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May 23, 2006

Grease Monkey
Posted by Teresa at 02:38 PM * 149 comments

I’m happy. My second graphic novel is out: Grease Monkey, a 352-page hardcover written and drawn by Tim Eldred, with an intro by Kurt Busiek. Tim’s put up a Grease Monkey website, with all kinds of goodies on it, including an interview with the author and the entire first chapter in color. The second chapter goes up on June 01.

It’s gotten good reviews from the usual major venues—PW, Library Journal, Booklist—but so far my favorite reviewer comments have been “Gosh-a-rooty!” and “Let me say, wow wow wow, this graphic novel just kicks butt in that super cool gorillas as mechanics on a space stations sort of way. …”

There’s a guy named Joe Austin who used to work here in Legal, then went off to be an agent, then chucked it all to teach seventh-grade English in the NYC school system. He’s one of the good guys. Time before last when Joe came by to say hello and score some books, I gave him a copy of the advance bound galley of Grease Monkey. This last time Joe visited, he told me his seventh-graders have a waiting list to read it, and are despondent when it falls into the hands of one of his slower readers. (Also, they feel extremely cool about getting to read a book that hasn’t been published yet.) That made my month.

And an odd thing: some months after I acquired Grease Monkey, my friend Chris Couchserious academic, working comics editor, and old-time fanzine fan—dropped by my office and spotted some Grease Monkey pages that were lying on my desk. Chris broke out in a huge grin and said, “I edited that book!” And so he had: the first six issues, for Kitchen Sink Press. I’d had no idea.

Explaining Grease Monkey to Sales & Marketing has been a learning experience. So was my first graphic novel, Ballads, by Charles Vess et al. We’re still getting used to this whole graphic novel thing. One of the reasons Ballads was scheduled first was literally because it was easier to explain: “Look, it’s Charles Vess, who does such nice covers for us. Look, it’s Jane Yolen, Charles De Lint, Emma Bull, and other writers whom we publish, and Neil Gaiman and Sharyn McCrumb, who aren’t ours but are bestselling authors. With an essay by Terri Windling.” The weirdness of “graphic novel”* was offset by all those familiar names.

Obviously, I couldn’t do that with Grease Monkey. For months I got asked what other graphic novels it was like. Trouble was, there weren’t any. I was thus exceedingly grateful when Battlestar Galactica became a hit, because it meant I could say, “It’s a lot like Battlestar Galactica, only funnier, and with sentient gorillas.”

Comments on Grease Monkey:
#1 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 02:54 PM:

Time to go to the comics store again.

Congrats!

#2 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 03:01 PM:

Oh, Good!

(Wish I had seen the faces of the sales force with regard to sentient gorillas...)

#3 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 03:01 PM:

Thanks. It's beautiful. Production took a liking to it, so it's very nicely designed, and there are bits of the art embossed into the boards and spine.

There's always a chance that Production would have taken a shine to Grease Monkey even if Tim Eldred weren't a production guy himself. It was still nice to be able to tell them that the first time I talked to this new author, he was saying things like "I've been trying to think of ways to make this easier for production," and "Is there anything I can do to help with the pre-press work?"

#4 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 03:13 PM:

Bad timing! I just made my big mess-of-stuff-from-Amazon order for the spring.

Onto my Wish List it goes . . .

* * *

I guess "uplift" has become a canonical SFish word. An old concept that was just waiting for an official label.

#5 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 03:14 PM:

OK, if I hadn't been sold by everything else, "Battlestar Galactica...with sentient gorillas" would have done it.

Me buyee.

#6 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 03:14 PM:

Please.

They're sapient gorillas.

Plain ordinary Ann-Darrow-loving gorillas are sentient (in possession of senses) as you will find out if you walk near one wearing Banane Passionel from the Carmine Infantino Collection.

But it is a splendid book.

#7 ::: Cathy ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 03:17 PM:

I often get my newphew and niece advanced reading copies from library trade shows and my niece, upon finishing a chapter book, inquired of her mother, "Will the next one be out soon?" She was informed that this one wasn't even out yet, that her Aunt Cathy had magical properties that led books to leap into their mailbox before the publication date.

Graphic novels are becoming quite the thing now, look forward to seeing this one.

#8 ::: Elayne Riggs ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 03:18 PM:

Cool! I had no idea you'd written graphic novels! I'll have to put this one on order from Midtown. What's your first GN? Is it still available?

#9 ::: Elayne Riggs ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 03:19 PM:

Oops, I just reread. You've edited this one, then. :) Is it a collection? If so, I think I have all the originals from when they first came out...

#10 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 03:22 PM:

I'm afraid that buying these books new is beyond me at the moment, but I have placed holds on them at my library.

Yay!

#11 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 03:26 PM:

Hmmm . . . that BN gift card from last Christmas is around here somewhere . . .

#12 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 03:29 PM:

Mike, what was the name of Carmine Infantino's chimp detective? I wonder if he ever collided with Gorilla Grodd.

#13 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 03:35 PM:

"...he was saying things like 'I've been trying to think of ways to make this easier for production,' and 'Is there anything I can do to help with the pre-press work?'"

As a reformed graphic designer now working typesetting and platemaking for a commercial printer (the "day" job), ooohhhh boy do I love this guy!

Congrats, look forward to seeing it.

#14 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 03:42 PM:

Elayne, the Kitchen Sink issues are only the first part of the book. It goes on a long way from there.

#15 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 03:42 PM:

It did take me a couple of readthroughs to figure out that "your" book was more "your country" than "your leg".

#16 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 03:54 PM:

And it should sell well, with that gorilla on the cover.

#17 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 04:00 PM:

Sorry. It's my book the same way Spin by Robert Charles Wilson, Jane Lindskold's wolf books (plus several other titles), Steve Brust's Khaavren and recent Vlad novels, Stephan Zielinski's Bad Magic, a double handful of Doyle-and-Macdonald novels, assorted Harry Turtledove titles, and The Avram Davidson Treasury are my books.

They're the authors' books and always will be, and I'll always care about them.

#18 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 04:00 PM:

Ook.

#19 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 04:06 PM:

Avram, do gorillas sell?

#20 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 04:10 PM:

John--

Did you say Banane Passionel?

#21 ::: Sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 04:11 PM:

looks like fun. will buy when i can...

oh, and speaking of jane lindskold, I know they're EOS, but I want more anthanor novels.

#22 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 04:14 PM:

Do gorillas sell?

Nobody ever talks about having an 800-pound Crazy Eddie in the room.

#23 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 04:27 PM:

Congratulations. I've warmed slowly to graphic novels/memoirs/other categories. I like Persepolis very much, and In the Shadow of No Towers is amazing. Perhaps it's time to do the library thing and expand my boundaries a bit...

#24 ::: Alec Austin ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 04:33 PM:

Teresa: I believe that Avram is referring to the common knowledge in the comics industry that issues of a comic with gorillas, monkeys, and apes on the cover almost universally sell better than issues without said simians.

I never did counts or ordering when I worked at Comic Relief, so I can't attest to whether the numbers bear this out... but the belief has been out there a long time, so there's probably something to it.

#25 ::: Michael ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 04:42 PM:

Avram is probably referring to Julius Schwartz's autobiography which refers to "a trend in cover art featuring gorillas - all of which, incidentally, sold better than those without gorillas on them."

via a Howling Curmudgeons link to the comic book Gorilla Cover Index. The web is a marvellous thing.

#26 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 04:44 PM:

What a coincidence. I was just looking at the Gorilla Cover Index this morning.

#27 ::: Alexx Kay ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 04:48 PM:

More about gorilla covers:

When Mort Weisinger was editing the Superman line of comics at DC, he spent a lot of time examining which issues sold and which didn't, with the basic premise that the cover image was responsible. Things that seemed to be associated with sales spikes got a lot of repeat uses. Notable elements include: Gorillas, People Crying, Weddings, Dinosaurs, Spaceships, and Anything Purple. Every so often people who are aware of this history will create a comic book cover that combines most or all of these elements. The most recent high-profile appearance of this meme is probably the "Weeping Gorilla" character in Alan Moore's Promethea.

#28 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 04:52 PM:

Gorilla Grodd tells your mind, Purchase Grodd, Betty, and Veronica: Riverdale Liebestod miniseries. While you are suggestible, demand that AOL Time Warner knock off calling Grodd "Gorilla Grodd." Like people Can't. Flipping. Tell. Thank you and good night.

Uh, I'll go away now.

#29 ::: Don Simpson ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 04:52 PM:

I'm still trying to get issues I'm missing of early comics that Eldred worked on, particularly Cybersuit Arkadyne.

#30 ::: Joe J ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 04:55 PM:

And if a gorilla won't work, you could always have your main character on the cover acting like a dick.

Superman is famous for this: Superman is a Dick.

#31 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 05:03 PM:

super cool gorillas as mechanics

I read the blurb on amazon that gives the backstory, and the voice in my head exclaimed:

"So that's where Wookies came from"

#32 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 05:39 PM:

This reminds me that, with my wife being away, now is the time to start going thru the DVD set of Planet of the Apes movies she gave me for my 50th birthday. (She'd rather not be around while I'm watching because she has a thing about a series where every movie ends with a downer.)

#33 ::: Annalee Flower Horne ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 05:49 PM:

ok, I have to say.... BSG with sapient/sentient gorillas sounds like a pretty sweet deal.

