Comics Alternative, Manga: Reviews of Uncomfortably Happily and Appleseed Alpha

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Time Codes:

  • 00:00:26 – Introduction
  • 00:02:26 – Getting back in the manga saddle
  • 00:05:37 – Uncomfortably Happily
  • 00:44:42 – Appleseed Alpha
  • 01:22:55 – Wrap up
  • 01:24:37 – Contact us

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Questions of Memoir and Representation

The monthly manga series is back, and on this episode — the first of two manga shows in October — Shea and Derek discuss a couple of very different works. They begin with Yeon-Sik Hong’s Uncomfortably Happily (Drawn and Quarterly). This is the story of Hong and his wife becoming frustrated with living in crowded and polluted Seoul, ultimately deciding to move to a house in a remote mountain community. As the guys reveal, the majority of the narrative is devoted to the everyday challenges the couple undergo, the quotidian tasks involved in living in such a raw, isolated area. Over the course of their conversation Derek and Shea address the question of autobiography: Is this indeed a memoir of what Hong and his wife actually underwent? Neither of the guys doubts that the story is anchored in Hong’s real-life experiences, although Derek makes the argument that the construction of the narrative bears more of a fictional stamp than one of life writing.

Next the guys turn to a very different kind of manga. Iou Kuroda’s Appleseed Alpha (Kodansha Comics) is a manga based on Shirow Masamune’s original Appleseed, as well as an adaptation of Shinji Aramaki’s anime feature. Both Shea and Derek are impressed with Kuroda’s art, dynamic and drenched in heavy inks, but they’re not as excited about the coherency of the story. There are gaps in the narrative, the various events aren’t necessarily linked cohesively, and the overall story can be a bit confusing at times. Nonetheless, the guys, especially Shea, are taken by Kuroda’s efforts. Shea appreciates this follow-up to the Shirow’s Appleseed, which he has read, and Derek feels impelled now to seek out the original manga series.

At the end of month, Shea and Derek will be back with their second October manga show, a special Halloween show devoted to horror manga. Keep your ears open!

 

Comics Alternative, Manga: Reviews of My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness and Golden Kamuy

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Time Codes:

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Getting Real

It’s the end of the month, so that must mean that it’s time for Shea and Derek to discuss their latest manga recommendations. They begin with Kabi Nagata’s My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness (Seven Seas Entertainment), a deeply personal autobiographical work whose title is perhaps more provocative than it is revealing. In fact, the guys spend a good bit of time talking about the underlying impulses embedded in the text and how sexual preferences take a backseat to the deeper longings that Nagata reveals. This is a manga all about self-discovery, a diary-like account of the author’s attempts to understand herself within the context of her culture and her yearning for what she calls “next level communication.” As Derek and Shea highlight, this is in some ways an example yuri manga, but at the same time such a designation doesn’t do the text justice.

Next, they look at the first volume of Satoru Noda’s Golden Kamuy (VIZ Media). This is a more realistically based narrative that takes place in the wake of the Russo-Japanese War. The protagonist, Saichi Sugimoto, gained a reputation during the war as an almost invulnerable hero, but he lives his post-war years unsuccessfully prospecting for gold in the Hokkaido region. There he befriends a young Ainu woman, Asirpa, and together they begin hunting down a legendary hidden treasure with a violent pedigree. Both Shea and Derek appreciate the story’s realism and historical context — in many ways, this is a didactic text — but they’re not yet sure of how Noda will handle the indigenous Ainu culture. That being said, they’re both definitely on board for future volumes.

 

 

Comic News Insider Episode 779 – Heroes Con: Inspirations with Bridgit Connell/Kata Kane/Ashley Lanni/Cara McGee!

Comic News Insider: Episode 779 is now available for free download! Click on the link or get it through iTunes! Sponsored by Dynamic Forces.

