Friday, October 29, 2004

Manga superhero comes out on top? 

Started writing this a couple of days ago and then got busy again. Anyway:

I'm running a couple of days behind, but big thanks to Kevin for posting the list. I'm usually pretty depressed when I look at the top 100 list of monthly comic releases and less so at the graphic novels, since they seem more balanced. But looking at this tally of the year from various outlets, I can't help but feel a bit sorry for the shared universe superheros for once. 1602 in 25th place comes the closest since it has Marvel characters, but even that is an elseworlds.

However, taking a somewhat broader view, it is interesting to see that Kenshin seems to be the clear winner, with 5 volumes in the top 25, including 2nd and 3rd place. Why interesting? Because it is one of the most "superhero-ish" titles on the list. A character with seemingly superhuman skill who fights superpowerful villains while vowing never to kill again. Lots of battles, dark pasts, etc. The author is even a fan of Spider-man and the X-men, with some characters in the story modelled loosely on those.

IMO, it is less the superhero concept itself (in the broad sense) that many people take issue with, but a lot of the other aspects like spandex and shared worlds. Marvel and DC certainly have rich pasts and interesting concepts, but it seems like there is also a place outside of that for superpowered characters who fight evil...

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Akihito Yoshitomi's Ray... 

Out of these november manga reviews one of the ones that sounds the most interesting to me is Ray.

The premise of a world where some people are raised as organ doners and a woman who uses x-ray visian for medical purposes sounds really interesting. Also, this was done by the same creator as Eat-Man, and I had enjoyed the Eat-Man '98 series with it's episodic stories and quirky hero.

Also, I'm really liking the style of the artwork on the covers at least. You can see all 4 of french covers here.

One more thing to buy, eh?

Armored Trooper Votoms figure on ICv2 

Hah, I really didn't expect to see this on ICv2 today. I actually have the whole Votoms original series on DVD, and while I haven't had a chance to watch the whole thing, what I have seen has been a really cool oldschool series that a lot of people aren't familiar with.

Basically the tale of a good soldier who is betrayed and framed and seeks revenge, in a sci-fi setting. There is four main arcs, each taking place on a different planet.

This is a series I usually wouldn't have gotten due to the length of it (16 dvds), but these were an older release with subtitles burned into the video and so were on an amazing clearance at the time. If you happen to find any retailers that still have some of these in stock and at a good price, give it a shot. Just because something doesn't have the newest flashiest animation doesn't mean it isn't a good series. :)

Monday, October 25, 2004

Junko Mizuno's Halloween greetings... 

I know this is a bit early, but I'm sure I'll forget otherwise. Mizuno gets into the Hallooween spirit (as if she needed any help..heh).

Diamond's slow shipping on books... 

Geeze, previews reviews this week was a bit of an eye-opener. I'd heard before about comics retailers getting things like manga a lot later than bookstores. A lot of people (myself included) assumed that it was companies like Tokypop giving preference to the marketplaces where they make the most money.

But it seems like in almost all cases, companies ship to Diamond at the same time as bookstore distributers, with as much as a 15 day difference in some cases!

With the recent exclusive contracts by companies like Tokyopop for Diamond in comic shops, I really hope Diamond get their acts together. You'd think Diamond would be one of the companies most devoted to helping comic shops out compared to bookstores, but it sure doesn't seem that way...

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Once in a Blue Moon 

I have to say this series is looking pretty promising. I forgot all about it after the long delay, but the artwork looks pretty nice and I've always the enjoyed of idea of magic in the world, etc.. Obviously the concept of being transported into another land is nothing new (and the aknowledge liking Inuyasha in the interview), but it seems like they have a good handle on their particular storyline.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Muse's Time of the Month... 

I have to say that Ed's latest column (the first of them that I've read) was really nice to see. Advertising is always tricky, and the ad that Muse put together is great in so many ways.