#34 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 06:14 PM:

Somehow, Annalee, the idea of Galactica's Six as an 800-pound gorilla in a sexy red dress just doesn't do it for me. (Of course, the original doesn't either and, yes, I am heterosexual.)

#35 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 06:19 PM:

Superman is a dick

Well, the Mort Weisinger-era Superman acted like a six-year-old. He wanted attention, except from icky girls.

#36 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 06:27 PM:

(Of course, the original doesn't either and, yes, I am heterosexual.)

well, duh. starbuck is much hotter.

#37 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 06:30 PM:

Damn right that Starbuck is hotter, miriam. As a gorilla, not so much.

#38 ::: Stu Shiffman ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 06:34 PM:

Oh baby!! I just read the sample -- it's great, the best thing since sliced toast, Space Ape and Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp.

Besides, you always win with a gorilla on the comic book cover.

#39 ::: Stu Shiffman ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 06:39 PM:

((From Serge,
posted on May 23, 2006 03:29 PM:
Mike, what was the name of Carmine Infantino's chimp detective? I wonder if he ever collided with Gorilla Grodd.))

The character was Bobo, Detective Chimp!

#40 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 06:41 PM:

Put a gorilla on the cover and you have a winner, Stu. Even better if you add a tall statuesque human female, like Art Adams did with MonkeyMan and O'Brien...

#41 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 06:42 PM:

Right, Stu. Bobo it was.

#42 ::: Joe J ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 06:42 PM:

Alex K said:

More about gorilla covers:

When Mort Weisinger was editing the Superman line of comics at DC, he spent a lot of time examining which issues sold and which didn't, with the basic premise that the cover image was responsible. Things that seemed to be associated with sales spikes got a lot of repeat uses. Notable elements include: Gorillas, People Crying, Weddings, Dinosaurs, Spaceships, and Anything Purple. Every so often people who are aware of this history will create a comic book cover that combines most or all of these elements. The most recent high-profile appearance of this meme is probably the "Weeping Gorilla" character in Alan Moore's Promethea.

This explains why Jimmy Olsen is marrying a gorilla in front of a purple backgroud on this cover: The Bride of Jungle Jimmy.

#43 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 07:32 PM:

Sarah-

Fun choices of perfumes there.

However, the predominant smell of banana (isoamyl acetate) is also used as a pheremone by bees. (And an alarm signal by wasps?)

If the goal of a perfume is to attract swarms of people, not swarms of worker-bees, perhaps eau de stereotypical activity of men / women would be better.

So, in fandom, eau de library? de art show? de coffee klatch?

#44 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 07:48 PM:

Eau de all of the above, Kathryn from Sunnyvale...

#45 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 07:51 PM:

I wonder what things were like in the castle of the Wicked Witch of the West. First, there was her extreme allergy to water. And there were all those flying monkeys.

#46 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 08:06 PM:

Can we all agree that Starbuck could make romancing a gorilla look hot?

Hey, Stu! Long time no.

#47 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 08:07 PM:

Joe J... A remake/reinvention of The Bride of Jungle Jimmy sounds like just the right followup for Tor after Grease Monkeys.

#48 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 08:18 PM:

"I wonder what things were like in the castle of the Wicked Witch of the West."

Well, Dorothy didn't bring that bucket with her.

Perhaps the Witch's hydropathology was a closely guarded secret. We can imagine her carefully micromanaging the janitorial staff, lest she be anywhere near the mop brigade when they were swabbing the floors. Maybe she faked taking baths, making due with private rub-downs with a lufa and alcohol.

#49 ::: KristianB ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 08:59 PM:

I would just like to say, one of those posts you linked to led to me rediscovering Twice Upon a Time, a memory from my distant childhood that had all but disappeared. Thank you very much for that.

#50 ::: Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 09:54 PM:

Explaining Grease Monkey to Sales & Marketing has been a learning experience.

That's the virtue of wearing a necktie ... so you can set it on fire when you want to make the sales force take notice.

#51 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 10:06 PM:

Yes, Starbuck could make romancing a gorilla look hot. But I'd rather stick with the human version. In spite of her cigar-chomping.

#52 ::: Janet Bruesselbach ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 10:57 PM:

Hey, awesome! I still remember seeing the layout drafts for that from two years ago when I interned. I will check it out.

#53 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 11:48 PM:

Somehow, I ended up here.

#54 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 01:27 AM:

“It's a lot like Battlestar Galactica, only funnier, and with sentient gorillas.”

"...with a heart."

AYK, I've read it and loved it.

#55 ::: Chris Clarke ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 02:03 AM:

It's my book the same way ... Stephan Zielinski's Bad Magic... [is] my book

That's strange. There's this rather eccentric fellow I run into now and then in San Francisco who claims it's his book. Do you want I should tell him to stop saying that?

#56 ::: Giacomo ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 03:01 AM:

Lizzy L:"I like Persepolis very much, and In the Shadow of No Towers is amazing. Perhaps it's time to do the library thing and expand my boundaries a bit..."

if you liked Persepolis, you might want to check out "Maus", Jason Lutes' "Berlin", the Joe Sacco books, stuff from David Mazzucchelli (including the stunning adaptation of Paul Auster's "City of Glass")... then there's Daniel Clowes (which I really don't get but people usually like his stuff).

Sorry if these names seem obvious... the whole "decent graphic novel" thing is very scarce in the english-speaking world.

#57 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 03:35 AM:

the whole "decent graphic novel" thing is very scarce in the english-speaking world.

Didn't we just leave this party? Gaiman. Vess. de Matteis. Sienkewicz. Muth. Campbell. Kaluta. Miller (who has done a hell of a lot more than one stupid butt shot -- including the script for Batman: Year One, which has outstanding art by David Mazzuchelli). Motter and Steacy. Chaykin. And Will for-a-contract-with-God's-sake Eisner. And that's just people that float up from my cluttered preconscious. Now, it's likely that not all of these people would please everybody, and certain that they wouldn't equally please everybody -- I don't always like everything these people have done -- but that happens to be just as true of the Classic Prose Fiction Writers everybody can name from high school English.

I am trying very hard not to be the House Crank on this subject, but anybody who says that good panel-illustrated fiction is hard to find, particularly if it's qualified with a slam at work originally in English, either isn't looking very hard or is applying standards deliberately meant to be exclusive.

#58 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 04:35 AM:

Ah yes, gorilla covers. Various posters have already mentioned the sales-related reasons why DC comics in particular had so many. My long-time favourite gonzo gorilla cover is this one:

http://www.comics.org/coverview.lasso?id=21037&zoom=4

He's a mobster, he's a gorilla...and he's a *Mod*?

#59 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 04:43 AM:

No, Giacomo, decent graphic novels aren't scarce, as Mike pointed out. There is also Craig Russell's work, for example his adaptation of Wagner's Ring Cycle. Busiek & Ross's Marvels. Ross's U.S.. And, if I hadn't just woken up after a very short night, I probably could come up with a few other examples.

#60 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 04:54 AM:

Tor bloke #1: So, what's up with the publicity for "Grease Monkey"?
Tor bloke #2: Oh, we aren't doing any. Miz Teresa says conventional publicity's a waste. She wants us to put the news out through back channels.
Tor bloke #1: Discussion groups?
Tor bloke #2: Yeah... discussion groups, blogs, word of mouth, fanac, that sort of thing.
Tor bloke #1: You mean...
Tor bloke #2: Yes. (sigh) Gorilla marketing.

#61 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 05:18 AM:

Clueless interviewer: "Are you a Mod, or a Rocker?"
Ringo: "Well, I'm not a Monkee."

#62 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 05:34 AM:

A few years ago, wasn't there a Justice League story where Gorilla Grodd had turned the bunch into guess-whats? Yes, a gorilla capable of superspeed does sound rather silly.

#63 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 05:37 AM:

Shame on you, ajay. Even I couldn't stoop low enough to make that gorilla/guerilla joke. But you obviously could. Shame, shame, shame...

#64 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 05:39 AM:

So for maximum sales, we're looking for Purple Gorillas Crying at a Dinosaur Wedding on a Spaceship?

(I'm wondering if that's not a already country song, or a filk.)

#65 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 06:15 AM:

Doug: That's a Dinosaur Gay Wedding. Remember, a story with dinosaur sodomy is always preferred to a story without dinosaur sodomy. And in free fall? Even better.

It probably already is a country song. If not, JMF is probably writing it as we speak. In German.

Serge: Sorry. A man who would pun would pick a pocket (Sam: Johnson), but I can no more resist a setup like that than a man exceptionally keen on pies can resist, well, a pie.

#66 ::: Michael Croft ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 07:15 AM:

Serge: JLApe: Gorilla Wars! This Green Lantern Annual from 1999 was a crossover. Oddly, I can't find actual JLA covers from that "event" in the gorilla cover archive.

#67 ::: Harriet ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 07:38 AM:

Sure that's not Gorilla Crying at Purple Dinosaur Gay Wedding on a Spaceship ...

(I should't have said that, I really shouldn't)

#68 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 08:16 AM:

I'm wondering whether the gorillas sodomize the dinosaurs, or if it's the other way around.

In other news, my wife has a little note above her monitor that says, "It's not my book! It's not my book!"

