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Digital returns to Kickstarter with new Tezuka title

On the heels of its last Kickstarter campaign, which will fund a reprint of Osamu Tezuka’s Swallowing the Earth, Digital Manga inaugurated a new Kickstarter drive last week, this one dedicated to producing a print edition of another Tezuka manga Barbara.

Whether the book will actually be published is no longer in question — the campaign reached its goal last week. The question is whether this is how comics publishers should be doing business.

On the one hand, you can argue that Barbara is a book that would be difficult to publish in English by the traditional means. It is one of Tezuka’s more outré books, with adult content that will make it hard to place in the usual channels. Here’s the blurb:

Wandering the packed tunnels of Shinjuku Station, famous author Yosuke Mikura makes a strange discovery: a seemingly homeless drunk woman who can quote French poetry. Her name is Barbara. He takes her home for a bath and a drink, and before long Barbara has made herself into Mikura’s shadow, saving him from egotistical delusions and jealous enemies. But just as Mikura is no saint, Barbara is no benevolent guardian angel, and Mikura grows obsessed with discovering her secrets, tangling with thugs, sadists, magical curses and mythical beings – all the while wondering whether he himself is still sane.

At Manga Widget, Alex Hoffman argues that this is essentially the readers commissioning a book, as a patron might commission a painting from an artist. “Commissions are what works for microniche consumer materials,” Hoffman argues, adding,

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Food or Comics? | Arroz con Archaia

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a “Splurge” item.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

20th Century Boys, Volume 18

Chris Arrant

If I only had $15, I would only be buying one title this week: 20th Century Boys, Vol. 18 (Viz, $12.99). Sorry Americanos, but Naoki Urasawa is delivering a gripping, sprawling drama that most other books can’t live up to. Wait, I’m wrong – I’d buy two comics with a $15 budget this week; I’d snag the $1 The Strain #1 (Dark Horse, $1) for the price point and Mike Huddleston. I’ve read the novels, but for $1 I can’t miss sampling at least the first issue.

If I had $30, I’d be thankful to double-back and first get Uncanny X-Force #18 (Marvel, $3.99). This issue, the finale of the “Dark Angel Saga,” has been a long time coming and I’m excited for the writing, the art and the story itself; and I can’t forget colorist Dean White, sheesh he’s good. After that I’d pick up my usual Walking Dead #92 (Image, $2.99) and then try Ed McGuinness’ new work in Avengers: X-Sanction #1 (Marvel, $3.99). I’m a big fan of McG’s work, but also realize just how different he is than the standard Marvel (or mainstream super-hero) artist in general. I’ve loved his storytelling sense since Mr. Majestic, and will pick up most any of his work without knowing much about the book itself. Next up would be James Robinson & Cully Hamner’s The Shade #3 (DC, $2.99). I’m surprised DC hasn’t done more marketing for this book, especially considering it’s a character who’s never held a series before; they’ve done little-to-any marketing to define just who the character is, relying on his ties to a lesser-selling series that ended ten years ago (no matter how good it was). Getting off my soapbox: those that have been reading The Shade know it’s good. After that I’d round it off with the best looking comic on shelves, Batwoman #4 (DC, $2.99).

If I was to splurge, I’d double-up my J.H Williams 3 fix with the final volume of Absolute Promethea (DC/ABC, $99.99). Although I already own these issues in singles, getting it over-sized and in hardcover is a treat. I’m hoping it also includes some production art or process sketches – I’m a nut for that.

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What Are You Reading? with Geoffrey Golden and Amanda Meadows

BLAMMO #6

Season’s Greetings and welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading?, our weekly look at what we’ve been reading lately. Today our special guests are Geoffrey Golden and Amanda Meadows, editors of Devastator: The Quarterly Comedy Magazine for Humans. Their latest issue has a video game theme, with contributions from James Kochalka, Corey Lewis, Danny Hellman and many more. And if you head over to their website between now through Dec. 16, the code ROBOT6 gets you 20 percent off single issues.

