Tag Archives: Comics

Wish List: Pet Diary

Say what you will about scanlations, there is one thing they do really well, and that is to be an eye catcher. Just like the billboards along the sides of freeways, the right title or group name can draw a potential reader in. Case in point: I was over at Baka-Updates Manga when I found the title Pet Diary. Always being interested in titles about pets and looked at the description. There wasn’t much to it.  There is a school where they only way to be accepted into the dormitory is to adopt a pet. This title follows four students who adopt different pets in order to stay in the dormitory.

Looking over the first few chapters, it looks to be a pretty fun title. In the first four chapters, we are introduced to the four main characters and their animals of choice, a hamster, a rabbit, an older dog and a cat. How they came to choose their particular animal (or human) is funny in and of itself, and the pairings are very appropriate. The series is from Korea and is a webcomic, or webtoon as they are known there.

I really liked what I saw in the first few chapters and would love to see this title brought over officially. A glance at some of the other titles on the site looked interesting too, such as Welcome to the Convienence Store and Supernatural Investigation Department. Since they are already digital and made for the medium, it would be great to see them on Yen Press’ Yen Plus digital magazine. Their selection for the Korean/OGN side has always impressed me more, and seeming more color titles like this would be a great way to take advantage of the digital format. And they could be easily made into apps too! (And PLEASE, not just i* devices!)

Cross My Heart

I had intended to talk about this in my Comic-con post, but as I don’t read many comics, it slipped my mind as I was ranting on other things. This was one of the few good announcements I heard come from Comic-con. Marvel is going to be bringing back the CrossGen Universe.

What’s the big deal you ask? Well, CrossGen was a big deal for me. It’s what led me back to comics and subsequently into manga. Back in 2001 (I think), my husband and I wanted to get back into collecting comics. My husband had read several superhero titles in the past, so it was easy for him to find titles he wanted to get back into. My comic reading had been mostly Elfquest, X-men, Blue Devil, Amethyst and various tv/movie tie-ins such as Dark Shadows. But in 2001, these titles either weren’t available, or didn’t really interest me.  So every trip to the comic shop was a wistful look at what was available, and my eventual walking out with nothing. Until, that is, my husband put an issue of Mystic, one of the first titles from CrossGen in front of me. I’d always been interested in fantasy, so I gave it a try. I figured it couldn’t hurt. And I loved it. Finally, I had found something in the comic store that I wanted to read!

From Mystic I moved on to The First, Crux, and Sojourn. My husband was familiar with writer Mark Waid, so we started picking up Ruse as well. Back in the day, the first issues of Ruse were hard to find and expensive! I think we eventually found those issues. Harder to find proved to be the first issue of Sojourn. I never did get that one. I liked the shared universe concept they used for the series, and it was fun sometimes trying to find the sigil or figure out how the series fit into the universe. I stuck with CrossGen until the very end and was disappointed when it finally folded. I wasn’t involved in the internet comic community at the time, so I was surprised by all the news that came out about what was happening behind the scenes. It was a real shame to see what I thought was a well crafted universe go down in flames like that.

Fortunately for me though, at about that time, manga was starting on the rise, and I started looking at it more seriously. I mean, I had nothing else to read now. Most of my titles were gone. I was still finding comics to read, but most were either mini-series’ or got cancelled soon after I got interested in them. So, manga became more and more my staple in the comics world, and has led to where I am today.

CrossGen showed that there was an audience out there for genre stories out there. I liked so many of their titles because they delved into genres I enjoy; fantasy, pseudoscience, and mythology. No other comic company has been able to do that since. Manga has been the only reliable genre comics that continue to appeal to me series after series.

Now, news has come out that Marvel, owned by Disney, who had purchased the rights to the CrossGen universe is resurrecting parts of the universe. My first worry was that they would try to force them into the Marvel Universe, which is already convoluted enough as it is. But in its latest Cup ‘O Joe post, CBR spoke with Marvel’s Vice President Executive Editor Tom Brevoort and he spoke a little more about the CrossGen project. This is the part that I found the most encouraging and just might be able to draw me back into the comics market:

Pretty much all of the CrossGen properties are not the kinds of things that we typically do. That is to say, they didn’t publish anything that was a traditional super hero until the very, very end where they dabbled a little bit. Everything they did was “genre publishing” whether it was fantasy or science fiction or super-spy or western or barbarian or whatever. They did a wide range of material, not the kind of thing that Marvel has never done – but it’s not what we typically do. So this also gives us the potential to try some different genres and to scratch an itch that people in our editorial group and amongst our creators may have had.

