Wednesday, October 13, 2004

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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