To see what Amanda, Geoffrey and the Robot 6 crew have been reading lately, click below.

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Comics A.M. | Man discovers $12,000 Spider-Man comic in attic

Amazing Fantasy #15

Comics | While going through a box in his attic, a Grange Park, Illinois, man discovered a copy of Amazing Fantasy #15, the first appearance of Spider-Man, that he had bought as a kid. While other copies of the comic have fetched as much as $1.2 million, Chimera’s Comics is selling it for $12,000 due to its condition. [LaGrange Patch]

Comics | Brian Truitt profiles Marvel’s Fantastic Four, talking to Mark Waid, Tom Brevoort and Tom DeFalco about the long-running comic. [USA Today]

Publishing | Janna Morishima, formerly of Scholastic and Diamond Comic Distributors, has joined Papercutz as its first marketing director. [Papercutz]

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What Are You Reading? with Thom Zahler

Hiya kids, it’s time for What Are You Reading?, a weekly look into what the Robot 6 crew has been reading lately. Today’s special guest is Thom Zahler, creator of the delightful superhero/romantic comedy comic Love and Capes.

To find out what Thom and the Robot 6 crew have been reading lately, click below.

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Kickstart my Tezuka?

Digital Manga is a small manga publisher that has explored a number of unconventional ways of doing business, including the Digital Manga Guild, an attempt at legal fan translation. Last week, they tried another new approach: A Kickstarter drive to fund a new edition of Osamu Tezuka’s Swallowing the Earth.

Kickstarter is usually a venue where independent creators raise seed money for new projects. At first blush, that’s not what Digital’s pitch sounds like:

Unfortunately we printed too few copies, and the book is no longer available anywhere (except on eBay for exorbitant prices). Fans are constantly asking us to print more of the book, but simply put, we’re a small company, this is an expensive book and we can’t afford to put up the cash for another print run.

As Lissa Pattillo points out, this is a win-win situation for Digital and its readers: Digital gets the money for the reprint up front, and participants in the drive get a pretty generous package of rewards—in addition to the book, backers get their choice of other volumes of Digital manga, with the highest-level backers getting a pretty big box of books (with free shipping). On the other hand, she raises the question of whether this is a sound business plan, if Digital can’t afford $4,000 for a reprint they are confident will make them money.

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Food or Comics? | Point One, Silver Star, Tezuka and more

Point One

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a “Splurge” item.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Chris Arrant

If I had $15, I’d first get the third issue of my favorite New 52 title, Batwoman #3 (DC, $2.99). Seriously, J.H. Williams III is hitting a home run on every outing here when it comes to my tastes. Although the writing isn’t up to the level of Greg Rucka’s time on the book, it’s close and only bound to get better. Next up I’d get Point One #1 (Marvel, $5.99). I think this format–an extra-size preview book for what’s coming next–is an interesting experiment, and I’m intrigued most by the Nova story, but also interested to see what the others do. Third would be Uncanny X-Force #17 (Marvel, $3.99), to get the one-two punch of Rick Remender and Jerome Opena. Iceman as a bad guy? I dig this.

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Food or Comics? | Rub-A-Dub-Dub, Batman in a tub

Batman #2

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a “Splurge” item.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Michael May

If I had $15, I’d mostly grab the second issues of some DC stuff I enjoyed last month: Batman ($2.99), Birds of Prey ($2.99), and especially Wonder Woman ($2.99). No Justice League for me though. Unlike Action Comics, I didn’t enjoy the first issue enough that I can rationalize paying $4 for it. Instead, I’ll grab Avengers 1959 #2 ($2.99) and Red 5’s Bonnie Lass #2 ($2.95), both of which had strong first issues.

If I had $30, I’d have to put back Bonnie Lass and wait for the collection in order to afford Jonathan Case’s atomic-sea-monster-love-story Dear Creature ($15.99).

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Food or Comics? | Hark! A Snarked!

