Sequart Organization is proud to announce the release of When Manga Came to America: Super-Hero Revisionism in Mai, the Psychic Girl, by Julian Darius.
The first manga widely available in English, Mai, the Psychic Girl – written by Kazuya Kudō, with art by Ryoichi Ikegami – offered a near-perfect story for American readers: a realistic super-hero story, in line with revisionist American comics of the time (like Watchmen). In this short book, Dr. Julian Darius explores the impressive comic, its depiction of super-powers, its relationship to revisionism, its depiction of female sexuality, and the various attempts to adapt the story as a motion picture.
The book – Sequart’s first book on manga – runs 80 pages and is available in print (list price $6.99) and on Kindle (list price $4.99). For more information on When Manga Came to America, visit the book’s official page.
The problem with the superhero movie as currently practiced by Disney/Marvel (the interlocking “universe” series) and Sony/Marvel (“The Amazing Spider Man” and “The Amazing Spider-Man 2”) and DC (whose recent “Man of Steel” aped that Marvel feeling and is busy building its own version of Marvel’s feature film universe) has nothing to do with the genre’s component parts, and everything to do with execution.
Specifically, the problem is the visual and rhythmic sameness of the films’ execution.
What do “Little Big Man,” “The Wild Bunch,” “Blazing Saddles,” “Silverado,” “Unforgiven” and “Open Range” have in common besides horses and ten-gallon hats? Almost nothing. What do modern superhero movies have in common? Entirely too much. Once in a great while you get an outlier like “Hellboy” or “Watchmen” or “Kick-Ass.” There’s a reason why anybody seeking to counter gripes of superhero film sameness brings up “Hellboy” or “Watchmen” and “Kick-Ass”: because most superhero movies are not “Hellboy” or “Watchmen” or “Kick-Ass.” They’re “Thing Crashing Into Other Thing 3.”
Original Sin #0. Written by Mark Waid. Art by Jim Cheung, Paco Medina, Mark Morales, Guillermo Ortego, Dave Meikis, Juan Vlasco, and Justin Ponsor.
It’s that time again. No, not when the swallows return from Capistrano. No, not when Dan DiDio polishes his head in the Shine-O-Ball-O. It’s epic-crossover time, kiddos! Marvelous Mark Waid puts his pen to paper for Original Sin #0, a cosmic odyssey that focuses on the supreme perv of the 616, The Watcher. Ole’ Uatu is destined for a possible dirt nap, and let’s just assume a ton of fallout will occur. But I’m getting ahead of myself. You’d clearly have known that… had you been an all powerful, big headed, poorly dressed voyeur. But you’re not, so you’re likely wanting to know how the prequel – such as it were – fares. If I were to bestow upon you a fair and just warning that a major cosmic event is about to occur? You’d be long dead before it comes up concerning this review.
Issue 0 of Original Sin anchors itself with the newest Nova of Earth, Sam Alexander. Waid is quick to establish his voice – cosmic Peter Parker. Simply put, it’s impossible to read through the issue and not be reminded by Marvel’s everyman. As Sam quips, zaps, and stumbles his way through the issue, every smirk that crept to my mouth was adjoined by the feeling I’d been there before. The plot, as it were, is as straight-forward as you might get. Nova, in between telling himself his life story (assuming he doesn’t know he’s a comic character), comes to a great and grand universal mystery: Why does the Watcher watch? This is opposed to Who Watches the Watchmen, which everyone knows already. So, with the innocence of a child, Sammy takes to the moon to ask Uatu if he watches Dateline: To Catch A Predator.
Comic book writer, editor, and raconteur Clifford Meth took to Kickstarter to fund the publication of Comic Book Babylon, a collection of essays, stories, and interviews drawn from the almost ten years worth of columns he had written for various comic book news sites across the Internet, including ComicMix itself. Promising an introduction by Stan Lee and illustrations by noted comic artist/political crackpot Michael Netzer, Comic Book Babylon almost quintupled its original funding goal with $11,219 in pledges. Last week, Meth delivered with the release of Comic Book Babylon, published in print by Meth’s own Aardwolf Publishing or digitally through the Amazon Kindle store. (more…)
The actor/writer/comedian/rapper/not-Spider-Man Donald Glover, a.k.a. Childish Gambino, recently released his new album ‘Because the Internet.” On said album, Glover, amongst other tirades about money and how he has it, exclaims in a solemn tone… “I don’t know who I am anymore”. This is precluded by lyrics revolving around what one might assume his life is like these days – facing criticism from random strangers, texts from other strangers, and general haters being hateful– and as such, the line hits home pretty harshly. We’ve all been there, right?
