While something can be great on its own, the idea of mixing two things can lead to interesting combinations. Peanut butter and jelly, rock and roll, the Beatles and Jay-Z … and soon, The Simpsons and Akira. Cartoonist James Harvey is organizing a full-scale re-creation of Katsuhiro Otomo’s popular manga series with its characters replaced with members of The Simpsons.
“Milhouse is Kaneda. Lisa is Kei. Bart is Tetsuo,” Harvey posted on his blog. “Let’s do it.”
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? Our guest this week is writer and letterer Ed Brisson, whose comic Comeback with artist Michael Walsh arrives in November. He’s also the writer of Murder Book and Black River.
To see what Ed and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
It’s taken just over five years to get there, but Marvel’s The Twelve is finally nearing its conclusion. And no one could be more excited than artist Chris Weston. When Weston was approached in 2007 to draw J. Michael Straczynski’s story of a group of WW2 heroes lost in time until the modern day, it was a unique chance for the celebrated UK artist to create a time-spanning work on what would be the biggest stage in the industry. But between Straczynski and Weston’s commitments outside of comics, the production went through numerous stops and starts, which led to the 12-issue series taking nearly four years to complete. But with Weston finishing the art on the book last September, he celebrated the end of one chapter of his life and the beginning of a new one.
In the build-up to working on The Twelve, Weston expanded his horizons and began doing storyboards and concept designs for the movie The Book Of Eli. Over the course of The Twelve, and thanks in part to the delays the book had, Weston did extensive work on The Book of Eli as well as director Albert Hughes’ aborted remake of Akira. Currently working on Hughes’ next feature, Motor City, Weston plans to use the money he makes to fund his most ambitious project yet: writing and drawing his own comic series. Weston has done creator-owned work in the past with other writers and has also written smaller works on their own, but this new pursuit, both writing and drawing the material, could be one of the most risky and potentially most rewarding jobs of his career. 2012 will be a formidable time for the artist as he prepares for what comes next.
Chris Arrant: First off, can you tell us what you’re working on today?
Chris Weston: I am “between jobs” at the moment. I’m reluctant to take on anything substantial as I’m getting ready to work on Albert Hughes’ next movie, Motor City. I really want to avoid another situation where my film work coincides with my comic-book work. Unfortunately, that has meant turning down some pretty cool comic-book jobs. I’m not going to name them as it would be unfair to the artists who eventually accepted them. However, I’m keeping myself occupied by doing a few covers for 2000AD, some personal drawings, research and private commissions.
Artist, musician and our buddy Akira the Don has released a new mixtape, titled Manga Music, featuring “a tribute to the monumental works of Manga Entertainment, who this year celebrate 20 years of serving us Westerners with the very finest anime.” Each song samples and is named after one of their releases, such as Evangelion, Full Metal Alchemist, Crying Freeman and, naturally, Akira.
“Twenty years ago I was a little boy living by the sea in North Wales gaping in awe at their advert for Akira in the back of my Dad’s copy of Vox magazine,” Akira the Don wrote on his site. “A little while later I was pushing a big VHS cassette into its slot, an a few hours after that my life was changed forever.”
As we noted a week ago, Sam Humphries and Steven Sanders self-published a science fiction comic called Our Love Is Real, which subsequently sold out in print in nine hours. A second print is on the way (that’s the cover you see to the right) and it’s still available digitally through their website or comiXology.
Humphries, a former Robot 6 guest contributor and my fellow panel member in San Diego next week, agreed to share a list of what he considers to be some of the great science fiction comics. Note that he chose not to use the words “best” or “favorite” to describe the list. “‘Favorite’ or ‘best’ implies more commitment than I’m ready to give,” he said.
So without further ado …
Six great science fiction comics, by Sam Humphries
1. AKIRA by Katsuhiro Otomo
A giant of science fiction, often imitated, never surpassed. At its heart is a tale of a bromance gone wrong, two best friends who carve their years of brotherhood and resentment across Tokyo, Japan, and the Moon. The anime adaptation is superlative, but the manga, sprawled across six thick volumes of meticulously drawn, hi-octane pages, is a true monumental achievement. I’ll be gunning for this No. 1 spot ’til I die. G.O.A.T.
The artists associated with Periscope Studios regularly post some pretty awesome artwork on their sketch blog, to the point where you kinda have to wonder how they could make it even more awesome. Which they have.
Last week Dylan Meconis, Colleen Coover, Dustin Weaver and several more of their artists created pieces that they’re auctioning off on eBay to benefit Peace Winds Japan, an organization providing emergency relief efforts in the earthquake and tsunami-ravaged country.
“I had pretty much told myself that I wouldn’t be participating in many more Periscope sketch challenges for a while because I need to be focused on work,” Weaver wrote on his LiveJournal. “But when the idea of doing a Japan week was suggested I was immediately on board. There are probably a lot of artists who feel this way, but for me this is a chance to give a little back to a country that has given me so much. Many of my greatest artistic inspirations are Japanese.” Weaver’s piece, above, should look familiar to fans of Akira.
You can find all the pieces up for auction on the studio’s eBay page.
Looking over the new Kodansha version of Vol. 1 of Akira (which, I’m sorry to say, is little more than the Dark Horse version on cheaper paper and the word Kodansha on the spine), I realized how much I appreciated colorist Steve Oliff’s work on the series when it was initially serialized by Epic, Marvel Comics’ fancy-shmancy line, back in the late ’80s and early 90s. I think it’s one of the few instances where an already great body of work was actually improved upon in translation.
I’m not the only one, as Ryan Sands at Same Hat! is a big fan of Oliff’s work as well. Apparently, Oliff was at APE last weekend selling the color reproduction pages to interested parties, and Sands shares a few pages on his blog.
Oliff also was featured recently in his local newspaper, the Independent Coast Observer, in a non-comics, rather tragic fashion. According to the story, Oliff came upon a deadly car accident in Manchester, near San Francisco, and attempted to pull the driver from the crash but was unable to do so before the man died.