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a “Splurge” item.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Hark! A Vagrant

Chris Arrant

If I had $15, I’d spend several musty dollars on Fear Agent #31 (Dark Horse, $3.50). This penultimate issue has been a long time coming, and I’m excited to see Remender and Moore enlist Mike Hawthorne to help get these final issues done – big fan of all three of them! Next up would be two of DC’s New 52; Action Comics #2 (DC, $3.99) and Swamp Thing (DC, $2.99); I admit that I feel weird not being more excited about Morrison’s run than I am, but somehow the first Action Comics wasn’t as gripping as the first All-Star Superman … and it’s not the art. For the last pick, I’d get X-Men: Schism #5 (Marvel, $3.99). It got off to a slow start, but Jason Aaron’s an expert at nailing his landings, and I’m intrigued to see how it all goes down.

If I had $30, I’d start off with a pair of number ones – Pilot Season: Test #1 (Image/Top Cow, $3.99) and Roger Langridge’s Snarked #1 (BOOM! Studios, $3.99). Pilot Season has always been a must-buy for me; sometimes the concepts don’t live up to the promise, but they still have a good track record. I just wish more ended up as ongoing series. Next up I’d get the long-running Invincible #83 (Image, $2.99); seriously, this hits all my itches harkening back to my younger comic-reading days. Last up I would get Animal Man #2 (DC, $2.99); I love what Lemire and Foreman started here; I just wish there were more of it!

If I found some extra cash, I would double-back for Kate Beaton’s Hark! A Vagrant (D+Q, $19.95). This reads like a literary nut’s comic strip, and I love every bit of it. For some reason it reminds me of Gary Larson’s The Far Side but in a very modern way.

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Comics A.M. | Should feminists give up on superhero comics?

Catwoman #1

Comics | Dismayed by the portrayal of Catwoman in DC Comics’ relaunched series, Alyssa Rosenberg of ThinkProgress asks whether feminists are wasting their time in hoping and lobbying for better portrayals of women in mainstream superhero comics. While she understands the desire to walk away, the decides in the end “it’s worth it to keep nudging”: “… Even if the industry doesn’t change, there should be voices in the background when folks read these books pointing out their problems. The key is getting folks who really just want to see, say, Catwoman bang Batman and nothing else to hear those critiques and to find a way to engage with them constructively, which is really, profoundly difficult. But I’d rather live in a world where people who don’t want to hear the works they like criticized have to work to shut them out, rather than leaving them to relax into the blissful sounds of silence.”

At The Atlantic, Noah Berlatsky points out that not all comics are like Catwoman or Red Hood and the Outlaws, and recommends some alternatives. Meanwhile, Tom Foss jokingly suggests that the “new” Starfire is merely replacing longtime New Teen Titans creeper Terry Long. [ThinkProgress, The Atlantic]

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Your Wednesday Sequence 21 | Osamu Tezuka

Phoenix: Future (1967), page 15 panel 9 (or is it panels 9-11?).  Osamu Tezuka.

The easiest way of thinking about sequence goes something like this: multiple panels, related by subject or context and taken together at a steady rate, fuse together into a single, more communicative thing.  Something that imparts more meaning than a single drawing can.  But it gets a little more complex than that when the question of what exactly constitutes a panel is raised.

One might say it is an individual drawing, and be correct in a high percentage of cases.  But the true difference between “panel” and “sequence” is functionally impossible to pin down, better defined case by case than with a single sweeping bit of language.  After all, it’s no easy task to define what an “individual drawing” is either.  Is it one fully formed object, such as a figure or an environmental feature?  Perhaps not — there can be plenty of those in single panels.  Is it everything an artist puts down into one uninterrupted space?  Maybe, but in that case are word balloons separate panels?  The lines blur when you look at it too carefully, and as with everything in the language of comics, an attempt to state a definition with words is doomed to fail.  The eyes know better than the written word can say; better to go through a book of your choosing, any will do, and let them tell you that this thing, this drawing or collection of drawings is a panel, and this one a sequence.

