators), character designs by Yazawa Ai (of Paradise Kiss fame), with the actual manga done by Misaho Kujiradou. About a princess that tries to become a music star, this is actually also being released in Japan.

Tokyo Tribes
- An eleven-volume series about battling street gangs in Tokyo. This is actually Tokyo Tribe 2, which has been renamed. Also, Santa Inoue seems to have a pretty unique style.

So, there you have it! A pretty good variety of titles in there. Interesting to note that a good portion of these are aimed at girls or have a lot of cross-over appeal.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Anime / Manga presentation at Forest Park library this Saturday 

Yikes, I just realized tha I forgot to post about this. Again, for anyone near to Springfield, Massachusetts on May 24 (this saturday) at noon, there will be a presentation on anime and manga at the Forest Park library branch.

As the site says, you can talk to Sarah Hodge-Wetherbe at 263-6843 to get more information or pre-register (it is free, but she wants a handle on attendance, etc). This is going to be an introduction, but she'll also try to get into some aspects of culture that are present in both forms. If it is successful, there might be future workshops delving more into particular aspects.

If you're wondering what's up with this anime and manga stuff and you see terms like shonen and baka thrown around, this could be very enlightening. I'll be there in any case, as it is a pretty short walk from my house. :)

Anime movies come to Springfield in May 

For anyone that lives in western Massachusetts or near to it, there's going to be an anime movie festival on May 8th (Saturday) in Springfield. It'll be held at Faith United Church on Sumner Avenue, going from around 10am to 8pm.

The schedule is:
10:00am - Castle in the Sky
12:30pm - Spirited Away
3:00pm - Metropolis
6:30pm - Cowboy Bebop: Knockin' on Heaven's Door

Seeing one movie is $5 and all four is $15 (students $3/10). The money is going to support the rennovation of Bing Theater (now Bing Arts Center). I believe these will be projected DVDs, but I'm not sure if they'll be shown subbed or dubbed yet. The festival poster says that costumes are welcomed, so I'm sure some cosplayers will be about... (I was impressed by the level of costumes I saw in Northampton recently, so I have some hope).

For more information or for purchasing festival passes, you can call 731-9730.

This is a smaller event without a lot of promotion going on, so please pass the info. around if you know of anyone that'd be interested!

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Sean sees bookstore manga sales first-hand... 

From here:

"Girls--real, live girls--and kids--real, live kids--buy a lot of manga, and I mean a lot, at the bookstore I'm now working at. They also steal a lot."

BTW, it is great to see the return of Comix & Match Sean. Lots of good stuff in the latest entries...

Korean live-action manga adaptation to Cannes 

Hey, Old Boy sounds to be pretty intersting, about aman who is kidnapped and put in a cell for no aparant reason. Thanks to Kevin for the link.

A new windmill tilted at... 

Hibbs has a new column up, this time tackling CrossGen and the Tokyopop/Diamond deal. Lots of good information in this one. I do agree that one reason for CrossGen's troubles was that promotion of it being a "line". I certainly got the impression at first that it was a tightly integrated shared world, while the reality was that some of the titles were relatively unconnected in practice. I think at this point, a line is really really hard to get going and it is probably better to go with greater diversity like Oni Press is doing.

On Tokyopop, he has some good information on what the change might actually mean for retailers, in terms of discounts, etc. I need to re-read it when my head isn't quite so sleepy... Some good discussion in the related thread as well.

[ala Sean]

Geek Watch 

This is a pretty fun little column. Check out the mini siege engines!

[from RZetlin]

Anime Network hits the big time... 

Woo... ADV's Anime Network has finally gotten picked up by a cable network as a full-fledged channel instead of just video-on-demand. They aren't releasing which cable company is doing it, but I'm hoping for Comcast.. :) Still, I hope that they'll keep the on demand component in addition to the channel itself, as it can be a pretty convenient option for those of us without a TiVo.

Edit: Seems like icv2 is a bit behind actually. This thread mentions that it is INSIGHT Communications who picked up the channel, the 9th largest provider. Not as big news as if one of the top 3 or top 5 had picked it up, but it is still a start...

Tobacco and a lute... 

Haha.. you have to listen to track eleven on this album. I would have thought it was a very odd humor piece if I had heard it out of context, but aparantly it is an actual song from many years ago. It is interesting just how odd it seems from a modern perspective.

Bizarro Bill on X-Men Evolution... 

Geeze, how did I manage to miss this?

Althought an obvious parody (and a funny one at that), I'm thinking it actually isn't that far off the mark in most of its aspects in how a manga fan might view a title like this. Something to think about..

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Three open music sites... 

To continue the theme of music, an interesting site is Opsound. It basically is a database of music released with the creative commons' attribution share-alike license. Looks like there could be some nice stuff on there. Of course they don't actually host anything, which brings us to the next site.

The Internet Archive's Open Source Audio archive. Pretty much anyone can upload free audio there (both lossy and lossless), with various licenses supported (could be a more restrictive CC or something similar). There are also other audio archives on the same site, including virtual music labels, speeches, etc.

Lastly, etree.org, is a site devoted to the trading of lossless audio recordings, specifically of live music which the bands in question say can be traded. Pretty interesting in the focus both of live music and lossless files. This is like Opsound in that the website doesn't host files, but different in that it seems to link into an approved set of third-party ftp sites.

There's lots of good stuff out there, so go listen... :)

Brad Sucks... doesn't suck! (neither does Magnatune) 

I've talked a bit in the past about Magnatune, an online music label with nice features (free 128bit mp3s and radio stations, with a $5-18 sliding scale for higher quality audio files that gives half of the amount you choose directly to the artist in question).

I hadn't gotten around to buying anything at the time (the selection was still growing), but I finally made the plunge. I listened to the album I Don't know What I'm Doing from a Canadian one-man band calling himself Brad Sucks and just loved it! I'm no good at describing music, but it ranges from rock to other stuff, and I really like how the album itself flows together.

I found that he also has his own site where you could order a CD directly from him, but decided against that route. It sounds like he is burning, labeling, and shipping these himself. Why make him go through all that trouble just for a label on the CD? And at $5 including shipping, he surely isn't making a lot of $ that way.

Of course he says himself that that isn't his intention, but that just kicks in the reverse psychology even more. :) So, in the end I paid $8 to Magnatune, supporting both a concept I really like and an artist that does good work. $4 by itself isn't a lot in the grand scheme of things, but it is $4 he didn't have before, and surely this stuff can add up after a while.

Yesterday I d/led a 400mb zip of the wave files, along with some ogg vorbis files, burning an audio/data cd. For some reason, the first two tracks got flipped when I burned, so I'll probably re-do it today (and add some vbr mp3s as I have enough room).

I feel doubly good in that this is music that isn't stolen and where I know exactly how much the artist got, and frankly I've been kind of out of music as of late. I think listening to all this indy music has been good for me...

BTW, I haven't had a chance to listen to all of this yet, but Outside The Inbox is a great concept for an album. It is all songs inspired by the subject lines of spam e-mails! Each one is by a different artist, but I know Look And Feel Years Younger is great, as it is on Brad's other album.

Some other interesting artists on Magnatune that I've listened to so far are Tim Rayborn (amazing eastern rythms), Beth Quist (new age with a four-octave voice), Atomic Opera (rock stuff), Claire Fitch (ambient cello), Skitzo (heavy metal), and Shiva in Exile (indian electronic stuff).

Tokyopop reviews portfolios at MOCCA 

Geeze, TP doesn't doesn't seem to be fooling around: more at Pulse.