#69 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 09:17 AM:

I am trying very hard not to be the House Crank on this subject, but anybody who says that good panel-illustrated fiction is hard to find, particularly if it's qualified with a slam at work originally in English, either isn't looking very hard or is applying standards deliberately meant to be exclusive.

Come the age of safe and reliable mpreg biotech, can I have your babies?

(Obligatory adding-to-the-list of Carey, Mignola, Smylie, Busiek, Morrison, Davis, Naifeh, Sim, and Speed, and I'm shutting up now too.)

#70 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 09:32 AM:

And, Dan, there was Moonshadow inthe Nineties. And DeMatteis & Ploog, but The Stardust Kid seems to have gone on hiatus. That's a shame. It's text-heavy and I loved comics like that, like what Alan Moore used to do in the Eighties with Swamp Thing and MiracleMan.

#71 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 09:46 AM:

If I may go to Teresa's original comment that this graphic novel is like Galactica but funnier... Being funnier that that show isn't difficult. Hell, nobody on that ship's crew even lets out some gallows-humor cracks that would have made Orbach's character proud on Law and Order.

#72 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 10:19 AM:

Giacomo wrote: Sorry if these names seem obvious... the whole "decent graphic novel" thing is very scarce in the english-speaking world.
And got prompty chastised for it. Ouch! Let's say we start again:
Is it possible that good quality non-english graphic novels outnumber english graphic novels? By a large margin? I had always heard it so - that hardbound "graphic novels" were the default mode of publishing "comics" in France, the Netherlands, etc. and that due to the law of large numbers, there were a lot of really good ones. (Not to mention the bound collections of Manga/Manwha that consume many many linear feet at Borders/B&N.) So, can it be just a market effect: english "good panel-illustrated fiction*" is just really hard to find by comparision? It's not as though we have much of a mental-cultural space to wedge the stuff into - "graphic novel" is a terrible genre label, particularly since it doesn't specify genere.

Am I being a troll? I don't mean to bait, really. I will say that I have read more than half of the artists/writers John Ford mentioned - and that I like less than half of them - but that is likely to be a defect in me, not in the quality of their work. Frankly, I enjoy the subtle comedies of Jane Austen over the anomie of Haran Ellison, or the braggadochio of Heinlien. (Though lots of Heinlien is great fun.) Oh, and I second the reccomendation of "Marvels" - genius work there.

-r.

*excellent phrase, btw.

#73 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 10:31 AM:

rhandir... There's one thing that people always forget to mention when comparing American graphic-novel works to what goes on in, say, France... A lot of American work is published on a fairly tight & regular schedule. Unless you're Grant Morrison who manages to have his latest issue of Superman be quite late in spite of the Man of Steel being faster than a speeding bullet.

Meanwhile, in France... Unless things have changed since I moved out of the francophone world, they don't serialize anymore. That means they take as long as it takes to get the darn thing done and then they publish it.

#74 ::: pedantic peasant ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 11:10 AM:

Rob Hansen:

My long-time favourite gonzo gorilla cover is this one: Blue Ape

He's a mobster, he's a gorilla...and he's a *Mod*?

He also bears a remarkable resemblance to Marvel's "Beast" aka Hank McCoy. Which, given the dialogue bubble is probably deliberate... Which is probably another sub-set of comic book trivia: the *wink wink* "other-book" character. What is that called, "Brand-cloning"?

Serge:

Shame on you...that pun was great. Wish I'd though of it.

Ajay:

Wonderful. Thank you. (But then I like puns, always have, and if I had thought of it, I doubt I'd have resisted either.)


Teresa: Thank you [I think :) ]. Another book in the "I need more money so I can buy these" pile.

John M. Ford

Yes we did this less than a month ago. For then, as now, "Thank you".

(And FWIW I'd say you're more a Voice of Reason than the House Crank.)

#75 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 11:19 AM:

Moonshadow is indeed a gem, and doesn't get nearly enough attention.

#76 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 11:21 AM:

pedantic peasant... Oh, I agree about the 'quality' of ajay's pun. You know what geeky boy-wonder Harper once said on Andromeda?

"Puns are the lowest form of humor - unless you think of it first."

#77 ::: Tim Eldred ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 11:38 AM:

Hi, everyone!

Thanks for all your kind words and great reviews! One of the reasons I didn't want to publish GM through another comic book company was that I knew they wouldn't have money/time/resources for publicity and it would probably just sit on shelves and flounder and fade away. This is the first time I've gotten any pre-release attention, and not only is it all positive, it already outnumbers ALL the press I've EVER gotten on EVERYTHING I've ever done!

It's always nice to find out you've made the right move...

Cheers,
Tim

#78 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 11:58 AM:

Cheers to you, Tim. I'd already have my copy of your book, were I not in a car-less state. (My wife and a friend are on a Thelma & Louise tour of the Southwest.)

#79 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 12:02 PM:

More pre-release free publicity: Kage Baker's collection Dark Mondays (due in late July from NightShade) has more originals than reprints, and includes the fabuloso story "Monkey Day". Fans of the piratical will also want to check out original novella "The Maid on the Shore" (featuring Captain Morgan and a very peculiar cast), and all everyone who's really sick of all that Code hoopla simply has to read "Silent Leonardo". I'll be saying much the same in my July column in Locus, but you might want to start saving up those pennies right now.

And Teresa, that graphic sounds really cool! Thanks for the info.

#80 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 12:03 PM:

Serge: [..]what was the name of Carmine Infantino's chimp detective?

Stu Shiffman: The character was Bobo, Detective Chimp!

He's featured as the lead
in a new series titled Shadowpack!

From a recent interview with Dan Didio in Wizard
regarding the recent Infinite Crisis series:

What has been biggest shocker out of all the shocking events thus far?
Ted Kord’s death, Wonder Woman killing?

I think it’s Detective Chimp leading the Shadowpack (laughs).
I never expected him to rise to the top.
I always figured it would Nightmaster,
but there’s something about a talking monkey that people want to follow.

Monkeys are the top of the comedy pyramid.

Exactly (laughs).

I think the characters on the back bench
may need to played occasionally
for copyright reasons.

The phrase
"he's relaxed, tan, and ready for '08!"
suggested itself.

But the line in the interview,
"there’s something about a talking monkey that people want to follow",
seemed suggestive too.

#81 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 12:38 PM:

Shadowpack, Rob? Duly noted.

By the way, if I may have a geeky bragging moment... I still have the complete run of Marvel's black&white Planet of the Apes. From Quebec City during my college days, to my getting married in Toronto, to moving to California and then to New Mexico, it's still with me.

#82 ::: pedantic peasant ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 01:04 PM:

Serge:

I believe its Shadowpact, actually, with a "T". A lot of DC's second-string magical heroes (which is almost redundant). It's just started.

If you're interested, you can peek here

#83 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 01:08 PM:

I'm reading a monograph on Chris Ware right now, with a big magnifying glass in hand so I can actually make sense of the images in the baby's-fingernail sized panels.

(Once sequence of these, in Jimmy Corrigan, details a genelogical sequence that reveals a flabbergasting family secret.)

#84 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 01:09 PM:

Thanks, pedantic peasant... I notice that the covers show women with what Kathryn Cramer (?) calls improbable breasts.

#85 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 01:10 PM:

"I'm wondering whether the gorillas sodomize the dinosaurs, or if it's the other way around."

Well, the gorillas have hands, but . . .

Ummmmmmm, let's not go there.

John Barnes, I think, wrote a disturbing little short story that began with some interspecies same-sex 69. On a spaceship, not in Zero-G as I recall.

#86 ::: pedantic peasant ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 01:39 PM:

Serge:

Yes indeedy. Practically inescapable in the funny-tights books.

They just finished a mini-series, wasn't bad.


#87 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 03:17 PM:

pedantic peasant wrote:

>>Rob Hansen:

>>My long-time favourite gonzo gorilla cover is >>this one: Blue Ape

>>He's a mobster, he's a gorilla...and he's a >>*Mod*?

>He also bears a remarkable resemblance to >Marvel's "Beast" aka Hank McCoy. Which, given >the dialogue bubble is probably deliberate... >Which is probably another sub-set of comic book >trivia: the *wink wink* "other-book" character. >What is that called, "Brand-cloning"?

'Fraid not. That cover's from the 1960s. Hank McCoy didn't become his current hairy self until the 1970s.

#88 ::: Giacomo ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 05:02 PM:

John and Ford:
a) we were talking about graphic novels. Gaiman's top works were in a series. it's not nitpicking: I can read Persepolis in an afternoon... with Sandman, from the (lower-quality) beginning, I need much more time to get "into it".
b) Much of the stuff you mention, I dare you to find any in a "standard" bookshop, even one of those nice little ones in 2-degrees-per-household suburbs north-west of London. I'm not going to scare people into "teenagerish" comic-shops; I am one of the tribe and know rules and customs, but "average" people, especially if female, always find that kind of places quite sad and/or distressing, so I try to advocate stuff "outside comic shops".
c) as pointed out by rhandir, the english-speaking world is put to shame by the french, the japanese and often even the italian industry. If the english-speaking market was half the size of the japanese one, it would be three times bigger than now.
d) I am sorry, I came to hate the "super-heroes(TM)" industry. Call me an elitist, I don't care. I know that people like Miller (and his admirers) came out of it, but still, for one Miller you have 10 Tom DeFalco, and this has killed the industry as a whole.

