Previews review July 2011

I know it’s probably inappropriate to rob you of your right to vote during the week if Independence Day, but there just isn’t enough new material to run either dubious manga or BL polls. There are a couple of new titles that look perfectly awful, but I can’t bring myself to run the risk of ever having to read either of them. And there’s only one new BL title due. As if to compensate for this, Previews is packed with tempting debuts and new volumes of beloved series.

The madness begins with Kodansha Comics providing all of the Sailor Scouts you can handle. There’s the first volume of Koji Kumeta Naoko Takeuchi’s Codename: Sailor V (order number JUL11 1144, $10.99), the prequel to Sailor Moon that has never been published in English, and there’s the first volume of Kumeta Takeuchi’s Sailor Moon itself (order number JUL11 1150, $10.99). Kodansha rather cheekily describes this as “the biggest manga launch of 2011 from any publisher.” I can’t really argue with the truth of that. Of course, if it’s so big, you might get the details on your web site.

I’ve never heard of this book, but I trust NBM, so I’m on board for Takashi Murakami’s Stargazing Dog (order number JUL11 1174, $11.99). This two-volume series originally ran in Futubasha’s Manga Action. It’s about a depressed loner whose life is vastly improved by the adoption of a dog.

Not content with one amazing debut, Vertical doubles up, first with Uumaru Furuya’ No Longer Human, an adaptation of the acclaimed novel by Osamu Dazai (order number JUL11 1258, $10.95). Furuya updated Dazai’s tale of an emotionally troubled man for his three-volume adaptation, which ran in Shinchosha’s Comic Bunch. Side note: Dazai’s novel played a key role in Mizuki Nomura’s excellent light novel, Book Girl and the Suicidal Mime (Yen Press).

If there’s been a manga series that received more attention from mainstream media than Tadashi Agi’s The Drop of God (order number JUL11 1259, $14.95), I can’t think of it. This wine-soaked seinen title follows the rivalry between a wine critic and his brother as they compete for the right to inherit the contents of their father’s legendary cellar.

Viz has a ton of new volume of great series, but the only noteworthy debut is a 3-in-1 release of X by CLAMP (order number JUL2011 1279, $19.99). I can’t find a link for it anywhere, but Viz promises a deluxe collector’s edition restored to its original orientation. As for the story itself, the end of the world is near, and super-powered people are taking sides in Tokyo. The series ran for 18 volumes in Kadokawa Shoten’s Monthly Asuka.

New volumes of ongoing series:

  • xxxHOLic vol. 17, by CLAMP, Del Rey, order number: JUL11 0986, $10.99
  • The Summit of the Gods vol. 3, by Yumemakura Baku and Jiro Taniguchi, Fanfare/Ponent Mon, order number JUL11 1106, $25.00
  • Black Metal vol. 2, by Rick Spears and Chuck BB, Oni Press, order number JUL11 1195, $11.99
  • Twin Spica vol. 9, by Kou Yaginuma, Vertical, Inc., order number JUL11 1260, $10.95
  • One Piece vol. 58, by Eiichiro Oda, Viz Media, order number JUL11 1271, $9.99
  • Cross Game vol. 5, by Mitsuru Adachi, Viz Media, order number JUL11 1286, $14.99
  • Kamisama Kiss vol. 5, by Julietta Suzuki, order number JUL11 1261, $9.99
  • Bunny Drop vol. 4, by Yumi Unita, order number JUL11 1300, $12.99

That’s kind of hefty! Start filling your change jars now!

 

Random weekend question: independents day

There’s a ton of excellent manga that fits neatly into certain categories and story genres. And there’s vast variation within those narrow-only-on-paper segments of the market. But what are some of your favorite manga that defy easy categorization?

Here are three that come to my mind:

  • Love Roma, by Minoru Toyoda, Del Rey, five volumes: With its chunky, low-fidelity art and funky comic rhythms, this series turns high-school romance on its head in some delightful ways.
  • Peepo Choo, by Felipe Smith, Vertical, three volumes: It’s a junkyard dog of a comic that you can’t help but love in spite of the fact that it will probably try to bite you at least once.
  • Red Snow, by Susumu Katsumata, Drawn & Quarterly, one volume: Yoshihiro Tatsumi’s indie shorts get most of the love when it comes to gekiga, but this rural-focused collection of magical-realist tales is my clear favorite among D&Q’s manga offerings.

What are your picks?

