Steals, sales and solicitations

So the big story of the day is unquestionably the… what should I call it? … apparent difference of opinion between Central Park Media and Japanese boys’-love publisher Libre, uncovered by the watchful folks of MangaCast. MangaCast Master of Ceremonies Ed Chavez and Dirk Deppey are on the trail, and unless I miss my guess, Simon Jones will have interesting things to say on the subject sooner or later. (No pressure, though.) (Update: Ask and you shall receive, though as always, the blog is probably not safe for work.)

On a less controversial front, MangaBlog’s Brigid looks through the Diamond graphic novel bestsellers for February and pulls out the top ten manga placers. Further down the list, I’m delighted to see the second volume of The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service (Dark Horse) crack the top 100.

At Sporadic Sequential, John Jakala digs up an interview with the gifted, under-licensed Usamaru Furuya on the intersection of art, commerce and editorial influence.

Moving back into the present, it’s a pretty solid week at ComicList, including the third volume of Diamond bestseller Kurosagi. (I love typing that!) Also from Dark Horse is It Rhymes With Lust, one of the earliest graphic novels. Written by Arnold Drake and Leslie Waller and drawn by Matt Baker, the book was printed in a fairly recent issue of The Comics Journal, and fans of sexy pulp and noir would be doing themselves a favor in picking it up. If you’ve ever thrilled to Joan Crawford or Barbara Stanwyck stringing small-town suckers along for their own merciless gain, you’ll probably enjoy Rust’s amoral antics as well.

It seems like each week brings another volume of the works of Fumi Yoshinaga to the shelves, and this is all to the good. This time around, it’s Solfege from Juné. For those unfamiliar with Yoshinaga who might wonder what all the love is about, check out these overviews at Yaoi Suki and Guns, Guys and Yaoi.

Seven Seas was kind enough to send me a complimentary copy of the second volume of Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl, though I would have bought it anyways, because this series is such a pleasant surprise – funny, thoughtful, romantic, and often surprising.

And if you’re wondering what next month’s best-selling manga title might be, Viz rolls out the 12th volume of Fullmetal Alchemist, which makes for one of those happy intersections of quality entertainment and commercial success.

Seinen sign-in

This week’s Flipped is up with reviews of Housui Yamazaki’s Mail (Dark Horse) and Kashimashi ~ Girl Meets Girl (Seven Seas).

While looking stuff up for the column, I was interested to see the titles that have been serialized in seinen anthology Dengeki Daioh, mostly because many of them don’t fit with my conventional (and probably too narrow) definition of seinen.

I mean… Yotsuba&! is seinen? Who knew?

The suspense is killing me!

Well that was a pleasant surprise. I thought NBM was only shipping a new printing of Rick Geary’s The Borden Tragedy, but a copy of the paperback version of The Case of Madeleine Smith showed up in my reserves yesterday. New installments of A Treasury of Victorian Murder are always gratefully accepted.

Speaking of the accused Glaswegian, she’s made her way onto the list of nominees for the American Library Association’s Great Graphic Novels for Teens. (Yes, I’m still obsessively tracking those. Thanks for asking.) Nominations are now closed with a projected drop date for the final list in mid-winter of 2007.

It’s a little hard to tell what joined the list when, but accounting for my shaky memory, recent additions include:

  • Action Philosophers: Giant-Sized Thing #1 (Evil Twin)
  • American Born Chinese (First Second)
  • Brownsville (NBBComics Lit)
  • Chocalat (Ice Kunion)
  • Crossroad (Go! Comi)
  • Fables: 1,001 Nights of Snowfall (Vertigo)
  • Infinite Crisis (DC)
  • Inverloch (Seven Seas)
  • The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service (Dark Horse)
  • Livewires: Clockwork Thugs, Yo! (Marvel)
  • Pride of Baghdad (Vertigo)
  • Same Cell Organism (DMP)
  • To Dance: A Ballerina’s Graphic Novel (Simon and Schuster)
  • Young Avengers Vol. 2: Family Matters (Marvel)

I hope the nomination list is still available after the final roster is chosen, because there are some great books on it. But barring some bizarre failure of decision-making, it’s hard to see how the final list could be anything but excellent.

(Edited to note: If I missed anything new to the nominations, let me know, and I’ll add it to the list.)

