Tagged: Japan

Shout! Factory brings ULTRASEVEN to US DVD

HenshinJustice.com reports that Shout Factory will release the second series in the legendary Ultraman franchise, Ultraseven on DVD in time for Christmas.

The eponymous hero, from The Land Of Light in the mysterious Nebula M-78, visits Earth and is fascinated by its creatures, especially humans. Taking the visage of a man he saved from a climbing accident, he pledges himself to protecting the world from various aliens and monsters that plague it.  Taking the name “Dan Moroboshi”, he works with the human military force the Ultra Garrison, and unbeknownst to them, fights the monsters hand-to-hand in his giant form.

The series, the first of many sequels to Ultraman, was first broadcast in Japan in 1967.  Ted Turner’s syndication company originally planned to dub the series into English back in 1985, the project was not completed and broadcast until 1994 on their cable channel TNT.  Not all episodes were completed, and while the adaptation was fairly well done and not “camped up” in any way, there were some edits to some episodes for tone and violence. One episode, “Crystallized Corpuscles” was banned entirely, and never broadcast.

At this date, it’s not been specified if the episodes will be the uncut Japanese originals, or if they will feature English subtitles or the TNT dubbed soundtrack.  Watch this proverbial space for more detail.

Amazon has already listed the set (ahead of Shout’s official announcement) as being released December 11th, with a price of $34.98, already nicely discounted from its list price of $49.97.

Twentieth anniversary Power Rangers series revealed: Power Rangers Megaforce

The folks at JEFusion.com shared footage from this year’s Power Morphicon of Saban Entertainment’s promo reel for next year’s Power Rangers series. Their seventeenth series, Power Rangers Megaforce, will be based on the thirty-fourth of Toei Company’s Super Sentai series, Tensou Sentai Goseiger.

Starting with the original Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers in 1993, based on Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger, Saban has been producing series using costumes, props and action footage from the Japanese originals.  The series have remained a perennial hit in the States, as the original series has done in Japan for the past thirty-six years.

It’s not the first time the name has appeared in entertainment either.  One of the original sentai series had “mega” in the title; Denji Sentai Megaranger, which was used to create 1998’s Power Rangers in Space. Action film fans may remember the Hal Needham directed MegaForce, starring Barry Bostwick and Persis Khambatta.  More important to the toy manufacturer side of the process, MegaForce was a line of military adventure vehicles from Kenner in 1998.  It’s assumed the trademarks for those series have already lapsed, otherwise Saban might have to pull a “Metro” and change the name (as Microsoft has been forced to for its new Windows 8 interface).

In addition to using footage from Goseiger, the new series will also be using footage from the sentai feature film, Gokaiger Goseiger Super Sentai 199 Hero Great Battle.  This was the film release for the NEXT Sentai series, Kaizoku Sentail Gokaiger, which featured a massive battle where all 35 of the sentai teams to date united to fight a massive alien threat.  However, since Megaforce is the anniversary series in America, the reunion footage will be used there.  Footage of the battles in the promo reel included shots of all past sentai teams, including series that were never used for American series, much to the delight of the audience.  Saban said there’s no confirmation if those non-MMPR heroes will appear in the final series.  They had asked Toei to film sequences featuring only Zyuranger forward – it’s unknown how much of the all-heroes footage will be used in the final product.

The promo reel was well received by fans at the convention, especially footage from the 199 hero great battle.  Saban has been experiencing a resurgence of popularity of the series.  After several series produced in association with other companies including Disney, the current series, Power Rangers Samurai, is the first they’ve produced on their own since 2001.  Saban has brought the Internet into their marketing in a big way- their website and Facebook page appeal to both new and long-time fans of the series.  They’ve also released DVD sets for the previous series, including a 40-DVD set from Time-Life of the first 7 series.

Power Rangers Samurai is currently running on Nickelodeon.


