Welcome to a special Super Bowl Sunday edition of What Are You Reading? Not that it’s any different from a regular WAYR column, but you can enjoy it while eating hot wings while the TV is paused.
Today our special guest is biology professor Jay Hosler, creator of Clan Apis and Optical Allusions. His latest book, Evolution, with artists Kevin Cannon and Zandor Cannon, was recently released by Hill & Wang. Check out his blog for a story he’s working on about photosynthesis.
To see what Jay and the Robot 6 gang are reading, click below.
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy on Wednesday 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 what we call our “Splurge” item.
If I had $15:
I’d start with Witchfinder: Lost and Gone Forever #1 ($2.99). I love weird western tales and can’t imagine a better creative team for one than the writers of BPRD and artist John Severin, who illustrated so many of Atlas’ classic westerns. Then I’d grab The Muppet Show, Volume 5: Muppet Mash ($9.99) because hey, Roger Langridge, Muppets and classic monsters.
If I had $30:
I’d add a couple of Big Two all-ages comics to the pile. If Marvel’s Super Hero Squad Spectacular #1 ($3.99) is half as fun as the show it’s based on, it’ll be worth taking home and reading to the boy. I’ll just have to keep ignoring the irritating, unnecessarily three-fingered character designs. I’m even more confident that we’ll enjoy DC’s Super Friends, Volume 4: Mystery in Space ($12.99) because we’ve been so delighted with the first three collections. David just turned nine and by way of celebration, he wanted to go back and re-read the Superman’s Birthday story from volume two.
Awards | Art Spiegelman on Sunday won the Grand Prix at the Angoulême International Comics Festival, marking only the third time an American has received the honor (the other two were Will Eisner and Robert Crumb). “Considering my poor skills, I’m looking a little like the president Obama receiving the Nobel Peace prize,” he told the festival by telephone from the United States. Spiegelman will serve as the grand marshal for next year’s event.
Other winners at the four-day festival, which drew an estimated 200,000 visitors, include David Mazzuchelli for Asterios Polyp (Grand Jury Prize), and Naoki Urasawa and the late Osamu Tezuka for Pluto (Intergenerational Award). The full list of winners can be found here. [Agence France-Presse]
Retailing | The beleaguered Borders Group announced on Sunday that it’s delaying January payments to vendors and landlords in an effort to save cash while it tries to complete a debt restructuring. This marks the second round of delays for the bookseller, which has been pressuring large publishers and distributors to agree by Feb. 1 to convert late payments into $125 million in loans. The bookstore chain announced just last week that it secured a $550 million credit line from G.E. Capital, but only if several tough conditions were met — including an unlikely agreement from publishers. [The Wall Street Journal]
Good news for fans of fine wines and vintage manga: Vertical, Inc., a small manga publisher with one of the most interesting lines around, will announce two new manga licenses today: Princess Knight and Drops of God.
Princess Knight, by Osamu Tezuka, was published in 1953 and was one of the earliest shoujo (girls’) manga. It’s a swashbuckling story of a princess who masquerades as a boy so she can have daring adventures and save her kingdom from an evil tyrant. It actually has been published in English before: The Japanese publisher Kodansha published a bilingual English-Japanese edition in 1970. Hardcore manga fans have been clamoring for a new edition for years, and Viz ran a chapter in Shojo Beat magazine in 2007. Kate Dacey, a.k.a. The Manga Critic, has a nice primer on Princess Knight at her blog.
Drops of God (Kami no Shizuku) is a completely different type of manga, and it has gotten quite a bit of press for a series that isn’t legally available in English, perhaps because of the subject matter: It’s about winemaking. After a famous wine critic passes away, his son learns that he has an adopted brother and that the two of them must compete in a wine-tasting contest in order to inherit the estate. Yeah, it’s your basic battle manga, except that instead of trying to kick each others’ asses, the main characters are striving to identify rare wines. The manga has helped boost the sales of some of the featured wines in Japan and South Korea, and it has already been translated into French. The New York Times even profiled the creators of the manga, brother-and-sister team Shin and Yuko Kibayashi.