New book about manga 

It looks like Manga Design will be pretty interesting. Almost 600 pages and a DVD, profiling 140 different creators (biography, artwork, biliography, etc.). Seems like the DVD has 3 interviews, a tour of a Tokyo manga shop, and 1000 manga covers. Looks like it'll retail for $40, but could be worth it.

[from jeffagain]

Monday, April 19, 2004

Susie Lee clarifies TCJ manga article... 

Thankfully, Susie has posted more information on the article in question:

The sensational title--"2004 — A Good Year to Get Out of the Manga Business?" is not the title of a market forecast, but the lead-in for a story about the transition of licenses from Studio Proteus to Dark Horse. So if you're looking for commentary about the marketplace from Viz or TPop, this is not the right article to get it from.

Also, the excerpt is composed of chunks pulled from different places in the article. Toren is quoted as saying that after an initial crash, he feels that the manga market will be twice the size it is now.

Maybe before people jump to conclusions, they should stop and read the whole article. All the same, this thread is going into some interesting tangents.

This makes me feel better, but as others indicate lower down in the thread, it would have been nice if it was indicated that these were a bunch of quotes taken from context. I know that when I see something like that labeled as an exerpt, I'd expect that it is an exact portion of the article taken out, perhaps with some "..."s to indicate cut areas.

Asagiri2040 says it pretty well:

And this, I think, is in its own way just as much of a problem as the issue at hand. I'm not saying that The Comics Journal should put entire articles up online, but it would be nice to have a greater indication of just how out of context their excerpts are. On the one hand, it can be said that people shouldn't be so quick to jump to conclusions without all the info, but on the other, it should be realized that this is the Internet and that's how things work more often than not. TCJ is doing both their interviewed subjects and their readers a disservice by not recognizing that fact and simply printing random excerpts that paint a rather slanted view of what the article may actually be about. What's wrong with simply printing the first few paragraphs in order? Other sites do, and that seems to be less volatile because you may not have even left the introduction by that point. We know Toren browses these forums occasionally, and I'd be surprised if he hasn't already seen this thread and is busy thinking "WTF?!" to himself. Sure, a finger can be pointed at those who have commented (not that anyone's pointing, mind you) since they're responsible for the things said, but a finger should also be pointed just as squarely at TCJ for shoddy excerpting and misleading headlines. That doesn't invalidate the whole thread, of course, since many general comments have been made, but it's something to think about.

As an aside, this exchange I find pretty funny, just to show the ocean between the two fandoms a bit:

Megs: Where could you buy this? At a large chain bookstore? I don't recall seeing it in Bristol, but that can just give me an excuse to go to Johnson City. Of course, if it's at a store like Barnes and Noble, I can sit there and read it and not have to purchase it either.

Kiril: In my neck of the woods the Comics Journal may be found at Borders, but I don't recall seeing it at Barnes and Noble nor at Waldenbooks.

FigNewton: Yeah, I've seen it at Border's I think, but the best bet is a comics specialty shop.

Megs: Bah, I can live without it I wish we had Border's down here.

Kiril: If you want a store to get it for you consistently every month, I agree with you, as it is easy for comic stores to order. Even walking in and asking to order a recent issue should be easy enough, as a comic store should be able to reorder it.

But if you just want to walk in and grab the latest issue I think many people would have trouble as from what I've seen many comic stores don't bother to keep that on the shelves. As always, it all depends on the quality of the local comic stores in your area.

And one could always get it direct from them: http://tcj.com/

FigNewton: I'll admit that we are pretty blessed with having well serviced comic shops in this area so that didn't really occur to me. I've heard horror stories from a lot of people in other towns where the retailers just refuse to carry shelf copies of anything but Batman, Spiderman, X-men, etc. With many comics retailers (see the Hibbs article discussed a couple months back) not even knowing anything about manga and seemingly not willing to learn it's probably why a lot of manga readers who frequent comic shops still buy their manga at bookstores - it's hard for a potential reader to buy something when a store won't carry it.

Just how from a manga perspective, it'd make sense to ask what bookstores TCJ is carried at, while from the western comic perspective, you are surprised when stuff is outside of the direct market..


Sorry.. another yo-yo fanboy moment here :)

Russian swearing dilemma 

I don't have time to check if the original article is online, but I found this really funny:

"A recent article in the New Yorker discussed Russian profanity. Cussing had been kept out of the dictionaries for so long under communism that the politicians who want to legislate against it have difficulties. They can't propose that its illegal to use these terms without being among the first to print them. (Which would then be illegal.)

Unlike in the free world where every preteen has at some time looked up the 'naughty words' in the dictionary."

Best yo-yo article ever! 

I think it is safe to say that when you are a part of any kind of fringe hobby, you quickly realize that news isn't as reliable as you might hope. Articles are frequently full of misinformation and stereotypes that you don't notice unless you actually have knowledge on the subject. I'm happy to say that Reinventing the Yo-Yo from Science News Online is really well done.

It manages to cover the basics of what has really changed in yo-yoing over the years, in terms of general history, technology, and even talking about the newer styles of tricks. They even thankfully leave out the mythology of yo-yos starting as weapons.

There's a couple of minor quibbles (the reason for making a yo-yo so unresponsive that a bind is needed to get it back up is less about sleep times and more about the yo-yo not winding up prematurely during specific kinds of tricks), but they're just that: minor, especially considering the ground covered in such a small space. People from three or four different companies are quoted from, most of them people I've met or talk to online. The top illustration is nifty, and I'm pretty sure I know what trick it is from. Plus, there's the nice list of website at the end of it. Lastly, it was nice to see the SB-2 mentioned, as that was my first ball-bearing yo-yo and really what got me seriously back into yo-yoing as a young adult.

Cheers to Peter Weiss for a well-researched article, a seeming rarity these days... :)

[Thanks to TheFRC for pointing this out]

The Left Hand of Darkness 

Hmm... this has got me thinking. Some time last year I had started to read this at the library and something cause me to stop. I didn't get far enough in to really form an opinion. I guess I'll have to give it another shot one of these days.

Lots of other interesting recommendations spread throughout the article. I never did read anything else from UKLG like Lathe of Heaven or the Earthsea books. Seems like stuff that I would enjoy...

Yo-yos in Kung Fu Chaos? 

Hah.. this look funny (picture is in the response).

Hellboy breaks into manga top 5 

Well, it looks like the movie has catapulted Hellboy's first GN into second place in the bookscan list, with five other volumes in the top 100! Good news to be sure. It'll be interesting to see how long it keeps this up. As I've said before, I think this title has good potential due to how few volumes there are and the consistancy of them. Compared to the plethora of Hulk GNs out for that movie, Hellboy has a couple of numbered volumes on display at almost any store carrying comics.

Kenshin seems to be doing amazingly well. Even Hellboy can't beat out Kenshin vol. 4, which is still in the lead. Fruits Basket 2 was in third place, Naruto 3 in fourth, and DNAngel 1 in fifth place.

Edit: Sorry, looks like I read that wrong. The article says that Fruits Basket was in second place, not third and that the other two manga round out the top five. So, I guess that means Hellboy #1 is actually in third place overall instead of second. Sorry about that...

On CrossGen's stories... 

This entry from Jason Kimble is pretty interesting. It seems like he was one of the few people that actually made the effort to read all of CrossGen's up until the troubles began, so it is nice to see that perspective. In his opinion, despite good artwork and strategies, it seemed like it was flash without a lot of good content to back it up (except for Meridian).