MMF: Bathtub manga

Whenever I think of Kazuya Minekura’s Wild Adapter (Tokyopop), an image pops into my mind: my bathtub. The water is hot and scented with some kind of mood-altering essential oil, possibly juniper, maybe rosemary, occasionally lavender. There is an alcoholic beverage perched on the edge of the tub to help me stay hydrated. And there is a volume of manga nearby.

Yes, I am a bathtub reader. It’s not my go-to hygiene technique, more an occasional indulgence. And, if you’re going to indulge, why not gild the experience? (My fondness for baths is such that I really, really want someone to license Mari Yamazaki’s Thermae Romae. Erica Friedman sent me the first two Japanese volumes, and I can’t read a character of the dialogue, but it looks terrific.)

Now, not just any manga will do. It needs to have a certain languid, moody quality. Ideally, it should be impregnated with feelings, even if those feelings are ambiguous. I love One Piece (Viz), but it is not bathtub manga. I’m impatient for the next volume of The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service (Dark Horse), but it is not bathtub manga. A new volume of Bunny Drop (Yen Press) cannot come soon enough, but even it is not bathtub manga. Wild Adapter is bathtub manga.

Why is that? Well, it’s partly because, empirically good and ambitious as Wild Adapter is, it doesn’t wear its quality on its sleeve. It gives you the opportunity to believe that you’re indulging in a guilty pleasure, even though you’re actually seeing a spectacular piece of craftsmanship. That, right there, is what makes manga bathtub manga for me.

So, in celebration of the current Manga Moveable Feast, I thought I’d list some other titles that may achieve their fullest entertainment potential when paired with bubbles and booze:

Antique Bakery by Fumi Yoshinaga (Digital Manga): It’s very, very difficult to pick just one of Yoshinaga’s works for this list, because she’s all about the appearance of effortlessness. She can go very dark places in her storytelling, and she does so routinely in work like Ôoku: The Inner Chambers (Viz), but you’ll rarely see her congratulating herself on her daring. Darkness is a part of life, and it can consume a moment without warning, which is certainly a recurring motif in Antique Bakery. Of course, the primary adjectives the series suggests are “funny” and “sexy,” and there are tons of illustrations of beautiful desserts.

Emma by Kaoru Mori (CMX): If there’s a mangaka better than Mori at dissecting a single, seemingly trivial moment and turning it into something telling and revealing, I’m hard-pressed to think of one. Aside from Jiro Taniguchi’s The Walking Man (Fanfare/Ponent Mon), Emma may be one of the most leisurely manga I’ve ever encountered. There’s certainly a story here – a star-crossed romance between a domestic and a member of the emerging middle class – but it’s draped in such obsessive interest in the behaviors and values of the era in which its set that it scarcely matters if you find Emma and William’s relationship plausible or sympathetic. You can just lose yourself in the minutiae of their lives and still be really, really satisfied.

Genshiken by Kio Shimoku (Del Rey): A lot of nerd comedy is frantic and unfunny. Your average ugly duckling hero is thrown into humiliating misadventure, allowing the audience to laugh at them (and cringe at the parts of themselves that identify with the poor loser). That’s all well and good, and no one will ever go broke catering to the audience for that kind of material, but my nerd comedy of choice is pretty much embodied by Genshiken. I don’t think anyone would ever use the term “frantic” to describe it. It’s much more likely to be called “contemplative,” even “leisurely” and possibly “wistful.” Shimoku goes for neither shame comedy nor canonization with his cast of geeks. Instead, he takes them seriously as characters, which is to say he gives them highs and lows over a period of time and gives readers a clear and satisfying portrayal of their thoughts and feelings.

Nana by Ai Yazawa (Viz): Okay, the lead characters are sitting in a bathtub on the cover. A lesser blogger may simply rest his or her case based on the overwhelming evidence that image provides, but no! I will soldier on to say that it’s Yazawa’s facility for big, messy emotions writ achingly small and her feverish ability to convey a vibe that’s both stylish and strangely nostalgic that make Nana ideal for a good, long soak. She’s packed the book with fascinating, complex, sometime unlikable characters that interact in ways that are constantly surprising but make perfect sense. And, since they’re very often shown to be imbibing, you won’t have to drink alone.