Jimmy moderated the Inspirations panel at Heroes Con with Bridgit Connell, Kata Kane, Ashley Lanni and Cara McGee! What inspires a cartoonist? What are they reading? What music do they listen to? Whom gets their creative juices flowing? Listen in to find out the answers to all of that and more! Everyone has some great stories about inspiration. Forewarning: Due to a podium stuck right in the middle of us, we had to split the stage so the sound is not that great. Get those earphones on and turn it up! Leave your iTunes comments! 5 stars and nothing but love! Also, get a hold of us!

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Come back later this week for more Heroes Con interviews and panel coverage!

 

Comics Alternative, Manga: Reviews of Scumbag Loser and Sweetness and Lightning

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Time Codes:

  • 00:00:27 – Introduction
  • 00:02:21 – Listener mail!
  • 00:04:28 – Comments on the 2017 Eisner Award nominations
  • 00:09:26 – Scumbag Loser
  • 00:52:10 – Sweetness and Lightning
  • 01:21:25 – Wrap up
  • 01:22:14 – Contact us

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Sweet and Sour

For the month of May, Shea and Derek discuss two works of manga that, while not necessarily diametrically opposed, are tonally opposite from one another. The first title is Mikoto Yamaguti’s Scumbag Loser (Yen Press). What begins as a story about a teenage outsider with a unique smelling ability quickly turns into a horror story involving mysterious non-human forces. As the guys discuss, there are few characters in this book worthy of sympathy, but it is this lack of empathic closeness that makes this an affecting narrative. However, the guys aren’t without their reservations, as Shea points out in his take on Yamaguti’s patriarchal approach to his subject matter. Derek agrees, but he also sees the text’s larger themes — e.g., the unrealistic demands on youth conformity — saving it from a kind of morbid frivolity.

Next, the guys turn to a series from Kodansha Comics, Gido Amagakure’s Sweetness and Lightning. The English translations became available beginning July of last year, and as of the time of this podcast recording, Kodansha has released five volumes. (Volume 6 is due out in early June.) This is a first for The Comics Alternative, a discussion of cooking manga. It’s the story of Kouhei Inuzuka, a recently widowed father, and his daughter Tsumugi. He is unable to cook adequately for his family, and eventually he becomes close with one of his students, Kotori, who helps him become proficient in the kitchen. The series is a collection of episodes, each involving a dilemma where food preparation, complete with useful menus, helps to alleviate the problem. At the same time, cooking brings everyone closer together…even hinting at complicating affections. This is a nice read and, as Shea suggests, one to take out with you on a pleasant spring day.

Comics Alternative, Manga: Reviews of Happiness and My Brother’s Husband

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Time Codes:

  • 00:00:26 – Introduction
  • 00:03:19 – Listener mail!
  • 00:09:41 – Happiness
  • 00:48:25 – My Brother’s Husband
  • 01:15:40 – Wrap up
  • 01:16:43 – Contact us

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Marginalized Figures

On the April manga episode, Shea and Derek discuss two very different series. They begin with Shuzo Oshimi’s Happiness, the fourth volume of which has just been released by Kodansha Comics. This is a vampiric narrative that takes place in the suburbs and centers on the relationships among high school students. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that this is Twilight-tinged fantasy. Oshimi’s characterization is sophisticated and, in places, unpredictable, and his art style captures the interiority of his key marginalized figures. Of particular interest is Yuuki, a bully who befriends the narrative’s protagonist, Okazaki, and how both characters handle their newfound vampirism once each has turned. The guys appreciate where this story is going, and Shea, in particular, is impatient in having to wait for the next few volumes.

Next, Derek and Shea check out the first volume of Gengoroh Tagame’s My Brother’s Husband. This book is notable for a couple of reasons. For one, it is the first work of manga that Pantheon Books, a leader in major trade graphic-novel publishing, has ever released. And second, this is an all-age title by a mangaka known primarily for his gay BDSM erotic manga. It’s the story of Yaichi and Kana, a single father and daughter, and their relationship with Mike, a gay Canadian who had married Yaichi’s estranged brother. After Mike’s husband dies, he honors his memory by getting to know his Japanese family. As the guys reveal, My Brother’s Husband is a tale about relationships, coming to term with personal prejudices, and the strictures various cultures place on interpersonal behaviors.