Shortly after hearing that line though, adjoined to others like “No one’s ever been this lost”, “Funny the day you born that’s really your death sentence”, and the gem “Eventually all my followers realize they don’t need a leader” I was left with a bitter taste in my mouth. Glover’s alter ego is a pessimistic child with too much money, who has the gall to bitch about it. As a person only two years older then he, with a wife and a kid, a day job and a night job, I not only can’t relate to him… I can’t even accept the notion of where he’s coming from. More to the point? I wrote angsty lyrics like this too– in high school, when I couldn’t get laid.
With that being said? I give Glover all the credit in the world. He’s branching out, and attempting to explore the arts as a whole, rather than celebrate singular successes. As an award winning writer on 30 Rock turned lovable ensemble cast-member in Community, Donald could ostensibly ride out the well-wishes of white America for a good long time. Instead, he’s toured the country doing comedy, making movies, and of course rapping. And rather than rap as a happy-go-lucky kid who is just gosh-darned pleased-as-punch to be a success… he instead turned inward (and in an odd turn perhaps as an alter-ego if you will) to produce something new and unexpected. Granted, I don’t know Donald beyond the NBC stuff, so as it were… I was caught off guard. While I may not like the fruits of his labor, I can indeed respect the hustle. But I digress.
Those of us who proclaim the title of artist should all adopt a simple philosophy: never stop learning. An artist in my humble opinion, is someone who not only creates but challenges him or herself to continue to learn, adapt, and reinterpret ourselves and our creations. While I could easily spend paragraphs waxing on about musicians exploring other genres (Billy Joe of Green Day doing an Everly Brothers cover album, anyone?), or writers creating a new nom-de-plum so they could try their hand at something unexpected … I’d prefer to focus solely on those within our coveted realm of comic bookery.
With the continual allure of crowd-funding readily available for those with semi-famous names, great artists like Gene Ha are taking time off (in his case to do some much-needed house work) and considering going creator-owned. Even if it’s for a single project, seeing things like that are very exciting to a guy like me. Creator-owned means creator-controlled. It’s an exploration less of what will immediately be made for a specific market (that is to say… sell well) and perhaps more a leap of faith by an artist seeking to expand beyond what has merely drawn a paycheck. Look perhaps at our patron saint of crankiness, Alan Moore, who high above in his castle, now works when (or if) he chooses, and only when it strikes him to. As an artist, I can’t help but respect the moxie. Of course, if I’d written Watchmen… I might have the means with which to be choosier. Then again, my comic books are made on my own dime, and as such, I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing anyways– just not as lucratively.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t take a step back to commend my arch nemesis, Dan Dougherty, and my friend by-way-of-the-con-circuit Jon Michael Lennon. Both gentlemen as of late have shown considerable leaps of inspiration and as such have been producing some of the best art I’ve seen from either of them. This is devoid of editorial mandate, mind-you. Dougherty’s Touching Evil is a self-published masterpiece in the same vein as Revival. Here the normally jovial Dougherty (a.k.a. Beardo)http://www.gocomics.com/beardo opts to write and draw a serious story with mature themes and an amazing blend of noir-twinged scripting married to a more serious style in his visuals. The result is one of the best comics I’ve read all year. Lennon, normally producer of amazingly-dark anthologies has had an artistic second-coming as of late. With an upcoming gallery show, Lennon’s Crumb-esque work has grown into singular pieces of art. Devoid of context, with a more potent eye for graphic design… the works are a step forward for him such that I can’t help but feel his next foray into “Product of Society” will be leaps and bounds above the previous installments.