Suppli by Mari Okazaki (Tokyopop): Of all the manga heroines who could use a good long soak in a buble-filled tub, I would have to rank Minami very near the top. She works too hard for an advertising agency that’s often unappreciative of her efforts. It would display an excess of delicacy to describe her love life as “messy.” And yet this manga is indulgent because it’s very beautifully drawn and because Minami’s trials feel so delicately true. She feels very much like someone you might know, and she’s definitely someone you wish well. And, since it seems likely that we may never see the remainder of this wonderful series, it’s nice to be someplace private where you can cry into your washcloth.

So, who’s with me? Are there any other bathtub manga readers out there? What are your titles of choice?

 

From the stack: Arisa vol. 1

I wasn’t particularly kind to the work of Natsumi Ando the other day. While I don’t retract anything I said about Wild @ Heart (Del Rey), I’m happy to be able to express a different opinion about Ando’s Arisa. The first volume introduces a tense, observant mystery, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen Ando’s art look better.

Much as I love shôjo that traffics in comedy, romance, and fantasy, I have a weakness for detective fiction, particularly when it features an amateur sleuth. In Arisa, a young girl investigates the attempted suicide of her twin sister by assuming her identity, and she quickly finds that her twin’s seemingly perfect life had some decidedly dark undertones.

Spunky tomboy Tsubasa and demure princess Arisa have been separated for years by their parents’ divorce. They’ve kept in touch through letters, and they arrange a secret meeting to catch up in person. Tsubasa, whose quick temper and loose tongue have limited her social circle, admires Arisa’s femininity and popularity. Arisa gives Tsubasa the chance to live her perfect life for a day – class president, tons of friends, cute boyfriend, the works. Arisa is brokenhearted when Tsubasa doesn’t see through the façade, and Tsubasa is devastated when Arisa tries to end her own life.

Tsubasa decides to continue the impersonation to try and find out what could have driven Arisa to this desperate act. She begins to unravel the creepy secrets of Arisa’s seemingly cheerful, friendly class, putting herself in danger but charging forward because it’s the right thing to do. The students’ secrets are genuinely unnerving, but Tsubasa seems up to the challenge of deciphering them. She faces real danger, even in the seemingly benign school setting, but she’s tough and a quick thinker.

The script has the kind of darkness and ambition that I found lacking in Wild @ Heart, really digging into the ways that kids can have dark sides but finding a fresh, contemporary take on the subject. Better still, Ando’s illustrations are stripped down for the occasion. If your experience with her drawing is limited to Kitchen Princess, you might be surprised that Arisa is by the same artist. Character design is sleeker and less aggressively endearing. The angles in the page compositions are sharper and more challenging. Even the application of screen tone, while still lavish, is more targeted and restrained in terms of choices.

It’s always nice to see a creator stretch her muscles and try something different, and it’s even better to see her succeed in the attempt. Arisa really seems like a great coalescence of Ando’s evident raw talent into something stronger and more balanced, and the fact that it’s a promising, emotionally complex mystery is a welcome bonus. I’m eager to see what happens next.

(These comments are based on a review copy provided by the publisher. Del Rey released the first volume in 2010, and Kodansha will pick up the series in May of this year. It’s currently running in Kodansha’s Nakayoshi.)

Meh manga

Earlier this week, Kate Dacey examined the concept of “meh” as it relates to critical discourse. Conveniently enough, I’ve just finished trudging through two titles that fall squarely in the “meh” range. Neither is especially bad, but neither transcends competence or adds any secret ingredient that makes them linger in the memory or heart.

Both are shôjo titles from Del Rey’s defunct manga line, so it may seem a little harsh to dissect them, but I liked Kate’s piece and the ensuing discussion so much that my mind is stuck in “meh” mode, and I need to push these books out of my system by taking quick looks at their respective – and admittedly routine — failures.

First is Natsumi Ando’s Wild @ Heart, a done-in-one collection of a three-volume series from Kodansha’s Nakayoshi. I was a big fan of Kitchen Princess, Ando’s collaboration with Miyuki Kobayashi, but the primary strength of that series is the often surprisingly dark writing. Wild @ Heart is on the fluffy end of the spectrum, an innocent romance with a reasonably promising sitcom premise. It’s about an average junior high school girl whose explorer father brings home a feral boy he met on his travels. Will Chino be able to look past Hyo’s uncivilized behavior to form a friendship, or perhaps even more? The answer to this question, and to all questions Ando poses in this series, is unfortunately “Of course.”