(sorry if this seems a flame, it's just that I love the medium and I wish we could see more good stuff in "normal" places)

#89 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 05:21 PM:

Giacomo,
Your reference to 2-degrees-per-household suburbs north-west of London. is a little opaque. Could you expand on that? (I am a native of a large, but inward-looking country on the east coast of North America, so I don't get it.)

-r.

#90 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 06:05 PM:

Well, Giacomo, it had been a long time since I had come across that attitude towards comic-books. In fact, it's been 20 years, which is when I left Quebec City to live in the anglophone part of North-America. In QC, people didn't quite understand the appeal of this crude quintessentially American crap when there was so much good stuff coming from Europe. They didn't understand I could enjoy both kinds. They couldn't show respect for my own tastes which in no way kept them from seeking the 'good' stuff. And nobody forced them to read my kind of garbage. Please show some respect.

#91 ::: Chris Couch ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 06:05 PM:

Teresa,
Congratulations on bringing out all of Grease Monkey. When it came to me at Kitchen Sink, I was really happy to have an SF comic that was what I think of as the best kind of all-ages creation: like a great newspaper strip, adults could read and enjoy, and bright kids (like my daughter who was in grade school) could dive in, too. I hope it gets the attention (i.e. sales) it deserves, along with the notice and praise you've quoted.

And thanks for all the links about...me! Some of those I hadn't ever seen. You've tracked a good bit of my multinefarous past all in one sentence. I feel hypertextually light headed.

Chris

#92 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 07:02 PM:

John and Ford

We're both here. What the heck is that about?

Gaiman's top works were in a series.

a) Violent Cases. Signal to Noise. Mr. Punch. Murder Mysteries. Stardust. There are others, as well as things like Books of Magic that were spread over a few issues but are now available. and complete, in single volumes. For that matter, the first issues of Sandman are a complete unit -- it wasn't known at the time that the book would be an ongoing series -- and are so collected. (If it is really a criterion for you, you will find it rather difficult to read Grease Monkey in one uninterrupted sitting.)

b) I can find all this stuff at Dreamhaven Books, which by fortuitous chance is eight blocks from my house. Now, Dreamhaven is not a general bookstore, but neither are they a "comics shop;" they have multiple genre specializations. And they are by no means hostile to women. Particularly the female employees, and the female manager. Not that purchase location has anything to do with quality, which was the issue at hand.

c) Again, the volume of publication is not what was being talked about. Yes, the Japanese produce huge quantities of manga. Nobody reads all of them, because they're published in an equally huge variety of specialties -- sushi chef manga alongside dai-kaiju and numerous subgenera of martial arts and romance. I doubt that the audiences for From Eroica with Love and Rapeman overlap by much, but that, once more, is a matter of taste. You mentioned Jane Austen; are you equally fond of the river of romantic pulp from Don Mills, Ontario -- and more importantly, is Austen invalidated by it?

d) Ah, the good old "some of it's crap, so it's all crap" argument. You don't like superheroes. Lots of people don't like superheroes, although some of them are responding to a dated image rather than the present reality. (We're still seeing articles in mass-market publications that throw in TV-Batman sound effects, thinking they're being cool.) No, the bad writers (I'm not going to name names, though I could) have not "killed the industry." Vertigo is doing just fine inside big ol' bad ol' DC (and we sometimes forget that a few of the startup Vertigo titles did not find an audience and quietly died). And, too, a lot of the generic folks-in-tights writers have large and loyal audiences for their particular visions. Nobody is forcing anyone to read anything.

It really doesn't sound to me like you "love the medium." It sounds like you love what you love, and you want everything to suit your individual tastes (like the last person who brought this up, who actually said he wished that there weren't any superheroes at all in the comic shop). It might be useful to point out that here in boring old talent-impaired America we had a time when people got to impose their particular tastes on what everyone could and could not read. We call it the Comics Code Era.

#93 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 07:25 PM:

Meanwhile, on Salon.com...

"...And just this morning, the Washington Post walks us through Bill Frist's early-morning bathroom routine -- shower, hair dryer, the whole bit -- by way of telling us that he sometimes performs heart surgery on gorillas at the National Zoo..."

There's got to be a joke somewhere in there.

#94 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 08:04 PM:

So you think this is a graphic novel I'll understand? I do newspaper cartoons fine, but comic books frequently confuse me.

To add to the namedropping, I typed for Frank Miller when Ellen Datlow interviewed him for the short-lived Event Horizon. He was a lovely man to talk to.

And Serge, did you miss the paragraph where it says the room smells like ape sweat and so forth, and then the last para where he just puts a clean shirt over his scrub top and went to work? Ewwwwww.

#95 ::: FMguru ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 08:12 PM:

Also:

b) In America, every big-box chain bookstore (Borders, Barnes & Noble, etc.) has several shelving units dedicated to graphic novels (both superhero and non-), along with an entire aisle of Japanese manga books. It's really rather easy to score copies of Maus or Jimmy Corrigan or Blankets or From Hell or Bone or Krazy Kat archives. Benefits of civilization, I suppose.

#96 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 08:25 PM:

Yes, Marilee, I did miss the paragraph about simian bodily odors. Glad I did.

So, not only is Frist a doctor who can diagnose Terri Schiavo by way of a TV set, but he can also perform heart surgery. My, he sounds almost like... like... Doctor Clark Savage. Or Buckaroo Banzai.

"It's your planet, monkeyboy."

#97 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 08:27 PM:

Grrrrr!

I'm quite P.O.'d at my local Borders for what has been happening to their comics section.

Background: When my Discover Card cash-back-bonus ticker hits $20, I use the funds to get a Borders gift card. They used to double the amount, now they just give you a $25 card. Still a good deal.

I used to use the card to buy "something new" at the local Borders. When I first started this practice, the graphic novel section was fairly large; half or a third of an aisle, say. Six shelving units.

As FMguru notes, you could get a wide range of stuff, not just superhero comic reprints.

I bought Understanding Comics, Jimmy Corrigan, A Contract With God, my first Krazy Kat collection, a Maakies book, and much more this way. There were a few duds along the line, but it was fun.

The visit before last, the graphic novel section had shrunk, while the Manga section had grown.

On my last visit, non-superhero graphic novels had dwindled to one shelf unit, superheroes another. The rest of the aisle . . . manga.

Please forgive me . . . but I have really come to resent that formulaic teeny-bopper stuff.

Yeah, I'm glad teenage girls are reading, and reading more than pabulemic YA series books. But cripes man!

I use my gift cards at borders.com now.

#98 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 08:41 PM:

On my last visit, non-superhero graphic novels had dwindled to one shelf unit, superheroes another. The rest of the aisle . . . manga.

Please forgive me . . . but I have really come to resent that formulaic teeny-bopper stuff.

Yeah, I'm glad teenage girls are reading, and reading more than pabulemic YA series books. But cripes man!

Said teenage girls include my younger son, be it noted.

#99 ::: Luthe ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 09:06 PM:

*waves to Professor Couch* Teresa forgot to link to your teaching exploits at UMass and Haverford, methinks. :)

Making Light: making six degrees of seperations more interesting by the comment...

#100 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 10:50 PM:

Stefan Jones wrote,

On my last visit, non-superhero graphic novels had dwindled to one shelf unit, superheroes another. The rest of the aisle . . . manga.
Please forgive me . . . but I have really come to resent that formulaic teeny-bopper stuff.
Yeah, I'm glad teenage girls are reading, and reading more than pabulemic YA series books. But cripes man!
Fragano Ledgister replied:
Said teenage girls include my younger son, be it noted.

I say:
Said teenage girls also include myself and three of my thirty-something male peers. My manga can kick your graphic novels' ass.*
-r.

*props to TNH for the ass-kicking meme.

#101 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 11:35 PM:

My manga can kick your graphic novels' ass.

Anyone for Mexican wrestling?

#102 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 11:35 PM:

Rob Rusick: [..] featured as the lead
in a new series titled Shadowpack [..]

pedantic peasant: I believe its Shadowpact[..] with a "T".

Right you are ( you already knew that ).

I should whine ( I am whining )
that I copied the title from the Dan Didio interview. . .

. . . but then I remember that I found the link to that particular interview
by misspelling the title in my google-search in the first place.


#103 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 11:53 PM:

i think it's a shame english graphic novels & manga should be set up against each other. the new popularity of manga doesn't steal fans away from comix, & hopefully, the fact that they are lumped together means that someone who would never consider comix gets into manga, & then considers comix.

i am one of those unheard of american girls who was raised on comic books & feels comfortable in the geekiest, dustiest comicshops you can imagine. & i have felt sad to see manga first getting a toehold & then crowding out the graphic novels on shelves of comic shops. & it is sucky that large booksellers conclude that if they're buying more manga, they must buy fewer graphic novels.

but when i catch myself thinking "gah, that stuff's just for silly teenage girls, with all the faces looking the same, & the no feet & the boys all look like girls," i immediately realize how stupid it sounds. cause i haven't read any of what's on the manga shelves. & those sentiments are exactly like what non-comix people think of graphic novels. & besides, akira changed my life & i would walk over hot coals to read a new book by katsuhiro otomo.

so, i guess what i'm saying is, hi, manga people! what would you recommend for someone whose tastes run alan moore/terry moore/eddie campbell/phoebe gloeckner/will eisner? uniquely nice artwork is a priority.