By Percival Constantine
Pulpwork Press
177 pages
This terrific, fast paced fantasy action thriller is the second in the Elisa Hill, Myth Hunter series and even better than the first; no small feat.  Elisa Hill is a hunter of lost artifacts made famous in ancient lore.  Along with her mentor, Max Finch, and the Japanese kitsune, a type of were-fox changeling, Asami, she finds herself caught in a titanic contest between ancient oriental deities and a roguish creature of legend known as the Monkey King.
It is through this fabled half-human, half-simian being that they discover the four Dragon Kings are about to unleash their centuries old plot to dominate the world and make all mankind their slaves.  This they will accomplish by their powers to control the oceans of the world and wreaking havoc wherever necessary to force the various countries of the world to bow to their commands.
Now only Elisa, her two companions and an agent from the super secret Freemasons society are all that stand between total disaster and salvation. But can even these unique characters prove strong enough to win the day?
In this age of the popular urban fantasy genre, we seem to be inundated with more and more series featuring sparkly vampires, sexy witches and zombie private eyes.  Enough for this reader to yell, “Uncle!”  Constantine’s “Dragon Kings of the Orient,” packs more wall-to-wall action than any of ten of those other wimpy titles combined.  Being an American teacher in Japan, he has a unique, personal perspective on the Far East and its culture and uses it to great advantage in this rousing adventure tale. 
In the past, he has offered us other series but none of them can hold a candle to this one. Elisa Hill is a truly original, fun character and I hope we get to read many more of he exploits along with those of her truly remarkable supporting cast.  People, this book is a solid must read!


Art: Jay Piscopo


Nemo Publishing
Tami Kennedy

Commander X goes solo in an all new “Commander X Adventures All-Star Special” comic book
Up next: Commander X will take to the skies in a cross-over comic with Captain Midnight

Note to Retailers:
Order from August Diamond Previews
Look for the Diamond Spotlight on page 323

Note to Reviewers: Review copies available.
Contact tami@maine.rr.com

PORTLAND, MAINE (July 31, 2012) Return to the Golden Age of high adventure with Commander X in three tales featuring giant monsters, robots, mystery and action. The stories in this 40 page, full color comic book are told in the spirit of the great adventure yarns of the 1930s and 1940s and take place from Tibet, to the Sargasso Sea, to the Sea of Japan. Written and illustrated by Jay Piscopo, this “Commander X All-Star Special” recaptures the excitement and energy of the Golden Age of comics when superheroes were born; featuring fast paced stories, science fiction gadgets, bright colors and breakneck action.

“In the sea, in the air, and on the land Commander X delivers the kind of ‘all in color for a dime’ entertainment that’s missing in comics,” noted award-winning comic book writer and editor Brian Augustyn.

“This comic book is an homage that recaptures the magic of the pulps and Golden Age of comics with a modern twist,” said Piscopo. “Our hero, Commander X, is a classic comic strip and movie serial hero with some high tech gizmos and time travel thrown in.”

Retailers can order “Commander X All-Star Special” from Diamond’s August Previews (DIAMOND CODE: AUG121224 — Look for the Diamond Spotlight on page 323). View story pages at http://ow.ly/cCKe3.

“Fans first met Commander X in “Capt’n Eli,” then they got to experience him as a limited edition Mego-style action figure, and now they get to see him in his own one-shot comic book,” continued Piscopo. “Next, fans will get to see him team up with the legendary Captain Midnight.”

This December, Nemo Publishing and Moonstone Books will publish a cross-over one shot comic book featuring Commander X with the renowned Captain Midnight. This 28 page, full-color book will be written by longtime DC Comics writer and editor Brian Augustyn. Artwork and co-plotting will be by Piscopo. View image gallery at this link.

Commander X in part of Piscopo’s Nemoverse of characters and is an integral part of his “Undersea Adventures of Capt’n Eli” graphic novel series. The tales in “Commander X All-Star Special” provide clues to some of the mysteries about Commander X uncovered in the first two volumes of “Capt’n Eli” and give hints to what’s to come in Volume 3, which will be released this winter

In the story “The Guardian of Tantarus,” the Red Octopus and the Axis powers want super weapons from Atlantis. Can Commander X stop them?

In “Allies,” fans meet Commander X as the Undersea Knight. This version of Commander X is also available as a limited edition Mego-style action figure (http://captneli.shipyardshopping.com/index.html).

“With this collectible figure, we’ve captured the nostalgic feeling of a special toy that could take you into another universe,” continued Piscopo. “Seeing Commander X in his Undersea Knight uniform really sparks the imagination.”

In “Wake of the War Beast,” Commander X and his scarlet-clad ally, the mysterious Circe, Sorceress of the Sea, team up to subdue an ancient sea monster in the Sea of Japan.

Ordering information:
“Commander X All-Star Special”
Published by Nemo Publishing
Written and illustrated by Jay Piscopo
40 pages | Full Color | $3.99
Order from August Diamond Previews
Look for the Diamond Spotlight on page 323

More about Jay Piscopo and Nemo Publishing: Piscopo is the author and illustrator of Nemo Publishing’s “The Undersea Adventures of Capt’n Eli” graphic novel series and “The Sea Ghost #1: The Sea Ghost in the Machine” comic book. He was also the artist for Moonstone’s new “The Spider” and “The Phantom Detective” comics.