Maybe it’s the result of reading the whole thing at once rather than bit by bit, but Hyo’s civilization seems to happen too quickly. The earlier chapters, with Hyo bouncing around in his school uniform (when he can be bothered to keep it on) have some funny bits, but things level out too quickly, and he becomes an only slightly off-kilter cute boy. Even before he settles down, he’s so good-hearted that Chino’s resistance seems perfunctory and even snobbish.

But the ultimate failing here is that the ending is telegraphed. There’s no suspense in the evolution of the relationship, moving from beat to beat in predictable, almost plodding rhythm. Ando’s art has always struck me as a more coherent version of Arina Tanemura’s. The coherence is welcome, even if the volume of screen tone is equivalent, but Ando’s kind of visual cuteness badly needs some narrative darkness or edge for counterpoint. It reinforces the bland sweetness of the story rather than subverting it, and vice versa.

Ema Toyama’s I Am Here! at least has its heart in the wrong place. In it, we meet an overlooked, isolated girl who’s encouraged to make real-world friends and assert herself by the readers of her blog. Hikage falls into a category of character that Mitch of Blogfonte winningly described as “Asperger Sue.” The efforts of socially inept characters to engage can result in manga that’s funny or moving or both, but I Am Here! is hobbled by the work’s flat sincerity.

Hikage is just so blandly sweet and earnest that it’s hard to invest much interest in her plight. I found myself reaching the uncharitable conclusion that she’s not more popular because she’s kind of a bore. Neither her desire to connect with people nor the obstacles to that goal feel very specific; she’s just a person who fades into the background, and that doesn’t even feel particularly unfair. She’s less of an underdog than a charity case — a nice, nondescript girl who can’t quite do the heavy lifting of a protagonist.

Complicating things is the fact that her rivals seem just plain mean. The notion of someone being threatened enough by this homeless kitten reduces them to overreacting, insecure caricatures. This is always a tricky balance, crafting nuanced foes for an openhearted innocent, and Toyama doesn’t manage to strike it.

Toyama is scrupulous in mapping out Hikage’s steps out of the shadows. She’s trying to do the hard work of building investment in Hikage’s evolution, but the formula of this kind of story overwhelms any spark that might be generated by quirky characters or scenarios. It ends up reading more like a “How to Be Popular” manual than an organic story.

This book collects the first two volumes of the five of the series, which ran in Kodansha’s Nakayoshi. The remaining volumes are on Kodansha’s publishing schedule for this year.

(These comments are based on review copies provided by the publisher.)

Links instead of lists

It’s a good thing that we use Midtown Comics for our Pick of the Week round robin, as the Diamond-focused ComicList is a barren wasteland this week.  So, instead, I will look back through my Twitter archives to point you at some fun and enlightening things to read online:

For your 2011 Eisner consideration

Submissions are being accepted for the 2011 Eisner Awards! I enjoyed cobbling a list of suggested manga nominations last year, so I thought I’d try again.

There could be a number of Japanese works that make it into the Best Short Story category, as both Fantagraphics and Top Shelf published highly regarded collections of short manga. If forced to pick just one story from Moto Hagio’s A Drunken Dream and Other Stories, I think it would have to be “Hanshin/Half-God.” There’s a lot of terrific work in Top Shelf’s AX anthology, but the one that keeps coming to mind would have to be Akino Kondo’s “The Rainy Day Blouse & the First Umbrella.”

Whether or not any Japanese titles show up in the Best Continuing Comic Book Series category is always kind of a crap shoot. If one shows up, there’s a good chance it’s probably by Naoki Urasawa, so I wouldn’t be surprised or at all displeased if we saw 20th Century Boys or Pluto (Viz) in this roster. I would be surprised and delighted if we saw that stalwart, The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service (Dark Horse), written by Eiji Otsuka and illustrated by Housui Yamazaki, take a slot. The same goes for Eiichiro Oda’s One Piece (Viz), which experienced a big push this year and put Oda’s multifaceted gifts on flattering display.