#104 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2006, 12:16 AM:

miriam... Of course there is room for all kinds of graphic work. That was the point of my own response to Giacomo.

Now, does that mean no Mexican wrestling?

#105 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2006, 12:22 AM:

Forgot to ask, miriam... Ever seen the movie Free Enterprise? Now, there's a movie by comics fans for comics fans. I especially liked the scene where the main character finds the love of his life in a comics store, but she will reject him if he fails the Sandman test.

#106 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2006, 01:36 AM:

no, never heard of it.

......& after looking at the imdb entry, i am not much better informed. was it like, canadian or something (geeky premise, william shatner, eric mccormack)?

#107 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2006, 01:46 AM:

No, miriam... Free Enterprise was set and filmed around Los Angeles. It doesn't have much of a plot, but it's amusing. Like I said, it was made by comics fans and it shows because none of the main characters, male or female, fit the stereotypical appearance of comics fans, if you know what I mean and I think you do. Why don't you rent it? And if you don't like it, I'll deny having suggested watching it.

#108 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2006, 05:26 AM:

Quoth miriam beetle: hi, manga people! what would you recommend for someone whose tastes run alan moore/terry moore/eddie campbell/phoebe gloeckner/will eisner? uniquely nice artwork is a priority.

Not quite sure how to parse "uniquely nice", but as far as breaking out of the subgenres of magical girls mit bishounen or boys' own gaming fantasies, you might (or might not) want to peek into "Lone Wolf and Cub". The current reprints are distinctively stubby little volumes, which is a bit of a shame in contrast to the full magazine-sized reprint issues that were coming out several years ago, but hey. It has no toy tie-ins that I know of, though there was a series of live-action movies several decades ago, and "Road to Perdition" is also loosely based on LW+C.

(I should perhaps note that LW+C has tended to bounce off me so far, although my husband adores the series. The art style, detailed historical setting, and general dark tone of the series all strike me as similar to "From Hell", though, which is why I mention it.)

Or to veer back into American graphic novels, "Usagi Yojimbo" feels very much like a historically-based manga without particularly looking like one.

#109 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2006, 05:36 AM:

I thought I'd made a post before to this effect, but it didn't seem to go through: I hadn't heard of Grease Monkey before this, but having read the first chapter I'll go look for it next time I go to Comic Relief (i.e., tonight).

Hey, and if we're using this thread to pimp our favorite graphic novels, I wanna mention True Story Swear to God. It's an autobiographical romance comic that is funny and sweet. I first noticed it when one issue featured a trip to Comic Relief itself, but I've since become a big fan.

#110 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2006, 08:43 AM:

Quoth miriam beetle: hi, manga people! what would you recommend for someone whose tastes run alan moore/terry moore/eddie campbell/phoebe gloeckner/will eisner? uniquely nice artwork is a priority.
I think I have a hunch about what you mean by uniquely nice artwork, but sadly I'm not as familiar with Moore, Moore, Cambell, & Gloeckener's work as I should be.

Anyway, I feel obligated to answer the question, since I dragged manga into this.

I'll second Lone Wolf and Cub, and move on.
Uzumaki by Junji Ito* is a deliciously creepy horror story on a theme of spirals, and only runs to 4 volumes. The artwork is much more in the style of "gnarly, detailed horror/alternative" independant comics of the 80's-90's. Probably the closest in style to Gloeckner from what I can google of her. Due to the serial nature of the original publication, it feels anthology-ish. Note that I haven't read the last volume yet, which is reported to have one of those mindboggling cosmic endings that crop up pretty frequently in Japanese storytelling.**

Oh My Goddess is a lighthearted, sweet, romance - for guys (no sex please!) that has been running for about 17 years. Artwork is very light, but obsessively detailed - the artist loves all thing mechanical. Really good line control here. Fujishima gets a huge of range of subtle emotion onto his character's faces - it is a testament to the emotional flexibility you can get with big eyes. Some of the better volumes are the later ones, I'd look for Vol 19/20, Sora's Revenge, which is available in the old style large format. Alternatively, #17, "Traveler" is pretty good too. Plot: unlucky but good hearted engineering student Keiichi is granted one wish by one of the three Norns. He promptly wishes for her, hilarity ensues. Explores themes of unspoken love, free will, superstring theory, and annoying relatives. Falls in the "Magical Girlfriend" genre.

Full Metal Alchemist is a darkly humorous adventure story about a pair of young boys obsessed with bringing their mother back from the dead. It's not giving too much away to note that in their first try things go badly and one loses an arm and a leg, and is forced to bind his brother's soul to a suit of armor. The pair work as enforcers for the State, in a world much like an alternate universe Weimar Germany. Wacky hijinks ensue, mixed with themes of death, revenge, and suspicion of religious belief. Seriousness and humor compete with each other on almost every page, and the artwork reflects that. A good introduction to the humor-in-drama visual idioms of manga, such as the veering into tiny, abstracted forms (chibi) and back again.

I can think of a great many other manga that are really different from one another, and have compelling storylines, but who's artwork is pretty far from the artists you have mentioned. Rozen Maiden, Imadoki, Maison Ikkoku, Her Majesty's Dog, Naruto, Azumanga Daioh, Hikaru no Go, Nodame Cantabile, and Ruroni Kenshin are all pretty good bets, but for completely different reasons. (Some reasons more obscure than others.) Maybe I'll describe them in another post.

-r.

*Any relation to Joi?
**Sometimes called a scrwjb ending by disgruntled fans.

#111 ::: Phil Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2006, 10:45 AM:

I recently made a slew of manga recommendations at a message board I frequent, and feel no shame whatosever in recycling them for another audience:

Planetes - In the not-too-distant future, mankind has established a firm foothold in space, with plenty of orbital industry, a thriving Moon colony, and a manned mission to Jupiter in the works. It's an exciting, glamorous time...except for the poor bastards who have to pick up the garbage. Planetes is hard SF about orbital debris collectors with wonderful characters and a lovely ending. And, at five volumes total, it's relatively short, at least by manga standards.

Naoki Urasawa's Monster - When a gifted surgeon saves the life of a young boy, his own life becomes intertwined with that of a ruthless, inhuman serial killer. Cue eighteen volumes of psychological horror, grim detective work, and (from what I've been told) some astonishing plot twists. Urasawa combines edge-of-your-seat writing with top-notch, highly realistic art to produce one of the absolute best comics being published in America today. Yes, it's long, but the payoff looks to be absolutely worth it. Two volumes of a projected eighteen are currently available.

Nausicaa - Ideally, all I have to do is say, "It's by Hayao Miyazaki", and everyone reading this would immediately rush out and buy it. However, for those of you who aren't quite as enlightened, it's Studio Ghibli's master of the fantastic drawing a gorgeous, cationary science fiction tale of environmental disaster, the surviving civilization, and those who would bring back the devistating weapons of the past. There's a terrific movie based on the comic; go rent that and, if you like it, consider the comic crucial reading. Seven volumes, available from Viz in a lovely new edition.

Death Note - A bright high school student stumbles across a notebook left laying around by a bored death god and discovers the notebook's power to kill anone whose name is written in it. Unfortunatly, the student then decides he can use this notebook to change the world for the better, at which point all hell breaks loose. Cue a cat and mouse game between the student, the brilliant detective determined to catch him, and an increasing number of third parties with murder on their minds. The series gets a bit talky at times, but the concept is intriguing and the art is terrific. Five volumes have been released with another seven or so to go, and they're a bargin at eight bucks a pop.

Genshiken - When a college freshman runs into an old childhood friend who has gone from gawky to gorgeous, she's convinced that she's found the perfect boyfriend. Then she learns of his all-consuming devotion to otaku culture and finds herself caught in the vortex of the local anime club. Cue our heroine trying to make sense of the hapless geeks and the cartoons, comics, and video games that dominate their lives. While it's nice to get the in-jokes, fear not - you can know absolutely zilch about anime and still have a blast reading this comic. Wacky hijinx abound, with a touch of romance thrown in to keep things interesting. Five volumes of a projected eight are currently available from Del Ray.

Golgo 13 - The legendary assassin Golgo 13 has been taking on assignments every two weeks for over three decades and has never failed to get his man. However, even if the end of each story is never in question, the details of each operation are never less than fascinating. G13 travels the world, from conflict zones to big cities to rural backwaters, and dispatches his target with plenty of action, politics, and sex along the way. With over 130 volumes published in Japan, there's a lot of G13 to choose from. Fortunatly, omnibus editions collecting both the author's and the reader's favorite stories were recently released, which Viz has licensed for the US market. This means we'll be getting 13 of Golgo 13's greatest capers. Each and every story is completely stand alone, so grab a volume (two are available) and see what you think.

Nodame Cantabile - A very quirky romantic comedy about our heroine Nodame (who can charitably be described as "eccentric") who falls for a piano student and would-be conductor at her music school. His reaction ranges from horrified, to resigned, and eventually to intrigued once he gets a glimpse of her vast, untapped potential. But mostly he's horrified. Nodame Cantabile provides a charming look inside the world of classical music with plenty of romance to boot. However, as much as I love this title the humor strikes me as very love it or hate it, so sit down at your local big box bookseller and read a bit of the first volume before jumping in. Five volumes are out, with the series at volume thirteen and still going in Japan.

