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Strip 462, Volume 3, Page 127

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< Piro >

Nightmares and Fairy Tales...

"Alternative Readings, part 2"

Wednesday - September 17, 2003

[Piro] - 15:04:00 - [link here]

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 merchandise -

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)
Just for reference, here is Piro and Seraphim's con schedule for the rest of the year:

< Dom >

Necrid: One of many reasons I now hate Soul Calibur

"Goodbye to the stage of history"

Tuesday - September 16, 2003

[Dom] - 01:30:00 - [link here]

Thanks for your many replies to the girl gaming rant! I, uh, have a few deadlines to meet, so I won't be able to read through all of them until the weekend rolls around, but rest assured that I'm trying my best to do the subject justice. Patience is what I ask, especially since I'm not being paid for this, while I'm taking time away from something I am paid for.

Anyway. I don't know when I realized this. But I just can't bring myself to play Soul Calibur 2 anymore.

I can't quite explain why it is, since I loved the first Soul Calibur so much. I mean, when I finished Soul Calibur's mission mode, I used to delete my save game and do it all over again, just because I wanted to play more of it. But now, my roommate and I own all three versions of Soul Calibur 2 (I'd like to note that I didn't pay for mine, something I'm glad for) and I have absolutely no urge to play any of them.

Maybe it's because I spent too long around tournament players (yet this is odd too, since I used to work with WC Maxi and I was always just impressed with his Soul Calibur stories), and that made me bitter about the vast imbalance in the game, otherwise known as "Play as Cervantes or lose". Lack of variation bores me, and while most fighting games do have a top tier, it takes a massive imbalance like Marvel vs. Capcom 2 or Capcom vs. SNK 2 to turn me off to a game. After all, just like there are only so many Storm/Sentinel/Cable vs. Cable/Sentinel/Storm or Sagat/Sagat/X vs. Sagat/Sagat/X matches you can watch before you want to gouge your eyes out with a pencil, there is only so much Cervantes-on-Cervantes action you can stand before you feel like vomiting.

But wait, I think to myself, I never actually saw any tournament players play as Cervantes. So that can't be it. But maybe it was that I spent too much time studying frame counts and stuns that I forgot how to have fun with the game. That makes some sense, especially given that I only use 2 moves when playing as Cassandra (236 B and A K, if you must know) and maybe 8 when playing as Xianghua. And those two are my favorite characters, mostly because they're the least naked. And it's freaking boring playing as them (see below for more details on this).

Or maybe it's because I miss Mission Mode, and despise Weapon Master Mode. After all, the missions were part of what kept me going in Soul Calibur, and I don't like how the new weapons change the game (good god, WHY does Talim need range?). And those thrice-damned dungeons in 2 bore me to tears. The only way I can stand them is to have a friend around who plays as characters I don't like, so that we can combine to be a decent Charade player. I mean, honestly, who wants to play as one character for that long, especially in that dungeon where you fight nothing but goddamn Berserker? One of the reasons I liked Soul Calibur 2 in the arcades was that you could pick different characters in between matches, so you wouldn't lose just out of boredom (I know I had that problem with Faust back in my GGXX days). And yet the dungeons don't let you do that.

Or maybe it's that I think that the non-Spawn additional characters are largely crap. Necrid is ten times better than Cervantes, making him absolutely joyless to play either as or against, Link retains many useless moves from Smash Brothers and simply doesn't have much of a personality, and Heihachi is an annoying holdover from a series whose fourth game also bored me to tears (Tekken 4 players will probably know what I'm saying when I say "Screw 1 2 1 2, do something interesting, dammit").