Commander X is part of the Nemoverse of characters tied to the Capt’n Eli’s line of hand-crafted sodas from Portland Maine. Capt’n Eli is the namesake of real-life World War II veteran Eli Forsley who was also the inspiration for Capt’n Eli’s soda. Read the story behind the story at this link.

On the web:



A Review of Hard Magic Book 1: The Grimnoir Chronicles

Andrew Salmon
     Larry Correia burst onto the publishing scene a few years back with a self-published first instalment of his Monster Hunter International series. That classic first book was snapped up by Baen Books and re-issued and each book in the series has gone on to become a bestseller, making Correia one of New Pulp’s bestselling authors.
     While continuing that series, Correia has branched out with a couple of new series – one of which is the Grimnoir Chronicles. Book 1 introduces us to an alternate world where magic has existed for decades and has had a profound impact on world events.
     The year is 1932 but this isn’t your grandfather’s 1932. Japan is power hungry, Berlin has been destroyed and thanks to some very dangerous Tesla weapons, a fragile peace is maintained. However in this world, two groups of Actives (people possessing magic abilities) are caught in a power struggle. One group works for Japan’s emperor and wants to “strengthen” the human race in preparation for a war with an alien that is only touched on in the first book, while the other group, the Grimnoir led by Blackjack Pershing, are fighting to keep all of mankind safe and free. Both parties are persecuted by Normals who see them as a threat.
     Into this mix comes Private Investigator Jake Sullivan, a WWI hero and ex-con. When we first meet Jake, he is on parole, working for the FBI, rounding up rogue Actives. He is J. Edgar Hoover’s lapdog and he either does what he’s told or goes back to the Big House.
     The second narrative thread concerns Faye, a tough teenager who witnesses her father’s murder at the hand of Jake’s brother, who works for the Emperor. Seems the baddies are collecting the components of a device which will allow the Emperor to rule the world.
     Before covering what I liked about the novel, I’d like to touch on what I felt hurt the book. The first knock, and one that normally would have stopped me reading further, is that there is little or no attempt by Correia to have the book read like a period novel. Again, the year is 1932, but aside from a few touches here and there, the book could just as easily been set in 2012, or 2032 for that matter. What saved the book for this reader is that we are clearly in an alternate timeline here. This allowed me to get past the modern sound of the book. Hey, it’s an alternate 1932 – anything goes. Magic-related “quotes” from famous historical figures begin each chapter and everyone from Einstein, Darwin, Hitler, Lincoln and Babe Ruth have words put into their mouths to help flesh out the world.
     The other knock on the book is that it suffers, as most “mainstream” novels do, from long-bookitis. At 573 pages, Hard Magic often bogs down in needless exposition, tangents and flashbacks and probably would read better is it was about 100 pages shorter. Also, as this is the first of a new series, there are endless character introductions which also slow the story down.
     Okay, onto the good. When this novel gets going, it gets going. In spades. Taking a page from Wayne Reinagel’s book, Correia throws in everything AND the kitchen sink. Ninjas, secret societies, betrayals, alternate history, gun battles, magic battles, world shaking events, brothers at each other’s throats, super zeppelin dogfights, fisticuffs, deaths, tragedy, triumph, explosions, blood and guts – you get it all! Correia’s strength as a writer is in his action sequences and this book has plenty of these. All are a rollicking roller-coaster ride you do not want to miss.
     The novel features a great cover by Allan Pollack and 8 interior character pin-up illustrations sprinkled throughout the text by artists Justin Otis, Aura Farwell and Zachary Hill.
     Summing up, Hard Magic is a worthy read. It’s no masterpiece but it is well worth your time to plow through the uneven start to the novel. It’s a great action ride which is ultimately satisfying despite the book’s shortcomings. Recommended.

REVIEW: Iron Man & X-Men Anime

iron-man-dvd-300x405-2414118Marvel has been allowing the Japanese to adapt their characters for nearly 40 years now and the results have always been hit or miss. Thankfully, the most current offering is more successful than most. Back in 2009, Marvel announced it had cut a deal with Madhouse and Sony to let them produce four anime series based on Iron Man, X-Men, Wolverine, and Blade, which at the time were guaranteed film franchise successes. To Madhouse’s credit, they hired Warren Ellis to pen the scripts and help create an integrated, consisted Marvel Anime Universe.

