< Piro >
Wednesday - September 17, 2003
For years I've read and collected quite a bit of manga, both English translations and original Japanese. The selection of stuff available for the Japanese deficient (including myself - people seem to think I am proficient in Japanese like comic-piro, but the truth is, I am not.) is remarkable these days. It's even getting to the point that we are seeing 'just ok' titles showing up instead of 'only the best stuff'. I think this is a good thing - it might help dispel the idea that all manga is good. :P
I think that there is this misconception that all Japanese comics are good and American comics suck. That's unfair, really - both have examples of excellence and excrement. I think that people feel that the Japanese stuff is great because the material meets their expectations more than the American counterparts typically do. I don't think this is because manga/anime 'style' is inherently 'better', its just that in the mass of work it's easier to find the stuff that appeals to our emotional needs. it doesn't mean it's not there. It's easy these days to stay safely in the bounds of 'japanese' titles, but I think that over time there are a lot of things you will miss by doing this. You really need to be daring and take a look around, there's some really good stuff out there.
Since I've sort of backed my way into the comics industry here in the states, Seraphim and I wanted to spend some finding out more about what is current and going on in the industry. It's been kind of fun, really. Anyways, let me run down some things that I enjoyed reading or thought looked interesting. Some I picked up at SPX, others I've found in my travels in recent months.
I came across the work of Arthur Dela Cruz several times while browsing the comics shop, and was surprise to recognize it in last year's SPX annual. I hadn't picked any of his comics, but I did like his art style. I was surprised at CN Anime when I saw some of his work at an artist's alley table - and Arthur himself sitting behind the table ^^;; Arthur's pencil work is wonderful - much like myself he works in a sketchy, loose but solid style, with the added plus of knowledge of anatomy and proportions :P I picked up his "Kissing Chaos" book (available from Oni Press) and was finally able to read it. There's some scariness to the story, and the way it's told is beautifully done. Sometimes, the art seems sparse (like I don't do that myself) and the nior style can really be intense, but it's something I'd definitely recommend.
Another comic I picked up at SPX that I really liked was The Adventures of Mia. I could do it a disservice by comparing it to Porcco Rosso (because it has much the same feel), but there's something delightful about Enrico Casarosa's drawings. The characters are very expressive, and the personalities come thru very clearly, and there is just a pleasant, nice feel to the work. I'm looking forward to picking up more of these as they come out. Mia is published by Monkeysuit Press - I also picked up 'the art of Mia', a very nice little companion sketchbook.
As I mentioned in my last rant, there were a few webcomics represented at SPX. The first I came across was Corey Marie Kitley's 'Life So Rad', and I picked up a few of her 'zines' (yeah, Kinko's really did mess up the freebies ^^;;) which were fun. The next one I came across was Gods & Undergrads by Monica Gallagher. She wasn't at the table at the time, but I flipped thru the printouts of the online work, and it definitely is worth checking out.
Then I came across a bit of crazyness where R. Stevens and Jonathan Rosenberg were sharing a booth hawkin stuff for their comics, Goats and Diesel Sweeties. Jonathan has several 'Goats' collections out, and he did it the smart way - he started backwards, printing collections of the more recent comics first... so I picked up Volume IV first. ^_^ (Goats is amusing, go read it if you don't already). I also picked up a copy of Volume One of Diesel Sweeties 'Pocket Sweeties'... y'know, there is just something -disturbing- about Diesel Sweeties. ^^;; But that's kind of the point, I think. Richard also gave us some bumper stickers, and I plan to put a 'It's Fun to use learning for Evil' sticker on either my car or my neighbor's car.
I think that was most of the webcomic folks (if I missed you, gomen! let me know).
Some of the more indie stuff was interesting too. Eric Kim and Miguel Sternberg gave me copies of their SAS comic at CN Anime, and it was quite amusing to come across their table at SPX. I really liked these little books, actually. They both have nice, exrpressive, manga-inspired styles that retain a unique character. Thanks for the books, guys.
I've been familiar with the work of Lea Hernandez for quite a while - I know she's been doing anime-style artwork longer than I have. :) I picked up volume 2 of her Texas Steampunk series 'Clockwork Angels', and found it quite enjoyable. Interesting twists, and I really enjoyed some of the subtlety in Amelia's expressions - that and the fact that characters like that amuse the hell out of me :)
I picked up an anthology collection called Fractured Kisses from Moonation Comics as well. Including the work of several different female artists and writers, both collections were interesting reads, drawing very heavily from various shoujo styles.
Some of my favorite comics that I picked up came from Slave Labor Graphics (yeah, these guys rule - a friend hooked me on Lenore months ago). If you get a chance, be sure to read GloomCookie by Serena Valentino and Ted Naifeh. Wonderfully gothic, I think my favorite chapter has to be the Girl Talk one. It just amused me to no end. There is an unsettling balance between the surreal and unearthly and the 'yeah, some of my gothy friends are like this' to the book.
The most inspiring for me, artistically, were the Nightmares and Fairy Tales books. These delightfully disturbing and unsettling stories (also by Serena Valentino) flow with this wonderful artwork by Foo Swee Chin (FSc) and... well, it makes me want to experiment with abstracting my own work a little. #4, the retelling of the snow white story, still spooks me.
There's more, of course, and I'll try to point out more stuff in the future, because of course I haven't even begun to scratch the surface. I've been reading manga titles too - most notably Tuxedo Gin... I don't know why, but I love this dumb little story, it's adorable. :) Sitting here is also .hack // Legend of the Twilight, and Hanaukyo Maid Tai, Kare Kano, Azumanga Daioh...
Ok, few other quick links and notes, while I am at it, having nothing to do with comics to read :P
If you are going to Nan Desu Kan in Denver, Colorodo, Megatokyo merchandise and stuff will be available at the Wizzywig booth. The Wizzywig folks have been doing a great job of making MT merchandise available for people to purchase at cons all across the country, including cons that I am not able to make it to, so be sure to stop and see what they have :)
A few MT related links to post. There is an interview I did with Applelinks that went up yesterday - its amazing, I actually sound coherent and non-stressed. Talks a bit about my leap into the mac world and other MT related stuffs.
Over at Anime Tourist, long time ago they posted a transcript of the SDCC panel we did with Greg Dean of Real Life Comics. Click here to give it a read :)
Megatokyo was mentioned in an article in the Japan Times recently. That was kinda creepy to read ^^;;
And finally... it's official, Megatokyo has been listed as being partially responsible for the degradation of the English language according to the BBC. I have to say, in my defense, its not my fault. It's Largo's fault. :P
Megatokyo t-shirts, posters and other merchandise can either be purchased online at the Megatokyo / ThinkGeek store, or from Wizzywig at various anime conventions around the country, even conventions that I will not be at. Below is a list of upcoming conventions where Wizzywig will be at:
- September 26-28 Anime Weekend Atlanta (Atlanta GA)
- October 3-5 C-Kon (South Bend IN)
- October 18 Motor City Comic Con (Detroit, MI)
- November 7-9 - Neko Con (Virginia Beach, VA)
- November 21-23 - Sugoi Con (Cincinnati OH)