Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Covers for Umezu's CRIMSON SPIDER

From Umezz's blog, here are the Japanese covers for the reissues of his classic 紅グモ (Crimson Spider).

The shojo manga series was originally published in 1966, and reprinted as part of the Shogakukan Creative series. The two volumes went on sale 1/25/08 in Japan. More details here (And Google Translated broken English version here).

Sunday, January 27, 2008


...Kazuo Umezu singing Paul Anka's You Are My Destiny (君はわが運命).
I've had this clip on my back burner to post on a rainy day-- Minerva posted it today in the comments, and it's time everyone else gets in on the goodness.


Thursday, January 24, 2008


We're happy to break the news that the next English language publication of Kazuo Umezu's work will be his 1967 series, Cat Eyed Boy! In Japanese the title is 猫目小僧 (Nekome Kozou). (EDIT: Now I see that Slightly Biased Manga sort of beat us to it last week. Damn you!)

I had informally heard this series kicked around as a next possibility, but recently saw it confirmed with the addition of listings on Amazon for Volume 1 and Volume 2!

From the Amazon description:
"Cat-Eyed Boy is a half-human, half-monster child who mostly resembles a human, and therefore cannot live in the demon world. He lives hidden in the shadows of the human world, hated by both demons and humans. But wherever he goes, awful events occur. Humans interact with demons, but for the most part the humans that appear to act more evil than the monsters.

Cat-Eyed Boy acts like Trickster, saving the innocent and helping the wicked receive the punishment that fate metes out. The stories are mostly tales of revenge and retribution for the evil acts people do. The series is broken into 11 individual stories, full of extremely grotesque and disturbing images."

Overgrown Nekome Kozou cosplayer.

It's still unclear exactly what the book will look like, but I'm assuming it'll be under the Viz Signature imprint (like the Gyo/Uzumaki reprints, and Drifting Classroom were). Amazon lists both volumes as being released on JUNE 18, 2008.

More interestingly, it shows Volumes 1 at a hefty 544 pages, and Volume 2 at 496 pages. Hot damn. This begs the question of if Viz is going to be moving toward presenting more titles (including Umezu classics?) in the Tekkon Kinkreet or Azumanga Daioh gigantic format.

All hail the cat king.

While unconfirmed, I've heard the editor will be Ian Robertson (who is a longtime Viz-er and also edited Tezuka's Phoenix series, among others). While it's slightly disappointing that the next Kazuo Umezu title isn't Fourteen or Left Hand of God, Right Hand of the Devil-- this more classic manga from Umezu is a welcome addition to an already impressive line-up for 2008. Nice work, Viz!

PS: For your further viewing pleasure, the opening & ending credits of the original Nekome Kozou anime:

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


As promised, we're happy to host and present the newest Shintaro Kago scanlation from our extremely productive friend, Anonymous K.

Anonymous K informs me that this is the last strip from this book of surrealist experimentalism he'll have for us. BUT! He is working on a new swatch of comics from a different Kago book.

With regard to its ambition and story, Drunkard Condo Syndrome is a slightly different beast; It takes a small and corny concept to it's logical conclusion (and horrifically beyond), but is less concerned with the limitations of formal comic storytelling than previous comics. This time, the core conceit is a drunken salaryman coming home to the wrong apartment, in one of those massive apartment complexes straight out of Otomo's Domu.

This comic is slightly more NSFW than previous Kago strips, but nothing too beyond the pale. Well, some of it is beyond the pale, but it's Shintaro Kago we're talking about! Don't say you weren't warned.

As usual, leave feedback/scorn/praise in the comments!

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Monday, January 21, 2008

IT'S OFFICIAL: Red Colored Elegy by Seiichi Hayashi!

I read this weekend on comics212 the official confirmation that Drawn & Quarterly will be releasing Seiichi Hayashi's Red Colored Elegy. This is gonna be the perfect book to see given the deluxe D&Q treatment in 2008. Here are the cover and details:

Red Colored Elegy
By Seiichi Hayashi
24.95, 240 Pages, Hardcover
Shipping in April 2008

Since people are posting about it, I wanted to remind folks that I first "broke this story" back in June 2007, after hearing it from D&Q directly at BookExpo America. Don't believe me? See this post here for the first details I'd posted back then. SCOOP!