I have to admit that I read very little of CrossGen's work, except for two TPBs from the library. One of those was Meridian, which I agree seemed pretty good. At that point it still seemed a bit like a watered down version of Nausicaa, but it seemed like it had a lot of potential...

Oh well, it is a shame how everything turned out all-around..

[from Thought Balloons]

Friday, April 16, 2004

Random Japanese artists (and some dolls).. 

So, I had an update mailing from one of the retailers, and they mentioned an art book by Miyako Hasumi. On a whim, I decided to do a search and actually came up with her site. I have to say there is some really nice work on there! A lot of it is not in a traditional manga style either and use some beautiful pastels.

It can be fun to follow links from artist pages around and see what you find. One site she linked to was that of Kaori Minakami, who has some really beautiful pictures, as well as some impressive Super Dollfie dolls (some pics here, and a spooky one).

Must be pulling in a decent wage to have so many different ones. Dollfies are so expensive...

Shoujo manga with an edge... 

During a thread mentioning the stereotype of all manga for girls being fluffy, anarticle on Yumi Tamura was brought up as a counter-example.

Good reading and everyone should check out Basara (coming out right now) or Chicago, which have been translated to English.


Wow! Everyone must check out this trailer. I was clicking around the Japanese Quicktime trailer site and was totally unprepared. This has to be like the coolest looking thing ever.. :) Also, at least one moment is very reminiscent of Magnus Robot Fighter. Looks like lots of cool robot-fighting action..

It is live-action, but apparently based on an old anime series from the 70s. I guess the plot is loosely based on Hamlet, and seems to have a very interesting cast of characters. Just goes to show how much bloated some movies are when something this nice looking can be done for just 6mil dollars. It seems like no one has picked it up for the US yet, so I'm hoping there will be a legit release in Japan, HK, or Korea with english subtitles (I have a multi-region player). How is it I have heard no buzz on this movie yet???

For links to synopsis, an interview with the director, and an overview of the original anime, go here.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

League of Corporate Mascots 

I'm not really familiar with the Hire, but who cares about the actual story when so much funny stuff is in the comments thread?

TCJ's "Downfall of manga" article 

So, aparantly TCJ is running an article mostly talking with Toren Smith (who use to be the head of Studio Proteus), who is predicting manga's eminant fall from grace. A sizable portion is quoted on the website here. Do I agree with him? Well, not so much, as I've written about in the past (note the corrections Dan makes in regards to his store in the comments section).

If you'd like a good variety of opinions both in disagreement and agreement, check out this thread (which is where I found out about the article in the first place). Lots of good comments on both sides of the fence from real fans of manga.

Barnes & Noble to publish exclusive manga hardcovers? 

According to carpboy, it sounds like B&N is likely to be publishing hardcover volumes of Akira, Trigun, and Oh My Goddess. Information is still sketchy and there have been no official announcements, but the OMG volume at least seems like it'll be the first three volumes in one (since it is listed as 464 pages), at about $15 which is a very nice deal. Trigun is listed as $12, so I'm guessing it'll be around the same size as the first DH volume. Akira is $15, but the original volumes were pretty large as well. What really seems up in the air at this point is the page dimensions of these. Are these going to be digest-sized like Buddha or the larger size that hardcovers frequently are?

I hate exclusives, but these do sound like they have the potential to be pretty nice...

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

More stuff tomorrow... 

If all goes well, I think I'll have some interesting stuff tomorrow, especially in regards to Magnatune, Free Culture, and related things like the Digital Art Auction. This is the kind of stuff I'm really interested in...

Hopefully I'm not getting sick. A co-worker had some really bad stuff recently, and I'm trying to avoid that. Yesterday I was energy city, but this morning I was dead to the world (thankfully improved a bit later on). My interesting thing for the day was seeing The Sting with Robert Redford and Paul Newman. A really well done movie I must say! I also got to the library and read the first chapter of Planetes #2 (my own copy), along with taking out two books. One about Irish folklore (which purports to be direct from older folks throughout the country instead of rehashes of the same tales that are in many books) as well as a biography on the Brothers Grim. It seems like that one also goes into the various iterations of the stories and why they chose certain versions, so that could be very interesting...

Just copied more pics of my digital camera, which I really need to upload one of these days. I'm also getting a lot better at Unreal Tournament 2004, but more on that later.. :)

Sad and Depressing Movies 

Speaking of depressing stuff, here is agood thread on recommended sad and depressing movies. There's a couple in there I hadn't heard of before and sound interesting.

Wierd Al's parents die in accident... 

Geeze... talk about sad: Weird Al's parents die of accidental monoxide poisoning. :(

Monday, April 12, 2004


So, I was flipping channels and happened to see the new Hanson videos. I have to say that is a name I wans't expecting to see again. But I have to say it was pretty good. It seems like they've aged well and seem comfortable, instead of being messed up wasted weirdos.. ;) As for the music, nothing revolutionary, but it reminded me a bit of those country songs that aren't whiney or twangy. The slightly folky rocky type ones, where it is neither insanely depressing or sugary pop-ish. Sort of refreshing to see actually... heh

Giffen butchers "Battle Vixens" 

So, it looks like things have gone from bad to worse. As you may or may not know, Giffen was first brought in to Tokyopop for Battle Royale. He somewhat changed things (adding in a reality-TV element that was not there before) and also adding some Arnold-ish death phrases (like the infamous "red's not your color"). Some boycotted the release, but others didn't find the changes too too bad.

So, along comes Ikkitousen, a fanservicy fighting manga. After a name change to Battle Vixens, it seems like the content has really been messed with. It sounds like what little plot it has was removed completely and tons and tons of swearing and sexual language was added into it.

It is hard to tell just how much is Giffen and how much editor, but it is a real shame, even for a title like this that I wasn't much interested in. The great irony is a full four or five people on the thread talk about how they enjoyed Giffen comics as kids and it would have been a selling point if these were actually translations and not loose "adaptations".

To provide some contrast, Sarah Dyer's work on Kodocha (good timing considering my last post!) has been very well-received, and it is easy to see why in this interview on Seqential Tart:

ST: What kind of audience would appreciate Kodocha the most? Who are you writing to?

SD: Mainly, I find I'm writing for myself (obviously, keeping it all-ages). I think the book will appeal to a pretty wide range of readers, as it's not just "kiddie" material. At least I hope it will!


ST: What is the process of writing this translation like?

SD: Well, I get a raw translation that's pretty literal. I use that and the original comic to do the rewrite. Occasionally I will even look up expressions myself if I don't feel like the translation I have seems to match what's going on the images. Sound effects help with that a lot – the different sounds used can help me really figure out the intended mood of an ambiguous scene.
If you want some more technical info, my two main reference books are Kodansha's Romanized Japanese-English Dictionary and A Practical Guide to Japanese-English Onomatopoei & Mimesis, and my most important tool is the potato-chip-bag clip that I use to hold the volume I'm working on open in front of the computer!


ST: What's the most challenging about the process of translation?

SD: Two big challenges – the biggest one is that everything must fit within the confines of the original art. If a complicated japanese concept is expressed in just a few kanji, I am stuck with a tiny little balloon that the same idea in English has to fit in to. That can be rough. The other challenge is just that sometimes making sure the rewrite is really conveying the exact same emotion as the original version did can be difficult, especially as emotions are often expressed so differently in our two cultures.


ST: What is the greatest challenge of translating humour? What factors do you consider? What do you change?