Comic Timing – Episode 185: 2016 Year in Review

Applause! Comic Timing is back! With a bang, one would hope. This episode, Brent and Ian are joined by Raph, Brandon, and returning guest for the first time in forever, Chris Chavez, as we dissect the year that was. 2016 has come and gone, and we go into the best and worst of it when relating to comics. We also give our quickie review and thoughts on Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Raph also gives us his take on Doctor Strange, and Ian goes into the joy that is Justice League Action.

As you heard at the top of the episode, there is something that makes this particular episode special. This one was produced differently than any other Comic Timing has been so far. If you can guess what happened, you’ll win $10 on Comixology! Just post on the Facebook thread for this episode, and let us know what you guess happened.

You can e-mail the show at comictiming@gmail.com and be sure to Like us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ComicTiming. You can follow Ian on Twitter @i_am_scifi, on Instagram at i_am_scifi or on Tumblr at heehaw-ds9.tumblr.com; Brent is on Twitter too @kossinab; Brandon is on Twitter @TheDabbaDon, thedabbadon on Instagram, and Geekcetra on Tumblr; Raph is @RaphReadsComics on Twitter. And Chris has a Facebook too, yo.

Thanks again for listening, and we’ll see you next time for our Extra Point coverage of Doctor Strange and Luke Cage! And here’s to a great 2017 for all.

Deconstructing Comics #541: Kyoto Manga Museum

Kyoto Manga Museum

Most people don’t equate the ancient city of Kyoto, Japan, with comics, but that happens to be the location of a museum and reading library of comics from Japan and around the world. Tim visited The Kyoto International Manga Museum recently, and this week he discusses it with Kobe-based comics creator Graeme McNee.

Also, a stopoff in Nagoya to chat with Adam Pasion, head of Big Ugly Robot Press, and co-organizer of the Comic Art Tokyo event.

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Comics Alternative, Manga: Reviews of Ichi-F: A Worker’s Graphic Memoir of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant and Platinum End

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Time Codes:

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Japanese Adam Sandler?

This month on The Comics Alternative‘s manga series, Shea and Derek check out two very different titles. They begin with Kazuto Tatsuta’s Ichi-F: A Worker’s Graphic Memoir of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant (Kodansha Comics). This is a 500+ page account of the reconstruction and cleanup in the wake of 2011’s disaster in Fukushima. As the guys discuss, the text does two things at once: provides objective reportage of the situation surrounding Fukushima and reveals the author’s very personal experiences  in securing and maintaining his role in the cleanup efforts. While both guys enjoyed the book, perhaps Derek more than Shea, they nonetheless wondered about Tatsuta’s background as a mangaka — “Kazuto Tatsuta” is a nom de plume, so it’s difficult to determine any bibliography — and any potential agenda (if any) underlying this work.

After their focus on real-world disaster, the guys move into the realm of fantasy. Platinum End (VIZ Media) is a current shōnen series from Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata, the same team behind Bakuman and Death Note. The second English-language volume was just released this month, so the guys have enough story under their belts to get a secure feel for the art and narrative. As Derek explains, the premise appears a little on the hokey side, at least at first, but as things develop the story begins to take on a life of its own, one that soon hooks you. Much of this is because of Obata’s style, but there are also larger thematic issues that make this title worth exploring. The guys discourse over the text’s theological import, its engagement with gender identity, and its satiric commentary on contemporary popular culture. This is definitely a series that both Shea and Derek will continue reading.

Comics Alternative, On Location: The March Visit to Valhalla Games and Comics

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Manga and Child Hating

After a month’s hiatus (due to unforeseen circumstances), the on-location episode is back! And for the March visit to Valhalla Games and Comics, the topic is completely open. On this recording Derek is joined my several of the shop regulars including Craig, Matt, and Tristan. Among the many topics they cover are the recent Justice League Vs. Suicide Squad miniseries; the latest (and one of the best) X-Men films, Logan; the news surrounding the production of Star Trek: Discovery; and lots of manga talk. In fact, from the amount of time everyone discussed Japanese comics, it looked like this might turn into the month’s manga episode. Along the way the guys discuss Stephen Hillenburg (the creator of SpongeBob SquarePants) and his recently announced fight with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, legally permissible uses of the word “mutant,” Derek’s shame at being so behind on Marvel’s Netflix and Fox series, and Tristan’s utter dislike of children.