Many of the aspects seem kind of self-evident when it is pointed out, but are easy to not think of. That Moore illustration and the store's logo and everything just seem a world away from what you might expect (a big swinging spidey.. etc). The only part that seems slightly icky (or at least not fitting wth the rest) is the font used for the "free" stuff, but it sounds like the owner didn't like it either and stayed because of time constraints.

Obviously not everyone can have the same results (getting a bunch of people who haven't read comics before and end up bying things), but this certainly seems a better attempt than many I've seen myself. I think the big lesson to take away is that you don't have to do a huge campaign. The big thing is to know what audience you are targetting. They went for a student crowd and were really careful to do something that looked interesting and wouldn't alienate either guys or gals. If your selection is trying to cater to people other than the usual suspects, the advertising really has to reflect that difference...

Nice going Muse... :)

Monday, October 18, 2004

On the Star Trek manga... 

So, we have more info. on the Star Trek manga, along with a couple of sketches. My thoughts echo some of the posters there as well as here. Basically I'm cautiously optimistic. I'm kind of so-so on the particular sketchs shown, but those Return of the Jedi panels that Horomoto drew are pretty nice. I'll have to think of picking up those Star Trek adaptations at some point. I remember flipping through them like a year ago and being impressed.

As for the creators, it does seem a bit odd like some pointed out that they'd go so far as having various Japanese artists, but have everything scripted by American authors. It isn't like they don't know Star Trek in Japan, and even Animatrix did a split approach. And I haven't read any of the novels, but everyone seems to agree that Peter David is one of the few good authors. Where is he in here? At least Jake Forbes of Sgt. Frog poetry fame is in there. Too bad his idea for a romantic comedy story got shot down by Universal..heh

I'm curious about the other artists that'll come on board. Someone mentioned they'd like to see Amato. I just crack up at the thought of that. Amato doing Star Trek would be crazy! :) Has he done any Star Wars work? That guy has a pretty amazing style (I love those Vampire Hunter D paintings and his Sandman stuff).

In closing, I can't help but poke a little fun at one of the RotJ pages. Especially that lower-left panel:

"Vador, I challenge you to a game... a Shadow Game!" :)

Tokyo Tribes gets an Extreme Makeover (in more ways one) 

I thought it was pretty interesting that Santa Inoue, creator of the Tokyo Tribes manga was going to be on Extreme Makeover. I read from somewhere that the kid was really into manga, and that's why they picked him to redo the kid's room. Unfortunately, according to FigNewton, the manga aspect was totally glossed over, just saying his name and that he was from Tokyo.

I can see them being worried about the content of his manga being associated with the show, but geeze you'd think if they had a celebrity guest they could at least allude to his occupation. It isn't like most people would know his comic was out in the US anyway.

Of course the Tokyo Tribes release has had its share of controversy in the manga community due to big black bars added over nudity. Personally, I'm not as much up in arms as a lot of other people are. It seems like Santa was ok with getting the age rating down slightly for better distribution and gave specific instructions on how to have things covered up.

My main reason for not being too perturbed is that while imagery of what is going on is being blocked out, you aren't being misled. In the Initial D editing, the company was trying to cover up a pretty important aspect of a character's story. Even in cases where a swimsuit is drawn over someone, that can change the dynamic of what's going on.

In this case the black bars almost seem like a subversive form of self-censorship, since everyone still knows exactly what is going on, but have to imagine part of it and (just as in many good horror movies) the imagination may make up something more graphic than was there to begin with.

It actually seems like an extesion of thinking from what has gone on in Japan for many years, where the most messed up stuff is possible to be made as long as certain things were mosaiced out. And as much as we might think of that sometimes as an oddity in Japan, the US is certianly no exception. For instance bleeping out swears on TV when it is totally obvious what is actually being said. Or stuff that happens on COPS or Howard Stern or whatever.