Congrats again, Drawn & Quarterly!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


A short post to inform you of the latest in the manga/graphic novel form; Here are some books hitting the shops today!


+ Why you should buy: It's the pentultimate volume to this series, and we FINALLY get to see what's been happening in Tokyo, meet a community of "survivors" and see what's become of Teru's home. (HINT: IT'S ALL BAD NEWS).

+ Ryan says, I got this on Sunday at Kinokuniya but stalled for hours before reading it because I don't really want the series to end. While it's not the strongest possible entry (as second-to-last, it doesn't have the luxury of answering any big questions), it succeeded in convincing me that Dragon Head is NOT going to have a happy ending (DUH) but will end with a bang. Only three more months until Volume 10!

MANGA SUTRA Futari H Vol. 1

+ Why you should buy: It's a romantic comedy about newlyweds learning how to please eachother. It's a manga-style sexual self-help guide. And it's the closest thing you can get to hentai without having to head to that "special section" of the comic store, in the back beyond a beaded curtain.

+ Ryan says, I saw this at Kinokuniya but passed (for now) because of the huge size-- it's large and in a box that is also shrinkwrapped-- and the huge price ($20). That said, I'm gonna check it out next week, if only to see if it fills the hole left when Dance 'Til Tomorrow was died alongside Pulp magazine.


+ Why you should buy: It's another tiny masterpiece by Jason. This time we get the story of Athos, last of the Musketeers, finding himself increasingly irrelevant and annoying until Martians attack Earth. Nested in the adventurer frame story are some really brilliant conversations and small jokes. Oh, and the coloring by Hubert is meticulously great, especially for the Mars scenes.

+ Ryan says, I read this today on my lunch break, and I really, really enjoyed it. Once you get over paying 13 bucks for what should cost around $8. Jason's lastest comics are getting the formula just right for mixing nostalgia, genre tropes and deadpan humor-- it's the kind of comic I wish I could pull off. My favorite bits were the not-too-subtle bits about Mars being like a pre-colonial Renaissance Fair and that every chatterbox (in this case, Athos) thinks that they're really a thoughtful, taciturn guy.


+ Why you should buy: The final volume of Grant Morrison's infamous run on this series. Includes the original covers by Simon Bisley and Mike Mignola, along with a one-shot special title DOOM FORCE-- a really offensive Liefeld parody with lots of huge thighs and SO MANY POUCHES.

+ Ryan says, I'm a loser and still stuck back reading volume 3. That said, based on my GF talking nonstop about how fucking rad this last volume is gonna be, I'm planning a Morrisonathon this weekend to get up to speed.

New scanlations tomorrow, I promise!

Monday, January 14, 2008


To start off this week, I'm excited to share a new comic by one of my favorite cartoonists, Shunga! Shunga is the latest moniker of artist/musician Aaron K, who previously ran an awesome lo-fi site from out in Hawaii where posted his fucked-up comics. We blogged about those comics back here, and the lucky ones may remember some of them, including 20,000 Leagues Under Nebraska, Hyperco, Martian Flaneur and the infamous Vacuum Horror. (SPOILER ALERT: Vacuum Horror ends with Abraham Lincoln's decapitated head floating in space!)

Not one to dwell on the past, dude took down all his old comics a while back, and has relaunched a new site here. Since moving out to SF, we've had the luxury of becoming buddies with Aaron and hanging out with him while he's been working on his latest stuff. The easiest way to describe these comics is like if the spiritual grandson of Burroughs and Maruo played surrealist memetic games on paper made of human flesh with Cronenberg and Jun Hayami (That makes sense, right?). Anyone who's enjoyed the Shintaro Kago scanlations lately owes it to themselves to read on.