The shows began airing in Japan on Animax in spring 2010 before finding a domestic home on G4 with the last new episodes airing earlier this month. Now, Sony Home Entertainment releases Iron Man and X-Men on DVD this Tuesday. Each two-disc set contains the complete twelve episode arc plus some extra features.

Madhouse, born in 1972, is known for Ninja Scroll and Vampire Hunter D among many other productions. Here, they hew close to the movie versions of the characters, making minor modifications to allow for animation. There’s a distinct anime look and feel to the civilians and a handful of the heroes, notably Storm.



By Justin Scott & Clive Cussler
Berkley Novel
528 pages
The third adventure in this series created by Clive Cussler and taken over by Justin Scott is another fine entry relating the cases of Isaac Bell, the top agent of the Van Dorn Detective Agency.  When foreign spies from Japan and Germany launch acts of murder and sabotage aimed at crippling the Navy’s battleship program, the noted detective agency is brought into the case.  This happens at the request of a young lady whose father, a gun battery expert, is found to have committed suicide after taking a bribe. Incensed by this slur of her father’s good name, the woman begs the agency to dig deep and prove what she suspects; that her father was actually murdered and the charges against him false.
The start is slow going for Isaac Bell, but bit by bit, oddities in the case begin to surface while at the same time, supposedly unrelated accidents continue to plague the Navy’s shipyards on both the East and West coast until the pattern of these events is just too coincidental to be ignored.  Once on the case, Bell becomes the bulldog man-hunter we’ve come to enjoy in his previous outings and he soon comes to realize he is chasing a deviously cunningly spy with no loyalties to any single government.  This shadowy manipulator is in fact a mercenary attempted to create a world conflict that will line his own pockets with riches.  War is good business.
From the docks of the Brooklyn Navy Yard to the ports of California, Bell and his courageous team of agents find themselves racing against the clock to prevent the Spy Master’s ultimate coup, a terrorist attack that will set the country’s defense plans back by decades and leave American vulnerable to its enemies abroad. Once again Scott sets his suspense thriller against a backdrop of historical accuracy, detailing the emergence of a young republic about to claim its place on the world’s stage.  But will this Manifest Destiny end long before it is born?
Filled with colorful characters and a beautiful glimpse of another, more innocent time, THE SPY is a worthy addition to this already much acclaimed series.  Issac Bell is clearly the Nick Carter & James Bond of his times.

Martheus Wade on Ninjas, Fate and Free Will

Martheus Wade on Ninjas, Fate and Free Will

I fell in love with Martheus Wade’s work when I visited his website.  The series Jetta:  Tales of the Toshigawa at first glance just looks like superhot ninja babes battling, which while in itself is a fun guilty pleasure, the book is deep
Shianndrea Toshigawa, codenamed Jetta is the chosen one.  She is the one that has to beat Terminus and his demonic horde.  To make matters interesting, Terminus is her father but perhaps the clincher for me is that the last thing Jetta and she doesn’t want to be that person. 
Questions of free will and fate, the natural conflicts of wanting to be your own person over being a person you’re supposed to be is just an intriguing story to tell.  There is a depth and sophistication to the graphic novel that engages in ways few stories dare to tread. 
Martheus Wade has written a tale nearly as engaging as he is.  We discuss Jetta, and his other series Turra – Gun Angel as well as some of life’s great questions.
All Pulp:   How did you get into comics? Who were your influences?
Martheus Wade:  I got into comics when I was really young. Comics were my gateway into reading when I was a kid. It was also my gateway into art itself.   George Perez, Masamune Shirow, Jim Lee, Marc Silvestri, Adam Hughes and Adam Warren were all huge influences on me. But also early on, animation really guided my artistic eye. Anime was a heavy influence on me. Speed Racer, Voltron, Robotech. Tranzor Z. It all made me stop and take real notice.