Just as Glover drops what could be just a friendly facade to become Childish Gambino, so too, must we within the realm of comic books free ourselves from our self-imposed hells. Just because it sells doesn’t mean it needs to be made. If we are to call ourselves artists then we must act as such. The greats never stop learning, exploring, and challenging themselves. Here at the precipice of a new year, perhaps we creative-types ought to consider losing more that just a bad habit or two as a resolution. Instead, we should take a page from Gambino, and take the opportunity to get lost, and then find ourselves again. Cheers.
Erik Larsen, of Image Comics fame, said on his Facebook wall (and I’m paraphrasing and ignoring some of his sluttier words…) “Every comic is a jumping on point. Why are you so scared?”
Those words hit me like a brick house. As many of you know, I write a weekly review of a single comic book over at MichaelDavisWorld . The cool part (aside from Michael Davis calling me “his fourteenth favorite cracker just behind the Ritz”), is that with this new mantra instilled in me it was as if a veil had been pulled from before my eyes.
As many of you read last week, the era of collectability is all but dead. With that logic, combined with Larsen’s standard flapping in the wind… I decided that for the next good-long-while, I would review issues I’d never read before; ones that caught my eye for no personal reason like a love a particular character. While it’s not been a perfect plan that’s opened me up to worlds I feel like I’ve been missing all my life, it has given me plenty of new perspective. But I digress.
Larsen’s point makes sense when you apply it to other media. You see, this is how I tackled my initial fear. I didn’t start watching (and loving) The Cosby Show, Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman, or even Batman: The Animated Series from their very beginnings. I’ve certainly stumbled into movies playing on cable a quarter, a third, or hell, three-fifths into their running time, and saw them to their conclusion – and later got myself caught up. My first CD was Aerosmith’s 12th studio album. Guess what? I didn’t immediately run out and purchase 1 through 11. I bought their greatest hits album. Zing!
As I noted last week, prior to the Image renaissance of the early 90s my generation didn’t have “jump on points” clearly labeled on the covers of our favorite comics. You want to like the X-Men? Good, go get Uncanny #197 and dive in. Think Superman might be your speed? Action Comics #643 is right there for the taking. Enjoy! One simply couldn’t wait for the volume to end, reboot, or reset. I’d abstained from the monthly comics throughout high school, for the very fear Erik rails against. “How could I possibly enjoy Detective Comics #546 without knowing what happened 20 issues ago?” Hence, I purchased trade paperbacks instead. It didn’t take long of course to note that they were in fact collections of pre-existing issues. Tada!
A single comic book, yes, even Watchmen #11, is small slice of entertainment. A solid fifteen minutes tops, if you’re a slow reader or Brian Michael Bendis is doing dialogue. And if a comic is written well, and drawn well, you know it regardless of subtext. Hence, if you jumped into any comic off the shelf and it was worth its salt, you could catch up and have a new series to enjoy. If the comic doesn’t work for you, then a few bucks are wasted, and you have some glossy toilet paper next time you head to White Castle.
My hunch is that the whole “death of the collectible comic” stems from this ideology of having to be there from the beginning. Hell, let’s be honest, kiddos. When a book starts to get hot it’s fast-tracked to tradesville and then your local comics shop makes it all-too-easy to get in before it’s too late. I know for a fact I would never have followed Irredeemable, Y: The Last Man, or the current Hawkeye had it not been for that fast-track-treatment.
The rush-to-trade happens, I largely assume, when the printed single issues are selling fast enough to warrant the collection. The rub here of course is that for every big publisher able to push things like that to the racks, there’s tons more being left at the station because it’s not exactly a great business move to dump a ton of trades on a store that isn’t selling out dozens of copies of The Atheist.
Much like Community is beloved by critics and a group of rabid fans but doesn’t garner the ratings like Friends, at the end of the day the argument is moot: a #1 excites the fans to buy more than #2, 3, or 237. But that’s been discussed. What Erik suggests, and I concur, is simple: Go buy that #2, 3, or 18. If the cover looked cool, buy it. When you flip through it on the rack and you chuckle a bit at the dialogue, buy it. If your friend at the gym told you he’s been on the book for months now, and says you’d love it, buy it.