SD: Well, the greatest challenge is making it funny. As far as changing stuff – the biggest consideration for me is the gist of what the character (usually Sana) is saying before the actual content. Is she being nonsensical? Is she making a very pointed joke that has to not only be followed literally but footnoted? Is she making a pun that has to be completely rewritten to make any sense in context?
We're really trying to keep localization to a minimum in Kodocha, it very definitely takes place in Japan and these characters are Japanese, so there will be no rice balls called doughnuts, if you know what I'm saying.

ST: Why is that authenticity important to Kodocha?

SD: I think it's important to any book – it takes place in Japan, the kids are Japanese, so if they love sushi or go someplace we don't have here, as long as it's understandable why change it?

I mean seriously, she even cites Nausicaa as one of her favorite titles! You can't get much more of a good attitude toward translating than she does.

Let's compare the above to this Battle Royale article:

For adapting the work, Giffen was given a tight Japanese-to-English translation of the story, but his assignment was by no means just to tweak a translation. "I told him to do what he felt he had to do," Paniccia said. "I told him to Giffenize it."

It was a charge Giffen was more than happy to accept. "It's a good story that Takami is telling," Giffen said. "What I do is go in and make bad scenes that much worse. I loved Battle Royale the movie, and also love the manga. I just wanted to do it right. I wanted to do justice to it, and I knew I couldn't get away with doing a straight translation, because it would be horrifyingly bad.

"A lot of times when you work on Japanese books, you realize that they have a different pacing from us, and they also have different visual and narrative shorthand," Giffen continued. "For example, somebody may be looking at someone else with gossamer eyes and thinking good thoughts about them, and the word balloons will just say the person's name - over and over, or spend two pages trying to get the name out. That wouldn't play with American readers.

" Battle Royale had stuff like, "I have to kill you first, because you would have killed me otherwise." The translation is right on the nose. You can't give that to an American audience. Specifically, in the scene where the wicked girl almost slices her friend's head off with a sickle - in the translation, she said, 'I had to kill you before you killed me.' No way - I changed it to 'Fashion tip, red's not your color,' as the dead girl lies on the floor in a growing pool of blood.

"There was another line, during the orientation where the students want to know what Mr. Kamon did to the lady at the orphanage. The scene of what he did is pretty graphic, and the original translation had him saying, 'Oh, I sexually assaulted her.'

"I wanted to make it worse. I changed it to, 'With the right persuasion, she was more than willing to share it around.' Not quite as literal as the translation, but it clearly, clearly expresses just how sleazy and reprehensible Kamon is. That's the way it is with all the graphic content in the book - it's there, and some of it is even of a sexual nature, but it's not like you're going to enjoy it for its own sake. It's my job to make sure you don't."

It's a tightrope, Giffen explained, that he has to walk in adapting the work for American readers. Go too far, and you can end up writing your own story. Don't go far enough, and you end up with a jumbled mess that halts the story.

"To do this right, you've got to keep the basic flavor of the original work - this is a guy who wrote the original novel who's doing this, so you can't go in and completely rework it and change it around, but you've got to filter it for American audiences," Giffen said. "You've got to massage it a little bit and see if you can move it just to a place where an American audience will appreciate it.

"Being able to go in there and while keeping the tone, tweaking it a little bit, I'm able to put my voice in. Rather than making it 'mine' though I'm doing a lovely two-part harmony with Takami. It's not my story, so I try to remain true to the spirit of the work. Sometimes that means dropping a colloquialism or adding blocks of copy that will allow the American audience to understand it the same way a Japanese audience would. The key rule that I always keep in mind though is: don't violate the story, don't violate the work."

Eeeh.. I don't know.. maybe I just have a different definition of "violating the work" than Giffen does. How is it that Tokyopop manages to do both extremes at the same time? Maybe you're getting a bit too big when editorial policies can vary so much from one title to another..

New Asian themed channel.. 

Wow! this sounds really cool. Anime, dramas, movies, subbed and dubbed, Japan, Korea, India, etc.. I really hope we get ImaginAsian on this cable system eventually!

The Day of 9-Page Threads 

Well two big things happened in the comics and anime worlds respectively. Marvel started up the Icon imprint for Powers and Kabuki and Kodocha (Kodomo no Omocha aka Sana's State) got licensed by Funimation.

The biggest thread on Icon I've seen thus far seems to be at Newsarama. I actually read all 9 pages and between the various good and bad posts were a lot of copies of official postings by all the parties involved providing some more solid information. So, what do I think?

Well, it does seem like Image will still be fine, but not so good for public perceptions. It is nice that Marvel is aparantly doing a creator-owned label with no strings attached (seems like Marvel has not rights for licensing or movies), but it remains to be seen how many other titles will actually come into this imprint. For now, it seems very much like a special case as a reward for some of the more popular Marvel creators. It'll be interesting to see how much the move affects sales numbers on these titles.

Also, just to re-iterate something a lot of people seem to be missing, while details haven't been revealed it seems likely it is somewhat similar to the Image setup, where Marvel charges a fee for printing, distribution and publicity while the creators work on their own time and get the rest of the profits. While there might be some sort of upfront payment to Bendis et. all (and that is by no means certain), I'm sure it is nothing like the usual work-for-hire rates. If you keep in mind that creator costs is one of the major parts of the cost of putting together a comic book, Marvel has a lot less to worry about when it comes to breaking even. They could probably sell significantly less copies than they are now and still have no worries of cancellation.

This sort of thing is also why Image's bottom line won't hurt too much. There might be a percentage of sales for Marvel (or not), but in Image's case it is a flat rate. Image gets the same amount or money for a comic, no matter how much it sells. Image could replace these with any other titles and still make as much momey.

The other big thread is on animeondvd.com For those of you not into the fandom, it probably doesn't seem like that big of a deal, but this has been one of those series that fans have been clamoring for for years, and one of those "It will NEVER be licensed" titles. One more sign of the apocalypse comes to pass! ;)

Kodocha is a really fun title, one where if you read the plot, you'd probably figure that you wouldn't like it. The original manga is already coming out, but I think this is a title where being animated gives it something a bit extra. The energy and craziness just about pops off the screen. If Funimation manages to get Kodocha on television, that'd be quite an amazing day, especially if it manages to be relatively unedited (the series has no nudity or graphic violence, but sometimes does address serious issues).

Image too weird? 

Is it me, or does anyone else find this post depressing?

"Well once again, talking with the owner of my comic shop, he thinks it will be great from a business standpoint. Back when Image was super popular he said he'd have guys that would just tell him to put every Image book that came out in their box each month. As Image started doing more and more of these 'other' titles and less of their main superhero type titles, people were dropping their Image titles. Not just a title here and there, 'yea just drop all the Image books, some of these books are getting too wierd for me.'

They should focus on getting that back, the superhero stuff, the popular stuff. In addition to the 'other' stuff. I guess my point is, they need to get back to the point where they've got more recognizable stuff out there again. Like Spawn, its still one of their better selling titles. But what if they started focusing on it again. Do something big with it, Todd's main focus now is his toyline, which he makes tons of money off of. But what if he started working towards making Spawn that top selling comic that it was back in the day. They could do the same with some of the Top Cow stuff."

Media Blasters manga open to submissions 

Just noticed this on the AoDVD homagepage:

The Media Blasters manga line also plans to develop their own properties, and recenly accepted open submissions.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

Black's Matrix performance.. 

Not sure how many reading this will be interested, but a Japanese yo-yo player named Black has a really nice freestyle online themes on Matrix. I really like how it was choreographed. It is the top one on this page.