AP: Tell me a little about Jetta: Tales of the Toshigawa. What’s it all about?
MW:  Jetta: Tales of the Toshighawa is my creator owned graphic novel series that centers on Shianndrea Toshigawa. Code named “Jetta”, she is the chosen one of the Toshigawa ninja clan who is meant to defend the world from the demonic army known as the Knave. The leader of the Knave is the godlike Terminus, Emperor of Japan and the father of Jetta. In order to defeat this demon army, Jetta has been forced to leave her family and friends in order to train for the day she will be forced to face her father in combat. However, she only wants to lead a normal life away from the clan and far from any prophesied destiny.
But, she is always forced back into a fight that she does not want; fight where friends die and her hope for happiness continues to slip away.
The story is full of martial arts action. Jetta is a super powered  ninja that learns to use new and exciting powers almost every volume. She also has to deal with her on-again off-again relationship with her fellow ninja, Kim Shibata. The two of them have polar opposite ideas of what they should hold important in their lives. Kim is very much into his duty and believes in fate while Jetta believes in free will.
Even though they love each other deeply, their butting heads has dire consequences. The story also revolves around Turra Shibata, Jetta’s best friend and Kim’s sister.
Turra has rejected the ways of the Toshigawa and has gone off on her own. As the “Black sheep” of the clan, Turra is happy living her own life away from her duty. However, things take a turn when she is
forced back into action. The theme of fate verse free will runs throughout the series.
AP: To date, what is your favorite scene in Jetta?
MW: There are a couple of scenes. One scene is in Jetta: Tales of the Toshigawa – Revelations when Jetta confronts her father, Terminus for the first time in the bullet train station. This is the first time that Terminus is seen as the all powerful character that he is. Another of my favorites is a slower scene from Jetta: Tales of the Toshigawa – Defiance where Jetta is on a date with her new boyfriend, Dan, and the two are talking about their outlook on life and what they want out of it. Still another scene in Jetta: Tales of the Toshigawa – Rain is when Turra sees her father for the first time in over a year just before he dies. There are so many great moments in this series. It’s really hard to try to pick only a few.
AP:  What is it about fate and free will that fascinate you?

MW: That battle between fate verses free will has always been a very real conflict in my own head. As a creative person, there have been moments in my career (as well as personal life) where I found myself working upstream. When I let go and went with the flow, things seemed to work out with less of a struggle. However, doing so meant that I had to let go of preconceived notions of where I should be or what I should be doing. My life and career took turns that I hadn’t thought of before and I ended up a completely different person than I thought I would be.
Is that “fate”? I would think so. I don’t have all of the answers to that. However, in realizing that it could be fate, I also realized that the life I wanted to lead when I was younger was not the life I was supposed to lead. That’s a hard pill to swallow and (whether it’s right or wrong) I still struggle with that concept on many different things. I want to believe in free will. I want the ability to say that, “If I walk out this door and put my best foot forward, I will get to where I’m intending to go”. But, as we know, that’s not always the case.

This is the basic idea of Jetta: Tales of the Toshigawa. Through all of the attractive women, the martial arts action and scifi, the story is about Fate verses Free will.

AP:  Would you have been happy with the life you wanted?  They that the grass is always greener on the other side…
MW: That’s a good question. I don’t know. There would have been so many things that would be vastly different. Not better, just different. There are a lot of things that would change like my family that I could not envision living without now. Knowing me, if things did go exactly as I planned, I would still feel like something was missing.

 AP: Is it too early to ask you about Turra: Gun Angel?

MW: Absolutely not. Turra: Gun Angel – Bombs and Betrayal is a spin-off graphic novel that takes place in the Toshigawa universe. The lead character is Turra Shibata. She is the sword sister to Jetta and fellow Toshigawa ninja.
In Jetta: Tales of the Toshigawa – Rain (The second book in the Toshigawa series), Turra gets her own assignment and is ordered to return to Japan in order to help organize the splintered ninja clan. But when she gets home, she quickly finds that she on the most wanted lists of, not only the Knave, but the police, the Yakuza and a rival ninja clan. All of this and she still has to deal with her boyfriend, Cyan, and his wandering eyes.

Bombs and Betrayal is a bit lighter than the main Jetta series. Turra, as a character, is a lot more relaxed than her sword sister. She is a lot more comfortable with being an attractive ninja bad ass. In the
main Toshigawa story, she was a bit of a wildcard and this story has more tongue in cheek comedy because of the interaction of the characters involved. Cat (one of the main characters of the series and
this spin-off story) is an African American kickboxer who finds himself faced with culture shock when he makes it to Japan. Cyan is a charismatic pyrotechnic who flirts with other women just to get under
Turra’s skin. And Nica, is a young Toshigawa ninja who is just learning the ropes and idolizes the “legend” that Turra has become.

However, the story is still a serious one and Turra finds herself faced with the difficult task of being called upon by duty to lead this ragtag group in hopes of saving the Toshigawa clan from certain death. It’s a fun read and ties perfectly into the main graphic novels.