Updates, reviews, and long-awaited Scandinavian cartoons

Lyle has shared the cover of that issue of SF Weekly that featured the article on Yaoi-Con. It’s been suggested that they modified the artwork without the creator’s consent. Brigid has also found some letters to the editor in response to the article.

At The Beat, Heidi MacDonald links to an article from the Associate Press on controversial graphic novels in libraries, sparked by the dust-up in Marshall, MO. It’s a well-sourced and interesting read.

At Journalista, Dirk Deppy has heard reports from a reliable source that Yumi Hoashi left her post as head of Viz’s magazine division for a new gig, a theory posited by Simon Jones (whose blog might not be safe for work). Jones also provided me with my heartiest guffaw of yesterday, which was much appreciated:

“Won’t somebody think of the children!… who… read… the Comics Journal…”

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Brigid has also reviewed Inverloch from Seven Seas for Digital Strips. I liked the first volume a lot and keep meaning to track down the second. Johanna Draper Carlson reviews one of my favorite books, Girl Genius from Airship Entertainment. And Jamie S. Rich, author of 12 Reasons Why I Love Her from Oni, also loves June Kim’s 12 Days from Tokyopop.

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As for today’s comics, the clear front-runner (for me, at least) is Moomin: The Complete Tove Jansson Comic Strip Book One from Drawn and Quarterly. (Go here, scroll down, and click for a preview.) I’ve been looking forward to this since Free Comic Book Day, and my anticipation has only intensified thanks to the Moomin references in at least two of the manga versions of Train Man.

Speaking of that subway Romeo, Del Rey offers its one-volume shôjo take on the story. (Count Jog among the unmoved.)

If forced to pick only one item from Viz’s rather substantial list of product, hunger would win out and I’d opt for the second volume of Yakitate Japan.

The ComicList has thoughtfully compiled a manga-centric list of the week’s releases, and the MangaCasters have gone through it with a fine-toothed comb.

Regional specialties

The Mature Graphic Novel section has not yet reached north-central West Virginia. I swung by Books-A-Million last night to see. It did look like there were fewer Juné and Blu titles than usual, so maybe they’ve been sorted out and it’s in the works. (The manager, who’s an acquaintance, wasn’t on hand to ask.)

One thing did strike me as I was browsing. It’s too bad Viz didn’t put out a Bleach box set in time for the holidays, like Tokyopop did with Kingdom Hearts. A conveniently bundled, nicely packaged chunk of the early volumes might entice the curious.

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I’m kind of baffled by the ComicList for the week. The list itself says the only Del Rey offering for the week is the second volume of Basilisk. Jog seems to think that the fourth volume of Love Roma is arriving. The e-mailer from the local comic shop suggests that the seventh volume of Genshiken will arrive. Should I focus on the happiness of new Genshiken, or wallow in the bitterness of delayed Love Roma gratification?

There does seem to be general consensus that this week will see the arrival of the second volumes of Off*Beat and The Dreaming and the fourteenth of The Kindaichi Case Files from Tokyopop. Okay, so maybe it would be nice if these suspenseful stories had dropped the day before Halloween instead of the day after. But it’s close enough.

Not to be outdone in the second volume category, Seven Seas releases the sophomore installment of Inverloch, a web-to-print fantasy story from Sarah Ellerton. I liked the first a lot.

It seems like it’s been weeks since a new volume of a post-apocalyptic survival manga showed up. Dark Horse leaps into the breach with the fifth volume of Eden: It’s an Endless World! For more science fiction, you could always check out June from Netcomics.

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There seems to be a mad flurry of manga reviews of late, and MangaBlog’s Brigid has been staying on top of them.

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So I’m glancing at the Taiyosha Top Ten over at MangaCast, and I can’t help but notice that Nodame Cantabile has really parked itself there. Volume 16 debuted at number one, with a special taking eighth place the same week. And it’s still in the top 10.

No particular point to that observation, aside from the fact that I like the book and its success makes me happy.

Yuri flurry

Those crafty devils at Seven Seas never just rest on their laurels, do they? In the last couple of days, they’ve talked to Publishers Weekly Comics Week and ICv2 about their new yuri line, Strawberry.