Wow. Marvel is realizing that there are readers out there that are interested in more than superheroes! And more than that, they are actually going to try to do something about it!! I’m ready to give Marvel a lot of kudos for this move. A lot more than DC, who is culling titles and lines left and right. It’s taken a long time, and might just be a tiny step, but it’s a step I’m happy to see Marvel finally take. With Pet Avengers and now CrossGen returning, Marvel has a good shot at taking back some of my manga bucks.

Review: Olympians: Zeus: King of the Gods

Zeus CoverHere’s where it all starts: the beginning of the everything–the world, the gods, and even humanity.  Mighty Kronos, the most terrifying of all the Titans, reigns as the unchallenged tyrant of the cosmos… until his son, the god Zeus, stands up and takes on his own father in a battle intense enough to shatter the universe! Who will emerge triumphant?

By George O’Connor
Publisher: First Second
Age Rating: All Ages
Genre: Action/Mythology
Price: $9.99
Rating: ★★★★★
Buy This Book

A recent re-watching of the classic Clash of the Titans has inspired me to write this review.  I’ve been in love with mythology since I was first introduced to the Greek myths in the 5th Grade.  They were my gateway to other mythologies, such as Norse and Egyptian.  Now, the Greek myths are getting a face lift of sorts.  They are being retold in the way they were meant to be told; as tales of action and adventure, with monsters to be fought and maidens to be rescued.  Zeus: King of the Gods tells the tale of not just Zeus’ beginnings, but also of the world and the Olympian gods themselves.

The Greek gods are like the original superheroes.  They possess super powers such as invulnerability and the ability to transform, and yet were just as fallible as the humans they ruled.  They suffer from all the same emotions and faults that humans do.  When he is first introduced, Zeus is shown to be just as active and full of energy as any youth in his prime would be.  He is impatient, reckless and a bit of a rake, as he chases the nymphs that watch over him and flirts with Metias.  These are not the traits one would usually associate with their supreme being, but Zeus was all this and more.  He was also brave and shows himself to be a born leader as he faced his father and freed his siblings.

There’s plenty of action in this volume, with Titans battling the Olympians, Zeus going on a quest to gain his birthright, and the final battle with Kronos, though most of it’s toward the end.  The beginning is just that; the beginnings of the universe and the world.  Gaea and Ouranos, and their children, the Titans Kronos and Rhea, and Kronos’ reign all have to be set up so that Zeus and his siblings have some to fight, and something to fight for.  It also sets up a cycle of father against son, and warns you don’t anger Mother Earth.

Zeus: King of the Gods is great retelling of the original myth.  It emphasizes the action and adventure that makes the myths thrilling, while still imparting it’s lessons. The other gods are introduced, with just the brothers Hades and Poseidon helping Zeus in the battle against Kronos and his brothers.  It’s good to see the women show some sense and let the men bash their brains out.  I liked how each sibling, when spit out, landed in an area that would become their domain; Poseidon in the sea, Hades under ground, Demeter in a field of grain.  I also really enjoyed the small seeds that were planted through out the story, hinting to connections to other myths.

The art was very well done.  O’Connor does a great job bringing the creatures of myth to life, especially the Cyclops and the Hekatonchieres, creatures with 50 heads and 100 hands.  The Titans are just otherworldly enough to make the transition from Earth and Sky to the human sized Olympians.

If you love Greek mythology or are just a fan a tales of adventure, then this book is definitely for you.  It’s definitely safe for a middle school library.  Kids will love not just the story, but the extras at the end that give the stats for key characters, like a trading card, and parents and teachers will like the study guide and bibliography.  There’s even included reading for younger readers.  I highly recommend this title.  It’s a great resource, and just plain great reading.

Check out the Good Comics for Kids Book Club for more on this title.

Review copy provided by publisher. Images © First Second

This Week in Manga 12/12-12/18/09

The End of Time in Japan

Haruka ~Beyond the Stream of Time~ manga series will end serialization with the January issue of LaLa DXHaruka, which was licensed by Viz and was serialized in Shojo Beat until the magazine’s cancellation, is a reverse harem manga and based on a playstation game.  The series, which started in 2000 will end at 16 volumes.  Here in the US, Viz has released the first 6 so far.  Haruka was a series I enjoyed in Shojo Beat, but found the collected volumes to be less interesting.  It remains to be seen if the series can continue without the support of Shojo Beat.  I think it will be on a long release schedule.  It’s not a bad title, but it’s not a great one either.