In addition to cartooning, Aaron K plays in a bunch of different bands. Previous projects include a noise thing called PEARL JAM II, but you can check out his most recent stuff here:

SHUNGA: Sounds Like "knitted shawls made of rotten hair throwing up plasma."
CASTRO STRETCH: Sounds Like "Muhammed Ali teaming up with Crass, what you know about Gremlins 2: the videogame music?"

As I've mentioned here before, Aaron K is also responsible for Love Entity, the 15-page feature comic for Electric Ant #1. It's a beautiful mind-bender baling together kamikaze pilots and dustbowl sharecroppers with inter-dimensional sexual overtures. At least, that's how I read it. It's fucking great, and will be available this Spring in the zine's first issue.

In the meantime, we are happy to present here the first of hopefully many more amazing Shunga comics by Aaron K. His next comic is already well underway, it's a Running Man-meats-gay Kafka epic titled BULLSHIT MOUNTAIN and featuring the death of Chris Ware on page 2-- It's another winner, I do believe.

Click here for more details on ordering comics from him. He's running a sliding scale, and will be upping the price of the book as he adds more comics to it. If I heard right, the end game is to have a Shunga book with 5-6 comics in it ready for Alternative Press Expo in November. (And I'm gonna try to convince him to reprint Vacuum Horror maybe too).


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Send love letters and orders to Aaron K at atkaneshATgmailDOTcom

Friday, January 11, 2008


Since the holidays (and partially due to having less free time lately), I have amassed a big reading list of comics and manga. Here's the stuff I'm working on getting through right now:

+ 20TH CENTURY BOYS Vol. 1 by Naoki Urasawa (Shogakukan)

Viz apparently has an agreement with Urasawa to wait on publishing this series until Monster has been completed. I couldn't wait for that, so I started reading it in Japanese this past week. It's dense and deftly scripted, and even within the first few chapters the dread has started building. I'm dying to see what happens over the course of the 20+ volumes. link

+ THE DRIPS by Taylor McKimens (PictureBox)

I'm not so much reading this book, as trying to decipher McKimens' melted popsicle stew of amorphous podunks. Another visually impressive and sortof experimental title from PictureBox. link

+ PLASTIC GIRL by Usamaru Furuya (河出書房新社)

For our anniversary, I received Plastic Girl and Palepoli from my GF. Along with Lychee Hikari Club (which I borrowed from Mangacast's Ed), these two books have helped cement my belief that Furuya is the most creative dude currently working in Japan. Each page of Plastic Girl is painted/drawn/sculpted out of a different medium, each like a more ambitious Sandman cover by Dave McKean. It's gonna take a while to fully digest this one. link

+ NANA Vol. 2-8 by Ai Yazawa (Viz)

I'm a loser for not keeping up with Nana. I've borrowed all 8 volumes from my GF and getting heavily engrossed in the twisting lives of the two Nana's. I ain't afraid to admit I'm already heavily emotionally invested in this one. So damn good. link

+ PRESENTS Vol. 2 by Kanako Inuki (CMX)

More twisted retribution tales from horror manga queen Inuki. Like Volume 1, there's not much in terms of complexity or surprises, but each tale is brief, funny and violent, all with a morally jagged twist. I'm loving this short series. link

+ BAPTISM Vol. 3 by Kazuo Umezu (Shogakukan)

Just when you thought Umezu couldn't get any better. I'm reading his entire Baptism series now (had the books sent over to the Kinokuniya in SF) and it's probably my favorite thing by him. Fucked up brain transplants, Elektra complex done deadly, and statutory romance. It's everything horror manga should aspire to do (and more!) link

+ WEBCOMICS by Kate Beaton

I'd never heard of Kate's webcomics, but thanks to comics212 for recommending her. Recent gems include tales of hanging out with family back home for the holidays, and historical pope comics! Plus her line work reminds me of Hellen Jo (if she was a white Canadian girl)! Check out the archives! link

+ DRUNKARD CONDO SYNDROME by Shintaro Kago (Scanlation by Anonymous K)

I've been reading over the newest scanlation by Anonymous K-- wrong address sexcapades and improper couplings. You guys will love it. Check back on Sunday to read it!