You don’t know until you try. You’re smart enough to connect the dots, even when they’re scattered. Our industry doesn’t always need to slam on the reset button in order to get you back into the fracas. Take the leap. You might actually stumble across something that really puts the pep in your step.
When you name a thriller Stoker, you immediately have people concluding it has something to do with Bram Stoker, author of Dracula, and therefore maybe the movie involves vampires. The film’s characters address that at one point but let’s stipulate that there are no members of the undead here. Instead, we have a stylish, noirsh film that marks a mostly successful American debut for Korean director Chan-Wook Park. Starring Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman, and Matthew Goode, it’s an uncomfortable story of family.
India Stoker (Wasikowska) has just lost her father, shattering their close bonds. Distraught, she is withdrawn, and initially shrinks further within Goth herself when Uncle Charlie (Goode) turns up and comes to live with her and her mother Evelyn (Kidman). In her eighteen years, India has never heard of an Uncle Charlie and more, what she begins to hear strikes her as fantastic and contradictory. Is he a rich adventurer, an ex-con, an opportunist? Maybe all of the above. But, as Charlie insinuates himself into their Tennessee home, life changes.
India is uncomfortable around Charlie until his charismatic personality begins to change how she acts and more, how she sees herself. There’s a hint of sexual desire pouring forth while her own mother, dealing with the loss in her own way, seems equally drawn, making dinner time more than a little awkward. There’s a piano duet that is nicely sexually charged and the film is filled with visual metaphors that make this a cut above most thrillers.
Wentworth Miller’s script was inspired by Alfred Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt down to naming the mysterious stranger Uncle Charlie. There are plenty of structural ticks Miller picks up from the old master, successfully maintain the tension throughout the 99 minutes. Unfortunately, like Hitchcock, the characters are cold, never quite warming up to one another or the audience and undercuts the movie’s impact. And trust me, this film has plenty of impact, especially when things get violent and here Park exceeds Hitchcock, bringing his natural talents to the fore.
The performances are strong and should have been stronger and this might be a culturally issue as Park works with his Australia/English cast in an American setting. Goode (Watchmen) is nicely creepy while the women vie for coolest character.
This is a strong transfer to Blu-ray, out this week from 20th Century Home Entertainment. Cinematographer Chung Chung-hoon’s imagery is well preserved, letting the atmosphere ooze into your home. The matching audio allows you to enjoy the splash of rain, the crack of a hardboiled egg and the eeriness of Clint Mansell’s excellent score.
The disc, which comes with an Ultraviolet digital copy, contains a handful of extras. There are three deleted/extended scenes (10:01), none of which are really missed; Stoker: A Filmmaker’s Journey (27:50), a Making Of mini-documentary that is cut above others of its ilk; Photography by Mary Ellen Mark (11:15), on-set photographs that can be auto-played or manually advanced;
London Theater Design (2:35), showing how a London theater was transformed for the film’s premiere; and, Theatrical Behind-the-Scenes, seven short featurettes that were repurposed from the documentary and rehashes that material. You also get the theatrical trailers.
Mary and Bryan Talbot’s Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes has won the Costa Book Awards biography of the year. They won the £5,000 biography prize for a book that interweaves the true and tragic story of James Joyce’s daughter Lucia with Mary’s own troubled relationship with her father, the eminent Joycean scholar James S. Atherton.
The Talbots have known of the win for several weeks. “It has been really hard keeping quiet about it,” said Mary. “We were astonished. Just being shortlisted was amazing and hearing we’d won the category was stunning. We’re delighted of course, both personally – it’s the first story I’ve had published – but also for the medium, I can’t believe a graphic novel has won.”
It is not the first graphic work to win a major literary prize – Art Spiegelman’s Maus won a Pulitzer in 1992 and Chris Ware won the Guardian first book prize in 2001 for Jimmy Corrigan: the Smartest Kid on Earth – but the Costa award is still a significant moment for the graphic medium.