Continue reading This Week in Manga 12/12-12/18/09

Ask Manga Mom: The Library Edition

Gareth writes:

Hi, I am a library assistant from the UK (Liverpool), and I would be very happy if you could answer a quick question for me.

I had a couple of ten-year olds playing in the library yesterday, and one of them, a young girl, said she only reads comics. My question is, is all ages Manga suitable for a 10-year-old, or if not could you perhaps recommend some graphic novels and comics for 10 year olds.

Having read the recent Carol L. Tilley study finding that comics have no disadvantage compared to traditional prose, I am really keen to develop Manga and graphic novel resources especially for younger children.

Continue reading Ask Manga Mom: The Library Edition

DIY E-Reader

Not sure you want a dedicated e-reader?  Can’t wait for the Asus E-reader?  Want more options in your e-book selection?  Like to tinker with computers and install your own software?  Well, there may be a way to do all these things and more!

Amazon, proving they’re in the e-book reader game more for the books that the hardware, has released the beta version of  software Kindle for PC.  Reviews have been mixed about it’s usefulness, and granted, it is still in beta, so there may be more changes in store for it.  But, for now, it allows you to sync with your kindle, view your kindle library (only the books you’ve bought though), and buy and read e-books from the Kindle store.

So, what’s the big deal?  The whole point of  the Kindle and other e-readers is to NOT be tied to a computer.  It’s to be light and portable.  But the Kindle device is very limited beyond reading the books they offer.  What if I want to surf the web, read RSS feeds and blogs for free, and have access to more than just what Amazon offers?  That’s where this article comes in!  Make your own E-reader.  You’re not really building anything, as it uses a PC tablet, a device that never really caught on as a PC, but as a portable web and e-book reader?  Yeah, I could go for that.  PC Tablets are plentiful on places like eBay, and there is a lot of open source software now that allows for reading practically any type of e-book format.  And with the addition of the Amazon Kindle for PC software, another door has been opened.  Tablets are lighter and easier to carry than a netbook, and have touch screens.  The screens are color too, so comics will look just as good as black and white manga.  It’s like they were made to be e-readers!

It’s hard to believe that just 2 years ago, the e-reader was a novelty, something only hard core techies would be interested in.  Now, the field is wide open with so many options, and more being announced every day.  While I don’t see e-readers as being the savior of newspapers or magazines, they certainly can’t hurt.  Especially as e-readers (and other similar devices) get more widespead acceptance.  And my shelf space would be grateful for the break.  All we need now are more publishers to make their books available digitally, so we can fill SD cards and hard drives with books just we do with music and movies.

I Just Don't Get It

I’ve been going on a lot about the Twilight/Fanboy debate, mainly because it really irks me.  But the reason for that is that I’ve never experienced any real prejudice in my comic shopping, or at cons.  Several commentors on the Robot 6 blog article about Girls and Fandom gave anticdotes about their experiences with Fanboys and in comic shops, and quite frankly, it shocked me that they were meeting any kind of resistance from the other patrons and/owners.

Continue reading I Just Don't Get It

Diamond Not Distributing

It’s that time of month again when I have to place my Previews order.  But now, besides my usual problems of deciding what to buy, I have to wonder if the books I order will be canceled.  Diamond Distributing has had their red pen going at break-neck speed, what with canceling the entire Yen Press solicitation from last month’s order.  They’re back again and while not the only publisher to get red-lined, they just the most jaw-dropping. So, do I chance another manga order through Previews?  I want to support what titles I can with pre-orders, but is it a losing battle with Diamond who seem happy to slash their catalog back to the stone age of  just DC, Marvel, Dark Horse and Image?

If I want a manga to survive, and I want the publishers to know I enjoy the title by pre-ordering it, will the publisher still get my message even after Diamond cancels my order?  Do the publishers see the numbers before the cancellation order comes down?  Am I wasting time pre-ordering with Diamond and risking my favorite, not so popular manga to an untimely death?

I ponder these questions even as I prepare my next order.  I’m playing it fairly safe, though, that’s just the way it came down, and not because I chose not to order from anyone in particular for fear of the titles getting canceled.  These are my orders for this month:

  • CMX – Two Flowers for the Dragon v5
  • Tokyopop – Chibi Vampire v14
  • Viz Media – Gimmick! v9
  • Viz Media – Knights of the Zodiac v27
  • Viz Media – Wild Ones v8
  • Viz Media – Pokemon Diamond & Pearl v5

Chibi Vampire is a must, as it’s the final volume, and the same goes for Gimmick! Knights of the Zodiac: Saint Seiya is on the penultimate volume, and there is no way I am missing out seeing this title finish!  I still really enjoy Wild Ones even if no one else seems to, and Two Flowers for the Dragon has the double bonus of being good and having a good discount.