Also trying to get through non-comics:
+ Erotic Grotesque Nonsense: The Mass Culture of Japanese Modern Times by Miriam Silverberg
+ The Portable Atheist, edited by Christopher Hitchens
+ The Book of Other People, edited by Zadie Smith

So, what are you reading? Any recommendations?

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


To effeminate/devout manga nerds (like us), the Osamu Tezuka Museum is our Mecca, or Graceland if you prefer. The small but delightful museum is located in Takarazuka City (west of Kobe), which is not only Tezuka's hometown but the location of the famous Takarazuka Revue Academy and Grand Theater.

Evan and I visited the museum in 2003 when I was living in Osaka, and I got back there again later that year to attend a few Takarazuka performances (more on that in a later post, perhaps). For your pleasure, Comics212 blogger Christopher Butcher has just posted dozens of his Tezuka Museum photos, taken during his recent trip to Japan . Check out the happiest place on earth!

In addition, Chris also posted photos of Tezuka's own HOW TO DRAW tips, which can be found set into the floor of the museum.

Thanks to Chris for sharing these fantastic pictures!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Photos from OROCHI Press Conference

Here's a short post after yesterday's massive 2007-in-review listapalooza.

Shooting has begun on the film adaptation of Orochi, based on Kazuo Umezu's horror manga series. Here are some pictures of Umezu clowing around with cast and crew on December 19, 2007:

(left to right) Uncle KAZ, Tanimura Mitsuki, Yoshino Kimura, Noriko Nakagoshi, director Norio Tsuruta

Celebratory OROCHI cake!

Q: Does Umezu always infect others with his unbridled campiness? A: YES!

The film is scheduled for a Japanese release of Winter 2008.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008


I always end up posting my two cents like 3 months after the fact (Frankfurt Book Fair 2007 pictures, anyone?), so I decided to try and start my 2007 round-up before 2007 is officially over (shocking, I know). Missed the end of the year by a few days, but here we go!

On the business side, 2007 was another massive year for the growth of manga publishing in the US. Other blogs have spent more time on analysis (check MangaBlog for links), but here are a few trends that hit me:

* Manga cross-pollination occurs (the manga singularity, if you will) as Megatokyo becomes the first OEL title to get licensed for a Japanese release, by Kodansha. Based on thing I've heard about the state of the manga scene in Japan (not good and trending down), more Japanese publishers will be looking at English properties in 2008.

* Ahead of its time manga gets a second chance, as we get re-releases of Uzumaki, Gyo, Tekkon Kinkreet, and Parasyte. These were all titles I'd already read and loved the first time around, but it's been satisfying to see them on people's radars. So when do we get our Short Cuts, A A', and Domu "Omnibus Editions"? Hell, is Pulp Magazine 2.0 coming next?

* Not much manga that really appeals to me came out in 2007. Despite having blitzed through stacks of manga this past year, I had a hell of a time coming up with 10 entries of "favorite" books. Looking at just the first half of releases scheduled for next year (see the "most anticipated" list below), it sounds like 2008 will blow this one out of the water!

(all lists in no particular order):

+ Phoenix: Sun by Osamu Tezuka (Viz).
At this point, telling manga fans that Tezuka's comics are amazing is like telling John Hammond's grandson Timmy that the Jurassic Period was a pretty chill time for dinosaurs (Hey-O!) Basically what I mean is: YOU SHOULD KNOW THIS ALREADY (yeah, you loved that comparison, admit it!). The Sun story was a phenomincal last entry in the Phoenix series, but it inevitably left wondering if and how Tezuka would have converged the timelines if he'd lived longer and been able to pen an ending to his masterpiece. Oh yeah, and Phoenix officially made me tear up more than Adolf did. If you haven't read any of the Phoenix series yet, please turn in your manga cred at the front desk.

MW was also totally sick and rad, but it's not fair to crowd out a top ten with all Tezuka, even if he deserves it.