AP: Anything else forthcoming we can look forward to?
MW: There is a HUGE announcement and a sort of partnership that will be revealed coming up really soon that I wish I could spill the beans on. That will be hitting in the next month or so. I am also working with Sean Taylor (writer for IDW) on the further adventures of Turra Shibata. The first issue of the miniseries will be out later in 2012. The next Jetta GN will be out at the end of 2012 and marks the end of this story arc. It also closes this chapter on Jetta’s life so I’m excited (and a little saddened) to see what readers think of the close of our story.
AP:  You get the final say here.  Plug your books.  Where can I find them.
MW: All of our books are found at www.toshigawa.com. That is where we have every book on sale as well as art prints and specialty items. Right now, we have two new books that are available, Turra: Bombs and Betrayal and Jetta: Tales of the Toshigawa -Full Circle. These books intertwine these two beautiful ninja into two halfs of the same coin! Seamlessly follow Turra’s adventures and see where and how they effect the greater Toshigawa Universe in Full Circle. We are offering these two books together in one pack. For a limited time only ( as an added added bonus ) if you grab Jetta: Tales of the Toshigawa – Full Circle and Turra: Bombs and Betrayal together in this Ultimate Combo pack, I provide a free sketch of one of the characters in the series. That’s over 150 pages of action packed content plus a free sketch. I invite everyone to try these books and I can assure you that you will not be disappointed.
Also you can follow us on facebook under MAW Productions. Join our page and every friday at 9:00 pm, we have a live chat where the other creators and myself get together and talk about the Toshigawa Universe of characters, the comic book industry, and entertainment in general. It’s a lot of fun and I hope you join us!

Christmas Tree Shows Again And Again How Nature Points Out The Folly Of Men

From the Aqua City Odaiba shopping mall in Tokyo, Japan…

Gojira Tree, Gojira Tree,
Your breath is deadly danger;
Gojira Tree, Gojira Tree,
You just stepped on the manger.
You do not fit in humble homes,
You only stand in malls and domes,
Gojira Tree, Gojira Tree,
I’ve seen no tree that’s stranger.

Hat tip: Glenda Boozer. Apologies to Blue Oyster Cult for the headline.

MIKE GOLD: Comics Envy

At the very end of 1973 I was lurking about in a Woolworth’s in downtown Montreal. I was suffering from my worst case of comics envy ever.

I was seduced by the graphic novels rack. That’s not what it was called, but that’s what it was. Dozens of titles by Jean Giraud (a.k.a. Moebius), Phillipe Druillet, and all kinds of master comics creators the likes of which we had not seen in the States. Beautiful stuff. I could follow much of the storytelling but little of the story itself.

I was also seduced by the wide range of subject material, with nary a cape in sight. Western, science fiction, private eye, romance, ennui-ridden existentialism, and stuff that seemed as though it was influenced by lysergic acid diethylamide the likes of which we never had on St. Mark’s Place. In short order I stumbled upon equally awesome material from Japan and Italy and, possibly, Mars. I experienced a beautiful work covering the widest range of subject matter imaginable. But in comics, such a range was not imaginable, not in the United States.

A couple years later the National Lampoon folks started up Heavy Metal, and while it wasn’t as interesting as it could have been, the new magazine got this material out there. At worst, it was a gallon of water brought to the desert. At best, Heavy Metal was a door opener.

One might think that a logical way of dealing with my comics envy would be to learn a foreign language – certainly French or Japanese. No such luck. Like most Americans I’m lacking in the foreign language learning gene: I took five years of Spanish and lived (and now live) in neighborhoods with or near a significant Latino population and I can barely mumble a few phrases, “perdóname” being my most heavily used.

38 years later a lot of wonderful material has been translated – but that’s not the best part. The best part is, the American comics medium has grown to the point where we now create stories that cover many of the genres that we see overseas. Not anywhere near all, but many. We still don’t have comics for senior citizen grandmothers the way they do in Japan, but we’ve gone a lot further than the 1973 diet of capes, muscles, some horror, a few klutzy teenagers, and a smattering of “children’s comics.” For one thing, we are finally seeing something of a return of children’s comics, thanks to outfits like Boom! and Ape.

Sadly, we’re not seeing a lot of sales in these categories. Most comics shops really can’t afford to risk stocking them in any depth and then promoting them to the appropriate audiences, and most publishers – maybe all of them, now that the tide has changed at DC and Marvel – really can’t afford to help them in any dramatic and useful way.

Maybe electronic distribution will change all that. Clearly, it’s the best way right now to attract new readers, but the promotion budget has to be there and that ain’t easy.

Still, it’s a start. A good start.

THURSDAY: Dennis O’Neil