People might accuse Santa of caving in to pressure, but in a way this almost seems like beating the system. Instead of misleading readers into thinking the manga isn't so graphic, those aspects have actually been emphasized even more, without actually changing the story itself.... Hmmm...

500 Amazing Spidey comics for $50? 

Wow, even I am tempted by
this 11-cd cet. As with the other posters, I'm worried about what format the images will be in, as well as the default image viewer.

As far as quality goes, math may give us an idea: Say they are 700 meg cds. 700 x 11 = 7700 megs. Divide that by 500 and you get a bit over 15 megs per comic. You divide that by 32 pages and you get an average of 500k per page.

Of course there could be other content that whittles that down, but it still sounds like it could be good quality as long as it has decent compression.

I had got a Spirit cd-rom some years ago and was pretty disappointed overall, but this sounds like a pretty serious attempt. It also fits in better with the recent move by more and more people away from pure collectability and into just wanting to read a story. All that old content combined with the ads and letter pages makes it even more interesting for someone like me who is into pop-culture history.

If it is successful, let's hope they try it with some other series...

Anime in the theaters... 

Jen on the SeqTart board pointed out
this chart of current/lifetime information on various anime movies in the theaters. Sad to see Millennium Actress so far down, especially with reputations of Perfect Blue and Tokyo Godfathers. But nice to see the Ghibli stuff up there and GitS2 seemingly on the rise. I'm surprised the Bebop movie got up so high, though I really like the movie so it is great to see. I suppose the TV exposure helped. Pokemon seems pretty unbeatable at this point, though...

Jesus vs. Lucifer! Who rocks harder? 

Man, is this solicit for volume 4 of Sensual Phrase a bit out there or is it me? heh:

SENSUAL PHRASE, Volume 4 · MSRP: $9.95 · Available OCTOBER 12, 2004
Up until recently, Lucifer has been the hottest band on the radio. The combination of Sakuya’s good looks and Aine’s sexy lyrics has shot them straight to the top of the hit parade. But that’s all about to change. A new group by the name of Jesus is creeping up the charts. They’ve got the tunes and the sex appeal to rival even Lucifer’s scorching popularity. It’s the ultimate battle of the bands – Jesus vs. Lucifer! Who rocks harder?

I always find it amusing when a place like Japan takes something like Christian surface aspects to add some exotic flavor to a title. The West so often injects some random greek or egyptian or asian themes into something to make it more interesting, it is interesting to have the shoe on the other foot...

Worlds Finest Trailer 

Things on the family front seem to be working out now (and better than hoped), so here is something completely different...

Suzanne Lanoue posted a link to the SFTV mailing list mentioning a new fan-made trailer for a fictional World's Finest movie. I haven't had a chance to watch too many fan-videos since Troopers days, so this was cool to see. I have to say that it is really really well done.

Just from a standpoint of a trailer, it is paced well and shows a lot of teases without feeling like it gives away everything . The actors seem good, especially the guy playing Clarke, who really seems to pull off Superman. The special effects look good and there are some big sets with lots of people. It really looks like there could be a full movie that scenes are being taken from. I'm not up on DC lore or the World's Finest storyline, so I dunno who the kryoptite-chested baddie is, but looks sufficiantly evil..heh

Seriously, a studio should hire Sandy Collora to make a superhero movie. It seems like he'd certainly do a better job than most of people out there.

P.S. Sandy also made a short film called Batman: Dead End, which I haven't had a chance to watch yet, but is supposed to be really good.

Sometimes life just sucks... 

Man.. what a bad day today. I think I'm just fried... With my grandfather in the hospital for a week or so, we tried to take care of my grandmother, but because of the troubles with her mind and body, it just wasn't possible. My aunt's mother (and her mother) were able to take care of her last night, but they couldn't manage another night either, and everyone else was too far away to get here in time. So we scrambled around and now she's being watched over in the ER tonight, with finding a (hopefully temp) nursing home for her tomorrow.