Carl Horn joins Dark Horse 

This newsis pretty old now, but I forgot to mention it at the time. Seems like Dark Horse is really beefing up lately.

Seed of Destruction... 

So, I got the first Hellboy volume today. Media Play seems to have all of the volumes at 30% off (even if there is no sign, ask at the register), so a pretty nice deal. For once, I actually read something that I just bought and it is pretty neat. It is fun in an old pulp type way (alluded to somewhat by the intro text I think), and the artwork is really nice. There are probably spoilers below, so beware:

Hellboy himself is a pretty neat character. I see what people were saying now about him being a resigned fix-it type guy. Reminds me a little of Bannon from Johnny Quest actually. It is pretty neat that Hellboy is technically 50 years old, actually. I think he probably captures how someone who is older but still in top condition might be like. Abe Sapien seems like an interesting character, as well as Liz. The designs on all the various characters are very interesting.

As for faults? Well, maybe it is from being so used to manga, but it almost seems kind of rushed. Like there isn't a lot of time for any kind of real buildup. The stuff with Rasputin (was a nice touch that he was never actually named in the book that I could see btw) and the end of the world, it almost seems like something you'd have happen at the end of a series. Like he'd be manipuating thigns from the shadows and it'd all build up to that fateful encounter. Then again, perhaps Mike wants to stick to interesting episodic stories and wanted to get that arc-ish stuff out of the way? Of course maybe Rasputin is alive and there's the mystery of Hellboy's hand and all of that, so I suppose it could all come back eventually...

I guess my other thing is the lack of development on the characters. It makes sense in that they've all been working together for some time, but Abe and especially Liz barely get any "screentime". Also, Liz gets stuck as the damsel in distress pretty quick it seems... I take it Abe and Liz get explored a bit more in the future volumes?

So, in the end I enjoyed it, but I'm not sure if it felt like it had too too much impact on me. Then again, I'm thinking this might be one to grow on me over time. I wasn't much into Cowboy Bebop or Kenshin at first either, but they did grow on me over time..

Saturday, April 10, 2004

Those music videos... 

So, I was bored last night and decided to watch some of the digital MV channels (MTV2, MTV Jams, and Fuse). Some random thoughts:

The video for Maps from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs was pretty interesting. Not so often that you see a lead singer who seems like she is literally going to break down during the number...

I've only seen a couple of vids from AFI, but seem to be pretty enjoyable. This song (can't remember the title) with the singer perched on a high outcropping really reminds me of some JPop bands I've seen. Just the whole vibe (of a lot of different videos lately actually) reminds me of when I d/led some jpop videos a couple of years back.

Scary experience when I saw a video by Mario (can't remember his last name) and next to his name it said: Featuring P. Diddy and Enya. I was like "what the?!?!" It didn't end up being nearly as odd as I thought it would be, with Enya doing some very soft almost synth string stuff in the background and Puffy doing his usually rap for 20 seoncs be in every video ever made routine..heh.

In another combination I wasn't expected, one of the Kids in the Hall guys is in the new OutKast video.

Lastly, while the industry isn't in the most amazing place, and I'm sure the normal MTV station is worse than these, I still find it interesting that things seem more "mixed" than they used to be. It seems like you can have a sugary sweet pop song, then some rap, then some punk, then some rock, then some grunge, then some combination of all of the previous at once..heh. Seems to be lots of retro creeping into everything also...

Friday, April 09, 2004

T-shirt (and wrapping) Hell 

So, I stumbled onT-Shirt Hell today. Some crazy stuff in there (site isn't all that work-safe) that I won't be wearing any time soon, but also a couple of fun ones.

But there are a lot of t-shirt sites out there. I think one of the more unique producs on the site is Wrap Hell, different kinds of wrapping paper! The Biohazard and Thought That Counts ones would be fun for all kinds of things, the skulls for any gothy friends and some of the others are pretty funny. Be the odd one out at your next party.. ;)

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Lots of talent for The Hire? 

Hmmm... this has Bruce Campbell and Otomo involved? No idea what it is about, but I have to say the linup has peaked my interest...

Cine-manga sparks good manga discussion... 

Ironically, this article on the new "cine-manga" deal on Newsarama sparked a pretty good discussion of crossover between manga fans and american comic fans. This reminds me of when I first started posting and blogging. :)


I'd heard the name bandied around before, but this was the first time I really saw a description of it. I have to say it sounds really interesting. I have some experience with that strange half-dreamworld of trying to sleep myself...

1000 Steps to World Domination.. 

Hmm.. this sounds like a lot of fun! An attempt to take over the world through cartooning... :)

Bone Bone Bone... 

You know what? I think I really need to start reading Bone one of these days...

Shonen Shoujo ratio... 

So, there has been an interesting thread about Shoujo (manga aimed at girls) versus Shonen (boys), along with Josei (young ladies to older) and Seinen (young men to older). In it, witega did a nice research attempt:

Okay, so out of boredom, I used the Manga comparison chart to see how much of what was currently being published and here's what I got:

josei: 3
seinen: 48
shoujo: 98
shounen: 158

1) I left out the Chinese Manhua but included Korean Manwha because my circumstantial observation is that the market for colored Kung-fu comics is distinct from the general manga buying pool.
2) I can't swear that I identified everything correctly--I'm particularly shaky on some whether some series fall to seinen or shounen, but I think the overal trend is pretty accurate.
3) I included only series that are currently publishing (in 1st or 2nd editions) or completed within the last 6 months.

Clearly shounen does still outnumber shoujo and when you see it as shounen+seinen vs shoujo+josei, the originally male-targeted series greatly outnumber the originally female targeted series.

Many thanks to witega for taking the time to count these out, and it was a good idea to focus on the currently going or recently ended series. So, while the two still aren't equal, it is nice to see some real evidence of how far shoujo has come in the market. It seems like the real area we need some growth is josei. We have a fair amount of seinen like Berserk, Battle Royale, City Hunter, etc. but it seems like most josei has been limited to stuff from Erica Sakurazawa, Junko, and some of the steamier shonen ai stuff. Let's hope we can keep on in this direction and get even more diversity into the marketplace..

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Eisner replacing Disney on statue??!?! 

What in the world!?! (it is the 4/1/2004 entry). I really hope that is a clever April Fools joke, or else Eisner really is crazy...

A real working Akira bike! 

Is this cool or what? [from a post on AoDVD]

It bears repeating... 

I'm pretty sure I blogged about this in the past, but I'd say it is important enough to bring up again. Be sure to check out Ghost Town, a picture tour of an abandoned city near Chernobyl by a woman who enjoys riding her motorcyle through the area (and is the daughter of a nuclear scientist). It has actually been updated a lot since the last time I saw it. More pictures and descriptions and the english has been cleaned up a bit.

It really is haunting and something I think everyone should see at least once.. At 27 pages of material, it really is a great service that she has done for everyone to be able to see these images and find out more about what really happened at the time. I know that I was pretty ignorant of the current state of things there and some of the details of what got it that way, and I'm glad I was able to get a better understanding from someone who's actually there. Stuff like this is why I love the internet...

My Mom is cool... 

You know, for all those times that I have frustrations with my Mom (which is only natural..heh), I have to say that I really am lucky. What got me on this line of thinking? Well the latest thing was that I had the Action channel on to tape the Cowboy Bebop movie (I finally will get to watch the thing!) and with no prompting from me at all, she decided to watch the original Vampire Hunter D that was on (I was first in another room watching TV and then on the computer), and she said she loved it. Lately she's also been watching shows on the On Demand version of Anime Network. How cool is that?