Anything by Osamu Tezuka - He's not called the God of Comics for nothing. Don't let the cutesy style of his characters fool you; Tezuka is a master storyteller, with work ranging from the light to the very heavy indeed. In particular, I'd recommend either Phoenix or Buddha. Phoenix alternates between early Japanese civilization and humanity's far future amont the stars, coming closer together with each volume and telling the story of the legendary phoenix and how her power affects mankind. As each volume is (reasonably) self contained, I'd recommend starting with my favorite, Karma, released in the US as volume four of the series. Meanwhile, Buddha is just what it sounds like, a biographical comic about the trials and tribulations of the man himself. This is far more entertaining than it sounds, as Tezuka does a bang-up job of dramatizing Buddha's life, with plenty of humor and action thrown in to spice things up a bit. Vertical has just released the first of eight volumes of Buddha in paperback.

I also third the recommendation for Lone Wolf and Cub, which combines a bloody, epic revenge story with tons of historical detail. It's a bit long at 28 volumes but the payoff is well worth it. The same creators collaborated on a shorter series, Samurai Executioner, a series of lurid tales of crime and punishment (so to speak) in a more self contained format. Either series is top notch and highly recommended.

And that's probably more than enough manga recommendations for the time being. I'd recommend any of these titles to a curious adult who hasn't picked up a comic in ages and wants to see what all the fuss is about.

#112 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2006, 09:36 PM:

Now, I like Miyazaki movies -- I've rented all that I can find in the US -- but like Jo Walton, I have some trouble finding the direction of the story in comics.

#113 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2006, 11:30 PM:

"I have some trouble finding the direction of the story in comics."

Same here; I did try.

#114 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2006, 11:54 PM:

Marilee & Stefan Jones wrote/echoed,
"I have some trouble finding the direction of the story in comics."
Can you tell me more about that? I'm curious about the different ways people read comics. (Some comics are very difficult to parse from panel to panel without lots of experience, but I'm not sure if that is what you are referring to.*)

-r.
*I couldn't find a reference to Jo Walton on this page, either. Did I miss a whole thread somewhere?

#115 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2006, 01:17 AM:

I read a wide variety of comics, and sometimes parsing the difficult stuff is part of the fun!

But what I read of Nausicaa just didn't do it for me. Maybe if I tried again it would be different, but I have too much on my in-queue to think about borrow / buying it again.

Warren Ellis had an interesting comment in his email column a few months back, about the style of emotional engagement that manga "want." Can't find it now, dang it.

#116 ::: Glenn Hauman ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2006, 02:53 AM:

...and Ostrander, Truman, Grell, Matt Wagner, McCloud, Kane, the Pinis, Foglio, Doran, Thompson, Bendis, Ellis, Kirby, Wood, Veitch, I can keep this up longer than you can... (Heidi MacDonald doesn't wander in here, does she?)

Teresa handed me galleys of this book a few months back, and I was both pleased at her decision and irked that I didn't think of it as a candidate for the occasional graphic novel line at Tor.

Truly, the gorilla your dreams.

Re: Superman acting like a six-year-old: Weisinger tested out cover concepts on local six year olds, and had writers take the covers they liked and write stories around them.

As for other gorilla covers, this was the one from my time at DC, where they tried to include all the comic cliches. Purple, dinosaurs, purple dinosaurs pre-Barney, a question, and I remember them trying like hell to get the go-go checks on the cover. Never found out if it boosted sales.

#117 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2006, 05:14 AM:

Well, the people at Comic Relief tell me that Grease Monkey isn't officially released until May 30, and they're not sure when it'll come in for them. So I have to wait a bit.

One thing to remember when reading manga is that the default panel transition is top-to-bottom. That is, if there are two directions you can go and no other clues as to story flow, look at the panel under the one you're reading, rather than the one to the right. That'll help you when reading, say, Nausicaa (which is terrific, by the by).

I suspect this relates to Japanese writing, which similarly has its primary direction top-to-bottom.

(If you're reading the manga with unflipped artwork, then naturally that should be "left" instead of "right".)

#118 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2006, 06:31 AM:

Meanwhile, Stephanie Zacharek reviews X-men: The Last Stand on Salon.com. She definitely digs comics and knows what they are about and gave the movie a good rating. Everybody else has been trashing the movie and she says that, yes, the movie is a bit of a mess, but half of one and she considers that surprising, what with Brett Rattner being the director. The only problem is the one I was afraid of: too many frigging characters. The bottom line is that I was depressed about the whole situation, but she makes me think I definitely will enjoy this. Too bad I have to wait until tomorrow night, but I will finally get to see the Danger Room. And the Sentinels.

#119 ::: Tim Eldred ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2006, 07:32 PM:

Hi all...

Well, strange stuff goes on here in L.A. (I mean, other than the usual strange stuff...)

I visited a Borders here today to see if they had Grease Monkey, and they told me that although it was available on May 17, they are not carrying it. Ditto other Borders in the local district. I haven't gone anywhere else yet to look for it.

Not sure what to make of this. Has anyone seen it in their local bookstore yet? I didn't think anyone could get it before the 30th, but now I'm uncertain.

Good news: I got a brief writeup on BoingBoing.com earlier this week which resulted in over 3,000 hits on my website! I am astonished at the power of this internet stuff...

-Tim Eldred

#120 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2006, 07:56 PM:

rhandir, Jo has mentioned her problem with comics often enough before, I thought most regulars knew of it.

My big problem is when there will be two on the left, one big one in the middle and two on the right. How the heck do I read that? Also, either comics are very boring or I'm missing some of the incluing.

#121 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2006, 08:03 PM:

Stay away from Chris Ware, Marilee! :-)

He has a lot of pages like this:

pp pp
ppPpp

Where "P" is a large panel nestled between four smaller ones. In what order do you read those?

He's also fond of bubble diagrams with arrows and eye-achingly small icons inside.

Adapting to this sort of thing is a kind of visual literacy.

#122 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2006, 08:42 PM:

Not quite sure how to parse "uniquely nice",....

ok, rejoining rather late, i'll try to explain myself. i guess what i mean is artwork that is both skilled & backed by knowledge & research, as well as a stlye that is, if not utterly unique, then at least looking like time & thought went into its development. & of course, nice looking, but that is a wholly idiosyncratic category.

otomo is my favourite manga artist, & i haven't been privileged to see any others like him (this is because of my ignorance of manga as a whole). what i love about him is his precision. my foundation as a visual artist was/is anatomical figure drawing, so i am swayed by artists with keen anatomical know-how (phoebe gloeckner, the obscure creator on my list, has my undying allegiance due to her very evident degree in medical illustration).

osamu tezuka is the only other manga i have collected (i am a sucker for culturally-designated "important" books, sadly). i think he's a great storyteller & i love his brushwork & landscapes, but his people don't do anything for me. they look like stock manga*.

& if characters look like stock manga to me, & you're not as masterful a storyteller as tezuka, it's going to turn me off (in anime i don't mind at all, for some reason. maybe because all animation is very very stylized). & i am an atypical comix reader in that, given a choice between super-ambitious storytelling & passable art, & passable storytelling & super-ambitious art, i'll go for art every time.

but anyhow, thanks for the recommendations! i think i will check out some lone wolf & cub next time i'm able. based on your praise, & also i've heard of it in snobby comix circles (that old "important works" peer pressure again).


*disclaimer 1: yes, manga characters probably do look more alike to me because i was never immersed in it, like anglophone superhero or confessional comics.
disclaimer 2: that said, boy do i ever avoid superhero art that looks like it was drawn with only superhero books as reference. confessional comix too, to a lesser extent.

#123 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2006, 09:16 PM:

& if characters look like stock manga to me, & you're not as masterful a storyteller as tezuka, it's going to turn me off

i think i overstated that. i don't mean, "don't recommend me anything that looks like manga." cause i am eager to have my aesthetic horizons broadened.

if you, as a person steeped in manga traditions & sensibilities, first picked it up & said "wow, that is a cool & unique drawing style right there," i think that's what i'm looking for (& good writing, of course).

#124 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2006, 09:22 PM:

Miriam,
Thank you! I have tons to say (that you might find interesting,) but I have suddenly run out of time! Please consider this post an IOU for something more detailed and entertaining that will arrive later.

(embarassed)
-r.

#125 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2006, 11:08 PM:

Marilee: [..] I have some trouble finding the direction of the story in comics.

Stefan Jones: Same here [..]

David Goldfarb: One thing to remember when reading manga
is that the default panel transition is top-to-bottom.

That is, if there are two directions you can go and no other clues as to story flow,
look at the panel under the one you're reading, rather than the one to the right [..]

If you're reading the manga with unflipped artwork,
then naturally that should be "left" instead of "right".



I've read some manga,
but I still got a strong, but momentary, sense of aphasia
( “I can't understand what's on this page! Am I having a stroke?” )
flipping through a color comic adaptation of an anime series
which was playing on the Cartoon Network.

The word balloons were in English,
but I was definitely having trouble
getting a sense of the dialog.

The comic was derived from Trigun,
a series which had been running on Cartoon Network.

It was laid out in as described by Dave for unflipped art.

I had bought my sister a bobble-headed cat figure,
which was supposed to be a character from the series
( it caught my eye because it resembled the Ray-O-Vac cat,
   and I figured she and my brother-in-law would enjoy it
   for the same reason — that, and it was a cat
).

So I flipped through the comic,
to see if the cat was in it.

The comic was selling at a promotional price of 25¢.