Addition: Since I didn't feel that I could properly represent SC2 without talking to one of my regular playing buddies, Hodge-Podge, about why we got bored with versus play. Here's a transcript of that conversation

hodgepodge: the thing is, none of us (Me, You, Opus) are particularly good at the game
hodgepodge: plus, we don't really have the urge to get that much better
hodgepodge: competition SC2 demands dedication that none of us are willing to put up
hodgepodge: so when we play, we bust out the scrub tactics
hodgepodge: and well, there are only so many scrub tactics
dom: Quite possible
hodgepodge: to break the plateau we're on, we'd have to devote a huge amount of time to the game
hodgepodge: it's not happening
dom: But even when we play each other we just goof off
dom: And it's still not fun
dom: Charade-Charade matches only went so far
hodgepodge: I've played Opus a few times seriously
hodgepodge: it's fun at first, until you realize that you're at an impasse
hodgepodge: we've all seen the scrub tactics, but we're not good enough to break them yet
hodgepodge: so it seems boring
hodgepodge: cause we'll just do the things we've always done
hodgepodge: seriously, I've played X like you, and ya, it's boring as hell
hodgepodge: but pretty effective
dom: Meanwhile, even at the mid-level GGXX continues to fascinate me. It's weird
hodgepodge: probably because it's got a less steep learning curve
hodgepodge: as hard to believe as that is
hodgepodge: that and moves are significantly safer in GGXX
dom: ...especially if you're Faust
hodgepodge: yea
dom: or Eddie, for that matter
hodgepodge: 'course, I totally agree with you on the extra characters
hodgepodge: even spawn isn't all that
dom: I just like Spawn's voice
hodgepodge: heh
dom: Berserker is just a gigantic Rock, and Assassin is just Hwang
hodgepodge: don't forget Lizardman
hodgepodge: don't get why they didn't make it in
hodgepodge: oh well
dom: Who's the same Lizardman from last game
hodgepodge: yup
hodgepodge: supposedly they have truncated move lists though
dom: It's like, only Yunsung, Talim and Rafael play much differently from their SC versions
dom: Mostly because with the exception of Yunsung, they didn't HAVE SC versions
hodgepodge: heh
dom: while even the Street Fighters shake themselves up from game to game
hodgepodge: I'd say that Nightmare plays significantly differently
dom: except Ryu, but then again I never play as Ryu
hodgepodge: haha
hodgepodge: Cassandra is also different from Sophitia
dom: though they put Sophitia in pretty much unchanged from SC, also
hodgepodge: well, yea.
hodgepodge: She's an Extra character
hodgepodge: Come to think of it, Mitsu plays really different from his SC1 incarnation
dom: Does he?
hodgepodge: yea
dom: I didn't notice too much
hodgepodge: his Relic stance is completely different
hodgepodge: and they nerfed all his unblockables
hodgepodge: also nerfed his ringout game
dom: Ivy's new stance and new command throw added maybe 3 moves that were of any use
dom: Kilik got... one new stance
hodgepodge: it's a really good stance though
dom: with moves extremely similar to his other stance
dom: Xianghua didn't really change at all, nor did Astaroth as far as I see
hodgepodge: there's a few significant ones
hodgepodge: the double spin Great Wall Lower is guard crush
hodgepodge: which makes it infinitely safer
hodgepodge: she's got throw range now
hodgepodge: I think she actually got faster...
dom: Everyone got faster, though
hodgepodge: Mitsurugi and Maxi stayed about the same
dom: Taki... gained some stuff, lost it, and basically traded the back throw game for the Exorcism cancel game, I think
hodgepodge: I dunno... Exorcism cancel is pretty sick
hodgepodge: plus she has more fakes and more range moves
hodgepodge: like she needed those :-(
dom: Cervantes gained speedspeedspeed
hodgepodge: oh god
dom: And did I mention speed?
hodgepodge: his little back turn thrusty thing turned unblockable too
hodgepodge: yea, I'm feeling some wrongness
dom: wrongness in the rant, or?
hodgepodge: Cervantes
dom: ah, k
dom: curse you Cervy
hodgepodge: the rant is just whatever you think
dom: yeah, there's lots of opinion but nothing blatantly wrong is what I'm getting
dom: and that's good
hodgepodge: essentially, the three of us have hit the limit of what we wanna put into it

So maybe it's just that I've hit a plateau and have no urge to spend the time required to get better--which is odd, considering the sheer number of months my old roommate and I spent playing Soul Calibur back in my dorm room.

Or maybe I'm just much more bitter about games than I was four years ago, when Soul Calibur for the Dreamcast rocked my world in ways that it hadn't been rocked since the first time I saw A Clockwork Orange. Any way you cut it... goodbye, Soul Calibur 2. It was nice knowing you, but it's time to say goodbye.

credits

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