Not to mention that her favorite comic is probably The Tick, and lately she picked up Psychic Academy and Rune Soldier Louie during a recent sale (I ended up finally getting the Nausicaa re-issue and gave Darkside Blues a shot on a whim..). She liked Spirited Away and Castle of Cagliostro and Kiki's Delivery Service.

She's always been supportive of my yo-yos and juggling and can do a little bit of yoing, poi, and juggle three balls. And I'm sure I wouldn't be the person that I am if it wasn't for her belonging to the Sci-Fi Book Club for many many years (she doesn't even have to send back the forms to say she doesn't want stuff anymore..heh). I grew up with bookcases full of fantasy and sci-fi books. I went to the library a lot, but Shannara, Pern, Amber, Belgariad, Last Herald-Mage, Wuntavor, Support Your Local Wizard, Soul Drinker, Hero and the Crown... those were all books on the shelves at home that I could pick up anytime...

Not to mention computers, getting a Tandy 1000SL, a typing program to learn, willing to pay for a BBS even on our 2400 modem and going on with me to chat and play MUDs (she was more into Illusions than I was at some point..heh). I'd say she's better at Tetris than I am now..

And for all that she's shy about talking about sex stuff (as most parents are..heh), she was still able to say stuff when I was young like "You know.. if you happen to find out you are gay or something, you know that that wouldn't matter to me right?" As it turns out, I'm not, but that seriously would have been a load off of my back if I was..

I hear so many stories from the different communities I'm in of parents who are barely tolerant or outright against stuff like yo-yos or comics or anime or video games, and I really feel like I am lucky to have a pretty cool Mom.. :)

Snake in the Eagle's Shadow... 

I had the chance to see the whole of this early Jackie Chan film today. I'd seen the ending a while back, so it was nice to be able to see the whole thing. I have to say that it is a really enjoyable movie. Yes it is a kung fu fighting film with a simple plot, but it has two things going for it. First of all the fighting itself (along with the training). The good movies like this really are like watching a dance. All the intricate moves and being able to actually see the differences between the styles. And while there is some cheating here and there it is a long ways from the wire-fu of today. These guys have some major skills and it had to have taken ages to choreograph the routines. And of course Jackie himself in his youth was really a sight to see. If you've only seen his recent films, it'd probably be a revelation to see his extraordinary physical condition.

The other thing is that there is some real heart in here. I think just about anyone can sympathise with his character's plight in the beginning. Youthful but downtrodden being abused by people and not knowing what he can do about it. And the character of the old man who teaches him really is a kind father figure to him. He trains him hard with a mischivous nature, but never mean-spirited. This is just one of those movies that is fun to watch and pretty uplifting in the end. :)

Ali Smith... 

Well.. I got to this page because of the Peanuts review (from Thought Balloons). But I have to say that Ali Smith book sounds pretty interesting...

Tarantino's Animated Prequel to Kill Bill 

Hey now.. this is pretty interesting news. I was a bit so-so on the first movie overall, but the quality on the animated segment was very good. They mention in the article about how this and Animatrix could expose more people to anime, but I think the bigger picture is it exposes people to animation that isn't for kids. Both of these are franchises with a lot of exposure and in both cases the directors have chosen to go with some animation to portray parts of the stories. I think that may help to validate animation as a regular medium more than a lot of other stuff could...

Cine-manga pays off.. 

Interesting that they give some semi-exact figures:

In 2003 Tokyopop sold more than 670,000 volumes of its three Cine-Manga releases, Finding Nemo, Kim Possible, and Lizzie McGuire, and this success has led Tokyopop and Disney to expand the program for 2004.

I'm not sure if each of those had multiple volumes or not? Still a lot of sales in there. I'm a bit of two minds here. On the one hand, these are just screen grabs arranged like comics. Still, I suppose there are worse things out there...

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Magazine Circulation Drops 

Scary stuff in this article. However, I think it is interesting to note that Newtype USA has been very successful and that while Shonen Jump's sales after returns isn't what some (including me) trupeted, it is still pretty significant. More so the fact that Jump increased the number they give to advertisers as their garunteed minimum copies sold of each issue for this year.

Considering the article says that many magazines actually missed their advertising promises this year, it seems like a good sign for Jump's strength at the moment. I hope there is room for some more anthologies, though...

Dreamwave in the manga format... 

Seems like everyone is going for digests these days. I'd say it is probably a smart move. There is certainly a place for big editions and deluxe hardcovers, but I think quite a lot of people just want the story in a cheap and easily accessable format.. $11 does seem very reasonable for a color collection. I don't have much interest in Duel Masters, but Transformers could be interesting. As it is, I still haven't read any of the newer Transformers comics, but I'd really like to one of these days.

And as much as I hate to say it, I just find myself having trouble spending on more expensive GNs for the most part...

Punisher promotion doesn't go far enough? 

Well, on the surface this seems like a good idea. A company finally doing some serious cross-promotion. However, is it me or did they still drop the ball? They're including a reproduction of Punisher's original appearance.

Now that is kind of cool in itself, but what are they trying to achieve exactly? I think a lot of people already know Punisher comes from comics. For those that didn't know, now they will.. BUT it is an old comic. Besides the fact that it probably reads old and might not seem as relavent to the readers, it also doesn't clue them into the fact that there are still Punisher comics being made. Or comic books being made at all.

It tells the movie-goers where the property came from, but how about where it is now? Wouldn't it have been a lot better to give them the first issue of some new Punisher series and get them hooked? Or I suppose they could point them to a collection of the early stories to continue this first issue directly, but does such a collection currently exist? Punisher Essentials?

I hope that it at least has a big reference to the Comicbook Locater Service somewhere as well as information on other Marvel comics that are availible. Otherwise, what is the point really? I mean it is cool for the fans and collectors, but isn't the point of this to get more people reading their comics?

Humanoids Coming... 

So, it seems like they will be a pretty good deal. I think some people were worried that these were going to be digest-manga sized, but they'll only be a bit smaller. With Technopriests or Metabarons at $15 each, I think I'll probalby give at least one of those a shot. Good stuff...

Variations on a theme... 

For some reason I feel like Cartman when he says "That's what I say!" when his Mom says he's just big boned. Christopher on this Previews Review has the following to say:

Two interesting new manga this month from Viz’s SHONEN JUMP line of books. Though these titles aren’t being serialized in the actual magazine, they are similar in tone and intended audience: namely, boys adventure stories for ages 12 and up. It’s interesting that, in direct opposition to the North American comics market, the Japanese have decided to do an infinite number of genre variations on a theme, rather an infinite number of thematic variations on a single genre. Instead of “Superhero comics for every kind of consumer!” it’s “Every kind of comic for one type of consumer”, and then multiplied across different kinds of consumers. This month’s new releases are Hikaru No Go, about a 12 year old boy who gets possessed by an ancient spirit who plays the game Go (think Chinese Chess versus Chinese Checkers), and Bleach, about a boy who can see ghosts and decided to work to protect people from evil spirits. Hikaru No Go’s adventures take place on the chessboard, as he enters competitions and beats new opponents at the game. Bleach out in a ‘real’ world just next door to our own. Both became ridiculously popular in their native Japan, with Hikaru No Go reviving the once-moribund sport of Go and feeding thousands of children into “GO” tournaments with the same fervor that they entered Pokemon and YuGiOh tourneys… Comic books as the barometer of cool… Fare be it from me to restate the obvious, but maybe the Japanese approach, by drawing on new genres and ideas and keeping the same basic themes MIGHT be onto something that is… missed… by infinite variations on the same genre and idea? Something to consider.