+ Monster #9 by Naoki Urasawa (Viz).
THIS BOOK WAS SO STRESSFUL. It sounds moronic, but I actually avoided picking up Monster for the longest time because of the "MONSTER" logo with the badass adventurer-looking sword for a T; Now it's one of my absolute favorite current series. Any volume that came out in 2007 was great, but #9 was the one that gave me the most WHOAAAs, and is chock full of twists and turns. Can't wait to read more in 2008 (and kudos again to new editor Kit for taking the reigns on this series).

+ Dragon Head #7 by Minetaro Mochizuki (Tokyopop).
Dragon Head is one of the best current horror series (manga, indie comic or otherwise), and even then it feels like something different is at work with this one. I'm hoping that the last two books don't disappoint, but either way it's been an eerie, troubling read so far. This volume features the most disturbing use of simple black pages I've ever seen in comics, and stoked the Lovecraftian fanboy in me.

+ Parasyte #1-2 by Hitoshi Iwaki (Del Rey).
I remember loving Parasyte way back when I read it in Mixx Magazine in the mid-90s. Parasye was a fantastic choice for reissue and deserves a large audience of new readers. The story and art are famliar and safely forumulaic, but only up to a point-- there's an extra edge of ruthlessness and family tension and poignancy that make for a great SF action title. And on top of that, it's rad to get the chance to fill in the gaps when my Mixx subscription ran out back in junior high!

+ Andromeda Stories #1-2 by Keiko Takemiya (Vertical).
To Terra was the Takemiya book to get most of the Shojo revival praise heaped on it, and it deserved much of that for it's groundbreaking layouts and formal storytelling innovations. But for some reason, I just couldn't get into the story. Andromeda Stories was my favorite of the two Vertical releases by Takemiya, and I fell in love with the clockwork body snatchers and space opera storytelling she employs. Now for Vertical to start releasing Moto Hagio (pleeeeze?!)

+ Presents #1 by Kanako Inuki (CMX).
2007 was a wimpy year for new horror series, with lots of clunkers like Alive and Variante tricking me into buying them and then being disappointed. I was pleasantly surprised with Inuki's collection of gross but lovingly-depicted and paced horror tales. Despite a semi-cute gloss on her art, Inuki's line work is deft and effective for delivering her gross-out moments and zinger endings. The book is definitely flawed and sortof limited in scope, but knowing from the start what I was getting into (a 3-book series of collected, themetically-linked short stories that won't be cancelled mid-run) felt good. Here's hoping she can manage to keep up the good parts of this book over the next two collections!

+ Drifting Classroom #6 by Kazuo Umezu (Viz).
It's no secret that I love Umezu's Drifting Classroom, and past a certain point choosing a specific volume to single out doesn't really make much sense. Volume 6 marked the halfway point of the series, with no sign of slowing down. Plague outbreaks, Lord of the Flies infighting-meets-spontaneous anarchist allignment among children, mummies, intertemporal Oedipal communication and a flash flood that knocks someone's HEAD OFF! What the fuck else can I say about this treasure chest of screaming children?

+ Tekkon Kinkreet by Taiyo Matsumoto (Viz).
Another reissue, but this one of an out of print and semi-fragmented series by Taiyo Matsumoto (who remains tragically underpublished in English, for God's sake). I had read bits of pieces of the serialized Black & White release in Pulp Magazine, but something just feels right about having an oversized edition (with posters, splash pages and color chapter openings intact!) of this series out there. Kudos to Viz for sparing no expense and giving this one the "Vertical treatment" it deserved. Read this or die a lame, uneducated manga nerd.

+ Azumanga Daioh Omnibus by Kiyohiko Azuma (ADV).
I sortof surprised myself by putting this on here, but Azumanga Daioh is one of those series that I dig when I read it, but before the Omnibus release would have never thought to buy it. Guess what happense when you sit down and read 600 pages of hilarious (but occasionally hit or miss) guilty pleasure yon-koma strips? YOU GET A BIG, SATSIFIED GOOFY GRIN ON YOUR FACE.