Seven Seas publisher Jason DeAngelis summed up the line’s philosophy for PWCW’s Calvin Reid:

“DeAngelis says Seven Seas will focus on strong stories, ‘then the elements portrayed in the art become secondary. We’re dedicated to leaving the material we license uncensored, so we will be releasing a wide range of yuri aimed at different age groups. That said, we have no intention of releasing outright pornographic material.’”

(For those who are struggling with the distinction between yuri and hot, girl-on-girl action, Tina Anderson provides a concise, not entirely work-safe explanation.)

The ICv2 piece makes the interesting note that you’re much more likely to find a romantic relationship between two girls in mainstream manga (shôjo or shônen) than a male-male match-up:

“As a genre yuri is not nearly as big in Japan as yaoi, but lots of manga and anime series including Revolutionary Girl Utena, Rose of Versailles, My-Hime, Noir, .hack//SIGN, Read or Die, and Project A-ko feature central yuri relationships.”

At MangaCast, Ed Chavez takes exception to the classification of the new Seven Seas titles as yuri:

“I have said that here for a while, and obviously that was before this new imprint was announced. Strawberry Panic and Tetragrammaton Labyrinth (by Itou Ei) at least have girl-girl relationships throughout. I will say that neither one is really directly marketed to female readers (Tetra actually is in the same magazine as IkkiTousen and Mahoromatic…. so you might agree with me that those are Seinen titles for the seinen in your family). I am not a manga lord or magistrate to designate genres so your mileage with this will vary.”

But Ed notes that marketing is a fickle mistress:

“Ahh, so I guess my next question is who is 7S marketing this to. My gut feeling is = guys! To that I say whatever. I don’t see anything wrong with it. Books are marketed to the wrong audiences all the time here and outside of myself and maybe some industry people who wonder why their books aren’t moving, I don’t think people (in this case readers) care. And if the sales of these titles mean more titles like Boogiepop and some of the LightNovel imprint. Great! I want to see 7S take even more risks (Yanki/Zoku manga… HINT HINT).”

As Ed says, mileage varies.

ALC has been waving the yuri banner for a long time now, putting out both licensed work and original global yuri. (I’m particularly crazy about quirky, lo-fi Rica ‘tte Kanji!?) ALC’s Erica stops by the Anime News Network discussion thread to give a little background on the publisher’s philosophy:

“We also tend to focus on work by lesbians that identify as ‘yuri’” artists, instead of artsits who don’t like to think of themselves that way.”

In the same thread, harsh words are exchanged over category labeling and opposing fandoms. Shocking!

Mangalanche!

There’s an outrageous quantity of good manga coming out this week, and David Taylor has pulled the manga out for your convenience.

If I didn’t already own it, I would name Fanfare/Ponent Mon’s re-release of Jiro Taniguchi’s sublime Walking Man as manga pick of the week. I think I will anyways. (F/PM is another publisher who could play a mean game of “If you like…” Of course, I think every comic shop should have a spinner rack full of their books. Some of their work is on display in a recent article from Paul Gravett, along with other offerings in the still-too-narrow gekiga category.)

In non-manga offerings, I’m most excited about Dave Roman’s Agnes Quill: An Anthology of Mystery from Slave Labor Graphics.

Chris Butcher goes through this week’s releases, hitting the highlights and making an good point about a couple of current manga series:

“Better still, it’s a lot of fun to compare the 1970s suspense-horror of Drifting Classroom by Kazuo Umezu (essentially: Japan’s Stephen King) to Dragon Head, a more contemporary take on the sub-genre. Drifting Classroom leaves less to the imagination about the fate of the characters and what they face, but it also has the reactions of the characters ratchetted way above Dragon Head to achieve similar effects… You really oughtta be buying and reading both, I think.”

Jog’s rundown of the week’s comics is particularly manga-rich this week. Best line:

Q-Ko-chan Vol. 2 (of 2): Another model of clarity from writer/artist Ueda Hajime draws to a close. It looks nice!”

What more is there to say?

Dave Ferraro is another Drifting Classroom fan (so am I), and he takes a look at volume 2 in the latest Manga Monday at Comics-and-More, also reviewing Dragon Head 4, Monster 5, and Shojo Beat’s Punch preview.

At MangaBlog, Brigid gives a qualified thumbs-up to the second volume of Boogiepop Doesn’t Laugh; I agree with her that more distinct character design would have helped with clarity. Rereading the first volume before delving into the second was almost essential.