I'm glad to see I'm not alone in noticing this, and I think that methodology is a not a bad way to go in general. Superheros started off mainly as entertainment for kids, boys especially. What are that group usually into? Action, adventure, battles, striking visuals, etc. You can have a character who is a hero and fights evil and has a distinctive visual look without necessarily delving into the surface attributes we associate with western superheros like spandex and codenames.

Think about cartoons in the 80s. Transformers and G.I. Joe and Thundercats and He-Man/She-Ra all have battles and teams of good fighting evil. Yet the surface details tended to be different. Two are in the "real world" and two in totally fantasy worlds. Of the real world, one is (somewhat) more grounded in a military sense while the other is more sci-fi. For the other two, one has a protagonist with a secret identity and the other doesn't.

On the surface they seem to be totally different, but there is a lot of underlying themes that are the same. Slam Dunk and Hikaru no Go have some similarities. They both have a main character who initially had no interest in a competitive activity, but eventually prove to excel at it after a lot of hard work. But one is about basketball with a character who starts playing in order to impress a girl. The other has a kid starting to play a stuffy old strategy game because of a ghost that attaches itself to him, and all it wants is to play the game again.

Taking the more superhero approach would be to do something like take basketball and try to find all the possible variations. Basketball with romance, basketball with mysteries, basketball in a sci-fi setting, a horrific creature stalks a basketball team, etc. Now, all of those stories could be good and it gives some unique combinations of stories you might usually not have. But still, not matter how good the romance or horror is, I think a lot of people are just not interested in basketball, making it a harder sell for them. I'd say it is easier to dismiss a bunch of basketball comics than it is to dismiss some comics centering on competition and action, a couple of which deal with Basketball..

Anyway, enough of that from me. I haven't read any Bleach yet, but Hikaru no Go is a lot of fun. I was in chess club a bit when I was younger, so the theme is that much more familiar to me. If you think a comic about a board game can't be exciting, you are sorely mistaken. And remember, Go isn't some game that marketers made up to sell to kids, but an old respected game like Chess. Just as in the comic, games like that aren't as popular as they used to be, but one can only hope this comic causes more to learn...

More Girl Power... 

Stuff like this is so nice to see. Aparantly so far this year, the third best selling manga on Bookscan was Fruits Basket, with Saiyuki also in the top 10 and Hana-kimi doing very good as well. If there was any doubt before about titles for ladies being able to sell...

Shaolin Soccer finally released... 

Well, I saw the original version subtitled a while back and really enjoyed it. Now comes the news that Miramax is FINALLY releasing it to theaters. I'm glad to hear it'll be subtitled, but if the minutes are correct, what did they find a whole half-hour worth of stuff to cut out? I'm hoping there's just confusion over the special edition versus regular or something (there was two versions in HK). And besides, I think this would have been much more effective to have been released closer to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, both in terms of martial arts and subtitles.

Oh well, hopefully it'll still be a fun movie and prove somewhat popular. It could get people more interested in Chow's other movies..

Saturday, April 03, 2004

Food for thought... 

Some food for thought from jericho1368:

Maybe comics should just start doing mini series of every title and every time they finish a story with a creative team, start it over with a new number one. That'll keep sales high since everyone buys a number one!

As for my bud who never read a comic before and went into a shop to buy a Spiderman comic after seeing the movie and saw umpteen different Spidermans titles, all with different numbering -- the main one jumping from 58 to 500 making him think comics were like one big rubiks cube, who ended up trying a handful and not finding one decent story in any of them and thus, never bought one again, my thoughts were, good job guys.

The way some series seem to reboot and change so much with the creative teams, I almost wonder if constant mini-series wouldn't be a bad idea at times.. ;) Unfortunately, I agree about the rubik's cube comment. I'm hoping that if Hellboy does well at the box-office, that the straightforward numbered volumes will help with sales. At just about any store I've been to with comics, whether a shop or bookstore, there is a Hellboy display. But unlike the Hulk displays of the past, these aren't a bunch of unrelated stories stuck on the same display. Also, in the article I posted the other day, anyone else notice how many times the original comics were brought up? This movie doesn't seem afraid of its roots, which is another nice change. :)

Friday, April 02, 2004

Matt Maxwell on comic stagnation... 

I agree so much with this article. I kind of wish we had the setup in Japan where people can sell off amateur fanfiction versions of popular comics without companies cracking down. I can't help thinking that a lot of the time the Marvel/DC stuff is like its own ongoing semi-controlled fanfiction. Good stuff can certainly come out of it, but is it worth it in the end?

If you look at something like Cerebus, that stated off as a Conan parody. But because it was someone else doing it, they were able to veer off and explore vastly different territory. Now I still haven't read Cerebus and obviously the territory he ends up going into at the end is of much debate, but isn't it a lot more interesting in the end than if it was a sanctioned comic done by the Conan rights-holder?

While I can certainly appreciate that certain characters are an archetype and are made powerful by many people doing their own take on it, what if someone just takes the archetype instead of the character? At first it'll probably just be copycat, but there's the potential that it'll change more and more over time, becoming something else entirely. But with the work-for-hire, there is always the company to reign things back if they move too far from the original and always new people to come in with their own fanfictions based on the story of their youth.

It is almost like this particular set of characters have taken over. They've been done so many times and become so powerful in terms of the fans and the creators that it can stifle bigger variations. There is that certain feeling where if someone made a character like Batman "Well.. that's just a rip-off of Batman. Why read that when I can read the real thing?" It can be reassuring to have that certain base to work with. To know that things won't get too far away from the original concept, but that also means that the potential for real growth can be curtailed.

Like Matt, it isn't that I hate superheros or even dislike some of the stories that have been done. It is just that I really have trouble being excited about yet another version of Batman or X-Men when I could go for something completely different instead or frankly even a book inspired by those two that have the freedom to go into new directions...

Buddha weighs in... 

Yikes! For some reason I was thinking Buddha was only two volumes, but aparantly it is six total. A whopping $150 to pick it all up (at full price), but they certainly seem to be good quality. If I enjoy the story, I may have quite a library in store...

The Comic Book Guy 

I just found the site of The Comic Book Guy, which has some nice reviews of both manga and american comics as well as a couple of articles and interviews. There's also contact information for a couple of publishers, which could be handy.

It is pretty neat to see a review of Bone and Hikaru no Go on the same site. :)

Bad manga (reviews of) 

I like to sometimes offset my manga enthusiasm with some reality checks. ;) Check out this thread on AoDVD on manga that people didn't like. This is actually a pretty good thread, with people admitting that it is just their opinion, not falling into flame-wars, and some of the people explaining why they didn't like them, along with a couple of defenses.

I think I've personally been pretty lucky, but I do tend to like most stuff, and I also still don't have as much manga as anime. Of course I also have a bazillion #1s and not so many following volumes... ;) I think if I sit down and say "I'm not starting any new series until I get some more volumes for my current ones" that'll help me separate what titles I'm really enjoying.

BTW, if you don't feel like reading the thread, the concensus seems to be that Bomber Girl is one of the worst series around. Don't see much love for Demon City Hunter either...

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Johanna reviews more manga.. 