At that, it wasn't finding takers;
the store owner told me he saw a lot of people picking it up,
flipping through it, and putting it back down.

It was not a manga based on the characters in the TV animation;
these were frames taken directly from the TV animation.

That diminished the art some;
there was no sense of design for the page,
or design across the spread —
just isolated frames from an animation.

And this art was further diminished —
what make sense in an animation
don't make sense isolated from it.

This added to the disjointed nature of the comic
( from my perspective ).

I had a chance to see the episode
which the comic was taken from
when it ran on the Cartoon Network,
and this gave me a better sense of what I was looking at.

When I was looking for a picture of the cat in the comic,
I did find a frame where someone was
holding a cat by the scruff of the neck
for some unexplained reason
( and that was the first and last you saw of the cat ).

In the same scene from the animation,
one of the characters was frantically rummaging through a bag,
pulling out this thing, then that thing, and then a cat.

[ This was the role of the cat in the series;
   it was just something that showed up in every episode.
   Walking across the street, sitting on a bar,
   pulled out of medical bags . . .
]

A lot of the art had that quality;
where the source had been in motion in the animation,
the art lay still on the page in the comic.

Yes, comic book art is still,
but it is usually drawn to convey motion.
Most manga illustrations convey motion very well.

Here, the art originally had been in motion,
but an isolated frame of the animation
seemed suprising static.

Still, I bought the comic
( it only cost 25¢, and it had a picture of the cat in it ).

And I gave it to my sister later,
after pointing out how the layout worked.

I think it was definitely a case
where having a good sense of the Art Theory
helped your appreciation of the art.

#126 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2006, 02:57 PM:

I'm back. I'm replying in order of appearance, so...
Stefan,
Nausicaa is...odd. It is to typical manga what The Tombs of Atuan is to typical fantasy. Miyazaki apparently wrote it in spurts across more than a decade, so there are some, er, discontinuities that are pretty interesting. I am told that it is a deeply personal work for him, where he works out some of his thoughts on humanity's relationship with nature, the meaning of life, etc. If you haven't seen the new edition, pick it up and flip through it; it's full sized now (10 x7 in), and shows his drawing technique very nicely.
For me, parsing the difficult stuff is definitely part of the fun! Trying to understand difficult things has been intertwined with the experience of reading for as long as I can remember – I was delighted at the difficulty of Tolkien's expressions when I read LOTR for the first time in 5th grade. (The word “host” was a great puzzler, and the word “designs” in the sense of plans.)
-r.
p.s. Can you give me a pointer for where to look for Warren Ellis' email column archives? That sounds interesting, but Google is turning up an intimidating amount of stuff right now.

#127 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2006, 03:07 PM:

David Goldfarb,
Good point on panel transitions. Foreground/background tricks and overlapping are occasionally used to indicated order as well – for instance in Oh My Goddess and Maison Ikkoku you'll sometimes see a full page length character overlapping the rest of the panels, which indicates that whatever they are saying/doing comes before virtually everything else – possibly excepting panel 1.

-r.

#128 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2006, 03:19 PM:

Marilee,
Ooops. I'll do more backthread research next time. (Am I a regular? Squee!)

Panel reading is pretty difficult*, unless you've read a lot of panels, just like any other kind of reading. There's no priority for comics in our culture, so likely you haven't gotten any practice. One aspect that is usually overlooked is that comics are an inferential medium – most of the action takes place between panels, not within them. Think Hitchcock – it's that kind of show-don't show-show thing, that relies on engaging the imagination of the reader to fill in the important parts. That, more than anything may explain the apparent boringness of comics to you. There are other things as well – almost all comics are genre fiction, and if you don't have a taste for the genre a particular comic falls in, you won't find it interesting. The recent success of manga might be attributed to the huge range of genres that it contains compared to American comics.**

Scott McCloud has an excellent book called Understanding Comics that fulfills its title, and he spends some time illustrating that and explaining the between-panels paradox.
-r.

*sometimes intentionally difficult. Some comics readers are more like Sudoku or crossword addicts, and love a good puzzle, and some artists pander to that.
**I mean the very idea of “romantic comedy for guys” is foreign to American culture, let alone a comic that would fall in that category. And by American comics, I mean the “superhero, horror, Archie trinity” sold by the Direct Market.

#129 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2006, 03:30 PM:

Miriam Beetle,
Your point about Tezuka's characters looking “stock” is well made. He and his generation of artists were heavily influenced by Disney, Max Fleischer and newspaper comics that were imported from the U.S. pre/post WWII. You could say that Japanese culture values the idea of “theme and variations” more highly than the famous composers of Baroque fugues, so its not too surprising that he derived elements from teh Mouse and Betty Boop. Tezuka's significance* was the importation of “big eyes” and a kind of stylization that made it possible to tell stories very quickly, where quickly=a team of artists can crank out installments weekly.

Manga has come a long ways since then, and the big eyes have been put to good use. I cited Fujishima's Oh My Goddess books as a pretty good example of that – the shape of the negative space around the iris communicates a huge amount about the feelings of the characters, and so having big eyes is really darn useful – it gives the artist a lot more expressive range/control over the “acting” of their characters. It is also one of the reasons why you will see vanishingly small noses – noses communicate very little about their owner's emotional state (and are chiefly useful for distinguishing one person from another, which is more of an issue in real life than in comics.**)

Most of the distortions you see in manga come out of a need for an economy and clarity of expression (due to deadlines) OR from the employment of metaphors and symbols in line with more literal drawings. For instance, Fujishima will sometimes really stretch the proportions of his characters if it suits the composition, leading to the occasional situation where a hip ends up in the wrong place. Michealangelo's Pieta might be a good point of comparison: there: Mary looks elongated and huge compared to Jesus, but it enhances the expression. It's worth noting that Fujishima draws really elaborate clothes on his characters, with sometimes with volumes of fabric and detail comparable to Mary's, so perhaps such distortions have a common technical cause as well.

Pages and pages could be written on the inclusion of metaphors and symbols inline with regular “narrative” drawings. For instance, a character might be “blown away” by a revelation made by another, e.g. Grandmother asks grandson, in front of his cute landlady “so, have you become a man yet?”, in the panel, you see Grandmother, and the landlady, but all you see of the grandson is a pair of feet sticking up in the air in the midst of a realistically rendered explosion.*** In the following panel, everything is back to normal – it was just a metaphorical interruption. This isn't really different from metaphor and synecdoche in novels, once you get used to it.

Lots of manga neepery, here, eh?
-r.

*Overstatement. Tezuka is a big deal aside from these things.
**The psychologist Paul Ekman is an authority on facial expression, and what cues are actually read to infer emotion and meaning – some of his stuff is very interesting, as is some of the eyetracking studies done on infants. Humans pay a huge amount of attention to the light/dark contours of eyes, eyebrows, and mouths in order to communicate. Malcom Gladwell summarizes some of Ekman's research here and there in Blink, if you want a lighter introduction to it.
***Maison Ikkoku, vol. 6, p.54.

#130 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2006, 03:54 PM:

Marilee:
My wife won't read comic books or graphic novels or manga or sequential art or whatever-you-want-to-call-them because she finds them disorienting almost to the point that they give her a headache or a near panic attack. She thinks it's something about how she processes the concurrent streams of visual and textual input. I've stopped trying to "convert" her - I can accept that the medium just isn't right for her. It's a pity because I think she'd really enjoy the content of some but can't handle the form.

General comments:
Things I've read recently that I enjoyed very much include The Rabbi's Cat from a French cartoonist, about the cat of a rabbi in Algeria which suddenly learns to talk and wants to convert to Judaism. I like the squiggly drawing style and the vivid colors, and the strong narrative that pulled me right through. (My 4 year old son liked me reading portions of it out loud to him with the pictures, with a few naughtier bits expurgated or elided.) I also got The Three Incestuous Sisters by Audrey Niffenegger (not as racy as it sounds) which is definitely "sequential art" but not so much a comic book; more an art book of colored aquatint illustrations which tells a (surreal) story. Very beautiful, quite odd. I also picked up and enjoyed the first couple Girl Genius collections.

I'm going to have to save all those manga recommendations above for future reference.

#131 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2006, 05:34 PM:

Rob Rusick, I already have aphasia! I don't need any help in that. Recently I've been having problems with word substitution, too -- the other day I told one of the cats that I was going down to the bedroom to take my feet off, realizing only after I was down there that I meant shoes.

The only comics we were allowed to read as kids were the Illustrated Classics, and those were pretty linear.

#132 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2006, 07:49 PM:

Marilee: Wow. You're sure I'm not married to you under a pseudonym? My wife also has frequent aphasic moments when she can't find a word, and at other times comes up with some really odd word substitutions. It's always nouns; never verbs or adjectives. She is very good-humored over my merciless teasing about it (and gives as good as she gets.)

#133 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2006, 08:18 PM:

Some of the stylization in manga/anime also arises from idiomatic Japanese body language-- scratching the back of your own head indicates embarrassment; a cross-shaped throbbing vein on the forehead indicates anger; a nosebleed indicates (male) sexual arousal. (Apparently, that last item isn't purely metaphorical; ISTR various webstuff about certain characteristics of the typical Japanese diet that increase the chance of spontaneous nosebleeds under stress-- not just elevated blood pressure from high sodium content, but some sorta anticoagulant in fish/kelp.)