+ New Engineering by Yuichi Yokoyama
This book has been given barely any attention in the mangasphere, and I can totally understand why... The pages of New Engineering are as dense and befuddling as Chris Ware's most masturbatory layouts, and it was the first manga license from the experimental arty nerds that put out Brian Chippendale. It's definitely not your typical manga experience, but when I finally sat down and pored over the book I found it to be a hilarious and futuristic piece of work (while being about construction and hand-to-hand combat... wtf?). It's like brain cartooning 3.0, and definitely would be up the alley of anyone enjoying the experimental Kago strips we've been hosting all year.


+ I Killed Adolf Hitler by Jason (Fantagraphics).
Any comic with time-traveling Adolf Hitler as a prominent supporting character is a win in my book. Last year I started tracking down all of the Fantagraphics collections of Jason's work, and he's my poignant comic darling among the venerable L'Association cartoonists. Unlike many of his wordless, predominantly humous books, I Killed Adolf Hitler is a fully-realized graphic novel that got me misty at the end. The time paradoxes and assasination plots are just window dressing for a lovely but bitter tale about loving someone at the wrong moment. Whatever that means-- a must read from 2007!

+ Bluefuzz the Hero by Jesse Reklaw (Self-published).
I posted previously about this fantastic piece of work by cartoonist Reklaw, which was limited to only 100 copies and features a hand-painted wallpaper sample for a cover. Like the mentally challenged but nobler little brother of Dungeon, Bluefuzz sets the bar scarily high for what kind of story a minicomic can pull off. The interspersed color paintings of Bluefuzz's "great deeds" are icing on the cake.

+ The Spoily Brats by Michael Kupperman (Harper Collins).
Not a comic release per se, in a scampy bit of marketing savvy Harper Collins managed to contract Michael Kupperman to do a serial comic for their softcover reprints of the Lemoney Snicket books. Kupperman (famous for Tales Designed to Thrizzle, Snake & Bacon's Cartoon Cabaret and strips in The Believer) is America' funniest cartoonist (sorry Johnny, you are a close second!), and you can see he takes dorky pleasure in this old timey serials about child detectives tracking a masked crime boss. Three books have been released so far, with more on the way in 2008!

+ Omega the Unknown by Jonathan Lethem/Farel Dalrymple (Marvel).
I was sort of dubious about science fiction-turned-literary Jonathan Lethem slumming as a comic writer for Marvel, despite being a big fan of his early books. While it took me a few issues to fully wrap my head around what the fuck was going on with the nested daydreams and robots in this tale, in the third issue Omega starts its mad dash (both in story, art-- and coloring, by Paul Hornschemeier!); It's the only Marvel title I've read in years, and I'm all about this book in 2008.

+ Do Not Disturb My Waking Dream by Laura Park (Self-published).
I heard about Chicago cartoonist Laura Park via jam comics posted on Julia Wertz's Fart Party and their short but sweet collaboration in Papercutter #6 (Laura also did the color for Julia's awesome debut Fart Party collection!). Her minicomic collection is part sketches and part strips that hint at longer form storytelling. Aside from have a sweet (but not saccharine) sense of humor, DNDMKD shows off Laura's warm and incredibly rich draftsman0like style. She is a real talent to watch, and it'd be a major gaff for the indie scene if someone doesn't sign her to do a book in 2008.

Dungeon Parade, Vol. 2: Day of the Toads by Joann Sfar/Lewis Trondheim (NBM).
Sfar & Trondheim's Dungeon series in quite possibly the funniest, best set of comics I've ever read-- up there with Jeff Smith's Bone and Tezuka's adventure comics in terms of a hilarious, sprawling world that you'd be kindof scared to actually visit. Any year with an addition to the Dungeon series in English is a good one, and Day of the Toads is a perfect addition. I met NBM's publisher in Frankfurt this year, and he promised at least a few more titles in the coming months. If you're feeling lost, start with Dungeon Zenith 1: Duckheart and then run with them.