Comics Alternative, Manga: Reviews of Revolutionary Girl Utena Complete Deluxe Box Set and Ghost in the Shell Deluxe Edition

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Time Codes:

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A Deluxe Show!

On this episode of the manga series — a few days later than expected — Shea and Derek discuss two new deluxe editions of older titles. They begin with Revolutionary Girl Utena Complete Deluxe Box Set, soon to be released by VIZ Media. This is a different kind of shōjo, one that the guys don’t often encounter, and an aspect that makes this title stand out is its conceptual genesis. Revolutionary Girl Utena was conceived by the creative team known as Be-Papas but written and drawn by Chiho Saito (also a  member of Be_Papas). Shea and Derek discuss the “collaborative feel” of its genesis and the unusual mix of characters, costumes, and scenarios that define the series.

Next, the guys turn to a new deluxe edition of Masamune Shirow’s classic Ghost in the Shell, just released by Kodansha Comics. The paperback versions of this title, and of the two follow-up volumes, are still in print, but Kodansha now has these wonderful new hardbound editions. The new Ghost in the Shell volumes stand out because for the first time in English, the story is presented in the original right-to-left reading order, they retain the author’s original hand-drawn sound effects, the translation has been updated, and everything has been done under the author’s supervision. Both Shea and Derek have a great time revisiting Ghost in the Shell, and they hope that Kodansha will be bringing back more of Shirow’s manga — e.g., Appleseed and Dominion — in these nice deluxe editions.

Comics Alternative, Manga: Review of Sunny and Discussions of Other Works by Taiyo Matsumoto

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The Young Ones

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:28 – Introduction
  • 00:02:36 – Catching up for the new year
  • 00:04:19 – Sunny
  • 01:09:40 – Other works by Matsumoto
  • 01:20:29 – Wrap up
  • 01:22:06 – Contact us

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This month on the manga show, Shea and Derek discuss the recently completed, Sunny, as well as other works by Taiyo Matsumoto. Late last year VIZ Media published the six and final volume of Sunny, a series that began in December 2010 in the original Japanese (published in Monthly Ikki), and has been coming out in English translation since the first volume in May 2013. This is a title that the guys have been wanting to discuss for some time, but they decided to hold out until the everything was wrapped up so that they could look at the series in its entirety.

This is a realistic, evenly paced drama about a group of orphans and outsiders residing at Star Kids Home, a foster home that serves as a refuse for children without family or whose parents do not have the means, or even the interest, in caring for them. Although this narrative functions with an ensemble cast, Shea and Derek feel that the de facto protagonist here is Haruo, an angry, troubled kid whose parents remain aloof. The series unfolds as Haruo interacts with the other children at the home, each of whom gets ample attention in the text, and the adults who try to make things manageable for them. The one central refuge in their lives, a space of safety and imagination, is a derelict Nissan Sunny 1200 that sits abandoned in the front yard of the Star Kids Home.

The guys spend most of the episode mapping out the various characters and their struggles in Sunny, but they also take the time to discuss other manga by Matsumoto, including Blue Spring (the original collected in 1993, and translated into English in 2004), Gogo Monster (2000/2009), the untranslated Takemitsuzamurai (2006-2010), and especially the Eisner Award-winning Tekkon Kinkreet, which originally ran from 1993-1994 and was collected as a one-volume English translation in 2007. As Shea points out, this is one of their favorite manga creators — for both guys — and they wanted to use this episode to dig deep into his art.

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Deconstructing Comics #530: Wren McDonald makes “SP4RX”

sp4rx

SP4RX is Wren McDonald‘s first full-length graphic novel, a cyber-punk story that fondly remembers “the future of the past”. This week Wren talks about world building in SP4RX, his process, work-life balance, and more. Support Deconstructing Comics on Patreon to hear more of this interview!