Welcome to another installment of “Food or Comics?” Every week we set certain hypothetical spending limits on ourselves and go through the agony of trying to determine what comics come home and which ones stay on the shelves. So join us as we run down what comics we’d buy if they only had $15 and $30 to spend, as well as what we’d get if we had some “mad money” to splurge with.
Check out Diamond’s release list for this week if you’d like to play along in our comments section.
If I had $15, I’d spend the first $2.99 on the last King City, which definitely appears on this week’s list. Yay! Then I’d split the remaining $13 between two DC Comics: Paul Cornell’s Action Comics Annual #13 ($4.99), in which a young Lex Luthor meets Darkseid (Editor Wil Moss promised me on Twitter the other week that this will fulfill my sick, sick desire for more comics like Jack Kirby’s Super Powers toy tie-ins from the 1980s, so I’m entirely sold) and Vertigo Resurrected: Winter’s Edge #1 ($7.99), a collection of long out-of-print seasonal tales starring Vertigo favorites and forgotten ghost characters from Christmas Past. Be warned: I’m a sucker for Holiday comics, so expect to see me picking those a lot in the next few weeks. It’s the Most Wonderful Time Of The Year, after all.
Today Pop Candy’s Whitney Matheson did something that some consider too revealing even in this socially networked, airport x-ray’d age: She posted 20 movies from her Netflix “Watch Instantly” queue. Like anyone else’s, it’s a motley crew of movies made possible by a massive library of films and the power to watch any of them at any time with a few clicks of a mouse — a blend of “comfort food” you want access to at all times, unwatched stuff you’re dying to see at the next available opportunity, major investments of time or energy you haven’t been prepared to make just yet, “eat your vegetables” fare you know you ought to watch eventually, and goofy guilty pleasures you’re simply tickled to be able to watch whenever you feel like it.
This got me thinking. I know there are any number of logistical and financial reasons why such a thing doesn’t exist for comics. But we comics readers are an imaginative bunch, no? And today I choose to imagine a world where I can load up pretty much any book I can think of and read to my heart’s content. So here’s what my imaginary “Read Instantly” queue would look like, circa today. Check it out, then let us know what’s on your queue in the comments!
Hello and welcome once again to What Are You Reading?, where the Robot 6 crew talk about the comics and graphic novels that they’ve been enjoying lately. Our special guest this week is comics journalist and critic Dirk Deppey of Journalista and The Comics Journal fame.
To see what Dirk and the Robot 6 crew have been reading lately, read on …
Two quick items of note:
1) Lissa “Kuriousity” Pattillo has sussed out what Vertical’s next big Osamu Tezuka translation project is, following their ongoing release of Black Jack. Apparently it’s Ayako, a work I’m unfamiliar with, but intially came out in 1972 and is described in detail over at the Anime News Network:
Jiro Tenge, the second son of what used to be an influential Japanese family, returns home after being a POW in an American camp during the Second World War. He finds his family corrupted by the terrible social aftereffects of the war. His elder brother, determined to keep what remains of the family patrimony after the Government’s forced land reallocation, has prostituted his wife to his father to secure his blessing, while other members of Jiro’s family have been drawn into similar corruption, and he himself is being forced to spy for the Americans after being broken as a POW. Now the family’s youngest daughter Ayako will have to bear the brunt of the family’s sins.
2) Paul Hornschemeier is currently working on a new collection of short stories entitled Forlorn Funnies Vol. 1. The book will come out in the fall from Fantagraphics. Here he is describing some of the contents:
Our principal concern of this volume, “Obvious Amenities,” is Act One of the story of Edward Molson, salesman. After the untimely osprey-induced death of a co-worker, Molson is thrust into a cross-country speaking engagement, a chance to revisit youthful diversions, and a potential extra-marital love affair. But for now, he has to walk his wife’s dog. Again.