Johanna has four very nice reviews up at Comics Unlimited. The titles are Chobits, Paradise Kiss, Kodocha, and Maison Ikkoku. Always nice to see more reviews out there. :)

[from Tim]

Hellboy's Bumpy Road 

Actually.. before I got distracted by a Secret War, Tim links to a great article on Hellboy. It is crazy the stupid ideas that the executives had and I'm so glad that del Toro stuck to his guns. Even if I end up hating the finished movie (which I doubt), I think you have to appreciate what was went through by him and Ron. BTW, while several movies were mentioned in the article, everyone should check out the City of Lost Children. Perlman does a great job portraying a childlike strongman and overall it is just a really imaginative dark fairy tale of a movie.

Just because it bears repeating:

"An executive said to me, 'What about a regular actor who gets angry and turns into Hellboy?"' said del Toro, wrinkling his face in disgust. "I go, 'That's ---- not ---- very good.

"Then they would say, 'What if you call him Hellboy and he comes from Hell and all that, but he looks like a guy?' Then they would suggest things like, 'Can he have a Hellmobile?' 'Can he have a dog? A pet dog that comes from hell and is red?'

"It's funny when you say it," del Toro said in his Encino office while the film was being edited. "But it's not funny when it happens."

Scary stuff...

Tim Wages Secret War.... II 

All I can say is Yikes! It may be April Fools, but the terror is real... BTW, I counted and his blog homepage is 65 pages for one long entry! Yikes again..

Gem Awards... 

Hmm.. looks like the usual suspects. But what's up with a separate Manga GN category? I'm curious on the exact reasoning for that. Did they just want to give a nod to a growing part of the industry or is it another way to keep it separate? Why is it that Spirited Away wins Best DVD (no Anime DVD category) while the comic side is split up?

[from Grim]

Ian Edginton on CrossGen 

This is a really good interview and quite disturbing... At this point, I won't get anything from CrossGen unless the rights are bought out by someone else entirely... Such a sad state of affairs..

[from Grim]

Jamie on the industry... 

I disagree with Sean that Jamie's "anger burns with the white-hot fire of a thousand suns" in his article, but I definitely agree with what he has to say. While I generally optimistic about the industry and life in general, there are times that I share his sense of melancholy and frustration. I still see a lot of good things happening but there's still a long way to go... I think that we've long since hit the point where things are changing and they'll never go back to where they used to be, and I don't think that's such a bad thing either, no matter what some people might think...

Paul's Superhero DM article... 

So, Paul O'Brien's new article on the place of superheros in the DM seems to have generated some discussion of late, and Sean has also weighed in on the subject.

Now, I agree with some of Paul's points. For instance, I definitely agree that are more superheros (in the specific sense) in the DM than in other areas and that other genres have to compete more with other mediums. I also agree that there is confusion between being a "comic fan" and mostly reading comics for the sake of superheros. The latter I think has especially been a big problem in the past and still comes up even now, though not as often. I'd also agree that it isn't the superhero fan's job to support other comics just for the sake of propping up diversity in the industry (but I do think it is in the companies' best interests to explore options).

However, I feel like I do have to poke some holes. First of all, there is a certain dependance on how you define superheros themselves. People with special powers who fight evil is hardly a unique concept, even the concept of secret identities. Tales as old as Hercules were adventure stories with a powerful protagonist and there are plenty of examples in other fiction. I think something to keep in mind here is that a lot of what makes "american superheros" what they are, is some fairly specific attributes. I think what drew quite a lot of people to them in the first place aspects besides those specific attributes.

Basically, I think most people don't really care about superheros so much as they want some exciting action stories will colorful characters with cool powers. Stuff like the Spider-Man movies are doing well because of the great special effects, good story, action, etc. not so much that it is a superhero story specifically.

What am I getting at? Well for instance (as this is my area of expertise), manga is barely mentioned in passing, as another genre that people who can't find what they want in other mediums become fans of. But I don't think that's all that accurate. There is a lot of stuff represented in it, a lot of which is in other mediums. But to start with, I think some of it is competing with superheros on a more direct level.

I mean Rurouni Kenshin is very much like a superhero story. A skilled swordsman who used to be a killer decides to become a wanderer who never kills again, while protecting the innoncent. He is pretty distinctive with his reddish hair and clothes. He has amazing superhuman moves that he can pull off with his sword. He encounters all kinds of bad guys with their own distinctive looks and powers, etc. What about YuYu Hakusho with a kid who dies and ends up being brought back to fight demons as a "spirit detective". He has some fairly specific moves (spirit gun, etc.) and generally wears the same clothes. He ends up meeting up with several other people and they form a team. Each has their own powers and actually their clothes are each a distinctive color. One can move really fast and has a sword, one has a light-saberish spirit sword and has some psychic powers, one can control plants, etc. DBZ has a lot of superhero-ish elements and at the end of its run even had a fun poke at the American version with Gohan becoming the "Great Saiyaman". And those are not just comics but animation on TV and movies.

This isn't even getting into all of the YA and fantasy novels over the years. Anyone ever read the Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper? The kid in that gets caught up in all kinds of fantastical elements of legends and being able to move through time, while not having his friends family finding out. Last Herald-Mage trilogy from Mercedes Lackey has the main character eventually becoming a godlike figure with massive powers. He is a legend in his own time, but is also extremely isolated due to people being afraid of him. He becomes a real legend in other books in that world after his death..

When you combine all of that with the fact that a lot of people have particular preconceptions of what superheros are all about or that it is all rehashes that have lost their sense of experimentation and magic (I don't really agree with that but that's not the point), you could see that there is trouble. For all the complaining about other genres having more options in other mediums, I'd venture to say that part of the reason superheros are having problems is exactly that. They don't care about superheros so much as they want exciting stories and there is quite a lot of variety of that out there in other forms. And for a lot of manga stories, often the protagonists are young and gain more power through hard work. That gives a certain sense of empowerment ("Hey.. I can get better too!"), and the fact that a lot of series ends means there can be some real growth over time..

The other thing I want to bring up is the concept itself that comics can't make it in genres that are represented well in other mediums. I think that is selling short comics, actually. Comics have the interesting property of being almost as inexpensive to make as novels (both can describe fantastical events without being more expensive) but comics also have pictures. This lets them be fairly experimental while still appealing to visual people and having a specific visual style involved.

I think the romance manga is a good example to take. Sean talks about a self-fulling prophecy in his blog and unfortunately I think that is often true. The new Mary Jane comic will probably be decent, but I think it could suffer from the current state of the DM. Not having tons of female readers means it needs a hook, basically that it has Mary Jane in it and Spider-Man will appear sometimes. And the fact that there aren't tons of titles like it in the DM means that it doesn't even have to be that good since the comic fans who are into romance will probably pick it up since there aren't many titles to begin with, and the bigger romance fans probably aren't shopping there to begin with. If you look at just the story itself, where is the hook? Woo, it doesn't involve superpowers and is a high-school romance. If you are a manga romance fan, you're probably yawning as it sounds so generic.

There are plenty of romance novels for YA and Adults. So why are tons and tons of girls buying up manga? Maybe they like what comics can bring to the table. Maybe they like the experimentation with visual style that can happen, where inner emotions can easily be directly shown on the page. I think the combination of cheapness and being availible in a different venue with a different name got them past preconceptions and they realized that comics could compete with the other mediums.

So, don't sell short the superhero-ish stories in other mediums and don't sell short comics itself. There are plenty of examples of imaginative stories in other mediums that people are gravitating toward and there examples of comics proving that even genres well-represented in other places can still be popular.

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