Panels by Kiyohiko Azuma make everything more cheerful, don’t you think? Anyway, here’s the link to this week’s Flipped, which will also be the last installment of that column. I explain everything there. It’s a good thing.
Hey, are you sick of me obsessing over Natsume Ono? If so, this week’s Flipped is probably not for you. And I make no promises about the situation improving in the future. And yes, I am illustrating my blog like a teenager pasting magazine covers to the inside of my locker. I make no apologies.
No, don’t ignore him! Pictured above is Yuki, the protagonist of Taiyo Matsumoto’s fascinating GoGo Monster (Viz), which is the subject of this week’s Flipped. I have to say, there’s been a ferocious quantity of really good manga this year, and GoGo Monster is certainly in that category.
Given that ferocious quantity, I do find myself wondering why so little of it is making its way onto year-end lists of incredible comics. It’s reaching the point that I really feel compelled to come up with some craven way to do a “Best of” list without actually describing as such, leaving me the kind of plausible deniability that is my watchword as a blogger. I mean, I’m not remember 2009 incorrectly, am I? There was an avalanche of great stuff, right?
This week’s Flipped takes a look at a late but deserving entry into the list of possible best books of 2009, Susumu Katsumata’s Red Snow from Drawn & Quarterly. While pulling together illustrations for the column, I noticed that the cover design had changed rather drastically from solicitation to finished product.
Here’s the solicitation version:
And here’s the final:
I much prefer the final version. It’s much more in keeping with the content, and I love that it has an almost woodcut quality. The earlier version seems rather generic and lacks the earthiness that makes the stories so interesting. The first version is also sexy in an almost pandering way, I think, and it strikes me as sort of a bait-and-switch. Going in a different direction was a very good choice.
Just out of curiosity, I wondered what other versions of the book looked like. Here’s the Japanese version collected by Seirinkogeisha:
It’s nice, but it strikes me as a little delicate. It’s more in keeping with the content, but, again, it doesn’t have the grounded quality of the stories. Here’s the French version, published by Editions Cornélius:
It’s attractive in a bandes dessinées kind of way, though I still don’t find it as striking as the D&Q version. I know (or think) there’s a Korean version out there, but I’m not having any luck finding an image of the cover. I’d love to get a look at it, so if you have more success than I do, send me a link. And let me know which one you like best.
This week’s Flipped is up. Just out of curiosity, is negatively reviewing a Tezuka comic a mortal sin or just a venal one? I’m guessing it’s mortal, but I also figure it probably doesn’t matter at this point in my distinguished career. I mean, I’d put Blankets and New Frontier on the list of the Best Books of the ’00s I Couldn’t Force Myself to Finish Reading, and I’ll never repent that, so I’ve probably got a one-way ticket straight to comics hell with my name on it.
As windy as this week’s column may seem, know that it’s the result of judicious editing on my part. I had this whole section mapped out about how, even though Swallowing has a lot of problems, you can see a lot of its ideas put to better use in Naoki Urasawa’s 20th Century Boys, but then I realized that if one started writing about the ways Urasawa repurposes Tezuka (really, really well, I hasten to note), it would be a five-parter.