Just been such a rollercoaster. After the experience of the first two nights, I think Mom was literally in shock yesterday. Thank goodness we didn't have to do last night or who knows what would have happened. So today was waiting at the hospitol for like three hours (lots of emergancies and obviously those have to go first) under false pretenses. Then the revealing of what was really going on and her actually being very lucid and saying it was ok. We were just so worried that she wouldn't know what was going on or be totally angry and betrayed. In some ways it almost felt worse that she was doing so well in that you start to have self-doubt. If only she was like that all the time, we would be able to manage...

In the end we were there almost 6 hours... I hope it can all work out in the end, but it is just hard to see someone you care about like that, and even more so for Mom since she's her mother. But it has to be worst of all for my grandmother. She has trouble talking most of the time (finding the words to express herself), can't really read anymore, etc. So even when she is lucid, there isn't much she can actually do, and she knows enough to know that there are other times when she isn't well. What kind of existance is that to be stuck in?

Oh well, I guess some things in life are just pretty messed up at times. I should try to get to sleep I guess.. I need to try to get to work tomorrow. I just feel pretty numb right now...

Friday, October 15, 2004

I feel a wave of amateur hentai coming... 

Having trouble getting that scene in your adult fanfiction comic just right? It sounds like you might need this DVD. ;)

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Gilles Chaillet's map of Rome... 

I believe Kevin first linked to an article on Chaillet's amazing achievement of a 11x6.5 foot detailed drawn map of Rome from 314AD, but I wanted to see what this thing looked like. Here is another article with a picture of part of it. I love detailed stuff like this. A year or so ago I got an amazing fanmade poster with hundreds of anime characters on it. You can spend hours trying to name all the characters on it. Cool stuff!

Netscape's Anniversary... 

Well, it looks like it has been 10 years since the first public beta of Netscape Navigator. My web browsing started with an early version Netscape, though I'm not sure quite which one. I had done internet stuff before that on the BBS I went to (e-mail, ftp by e-mail, then ftp and a bit of lynx), but by the time I got general net access, Mosiac was already on its way out. I remember upgrading to a newer version to get stuff like background images and a save dialog box.

Courtesy of that thread, here is the original press release (check out the feature list!), screenshots of an early beta (0.93), a copy of the original website (but set your default background to gray for full effect), downloads from 0.4 to 4.07.

It seems appropriate, since Firefox is nearly at 1.0 now. When one of my bosses at work installs Firefox and says it is "faster than IE" boy does that seem a long ways away from the old Mozilla builds I used just for the sake of being part of something exciting, but were barely usable!

Happy anniversary to the dinosaur that helped out the web. :)

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Bone in Color... 

So, I've finally seen the samples of Bone in color. I was skeptical of it being colorized, but I have to say that it looks pretty nice. I'll reserve final judgement until I actually see it in print, but it probably also helps that not having read Bone, I don't have so much attachement to the b&w version as of yet...

Still, all of Bone for $27 and free shipping? I may just save up and try to grab that before the stores run out of copies.. I probably should have asked for that on my birthday, though I did enjoy the two I got (Go: More Than A Game and Manga: 60 Years of Japanese Culture).

One day I'll finally read this series!

On previews review... 

Ok, so I know I haven't updated for a looong time now, and I'm sure no one is still actively reading, but maybe someone's still subscribed via RSS? In any case, here goes...

Chris has the new Previews Review up for October, and so much looks interesting. Money for me is super-tight right now so I probably won't actually be buying any of this for a while, but I have to agree with Chris when he said it looks like a good month. Here's some meta-commentary.. :)

Blue Spring

I have to say that I'm very interested in Blue Spring from Yaiyo Matsumoto. I haven't read any of his other works as of yet, but I saw the movie based on Blue Spring and was very impressed with it. The combination of great soundtrack, visuals, and Ryuhei Matsuda in the lead (also did a great job in Taboo, along with good supporting characters and an interesting story worked out well. I actually shouldn't focus too much on Ryuhei's character of Kujo since things really revolve around him and his best friend Aoki. Reminded me of the anime FLCL (Fooly Cooly) in terms of oozing with style and the relationship to music, but Blue Spring is much more of a straight-forward story (FLCL is too, but doesn't seem that way at first).