+ The Blot by Tom Neely (i.w.d.y.).
My awesome girlfriend sought this self-published debut book out, and pushed me to check it out. I was initially put off when flipping through The Blot by author Tom Neely's gnarly depiction of naked bodies, but I'm glad I recently took the time to digest this anquished tale. The Blot is nearly without dialogue and could be a fast read, but the ontological threat of the roving ink blot mixed with the interpersonal dynamics make for a memorable reading experience (whoa, that was a mouthfull)-- and from a debut, non-Clowes/Ware cartoonist even. Also worth noting that for a self-published title, the book production is on par with a high-quality release from D&Q or Fantagraphics.

It Rhymes With Lust by Arnold Drake/Leslie Waller/Matt Baker (Dark Horse).
I'm surprised that the reprint of It Rhymes With Lust didn't make it onto more people's radar this year. The title is noted as the first modern "graphic novel," but is more like a proto-comic book a la the New Direction books put out by EC after getting the Comics Code smackdown in the mid-1950s. ITWL was first published in 1950 and lovingly reprinted this year by Dark Horse. This western tale about a power-hungry steel baron named Rust was a real pleasure to revisit. Unfortunately, authors Arnold Drake (writer of the original Doom Patrol) and Leslie Waller (noir and pulp fiction writer) both died in March, within a few weeks of eachother, and this book's release!

+ All-Star Superman Vol. 1 by Grant Morrison/Frank Quietly (DC).
If you read any mainstream comics, you probably heard about this book-- coupling Morrison's genre-fucking self-aware Superman ribbing with Quietly's almost disturbingly cleanly inked & colored art. After relentlessly teasing my friend Anthony (Morrison fanboy extraordinaire!) over the gaylord cover, I finally sat down and gave this series a read. Fuck me, it's actually both hilarious and relevant-- Who would've known?

+ Unlovable #5 by Esther Pearl Watson (Self-published).
Esther Pearl Watson (and partner Mark Todd) are the deserving king and queen of the zine and minis academy, and continue to keep their pet projects and releases exciting and fresh. The newest installment of Watson's ridiculous tales of Tammy, Unlovable #5, doesn't let up--- documenting boogies, breakouts and high school yearbook anguish. I heartily recommend reading all five minis, and then tracking down the rest of the Tammy strips in Bust Magazine. I wish I was talented enough to draw as ugly as her (no, seriously-- It's a rare skill!).

+ Good Bye and Other Stories by Yoshihiro Tatsumi (Drawn & Quarterly).
Drawn & Quarterly is finally putting out the long-awaited third installment of their series of Tatsumi retrospectives. This book is presumably edited again by Adrian Tomine, and Frederik Schodt told me that he'll be penning the introduction this time around.

+ Dororo by Osamu Tezuka (Vertical).
2008 is the year that Vertical is bringing it on, Tezuka-wise. Right after a live action adaptation of Dororo came out in Japan, Vertical is pouncing with a 3-volume set. A spooky adventure story about a man fighting Japanese folklore demons to regain his stolen limbs and organs, these books are gonna be the shit. I also learned that these covers actually feature the work of NEW art director Peter Mendelsund (and not Chip Kidd)-- nice work Peter!

+ Funeral of the Heart by Leah Hayes (Fantagraphics).
I've only seen Leah's scratchwork art online and in a few preview pages here and there, but I have a strong feeling Funeral of the Heart is gonna be a quiet pleasure in the first half of 2008. Will it be sortof emo? Will it be akin to Gorey or T. Ott or maybe Vanessa Davis? I can't wait to find out.

+ Doom Patrol Vol. 6 by Grant Morrison and folks (DC).
Grant Morrison's run on Doom Patrol is another series that I had been blissfully unaware of, and owe Alice and Anthony for showing me the light. I'm still working on the third collection, but the fifth collection has been out for a while now. Finally, the last collection will be released in 2 weeks-- answering some of the (apparently massive) cliffhangers from volume 5 and wrapping up the series. I'm willing to wager it ends with a metafictional mindfuck blowout?

+ Bat-Manga: The Secret History of Batman in Japan, edited by Chip Kidd (Pantheon).
I don't know what to say about this one. Translated by my buddy Anne Ishii (ex-Vertical), this collection features little-known Batman-meets-manga tales created by the Japanese in the late-1960s. How can you say no to that?

