A quest for the finest in sequential art

Comic Book Marathon

Monday, July 18, 2005

My Comics Can Beat Up Your Comics - 07/13/05

The internet is abuzz with news from San Diego Comic Con, or rather the lack of it. Seems to me, though, that we get plenty of great (or at least notable) news on the internet each week about upcoming projects, so I'm not too surprised that there wasn't much to reveal at SDCC.

THE COMICS JOURNAL #269 - The Shoujo Manga Issue

Despite being someone interested in avant-garde comics, I've barely scratched the surface when it comes to Japanese comic imports. Thus, when my favorite comics magazine devotes an issue to reviewing a few dozen manga titles, this is right up my alley. Like The Comics Journal Special Edition 2005, this issue takes a look at a number of titles that transcend cultures with their amazing quality, uniqueness, and innovation. In his introduction, Dirk Deppey refers to this issue as year-long "labor of love," and as far as I can tell the outcome has resulted in a fine and essential overview of the shoujo manga class of comics.

In my opinion, such "themed" issues of this magazine are better suited to particular genres and markets than they are to individual creators and works (recent themed issues/sections on Will Eisner, Steve Ditko, and Dave Sim have been particularly dry). The first issue of TCJ that I bought was the James Robinson issue back in 1997; I've bought every issue since, but not because of that interview (though it was good). The highlight for that issue was a commentary section by a number of columnists on what could be done to reverse the freefall of the comic book market (including Gary Groth's famous assertion that there's nothing wrong with being a ghetto-ized industry because that allows a certain artistic freedom, a suggestion I still ponder to this day). Multiple observations on a single subject or class of subjects by intelligent observers? Yeah, I can do that. Give me more.


Someone commented to me recently that this series "isn't going anywhere." I can see their point. The event in volume 1 that caused the extinction of (almost) all men has barely been addressed, even though it is supposedly the impetus for the protagonists' quest. But based on the strong readership for this book, I'm not the only one who doesn't mind. Though volume 4 got a little silly with a too-convenient ending to the S&M storyline, for the most part this series has provided stories that take advantage of a compelling backdrop in order to take a look at gender issues in a post-catastrophe world.

To me, the gold standard for science fiction is the work of Ray Bradbury. His "sci-fi" tales were never about the science fiction itself; they were about people's reactions to sudden and drastic changes in their lives brought on by otherworldy forces. Y: The Last Man presents the same type of human-driven drama and does it well.


Since there wasn't anything new and arty of interest that I noticed this week, I picked up this volume because, um, I though it was by Henrik Rehr. Nope, this book is by Hans Rickheit, an entirely different comic creator, oops. Still, this tale of a young woman in a rural area searching for meaning as the world around her becomes increasingly ugly and surreal looks pretty good, reminiscent of Charles Burns. Worth a look. [Published in 2002]

Other Stuff of Interest


JUSTICE LEAGUE COMPANION Vol 1 SC - Hee, hee. Geeky fun. Maybe later.

"Some people sing love songs, everybody's got one
This isn't my love song, it's more like my love gone wrong song"


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