The Best New Series category is tricky for similar reasons. You never know how they’ll define the category, and, hey, it’s not like the rest of the comics industry is hurting for good new titles. But if they want to mix it up with some newly launched (here, at least) manga series, here are four they might consider:

  • Twin Spica (Vertical), Kou Yaginuma’s heartfelt examination of a school for astronauts
  • Bunny Drop (Yen Press), Yumi Unita’s observant take on single fatherhood
  • House of Five Leaves (Viz), Natsume Ono’s alluring tale of an unemployed samurai who falls in with the right/wrong crowd
  • Cross Game (Viz), Mitsuru Adachi’s coming-of-age baseball drama.
  • Technically speaking, neither of the following titles was originally conceived of for kids, but I have no problem putting them forward as likely candidates for the Best Publication for Kids category. Konami Kanata’s Chi’s Sweet Home (Vertical) is charming and funny, and it offers a point-by-point run-through of the responsibilities of pet ownership, which is a great thing to hand a kid. Very few people don’t like Kiyohiko Azuma’s Yotsuba&! (Yen Press) for the simple reasons that it’s hysterically funny and wide open to just about anyone who cares to read it. It’s the kind of book that I think people want to read with the kids in their lives, which is certainly an enticement for voters.

    If there’s a category that’s hard to pin down, it would probably be Best Publication for Teens, partly because I don’t think teens really like being told “We know you’ll like this.” So I’ll go with two that are rated “Teen,” because I’m lazy like that. Cross Game has pretty much everything you could ask for from a coming-of-age novel: joy, sorry, confusion, comedy, great characters, and completely recognizable slices of life. Yuki Midorikawa slices up a more supernatural life with Natsume’s Book of Friends (Viz), but it has hearts and smarts in common with Adachi’s baseball comic.

    Not much has changed as far as my Best Humor Publication recommendations go, at least in relation to Koji Kumeta’s Sayonara Zetsubou-Sensei (Del Rey). The aforementioned Yotsuba&! is routinely one of the funniest comics I read, and Kiminori Wakasugi’s Detroit Metal City (Viz) has a lot of vulgar high points.

    Unless there’s some utterly arcane bit of rules of which I’m unaware, there’s no reason on Earth for AX not to snag a Best Anthology nomination. It’s everything an anthology or collection is supposed to be, isn’t it? Purposeful, varied, significant, with bonus points for being frequently entertaining and nicely produced.

    Nominees in the Best Archival Collection apparently need to focus on work that’s at least 20 years old, so I suspect that might disqualify A Drunken Dream and Other Stories, but there’s plenty of material to choose from. Osamu Tezuka’s Ayako (Vertical) is perhaps not my favorite of his works, but there’s always Black Jack from the same publisher. There’s also Yoshihiro Tatsumi’s Black Blizzard (Drawn & Quarterly), which offers a worthwhile glimpse into his earlier, long-form works.

    Best U.S. Edition of Foreign Material — Asia opens its own can of worms for me in terms of recommendation, because what I’d suggest would depend on what’s nominated elsewhere. I’m always for spreading the wealth, if possible. Assuming there’s an absence of comics from Japan in the other categories, I’d say these five are essential, though: A Drunken Dream an Other Stories (Fantgraphics), AX (Top Shelf), Bunny Drop (Yen Press), Twin Spica (Vertical), and Cross Game (Viz).

    It’s unfortunate that the Best Writer/Artist categories are divided into Humor and Drama, because the greats balance both. I would love to see Fumi Yoshinaga nominated, possibly in the humor side of the equation. Still, her year included All My Darling Daughters (Viz), new volumes of Ôoku: The Inner Chambers (Viz), and Not Love But Delicious Foods Make Me So Happy (Yen Press), which seems like a perfectly reasonable excuse to nominate her for an award she’s deserved for years. I’d feel fairly secure in placing Moto Hagio in the Drama category, since that is the essential nature of the short stories collected in A Drunken Dream and Other Stories. They aren’t entirely void of humor, but…

    Chi’s Sweet Home’s qualifications for Best Publication Design may not be immediately obvious, but the care with which its reading orientation was flipped and color was added to each page are worth noting, especially in the ways that they opened the book up to a larger audience. There seem to be a lot of gorgeous, immense package jobs this year, slip-cased volumes that you could use as an ottoman, and there’s some snazzy design for books that doesn’t really enhance the actual comic in question, but the design for Chi’s Sweet Home served the product and was subtly beautiful at the same time. [Update: I'm reliably informed that the book was in color before it was flipped and translated.] The cover designs for 7 Billion Needles were perhaps less cumulative work, but their style and texture are real winners.

    What did I miss? What books and creators would you recommend for Eisner consideration?

    Upcoming 10/27/2010

    It’s time for another look at the week’s ComicList!

    Tokyopop has a bunch of titles coming out, and my pick of that lot would be the tenth volume of Banri Hidaka’s V.B. Rose, a romantic comedy about a budding designer of accessories working in a high-end bridal shop.