I hope Diamond lives up to their name, and keeps distributing the manga, not just comics, we love.  I can see the divide between manga and comic readers growing if Diamond continues to feel the need to cancel manga from their catalog.  And that’s something we really don’t need.  There is already a wide chasm, that those of us that read both can barely straddle.  We shouldn’t be forced to chose one over the other.

Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers #1 – First Look

I just read the first issue of Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers, and I have to say, I really liked it.  I wasn’t sure what I was in store for when I first ordered it, but I can safely say, it was $3 well spent.

lockpa001_covThrog (Frog Thor) is really the character that really made this issue.  He is the first “teammate” that Lockjaw goes to after he finds one of the Infinity Gems.  Apparently Lockjaw has decided that animals are better for finding the gems than the humans.  Throg’s whole backstory is just what you’d expect from a Marvel Universe origin.  Bad things happen to a good man who is then rewarded with superpowers; after being turned into a frog.  Throg himself is just great.  He speaks for Lockjaw, jabbering on with the other animals as he convinces each of them to join the cause and journey to find the gems.  Just like Thor, he speaks with lots of “thee”s and “thou”s, and “wouldst”s and “dost”s.

Continue reading Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers #1 – First Look

L5R Gets Graphic

death-at-koten-coverThere are manga that are based on video games and have had CCGs created about them, but this is the first time (that I am aware of), that a CCG is getting a graphic novel made about it!  Alderac Entertainment has announced a graphic novel for it’s CCG Legend of the Five Rings.  Titled Death at Koten, it follows Imperial Magistrate Seppun Tashime as he investigates the assassination of the Crab Clan Leader.

It’s about time that Legend of the Five Rings got a graphic adaptation.  The concept was just made for graphic novels, and shouldn’t have taken 15 years to get here!  Legend of the Five Rings was born in the CCG boom, and it differentiated itself from other CCGs by having a storyline running through the game.  The base set would set up a story, and then players could influence the direction of the story through voting and tournament play.  It also set itself apart by being based on Asian culture instead of European or some fantasy/sci-fi universe.  It takes place in the land of the Emerald Empire which is ruled by the Emerald Emperor, and the clans sworned to serve and protect him.  The conflict comes from the clans, which can fight each other to exapand their holdings, or can engage in political intrigue to gain favor with the Emperor.  There is also the Shadowlands, an area just out the boundaries of the Emerald Empire where evil creatures and dark magic wait for a moment of weakness in the Empire that they can exploit and invade.  There is plenty of potential for stories here, with the main story, or any number of side stories with the the clans and/or Shadowlands.

I’ve been a fan of this series, though not a player.  The whole story aspect and Asian influence is what attracted it to me in the first place.   I have cards from the first few releases, mainly Imperial and Jade, though I could never get a complete set.  Darn players getting in the way of my collecting!

The graphic novel that is coming out in April (though it’s only just appeared in Previews to come out in June), is 152 pgs and full color.  It retails for $24.95, though you can find it available for pre-order for $17-19.  This is a little steep, in my opinion, though it is an original story and in color.  It probably isn’t too far out of line with other graphic novels.

Now, a better way to go, IMHO, is to drop the color, and make it into an OEL manga series.  There is so much content to pull from already.  There have been several novels exploring the first two releases and their expansions.  Just getting these in graphic form would be so awesome!  And getting the stories that have happened since then would be even more awesome!  The character designs are already done, as there are cards for all the major players.  Perhaps the hardest part of making this a manga is paring the story down.

Legend of the Five Rings has everything needed to be a successful graphic novel; action, intrigue, strong characters, great art and a built in audience!  Hopefully, if this book does well, there will be others.  Manga size would fit best on my bookshelf though.

Where'd that Paycheck Go?

I was pleasantly surprised when I got this month’s Previews catalog.  There are actually books (not just manga) that look interesting enough to get this month!  OMG!

Marvel, the company that we had just finished dropping ALL our titles for (mainly because they killed the Ultimate Universe) has two titles we’re going to check out this month.

Continue reading Where'd that Paycheck Go?