“It is a good thing for graphic novels as a whole,” said Bryan Talbot whose prodigious output includes The Adventures of Luther Arkwright and Alice in Sunderland as well as strips for Judge Dredd and Batman. “Graphic novels are becoming increasingly accepted as a legitimate art form.”
The last graphic novel spike came about 25 years ago with the popularity of books such as The Dark Knight Returns, Watchmen and Maus. The problem then, said Talbot, was that there were not enough books to feed this. “By the time you’d read a dozen or so of the best titles, there wasn’t enough left to keep this nascent interest going. Since then, there has been an increasing number of graphic novels published and now we have this whole canon of quality work.
“We are living in the golden age of graphic novels. There are more and better comics being drawn today than ever in the history of the medium and there’s such a range of styles of artwork, of genre and of subject matter.”
Judges called Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes “a beautifully crafted” work “which crosses the boundaries between literature and the graphic genre with extraordinary effect”.
When I started dating seriously, and by seriously I mean dating women with a goal of a relationship, I tried to get every girlfriend to read comics.
Before relationships, my goal was obvious. After achieving that, my secondary goal was getting up and leaving in the middle of the night. That’s if I had a car. If I was taking the subway or bus I’d stay until the morning with hopes of my date making me an egg sandwich.
OK, that’s not true. I didn’t hope for anything. I knew I was getting my egg sandwich. There is nothing a woman finds sexier than a man who makes her moo like a cow and if you can get a women to moo like a cow you can get her to do anything.
I’d say, “Make me a egg sandwich.”
She would respond, “How do you want your eggs?”
Yeah, that’s how I roll.
When I finally grew up and opened my mind to the possibility of something more than a meaningless sexual romp and a egg sandwich, I realized the woman I was with had something to say. When I was in my non-relationship stage all I wanted to hear was “yes.” I would tune out anything else being said until I heard “yes” after I heard it I’d tune out again until I heard mooing.
I remember this girl I fell for – hard. I was really into her and felt that I could share with her like she was sharing with me. One fateful night after she made me moo I told her I wanted her to read some comics I thought she would like.
That was the day the mooing stopped.
Long story short, every woman and I mean every woman I have ever really wanted to know me I’ve tried to get to read comics. All of them except for one declined. Some were nice about it some were down right insulted that I would think they would read some kid shit like comics.
One woman I met and fell in love with tried the books I gave her. She fell in love with Love and Rockets, Watchmen and quite a few other titles.
What happened to that woman?
I married her.
Every woman except her I tried to get into comics said no. Eventually that relationship ended. The one woman who embraced the medium became my wife.
I often wonder why comics are still considered childish among many women today, especially in a world where comics are responsible for some of the biggest films on the planet as well as being accepted as art more and more.
I took to heart being married to a woman who realized that comics are also a viable adult entertainment medium. She knew a good thing when she saw or in this case read it. She was hesitant but agreed to try reading some and was glad she did, all the others didn’t even try.
Yep. I got her into comics and you know what she did?
She left me.
Coincidence? Most likely, but after my divorce I noticed I was spending less time trying to get women into comics and more time writing egg sandwich recipes.
I don’t know why they call today Black Friday. It sounds like a superhero version of Gulliver’s Travels, as published by DC or Marvel in the 1970s. And that might be the quickest digression we’ve had on ComicMix to date.
A bunch of the ComicMix columnists contributed a list of gift suggestions, all with snappy convenient links to Amazon for your shopping pleasure. Well, Mindy ran her list in her column last Monday; you’ve probably already read that but if not, click through in awe and wonder. Please note: I asked each contributor to include one item that they were directly involved in, so don’t think they’re pandering. That’s not necessarily the case.
And the whole group picks Samurai Jack – Season 1 “We owe so much of what Samurnauts are to this amazing series by Gendy Tartakovsky. And the performance by Phil Lamarr is nuanced and brilliant.”
On behalf of our friend Dennis O’Neil, I would like to recommend each and every item he’s recommended in the Recommended Reading portion of his weekly ComicMix column… and I also suggest when you’re at Amazon you check out his own billion or so books – you can’t go wrong with any of them. But, of course, particularly the ones I recommend at the end of this column.