Also, sometimes there are nuances in the original dialogue that are difficult to translate into English, esp. the various degrees of respect that're indicated with every choice of pronoun or verb.

#134 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2006, 08:56 PM:

Woot!
Excellent info Julie L! I had not known that about the anticoagulent. I wonder if that is one of the factors in the good cardio-vascular health attributed to Okinawans.

There's a pretty good wikipedia article on idiomatic body language used in anime, sometimes called face faults. I wasn't aware of them being grounded in real behaviors - that's really interesting.

A really good listing of onomatopoeia / sound effect idioms showed up on BoingBoing recently, thanks to Dom, also of Megatokyo fame. Those can be fun in translation, the cawing of crows written in phonetic Japanese across the sky looks a bit like the birds themselves.

I'll note that the nosebleed is now used cross-gender, with sometimes amusing results. [ref: FLCL, Karin/Chibi Vampire] Oh, Chibi Vampire? Haven't read it, but Fred Gallagher likes it, reviews it briefly on Megatokyo. Quoth amazon

Karin, the middle child of an ancient vampire family, is a kind of vampire-in-reverse. Instead of feeding off victims, as her dream-boat older brother does, she must bite humans and donate blood. Karin is torn between wanting to be a normal girl and her nature, which is something of an embarrassment among vampires.
FLCL (nor Karin) is not on my reccomended list - the level of befuddlement it inspires in fans is significant - I fear it might turn non-fans off altogether.

-r.

#135 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2006, 11:51 AM:

rhandir: My manga can kick your graphic novels' ass.

I have just spent a messy 30 seconds in the bathroom since I was drinking water when I read this and several neurons misfired in just the wrong order to produce A Contract With Patalliro. My nasal passages may someday recover, but we're going to have to buy more Kleenex.

Anyway, I can't let this one pass. It's not that manga is any better, it's that Sturgeon's Law is working in your favor. If we assume that 90% of everything is crud, and that nobody's going to want to spend money to translate or flop page images for crud, then you're less likely to see crappy manga in the US. (Bondage Fairies being an obvious exception.) It's out there: the Pachinko and fishing manga I've seen are truly a MEGO experience--Mine Eyes Glaze Over.

(Of course this means you'll never see anything quite as deranged as Patalliro, either. I'm not sure if this is a plus or a minus--and I own the laserdisc of the movie...)

#136 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2006, 12:43 PM:

Heh heh. Finally, the spit-take I was hoping for!
Glad you liked that one, Bruce.

Yeah, Sturgeon's Law, etc. I alluded to that with my comment about the law of large numbers. I'll also add that one of the things large numbers permit is more viable genres, instead of the handful we have to work with in the U.S. For instance, Understanding Comics is pretty much on its own in the history/criticism of comics genre. Yeah, Eisner, and yeah, McCloud's sequels. But that's a case of one (current) genre leader, and a handful of supporting books, all separated by tens of months, if not years.

#137 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2006, 04:11 PM:

Every so often I translate doujinshi (fan manga) as a hobby, which requires referring to Oop Ack's fx page every few minutes. There's also an entire (English-language) print book on Japanese onomatopoeia by Hiroko Fukuda, which is geared a bit more toward the use of onomatopoeia in everyday speech or informal written sentences, but also has a great preface on sound symbolism patterns (e.g., a terminal glottal stop indicates an abruptly-ending sound or a motion with sudden speed/force).

The last few times I went to my local Borders, their Japanese language-learning section also had a great little picture book with lots of common gestures (e.g., the Japanese "c'mere" beckoning hand-flap is palm-down rather than palm-up), but since I haven't bought it yet, that's all the info I have about it at the mo :b

#138 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2006, 07:23 PM:

Clifton, I'm definitely not married! My word problems come from a stroke caused by medication the doctor ordered while I was already in the hospital. I also am partially paralyzed on the left side and fall over easily. If your wife has those characteristics, get her to the doctor.

#139 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2006, 05:51 AM:

The new version of Nausicaa has unflipped art, and (in what I regard as an eccentric choice) untranslated sound effects. English versions of the sound effects are given as endnotes. My SO Katie, who certainly qualifies as a comics fan in her own right, had trouble reading the story because she found this distracting.

(For my own part, I've had a year of college Japanese and so can read the katakana.)

#140 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2006, 04:00 PM:

i personally can't get behind unflipped art. i mean, i guess the idea is you want the same experience as the japanese readers, a world in which the girl's hair is parted on that side, but isn't it far outweighed by the experience (which japanese readers are not having) of reading in an uncomfortable, anti-intuitive direction?

i guess some manga is meant to be ware-y & difficult, but if japanese artists wanted you to have to stop yourself & read again until you had acquired the skill of reading backwards, they would have formatted the panels backwards in japanese. (if we're talking about how japanese sequential art goes more top-down than horizontally, then yeah, that is something that an englishspeaking reader can get used to. that's going in a slightly unusual dirction, not the wrong direction)

i am fluent in two languages which read in opposite directions (english & hebrew). when i read a hebrew graphic novel (say, pizzeria kamikaze) i read it right to left, & when i read the english version, i read it left-to-right. if my comic ever gets translated into hebrew (much likelier than getting translated into japanese) i would want all the artwork mirrored. ease of reading is more important than getting it hammered into you that this was written in a different language.

#141 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2006, 05:38 PM:

Marilee: She was somewhat dyslexic in school, and also suspects - as a professional psychologist - that some fraction of her word difficulties could be localized minor brain injury, sequelae of a couple head injuries before we met. (Bike accidents - with helmet but still serious.) Fortunately they don't interfere with her other functioning, or stop her from having gotten near the top of her professional field.

#142 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2006, 07:19 PM:

I've never thought of superheros as SF, but I guess when you think about it, they are. Today's KidsPost has an article (not online yet) about a college professor who is using superheros to teach SF.

#143 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2006, 08:31 PM:

I kept stumbling the wrong way through the pages the first few times I encountered unflipped manga, but now I've managed to internalize the different reading direction enough that it doesn't even consciously register anymore. So at this point, it doesn't really matter to me which way it goes. However, one of the main objections I've seen wrt flipped art is that whenever it involves a character in traditional Japanese garb, their clothing ends up looking as if it's worn by a corpse; one of the movie adverts for Memoirs of a Geisha also flipped the original image to wrap the kimono right-over-left instead of left-over-right.

TokyoPop's translation of Fruits Basket (one of my favorite series at the moment) has tried several different approaches to sound-fx; in a few early volumes, they left all of them intact and simply printed a long list of endnoted transliterations/glosses. In the most recent ones, they've been replacing some of them with translations, adding footnotes to others, and simply leaving some intact without any sort of commentary. However, I really wish they could've found some better way to manage one particular line, where in response to a "Who the hell do you think you are?!" sort of challenge from his best enemy, a boy identified himself with the particularly arrogant pronoun "ore-sama" in the original Japanese dialogue; TokyoPop's flat rendition of it as "I'm me" doesn't make any sense in terms of inspiring other characters to instantly burble about how cool he is for saying that.

#144 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2006, 10:41 PM:

However, one of the main objections I've seen wrt flipped art is that whenever it involves a character in traditional Japanese garb, their clothing ends up looking as if it's worn by a corpse....

right, i've heard of that. that's a consequence i hadn't considered.

like, for me, i couldn't even tell if everyone in the book went left-handed, i have trouble telling left from right already. but handedness also has serious implications in some cultures.

#145 ::: Phil Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2006, 11:42 AM:

Bruce, A Contract With Patarillo would be the greatest comic ever made. Also, I covet your Project Stardust laserdisc.

I also wholeheartedly agree with the application of Sturgeon's Law to manga. Comics is comics is comics and no particular style is inherently better than any other; it's just that with the massive amount of manga the Japanese produce the odds of finding the good stuff are higher when compared to the smaller US market.

Finally, for anyone wondering about the panel flow of manga, keep in mind that Tezuka's big innovation in creating the modern style of manga was to make it very cinematic. Think of it as frames of a movie going by. Of course, this means that the more spastic boy's manga are using MTV style editing and some of the more stylized manga artists are producing the equivalent of advant garde film.

#146 ::: Tim Eldred ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 01:25 PM:

Hi all--

Well, the release date has passed and the website has been updated to include chapter 2; hope you all get a chance to see it! I'm happy to say the hits are still climbing. As of today, the Boingboing review all by itself has generated over 4,000 visits!

Borders and B&N stores seem unwilling to stock the book on their shelves (I've gotten the same reports from family and friends in different states--apparently it's a special order item only until something happens to change the policy), so online sellers are the only reliable ones at this point.

I'm very interested to hear from any of you about circulation, especially if you spot it in a bookstore somewhere. I will personally contact each and every such bookstore and thank them profusely. Please send any and all news of sightings to my e-mail address-- tim.eldred@charter.net

Cheers,
Tim

#147 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 01:44 PM:

Tim... I ordered my copy from Borders last week. I expect they'll be calling me very soon, upon which I'll right way go get the book. And I'll make sure I get an email address for you to write to. (There's this beautiful 55-year-old 6'2" Germanic lady who works there that I often chat with, and she should be able to dig something up.)

#148 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2007, 12:11 PM:

Thanks, Stefan. I gather Jim killed it?

#149 ::: John A Arkansawyer says Death to Spam! ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2008, 04:28 PM:

Kill, kill, kill for peace!

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