One thing I gleamed from a post in IMDB is that the kanji characters for youth/adolescence (seishun) mean "blue" and "spring". The title of this manga/movie however is literally Blue Spring (aoi haru), so kind of a play on words. But the story is certainly about adolescence, being a look at the life of various students in a school where there isn't a lot of hope to go around. I'm really curious to see if the manga goes into more depth on the individual stories that make up the movie. I enjoyed the Battle Royale movie, but ultimately found the original novel to be a much more engrossing and coherant experience, with a lot more time to dwell on the individual characters.

As If!

Wow, I never heard of As If before, but this looks really good. A strip about daily life at school that doesn't take itself too seriously but isn't just parody either? I'm in for that... and the artwork?

Something I've been saying for a while now is not to be too worried about manga influence. The US has enough inherant diversity in it (due to cultures mashed together and sheer size) that nothing too monolithic for too long. I think one of the greater influences I see happening is less about slavish manga copying and more about a general move toward more "iconic" storytelling (in McCloud's sense of things being stylized). That not everything has to be about realism and if your story isn't totally serious, it isn't a sin for someone's eyes to bug out or an anvil fall on their head from time to time. :) And not to pin too much on manga, comic strips in general have always tended toward iconic, and online strips seem to be really gaining footholds in popularity.

In any case, take a look at the art style of As If, especially comparing the first couple of strips with the latest couple. Eyes shrink, screentone becomes washes. The whole thing looks a lot less generic, and more personal. Congrats to Amy for some real progression as an artist through the life of the strip. Now I just need to sit down and read the thing. :)

Vanyda (The Building Opposite)

I hadn't heard of Vanyda, since I'm still a newbie when it comes to French BD. That cover image for The Building Opposite looked nice from a distance, but I wanted to see more. I found this page for L'annee du Dragon, which looks like a pretty interesting urban tale with an (imaginary perhaps?) dragon in it. Click on Gallery for a pop-up window full of a ton of full finished pages, character designs, and other stuff. I have to say that this guy is a great artist. Occationally, there is something that seems "manga-ish", but I probably wouldn't even be thinking in that direction if not for Chris's mention of Nouvelle Manga in relation to it. Very nice stuff...

The rest...

Wet Moon sounds interesting. I was tempted to go to an art school at some point... perhaps an interesting contrast to Paradise Kiss?

My Mom did some temp work at some point, so Temporary seems like an interesting concept. When I saw the page with preview art, I was a bit wary looking at the thumbnails, since I'm not usually into cramped styles as much. But as soon as I clicked around to get full-size images, I could see that it worked really well for this story and wasn't actually as cramped as I'd thought at first glance.

Of course I have to mention Walking Man. This looks like something I'll really enjoy. A lot of times I really love slide-of-life stories, especially those dealing with nature and going back to a slower pace of life. I love Yokohama Shopping Trip Log for just that reason (which better come out some day guys!), and I'm thinking this will work with me for exactly the same reasons. During the holiday, I took a couple of hours to go to a local park and walk around, snap pictures, and just generall relax and contemplate life. Comics, movies, animation or whatever that can capture that same sort of feeling without being boring are a rare gift I think.

Lastly, I've loved Sam Kieth's style for a really long time now. Some day I'll pick up the Maxx GNs to complement my back issues... I picked up Zero Girl a year or so ago and while the story isn't the most amazing thing ever, his style shows through as always and makes it worthwhile. Ojo sounds like something I'd really enjoy, especially with the word that his writing lives up to the visual aspects...

Anyway, cheers to everyone in the comics blogosphere. Don't count me totally out of the game yet. :)

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