Like the Sunday newspaper, it’s time once again for another round of What Are You Reading. Our guest this week is Ryan Sands, who can be found over at the Same Hat blog, recommending and even translating (Tokyo Zombie) some great, and occasionally bizarre manga (and I mean that in a good way).
To see what Ryan and the rest of us are reading this week, click on the link below. Then let us know what books you’re enjoying and want to recommend (or not) in the comments section.
Publishing | Tezuka Productions and D-Arc Inc. has launched Weekly Astro Boy Magazine, a service that delivers manga by Osamu Tezuka to iPhones and iPods in the United States. Announced last month, it’s the first English-language manga service for mobile devices.
If I’m reading the site correctly, the premier “edition” of Weekly Astro Boy Magazine offers the first volume of Astro Boy for free. Subsequent volumes of that title, and other Tezuka classics like Phoenix, Dororo, Black Jack and Buddha, cost 99 cents each, and are available in weekly installments. [Weekly Astro Boy Magazine]
Education | Ryan Sohmer and Lar deSouza, creators of the webcomic Least I Could Do, have established The Rayne Summers Webcomic Scholarship at The Center for Cartoon Studies in Vermont. Named for the protagonist of their nearly seven-year-old comic, the scholarship will cover tuition for one student each year who is working toward a career in webcomics. [Least I Could Do, via The Daily Cartoonist]
Welcome to Comics College, a semi-monthly feature where we provide an introductory guide to some of the comics medium’s most important auteurs and offer our best educated suggestions on how to become familiar with their body of work.
Today we’re looking at one of the most influential and prolific and cartoonists in the world, a man who’s body of work reportedly encompassed more then 150,000 drawn pages in just about every genre known to man. And that doesn’t even begin to mention his pioneering work in animation. I’m speaking, of course, about Osamu Tezuka.
Libraries | There is, of course, follow-up on the decision by the Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to remove the anthology Stuck in the Middle: Seventeen Comics from an Unpleasant Age from middle-school libraries. Local CBS affiliate KELO reports on the reactions of parents and highlights some of the better-known challenged and banned books.
As we noted yesterday, teachers will still have access to the 2007 collection of stories about life as a teen-ager (by such contributors as Gabrielle Bell, Daniel Clowes, Joe Matt and Dash Shaw). That’s because, in the words of School Board President Kent Alberty, “There is value in the book. One of the subjects addressed is bullying, something the district is very interested in making sure is handled appropriately, and the book does address that.” [KELOLAND.com]
Publishing | Japan’s NHK television network reports that publishing giant Shueisha, a co-owner of Viz Media, plans to develop plans to sell manga via mobile phones in the United States beginning in spring 2010. [Anime News Network]
• Tom Spurgeon once again beats everyone to the punch with a review of Joe Sacco’s new book, Footnotes in Gaza: The first good news to report … is that the cartoonist is in top form throughout.” He also has good things to say about Prison Pit.
• Christopher Allen offers 60 ways of looking at Watchmen.
• Critics critique critics — Robert Boyd reviews Bart Beaty’s Unpopular Culture: “This is a thought-provoking book, and I recommend it to anyone who is interested in comics-as-art.”
• David Welsh gets schooled in college manga.
• Rob Clough calls MK Reed’s new book, Cross Country “the most complex, ambitious and visually interesting of her comics.”
• Perhaps if I link to Sean Collins’ review of Refresh, Refresh, he’ll forgive me for accidentally (I swear) stealing the title of his review feature.
• Nina Stone enjoyed the first issue of Cinderella: From Fabletown With Love: “All the pieces of the story just started to fit together perfectly.”
• Grant Goggans declares The Art of Osamu Tezuka “very highly recommended.”
• Finally, Kristy Valenti looks at a 1999 graphic novel drawn by Mia Wolff and written by acclaimed sci-fi author Samuel Delany.