Previews review May 2011

After a couple of months of fairly jam-packed Previews catalogs, I suppose it could seem petty to complain that the current listings seem a little slender. There aren’t even enough debuts to manage a dubious manga poll for the month. Fortunately, there are some highlights worth noting.

Book of Human Insects, written and illustrated by Osamu Tezuka, Vertical, item code MAY 11 1268: How can one complain about a month that offers the English-language debut of crazy Tezuka seinen? This one originally ran in Akita Shoten’s Play Comic and has been published in French by Casterman as La femme insecte. It’s a mystery about an unscrupulous and manipulative woman. Vertical promises “more twists and turns than MW,” which hardly seems possible.

Veronica #208: Veronica Presents Kevin Keller #2: written and illustrated by Dan Parent, colored by Rich Koslowski, Archie Comics, item code MAY 11 0836: Okay, I missed mentioning the first issue of this, but Kevin (Robot 6) Melrose’s preview of part two of the mini-series about Riverdale’s newest resident, who happens to be gay, reminded me to be excited. (And just as a side note, who would have predicted that Archie would have proven to be the nimblest and most risk-friendly of pamphlet publishers? Not me, that’s for sure.)

Until the Full Moon, written and illustrated by Sanami Matoh, Kodansha Comics, item code MAY 11 1129: This isn’t a debut, per se, as the series was previously published by Broccoli Books. I thought the first volume was kind of dull back then, but I’m among the many who hold a special place in my heart for Matoh’s Fake (Tokyopop), so I thought this book’s return was worth mentioning.

That’s pretty much it as far as debuts go. Here are some particularly enticing new volumes of ongoing series.

Little Nothings volume 4: My Shadow in the Distance, written and illustrated by Lewis Trondheim, NBM, item code MAY 11 1142: These are smart, charming, observational-autobiographical comics from an incredibly talented creator, and they’re incredibly easy on the eye. You can check out a bunch of them at Trondheim’s blog for NBM.

And here’s a by-no-means complete list of new volumes of ongoing series that I’m looking forward to reading:

  • 20th Century Boys vol. 16, written and illustrated by Naoki Urasawa, Viz Media, item code MAY 11 1241
  • Arisa vol. 3, written and illustrated by Natsumi (Kitchen Princess) Ando, Kodansha Comics, item code MAY 11 1122
  • Black Jack vol. 17, written and illustrated by Osamu Tezuka, Vertical, item code MAY 11 1269
  • Book Girl and the Captive Fool, written by Mizuki Nomura, Yen Press, item code MAY 11 1281

I’ll post another blind date experiment with the current batch of boys’-love candidates tomorrow.

 

Upcoming 3/30/2011

The Manga Bookshelf crew took a slightly different approach to the current Pick of the Week, so go take a look. While you’re there, take a look at our new feature, Bookshelf Briefs, capsule reviews of current volumes with some wild cards thrown in from time to time. Now, on to this week’s ComicList!

Several books from Yen Press have already arrived via other suppliers, but Diamond catches up on Wednesday with some very appealing books. First and foremost is the third volume of Yumi Unita’s excellent Bunny Drop, the tale of a bachelor who takes his grandfather’s illegitimate daughter into his home and learns the ins and outs of parenting. Here’s my review of the first volume, and here’s a look at some other works by Unita that have yet to be licensed.

There’s also the second volume of Kakifly’s very popular, four-panel look at a high-school music club, K-On. I liked the first volume well enough, though it didn’t change my life or anything.

I’m ashamed to admit that I’m a bit behind on Time and Again, an alluring supernatural series from JiUn Yun. The fifth volume arrives Wednesday, which gives me added incentive to catch up.

Marvel’s Secret Avengers still hasn’t given me the Valkyrie story arc that I so desperately desire, but I’m enjoying the series in spite of this glaring deficiency and will pick up the 11th issue. It begins a two-issue arc that provides back story about characters I don’t know who aren’t Valkyrie, so I’m not promising any deep investment on my part, but I have yet to feel like I need to buy other comics for reference.

What looks good to you?

 

Previews review March 2011

The March 2011 edition of the Previews catalog is packed with noteworthy items, so let’s get right down to it.