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Osamu Tezuka is coming to your iPad

Can’t get enough of Astro Boy and Black Jack? Here’s some good news for fans of Osamu Tezuka, a.k.a. “the father of manga”: Tezuka Productions is putting out an iPad app containing 62 volumes of Tezuka’s work and 39 episodes of “Motion Manga.” The manga are translated (the motion manga are subtitled) and stored in the cloud, and you can access all of it for a subscription fee of $9.99 per month. It’s already in the iTunes store. The service will expand to Android tablets in the fall and winter, and a host of other foreign-language versions are under consideration.

I downloaded the app, which is free, onto my iPad. The selection isn’t bad: In addition to Black Jack and Astro Boy, it offers volumes of Ode to Kirihito, Apollo’s Song, Dororo, Phoenix, Buddha, MW, and Adolf. (One has to wonder how some of this content got through the iTunes store’s screening.) It’s not very responsive, though: I got the opening screen you see above, but the touch controls to download the magazines and configure the app didn’t respond until I held my finger down on them for a while. This happens sometimes with iPad apps—Comics+ used to be very slow and you had to almost hit the screen to make it work, before they upgraded it—but by now I’d like to see that kind of bug worked out. One more beef, as long as I’m complaining: It’s customary to offer some free samples to entice people to buy, but all you get with this app is an invitation to subscribe. I’d rather pay a few dollars more for one of Vertical’s beautifully produced volumes of Black Jack or Dororo and get to keep it forever, but if you want to gorge yourself at an all-you-can-eat Tezuka buffet, this does offer a lot of manga for a decent price.

Food or Comics? | This week’s comics on a budget

Space Warped

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a “Splurge” item.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Brigid Alverson

If I had $15:

I’d surround myself with good-humored, good-natured comics. Sometimes you just gotta do that. My stack would include Veronica #207 ($2.99), which launches the new Kevin Keller miniseries; Donald Duck #367 ($3.99), with a rework of a classic Carl Barks story; Space Warped ($3.99), kaboom’s new Star Wars parody comic (I probably won’t get half the jokes, but it looks like it’s worth checking out); and Love and Capes Ever After #5 ($3.99), just because Love and Capes is such a charming comic. I may be poor, but at least I’ll be happy.

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What Are You Reading?

Any Empire

Welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading? This week our special guest is Robert Stanley Martin.

Robert writes for his blog Pol Culture, and is a contributing writer to The Hooded Utilitarian. He is a past contributor to The Comics Journal, and his essays on R. Crumb’s The Book of Genesis Illustrated and Eddie Campbell’s Alec: The Years Have Pants are featured in the soon-to-be-released The Comics Journal #301.

To see what Robert and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click on through …

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Castle graphic novel by Bendis, DeConnick, Medina on the way

Publishers try to keep new projects under wraps, but there’s a whole cottage industry out there of folks who look through the Amazon listings for new books. The latest one, spotted by Albert Ching of Blog@Newsarama: A listing for Castle: Deadly Storm, by Brian Michael Bendis, Kelly Sue DeConnick, and Lan Medina. Albert goes out on a fairly short limb and guesses that this is a graphic novel (Medina is listed as the illustrator) based on the ABC series Castle, and indeed, the Hachette Book Group International catalog confirms this—check out page 65. Quick plot summary: This “adaptation” of Derrick Storm’s first novel adventure takes our hero from the gritty world of the private eye all the way to the globe-hopping intrigue of the CIA.” The book is hardcover, 112 pages, full color priced at $19.99 (already discounted to $13.59 on Amazon) and published by Marvel.

Manga blogger Lissa Pattillo has spotted a few more finds on Amazon.ca (Lissa is Canadian, so all prices are in Canadian dollars, but it looks like the U.S. prices are almost the same): a Fullmetal Alchemist box set that includes all 27 volumes of the manga, a novel, and other extras, all for $219 (discounted to $137.93) and due out in November, and an omnibus edition of Osamu Tezuka’s Dororo, 880 pages of Tezuka goodness for $29.95 $23.32.


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