MangaCast keeps the previews and reviews coming. Volume #255 features CMX’s Densha Otoko, Juné’s Close the Last Door, and the second volume of The Great Catsby from NETCOMICS. And MangaCaster Erin F. provides an audio version of the latest Manga Recon column from PopCultureShock. The eclectic collection of titles covered includes the first two volumes of Scott Pilgrim, DMP’s Robot anthology, Ultra Cute, and the excellent Dokebi Bride. Ah, globalism!

Dark Horse’s Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service did well in the Direct Market, and TangognaT thinks it deserves four stars (out of five).

And in this week’s Flipped, I think about the children… the murderous, emotionally disturbed children.

I want a bean feast

The latest Previews catalog has me in a Veruca Salt kind of head space.

David Petersen’s splendid Mouse Guard (Archaia) concludes with issue #6, but the solicitation text describes it as “the first Mouse Guard series,” all but promising there will be more.

I hadn’t noticed that Housui Yamazaki, who provides illustrations for the excellent Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, has his own book, Mail, also coming out from Dark Horse. This demands further investigation, particularly since the protagonist from Mail will apparently cross over into KCDS. (I don’t like typing “cross over” when discussing manga, but I’ll reserve judgment.)

As I like Hiroki Endo’s Eden: It’s an Endless World!, and I’m also a fan of collections of shorts, chances seem good I’ll also like Endo’s Tanpeshu, also from Dark Horse.

DC – Wildstorm gives me the opportunity to enjoy a comic written by Gail Simone without having to try and wade through seventy-three different crossovers with the debut of Tranquility.

DC – Vertigo revives a book I enjoyed a lot, Sandman Mystery Theatre, with a five-issue mini-series, Sleep of Reason. Based on the pages shown in Previews, I’m not entirely sold on the art by Eric Nguyen, but I love the protagonists in this series.

Do you like Masaki Segawa’s Basilisk? Del Rey gives you the opportunity to read the novel that inspired it, The Kouga Ninja Scrolls.

Evil Twin Comics unleases another Giant-Sized Thing on the comics-reading public with the second collection of Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey’s excellent Action Philosophers!

Dave Carter notes that the singles of the second volume of Linda Medley’s marvelous Castle Waiting (Fantagraphics) series aren’t doing that well, despite strong sales of the beautiful collection of the first. Fantagraphics gives you the opportunity to correct this sorry state of affairs with the December release of the fourth issue.

Go! Comi rolls out its seventh title, Train + Train by Hideyuki Kurata and Tomomasa Takuma. (In the future, all manga publishers will have a book with “train” in the title.)

I’ve heard a lot of good things about SoHee Park’s Goong (Ice Kunion), a look at what Korea would be like if the monarchy was still in place.

Last Gasp, publisher of Barefoot Gen, offers another look at life in Hiroshima after the bomb with Fumiyo Kouno’s Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms.

If Marvel’s current efforts at politically observant super-heroics make you roll your eyes, you might find respite in Essential Defenders Vol. 2, which includes mosst of Steve Gerber’s mind-bending Headmen arc. It strikes me as idiotic not to include the entire arc in one place, which this book just misses. It has Defenders 15-39 and Giant-Size Defenders 1-5, but not #40 and Annual #1, the conclusion of Steve Gerber’s deranged masterpiece of deformed craniums, clown cults, and women in prison.

NBM offers two books that go onto my must-buy list. The first is the paperback edition of the eighth installment of Rick Geary’s superb Treasury of Victorian Murder series, Madeleine Smith. The second is Nicolas De Crécy’s Glacial Period. De Crécy contributed a marvelous short to Fanfare/Ponent Mon’s Japan as Viewed by 17 Creators, and I’ve been hoping to see more of his work in English.

Oni Press rolls out Maintenance, a new ongoing series from Jim Massey and Robbi Rodriguez. I reviewed a preview copy earlier this week; the book looks like it will be a lot of fun.

Seven Seas unveils another licensed title, Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl, a gender-bending comedy by Satoru Akahori and Yukimaru Katsura. If you’ve been waiting for some shôjo-ai to come your way, now’s your chance.

Tokyopop – Blu promises that Tarako Kotobuki’s Love Pistols is “too crazy to be believed.” Human evolution isn’t just for monkeys any more, people.