My pick of the month would be Kaoru (Emma, Shirley) Mori’s A Bride’s Story (Yen Press), page 355:

The newest series from the critically acclaimed creator of Emma, A Bride’s Story tells the tale of a beautiful young bride in nineteenth-century Asia. At the age of twenty, Amir is sent to a neighboring town to be wed. But her surprise at learning her new husband, Karluk, is eight years younger than her is quickly replaced by a deep affection for the boy and his family. Though she hails from just beyond the mountains, Amir’s clan had very different customs, foods, and clothes from what Karluk is used to. As the two of them learn more about each other through their day-to-day lives, the bond of respect and love grows stronger.

Yen Press is proudly publishing Kaori Mori’s beautifully-illustrated tale in a deluxe hardcover edition.

If you’re like me, you would have been sold at “Kaoru Mori.” The series is ongoing in Enterbrain’s fellows!

CLAMP fans will be pleased with the arrival of another handsome omnibus treatment of one of their series, Magic Knight Rayearth, from Dark Horse (page 56). It originally ran in Kodansha’s Nakayoshi and was originally published in English by Tokyopop. Dark Horse’s version will be done-in-one, collecting all three volumes.

DC’s Vertigo imprint offers a new paperback printing of Howard Cruse’s Stuck Rubber Baby, a semi-autobiographical tale of a young gay man coming of age in the turbulent American south of the 1960s (page 130). Monkey See’s Glen Weldon provided a lovely overview of the book.

A new release from Fanfare/Ponent Mon is always worth noting, even if you’ve never heard of the book before. This month, they solicit Farm 54, written by Galit Seliktar and illustrated by Gilad Sliktar:

Farm 54 is a collection of semi-autobiographical stories that address three important periods in the life of the protagonist, Naga, growing up in Israel’s rural periphery… While these Israeli childhood stories take place in the shadow of war an occupation, they also reflect universal feelings, passions, and experiences.

Kodansha Comics lists new volumes of several of the series it picked up from Del Rey (pages 296 and 297):

  • Fairy Tail vol. 13, written and illustrated by Hiro Mashima
  • Rave Master volumes 33-35, written and illustrated by Hiro Mashima
  • Shugo Charai vol. 10, written and illustrated by Peach-Pit
  • Arisa vol. 2, written and illustrated by Natsumi Ando
  • Negima! vol. 29, written and illustrated by Ken Akamatsu
  • Ninja Girls vol. 5, written and illustrated by Hosana Tanaka

Speaking of comebacks, if the recent Manga Moveable Feast piqued your interest in Keiji Nakazawa’s Barefoot Gen, Last Gasp rolls out new printings of the first two volumes (page 297).

If you’re interested in seeing people do amazing things with the form of comics (and don’t care much about story or character), Picturebox unleashes more work by Yuichi (Travel, New Engineering) Yokoyama in the form of Garden (page 308). Being of somewhat more conventional tastes, I think I’ll hold off on this one.

Update: Over at Robot 6, Sean T. Collins interviews Yokoyama and shares several preview pages of Garden.

I may not be able to show suck restraint with Gajo Sakamoto’s Tank Tankuro from Presspop, Inc. (page 308):

The roots of Astro BoyTank Tankuro pioneered robot manga during the pre-World War II period in Japan. First published in 1934, Tank Tankuro was one of the most famous manga characters of the era. Tankuro is said to be the first robot ever to appear in Japanese comics. He and his villain, Kuro Kabuto, famous among Japanese SF fans for his resemblance to Darth Vader, laid the foundations for such manga greats as Tezuka, Sugiura, and Fujiko.

Christopher (Comics212) Butcher is very excited about this, which is almost always a good sign.

And, because someone who is not me but clearly has every right for their dreams to come true demanded it, Viz releases a new edition of Oh!great’s Tenjo Tenge which, they promise, is “Finally UNCENSORED!” It’s about dorks who like to fight, with plenty of fan service to help keep your interest (page 333). I wish I could find a copy of the cover image, because it positively screams “Not for me.”

 

Upcoming 2/23/2011

We’re back to a more substantial ComicList this week. You can click here for my Pick of the Week.