Deconstructing Comics site

Deconstructing Comics #529: “The Summit of the Gods”

The Summit of the Gods

An old camera found in a shop in Kathmandu starts up a sometimes exasperating, but ultimately engrossing, story of climbing Mt. Everest, with one of the most satisfying endings you’ll ever see. Kumar (who translated the story into English for Fanfare/Ponent Mon’s edition) and Tim discuss Baku Yumemakura and Jiro Taniguchi’s The Summit of the Gods.

Deconstructing Comics site

Comics Alternative, Manga: Reviews of Tomie: Complete Deluxe Edition and Blame! Vol. 1 & Vol. 2

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Creepy and Goofy 

Time Codes:

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It’s the final manga episode of the year, and to close out 2016 Shea and Derek discuss a couple of fascinating new editions of older manga. But first they talk about their holiday activities with one another and then go on to share the listener mail they received about their November manga episode. After that, it’s manga time! They begin with Junji Ito’s Tomie: Complete Deluxe Edition (VIZ Media). This volume brings together all of the previous Tomie stories, initially released in three separate books. As listeners of the podcast may know, Shea and Derek are big fans of Junji Ito, but this is the first time either of the guys have read this series. They point out both the similarities and the differences between this text (especially the early stories) and later Ito works such as Uzumaki and Gyo. Shea is particularly taken by Ito’s early, looser illustration style, while Derek focuses on the, at times, goofy scenarios surrounding Tomie. They’re weirder than even the most unusual premises you’ll find in Junji Ito.

After that, the guys turn to Tsutomu Nihei’s Blame! This series has also been previously published, but now Vertical Comics is releasing it in new master editions. The second volume was just published this month, and volume 3 is due out in March. So Shea and Derek limit their discussion to the story contained within these first two book. This is an action-heavy manga, and while this kind of graphic storytelling isn’t one of Derek’s favorites, it’s something that Shea absolutely loves. But both guys appreciate the incremental world building and especially Nihei’s astounding ability in representing The City, the vast post-apocalyptic landscape in which the story takes place. The bottom line is that both guys love the storyworld and plan to continue reading this series.

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Comics Alternative, Manga: Reviews of A Distant Neighborhood: Complete Edition and Attack on Titan Anthology

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Attack on Time 

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Time Codes:

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For the month of November, Shea and Derek get together to discuss to two recent manga publications, although the first text they cover is not entirely new. Jiro Taniguchi’s A Distant Neighborhood: Complete Edition brings together the two-volume English editions originally published by Fanfare/Ponent Mon in 2009. (The original Japanese was published in Big Comic magazine between 1998 and 1999.) It’s the story of Hiroshi Nakahara, a 48-year-old salaryman with an uninspired life, and who finds himself mysteriously transformed — or transported? — into his 14-year-old self. This is the same period of his life when his father abandoned his family. The guys discuss A Distant Neighborhood as a quasi-time travel narrative, but definitely not science fiction. In fact, Derek reads this text through the lens of the romance tradition, à la Horace Walpole and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Shea enjoys to story, but he feels that the premise may be a little too loaded and that Taniguchi at times relies too much on telling and not showing.

Next they turn to a very different kind of book, Kodansha Comic’s Attach on Titan Anthology. This is similar to a text that the guys discussed last month, Neo Parasyte F, an anthology of new works based on and inspired by a previous manga property, in this case Hajime Isayama’s Attack on Titan (which began in 2009). However in contrast to the Parasyte homage, this collection is made up of work written and drawn by a variety of Western creators. Although the collection resonates differently with each — Derek tends to like it, as a whole, better than Shea — both of the guys can agree on some of the anthology’s highlights. These include Ronald Wimberly’s “Bahamut”; Asaf and Tomer Hanuka’s “Memory Maze”; Rhianna Pratchett, Ben Applegate, and Jorge Corona’s “Skies Above”; and Evan Dorkin and Sarah Dyer’s “Attack on Attack on Titan.” But really, every contribution to this collection is worth reading. As the guys point out, one of the beauties of this anthology is that its eclectic styles reflect the broad and diverse readership to which Isayama’s series appeals.

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