    Random House’s Del Rey manga imprint may be on its last legs, but it’s releasing a healthy volume of titles all the same. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the first volume of Akimine Kamijo’s Code Breaker, so I’ll be looking for the second.

    I’ve also been surprised by how much I’ve been enjoying Marvel’s Secret Avengers series, so I’ll also grab a copy of the sixth issue, which features a visit from the Master of Kung Fu.

    I have no excuse for not yet sampling Beasts of Burden from Dark Horse, and perhaps the Beasts of Burden/Hellboy One-Shot isn’t the best introduction to the series, but I think I’ll grab it all the same, just because I know my comic shop will probably have a copy handy.

    What looks good to you?

    Two years later

    Lots of people have posted interesting and valuable reactions to yesterday’s news about Kodansha and Del Rey, particularly Christopher (Comics212) Butcher and Kate (The Manga Critic) Dacey, and I only have a couple of things to add.

    First, I’d like to thank Del Rey for publishing some really interesting manga and doing a very nice job of it. I always appreciated the level of care they took with translation, adaptation and annotation of their translation choices. All of those elements really added value to the reading experience, and I hope that Kodansha continues to uphold those production values.

    Some of my favorite manga came from the Del Rey imprint: Minoru Toyoda’s Love Roma, Fuyumi Soryo’s ES: Eternal Sabbath, Yuki Urushibara’s Mushishi, Kio Shimoku’s Genshiken, Natsumi Ando and Miyuki Kobayashi’s Kitchen Princess, and Satomi Ikezawa’s Othello, among many others. I hope that this excellent back catalog stays in print, regardless of how things ultimately shake out between Kodansha and Random House. We have enough excellent, orphaned series already.

    Some of my current favorite series and titles I’ve hoped to catch up on were also on Del Rey’s slate: Clamp’s xxxHOLic, Tomoko Ninomiya’s Nodame Cantabile, Koji Kumeta’s Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei, and Ishikawa Masayuki’s Moyasimon. I hope that Kodansha doesn’t dawdle in the continued publication of these interesting and satisfying works.

    But I would be lying if I said I was optimistic. It’s been over two years since word first leaked that Kodansha was taking its English-language distribution into its own hands, and the results have been rather pathetic. The net result has been that significantly less of Kodansha’s catalog is available in print than before. I understand that the economy isn’t friendly to new initiatives, but results thus far have been miserable, especially for a publisher of Kodansha’s size and stature. I hope that this development indicates that Kodansha is going to finally get in gear in terms of shoring up its existing catalog and increasing the number of titles licensed for English publication and that we aren’t asking the same rueful questions in 2012.

    Previews review September 2010

    There’s lots of desirable material in the September 2010 Previews catalog.

    Before we get to that, I feel I should note that Del Rey manga is still launching new series. Its latest is Ema Toyama’s I Am Here! It’s about a young girl who overcomes her shyness through blogging. I fell asleep halfway through typing that sentence, but there you have it. It originally ran in Kodansha’s Nakayoshi magazine. (Page 267.)

    It seems like it’s been forever since the gorgeous hardcover collection of the first set of Linda Medley’s Castle Waiting stories. Fantagraphics will release 384 more pages of charming comics about the family-of-choice residents of a falling-down castle along the way. (Page 278.)

    Ever since I read Glacial Period (NBM), I’ve wanted someone to publish more comics by Nicolas De Crecy. NBM obliges again with the first volume of Salvatore: Transports of Love about a successful auto mechanic who happens to be a dog. Congratulations, NBM, on joining the elite circle of publishers who have fulfilled one of my license requests. You may join Vertical and Fantagraphics in the Silver Courtesy Lounge. (Page 290.)

    I’m generally not the target audience for books from PictureBox, but I love Renée (The Ticking) French, so I’ll be all over H Day. It’s a no-doubt surreal look at how French copes with migraine headaches. (Page 300.)

    It also feels like it’s been a long time since Top Shelf published the first volume of Lars Martinson’s Tōnoharu. The second volume examining the life of a North American English teacher in rural Japan can be found listed on page 310.

    Bless Yen Press for digging and finding unlicensed Fumi Yoshinaga, specifically Not Love but Delicious Foods, about a hard-working, hard-eating lady and her foodie friends as they restaurant hop through Tokyo. It originally ran in Ohta Shuppan’s Manga Erotics F, which is one of those magazines that seems to run whatever the hell kind of comics it pleases. (Page 321.)