As for this week’s arrivals, there’s the third volume of 7 Billion Needles (Vertical), Nobuaki Tadano’s manga homage to Hal Clement’s novel, Needle. I’ve been enjoying the series for its balance of character development and monster mayhem, but the proportions seem a bit off in this installment.

Our sulky heroine Hikaru now finds herself host to not one but two powerful entities. Seeing as those beings have been acting in opposition forever, I was hoping for some focus on the new arrangement. Unfortunately, the triad is forced to adapt almost instantaneously, as outside forces demand their attention. Benevolent Horizon and malignant Maelstrom seem to have spun off and are causing evolutionary mayhem. This invites the intervention of a third powerful entity and drives our heroine and her tagalongs to try and set things right before the world is changed forever.

In short, there’s too much mayhem and not enough moping. I was enjoying Hikaru’s emotional progress, and it felt like that was shoved into the background in favor of incursions of instant monsters. It’s not devoid of emotional moments, but they tend to be drowned out in favor of the more visceral events. I’m hoping the fourth and final volume strikes a better balance, but, even if it doesn’t, this will have amounted to a very appealing series overall. And, if your reaction to either of the earlier volumes was that there wasn’t enough mayhem, this is a good opportunity to reintroduce yourself to the series.

(Comments are based on a review copy provided by the publisher.)

Other highlights for the week include:

What looks good to you?

Upcoming 1/26/2011

There are some truly terrifying titles on this week’s ComicList, though I think I found a promising Pick of the Week. My home blog choice is probably a result of weird shipping schedules, but for whatever reason, the second volume of Jiro Taniguchi’s The Summit of the Gods (Fanfare/Ponent Mon) is arriving at the local comic shop, and I’m delighted. Here’s a bit of my review of the first volume:

“Taniguchi is the ideal illustrator for this kind of material that has both epic scale and intimacy. If the crux of your story is the estimation of landscapes and people, it behooves you to find an artist that can capture the menace and nuance of both, and a writer is unlikely to find anyone better at that than Taniguchi. (As absent as women are from the narrative, it’s nice to read in a text piece that a woman made the collaboration possible, playing matchmaker for Baku and Taniguchi.) Taniguchi is probably the foremost renderer of the middle-aged man that I can think of. They wear their experiences, which is even more evident in a story like this that tracks Habu through the years. Just watching the ways that Habu ages is fascinating. And as far as landscapes and the physicality they demand of puny humans, do I even need to bother praising Taniguchi on that front? Icy cliff faces, Nepalese back alleys, Tokyo urbanity, leafy mountain trails… there’s no setting Taniguchi can’t conquer.”

Other than that, I’m intrigued by a light novel from Yen Press, Mizuki Nomura’s Book Girl and the Famished Spirit. I’m not a big follower of light novels, but Erica (Okazu) Friedman made a very persuasive case for Book Girl and the Suicidal Mime in her guest review.

What looks good to you?

Two from Yoshinaga

One of the fascinating things about Fumi Yoshinaga’s Ôoku: The Inner Chambers (Viz) is watching the core elements of the series refine themselves. The fifth volume brings the level of emotional savagery to new heights, which is saying something.

In Yoshinaga’s gender-reversed imagining of the halls of power of feudal Japan, none of the shoguns have fared well in terms of emotional satisfaction. The demands of power and the palpable unease with societal reversals leave everyone at least a little undone, no matter how assiduously they try to adapt (or pretend that they’ve adapted). This time around, conniving Sir Emonnosuke, Senior Chamberlain of the Inner Chambers, continues his sly but ultimately joyless schemes, while the Shogun, Tsunayoshi, is torn between competing demands.

There’s undeniable cruelty in Tsunayoshi’s plight. She’s forced to choose between the demands of governance and succession, and her internal conflict has dire consequences for the kingdom. She’s also divided between the demands of the next generation and the previous, beholden to an elderly father wrestling with his own traumas. Since Ôoku isn’t about triumphing over adversity, readers are left to watch the spiral and marvel in the ways it spreads out, both in terms of specific character and the culture they inhabit.

By comparison, Emonnosuke’s travails seem trivial, but flashbacks provide context for his functional present. And it all contributes to the notion of the personal and political blurring beyond recognition, which really is the defining concern of the series.

