On Location: The First July Visit to Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find

Happy 4th!

Michael and Derek are back at Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find for the first of two July on-location episodes. They visit the shop on Independence Day, and they use the occasion to discuss current trends and titles in the comics industry. Mike explores recent manifestations of The Avengers and Justice League, focusing on Marvel and DC through what he calls the “classic Coke” approach. His discussion takes him across the writings of Jason Aaron and Scott Snyder, and then circling back to Tom King’s current work on Batman and the recent marriage event. Looking at the non-mainstream side of comics, Derek talks about his reaction to the first two issues of Evan Dorkin and Veronica Fish’s Blackwood and the initial offering of Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer, part of Titan Comics’ Hard Case Crime series. He also brings up Naoki Urasawa’s 20th Century Boys and the recent announcement of new Perfect Editions from VIZ Media. And, it being July 4th, the Two Guys also discuss comics, politics, and the current state of the country.

 

 

Comics Alternative, Manga: Finishing Up Monster, Othereworld Barbara, and Other Manga Series

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:26 – Introduction
  • 00:02:33 – Setting up the episode
  • 00:04:17 – More listener mail!
  • 00:06:49 – Completing Monster
  • 00:49:03 – Completing Otherworld Barbara
  • 01:14:28 – Completing other manga series
  • 01:26:25 – Wrap up
  • 01:27:47 – Contact us

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Completion

On this episode of the monthly manga series — the April show, actually, albeit late — Shea and Derek revisit some of the titles that they had previously discussed. They talk about these series now that they have more volumes under their belts, and in some cases, have completed the entire series. The first of these that they discuss is Naoki Urasawa’s Monster (VIZ Media), a title that they first discussed in their July 2015 episode. The last volume of the English-language Perfect Editions was released in summer of 2016, and both Shea and Derek explore their experiences finishing up the series. As they reveal, Urasawa has a penchant for vast, multi-leveled narratives, filled with a wide cast of characters, and the guys discuss this style of storytelling, its thrills as well as its challenges.

Next, they turn to the completion of a story they first discussed on the September 2016 manga episode, Moto Hagio’s Otherworld Barbara (Fantagraphics). The second volume of this series was published in August of last year, and the guys revisit Hagio’s storyworld and its wrap-up. As they mentioned on their earlier episode, this is a complex, even vertiginous, narrative that involves dreamscapes, multiple narrative levels, and time interplay. Both of them appreciate Hagio’s conclusion, although at times they wonder about the story’s lapses into sentimentalism, and if the various narrative threads may not be a bit unwieldy.

Finally, the guys discuss other manga series that they’ve been keeping up with, even completing, individually. For Shea, that includes ONE and Yusuke Murata’s One-Punch Man and Yusei Matsui’s Assassination Classroom, both published by VIZ Media. Derek waxes enthusiastically about Inio Asano’s Goodnight Punpun (VIZ Media), Kengo Hanazawa’s I Am a Hero (Dark Horse Manga), and Akiko Higashimura’s Princess Jellyfish (Kodansha Comics).

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 Monster and In Clothes Called Fat

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Wilford Brimley

For July’s manga episode, Shea and Derek discuss two distinctly different titles. They begin by looking at Naoki Urasawa’s Monster series published through Viz Media. The fifth volume of the new Perfect Editions was just released last week, so the guys thought this would be a great opportunity to Monster5introduce listeners to this dramatic saga. Monster is the story of a brilliant young surgeon, Dr. Kenzō Tenma, who’s accused of murder and then goes on the lam to find the real killer: a boy that he had perviously saved from a traumatic head wound. Tenma’s search for the enigmatic and elusive figure, now growing into young adulthood, becomes the driving force of the narrative, with Urasawa introducing a variety of characters and unlikely scenarios along the way. The itinerant nature of this series reminded Derek of the old The Fugitive TV series starring David Janssen. And Shea, in fact, thought that the episodic feel of the title began to wear thin as the story progressed, with Urasawa introducing diverseInClothesCalledFat characters in an almost formulaic manner so as to keep teasing out the drama. But this is a highly engaging series with clean, detailed line drawing and rarely flagging momentum. Next, the guys turn from seinen to josei with Moyoco Anno’s In Clothes Called Fat (Vertical). This is a one-volume story about eating disorders, body image, and the dark side of fashion consciousness on young women. Anno herself comes from a fashion background, and her insights on cultural psychology are the underlying bedrock of this narrative. In fact, both Shea and Derek are highly impressed by the ways in which Anno gets into her characters, adeptly revealing how they think and the complexities driving their actions. Body image isn’t the only focus of this story. Anno shows how social pressures, groupthink, and low self-esteem undergird many of our dysfunctional relationships. While Shea likes the book but isn’t completely satisfied with its ending — he feels the pacing shifts too dramatically in the conclusion — Derek is impressed with Anno’s style of narration, allowing characters multiple modes of expression that represent the psychological mechanisms at work. In all, this is an important and socially conscious work for male and female readers alike.

InClothesCalledFat2

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