Much as I love the title, it would be dishonest not to acknowledge its flaws. The adaptation is sometimes flowery, though its excesses have leveled off over time. Another issue is Yoshinaga’s sometimes repetitive character design. She definitely has aesthetic types she favors, which can make things confusing in a cast so large. (On the bright side, she favors attractive people, so at least the confusion is easy on the eye.)

On the opposite end of the Yoshinaga spectrum is Not Love But Delicious Foods Make Me So Happy! (Yen Press). This is Yoshinaga being aimlessly charming and indulging in one of her favorite obsessions, cuisine. It’s a semi-autobiographical restaurant crawl for the readers of Ohta Shuppan’s intriguing Manga Erotics F and features a Yoshinaga avatar, Y-Naga, dragging her friends and colleagues from eatery to eatery.

Reviewing it is kind of like conducting a serious critical evaluation of chatty emails from a particularly funny, endearing friend. The stories benefit from already knowing and liking Yoshinaga, though I’d wager the food obsession would be an independent draw. As someone who’s read everything of Yoshinaga’s that’s available in English and yearns for someone to publish everything that isn’t, I was perfectly delighted with the book, and I find it hard to imagine the kind of person who wouldn’t be a least a little smitten.

Yoshinaga’s self-portrait is hilariously self-deprecating. The contrast between her grubby working persona to her done-up, out-on-the-town self is never not funny, and her shameless exposure of her idiosyncrasies almost certainly made me like her more. She’s unafraid to admit that she’s more than a little selfish and certainly a glutton, but those qualities make her all the more winning, just as the flaws make her entirely fictional characters more absorbing.

And the restaurant guide, while probably useless to most North American readers, is great fun, partly for the things you learn about Japanese food culture and partly for the cast of dining companions Yoshinaga assembles. The gay friend, the depressingly attractive woman friend, the too-close-for-comfort male assistant and roommate, and the rest all bring distinct and engaging qualities to the party.

Previews review January 2011

There isn’t a wealth of exciting new product in the current edition of the Previews catalog from Diamond Comics Distributors, so I thought I would try a little experiment. I’ll put forward three (uninspiring sounding) debuting titles and let you vote on which one I should try.

First up, from Digital Manga, we have the potentially odious The Beautiful Skies of Hou Ou High, written and illustrated by Arata Aki. When Kei’s mom finds out her daughter likes girls, she sends Kei to an all-boys’ high school to presumably de-gay her or something. Will it be charmingly subversive, or just gross? It originally ran in Mag Garden’s Comic Avarus, which doesn’t mean a whole lot to me. (Page 281.)

Are you perverse enough to subject me to the sparkly incoherence of Arina Tanemura? Is that even a question? Anyway, her new title from Viz is Sakura Hime: The Legend of Princess Sakura, and it’s about “the granddaughter of a mysterious moon princess who slew demons with her Blood Cherry Blossom sword.” Please don’t do this to me. It originally ran in Shueisha’s Ribon. (Page 321.)

There’s something about Kazue Kato’s Blue Exorcist (also Viz) that looks like trouble, and not the fun kind of trouble. It’s about an orphaned boy raised by a priest who learns that he’s one of Satan’s bastard children. (The orphan, not the priest, at least as far as I know.) So the orphan decides to become an exorcist so he can fight his dad. Manga plus Catholicism is always… awkward. It originally ran in Shueisha’s Jump Square. (Page 322.)

Please vote for one of the above in the comments before January 15, 2011, and I will dutifully order the title that garners the highest number of votes through my local comic shop.

Mercifully, there are tons of new volumes of great ongoing series, which I will now dutifully list:

  • Itazura na Kiss vol. 5, written and illustrated by Kaoru Tada, Digital Manga, page 280
  • Salt Water Taffy vol. 4: Caldera’s Revenge, written and illustrated by Matthew Loux, Oni Press, page 302
  • V.B. Rose vol. 12, written and illustrated by Banri Hiaka, Tokyopop, page 313
  • Cross Game vol. 3, written and illustrated by Mitsuru Adachi, Viz, page 324
  • Twin Spica vol. 6, written and illustrated by Kou Yaginuma, Vertical, page 327
  • Bunny Drop vol. 3, written and illustrated by Yumi Unita, Yen Press, page 329

By the way, Viz’s new web site is terrible. Terrible, terrible, terrible.

Update: Lissa (Kuriousity) Pattillo has some thoughts on Viz’s terrible new web site.

Pretty maids all in a row

I saw a story on the BBC about these all-girl pop groups that are cropping up in Japan under the sponsorship of just about everyone, from corporations to vegetable growers associations to urban redevelopment committees. And it reminded me of the truth that, when you put four or more attractive people in a row and give them some common purpose, your chances of achieving your aims improve at least slightly, depending on how appealing those four or more young people are.

They can come together by inspiration or design, it really doesn’t matter all that much. Origins in inspiration are obviously more highly regarded than manufacture, but, one or the other, people can still develop attachments to even the most cynically constructed assemblages. If they look good standing in a row, if their types connect in comforting ways, you’re in good shape.

The tale of local-produce promotional singing sensations mentioned above also reminded me of the truth that success replicates, even if you’ll never quite capture the lightning in a bottle that inspired the original. Entire comics companies have been born out of a desire to replicate the grim and gritty success of Wolverine. Intriguing notions become franchises, for better or worse.

In the case of the cast of Kiyohiko Azuma’s Azumanga Daioh (Yen Press), they are the best they are at what they do, and what they do is be funny and cute, particularly funny. Azuma’s ensemble seems to have inspired a host of imitators, temperamentally balanced groups of girls with their weapons set on “charm.” That they will almost certainly never rank any higher than second place, given that it’s unlikely that Azumanga Daioh will ever drop from first, isn’t reason for them not to exist. People didn’t stop writing plays about crazy, southern drunks after Tennessee Williams or musicals about neurotic people after Stephen Sondheim.

Of course, not all of these imitations fully justify their existence. I thought the four cute girl students of Ume Aoki’s Sunshine Sketch (Yen) were totally forgettable, like adorable collectibles rather than proper characters, in spite of their promising art-school setting. The music-club girls of Kakifly’s K-On (Yen) are just better enough that I can see myself spending a few volumes with them.

Yes, there’s the serious one, the loud one, the dingbat, and the rich girl. Yes, there’s the obnoxious teacher who should probably find another career. Yes, they go to the beach and wear kimonos and maid costumes. They basically go through all of the Stations of the Cross. But I enjoyed their company, and I got a reasonable number of chuckles out of their delivery of admittedly familiar situations. I can even abstractly appreciate the thoroughness with which Kakifly has abetted the audience’s wish fulfillment – there isn’t even the silhouette of a male character to present competition.

But, at the same time, I’m not the author’s ideal reader, either. I didn’t read the magazine, then collect the paperbacks, then watch the anime, then download the soundtrack of the anime, then buy the DVDs, then collect the figurines, play the video game, and track down the sexy fan comics, all while discussing with my friends which character I’d ideally like to marry, judging them for their choices. If that sounds like I’m judging the franchise for being cynically commercial, I’m not. Kakifly and company took a successful formula, turned it into something likable, and built a mini empire out of that. It’s better than building an empire based on something awful, right?

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 12/15/2010

    Yen Press rules the anticipatory roost this week, at least in my neck of the woods.

    Fumi Yoshinaga’s Not Love But Delicious Foods Make Me So Happy arrives fashionably late to the Best of 2010 mixer, I suspect. I haven’t read it yet myself, but it’s by Yoshinaga, but it seems to be in her “irresistibly, effortlessly charming” mode. Some early responses are available from Johanna (Manga Worth Reading) Draper Carlson and Manga Bookshelf’s Off the Shelf duo of Melinda Beasi and Michelle Smith. The book inspired Kate (The Manga Critic) Dacey (who reviews the book here) to host a contest, asking readers to name their favorite culinary comics.

    Still on the topic of irresistibly charming comics, Yen will also release the ninth volume of Kiyohiko Azuma’s Yotsuba&!, which really requires no additional endorsement beyond just saying that it will soon be available for sale. Kind of like new Yoshinaga manga, come to think of it.

    I don’t really know anything about it qualitatively, but there’s something about the cover of Yuuki Iinuma’s Itsuwaribito (Viz) that would probably make me pick it up in a store and browse a few pages. I suspect it’s the cheerful woodland creature.

    What looks good to you?