+ The Number by T. Ott (Fantagraphics).
Hi-five Fantagraphics! They're bringing us a new feature-length T. Ott graphic novel. I guess since he doesn't have any dialogue in his stories to translate, the production work for these books should be easy, right? So put this thing out sooner, please. THANKS.

+ Tales Designed to Thrizzle #4 by Michael Kupperman (Fantagraphics).
This book is not scheduled anywhere (and was originally due in Fall 2007), but I have high hopes for Kupperman's next funnybook. He took a pitstop to work on animated short for Saturday Night Live's TV Funhouse, so hopefully homeboy has lined his pockets and will deliver the goods soon. Not like I should complain, having the Spoily Brats serial to look forward to but...

+ The final volumes of Drifting Classroom, Dragon Head and Phoenix (Viz, Tokyopop, Viz).
It's gonna be a sad day for me when there's no more volumes of these series to look forward to on new comics' day. But all good things must come to an end, and I can't wait to see how the post-apocalyptic Drifting Classroom and Dragon Head stories spend their final moments; As for Phoenix, my curiosity is totally piqued for Tezuka's early Shojo-style takes on his lifelong Phoenix arch-myth.

+ Debut graphic novel by Anthony Wu!
I've seen inked pages for our buddy Anthony's debut graphic novel and they seriously knocked me on my ass. Details are not yet to be announced publically, but after being chosen as one of Tokyopop's Rising Stars of Manga in 2006, he's now getting his chance to tell a longer story. This kid is gonna be famous, believe you me!

+ Untitled graphic novel by Hellen Jo!
The same goes for unstoppable Bay Area cartoonist maestro Hellen Jo's debut graphic novel. Hellen's storytelling in recent works has grown to match her rampant linework prowess. I've seen the first chapter of her comic and believe me that the book is gonna be an amazing treat (and scoop up hella awards, no joke). Like 2007, I'm sure she'll be peppering 2008 with other one-off pieces, gallery shows and projects, including a Krang (yes, from TMNT) to die for in Electric Ant #1, and a killer accompanying illustration for my GF's newest short story.

+ The Complete Black Jack by Osamu Tezuka (Vertical)
The Holy Grail of manga releases. Vertical begins their deluxe 12-volume release of the entire Black Jack series this coming Fall. Manga fans can die and go to heaven after this one.

+ Hitting up NYCC 2007 with Evan.
My trip with Evan in the middle of freaking winter to New York Comic Con. We hung out with our buddy Nate, met Stephen from Ponent Mon and Auntie Brigid from MangaBlog, did drunken Karaoke with Eric and Michelle from Giant Robot, watched the oscars with Anne, and I got Jim Steranko to sign a nude Bat-Woman poster for my GF.

+ Tabling at APE2007 with the Bang Gang.
Highlights of our second year tabling with friend included our booklet (and the non-controversy it wrought), selling The Bible comic, and buying more minis and zines than one man should own. Also, lots of late nights at Kinkos and endless stapling alongside other dorks. I can't wait for APE 2008 (being held this year in early November).

+ Book fairs are for nerds (and for awesome).
I was able to attend two major fairs this year! Here are the details I remember:
BookExpo America in New York: Hangover vomiting on 34th st., superstar manga nerd karaoke party with Ed Chavez, Kit Fox, Erin and Anne. Lots of free comics and hanging out with Kelly Link
Frankfurt Book Fair in Germany: Sascha Hommer and the REPRODUKT crew, gallery exhibits of Catalonian comics (including a rare "strip" by Picasso), eating indian with Max and the Last Gasp folks, and then talking manga and japan over burgers with my old friend Ben.

+ Meeting the manga master, Fred Schodt.
Thanks to Jenn and the Asian Art Museum's great Tezuka Exhibit all summer, I had the opportunity to first hear Fred Schodt give a talk, then meet and chat with him, and finally interview Fred over coffee for our zine last month. I would have never guessed I'd have the pleasure!

+ Making a zine with our friends.
We took the plunge to finally start on the zine I've been planning for a while, and were surpremely excited by the outporing of talent for our rinky-dink first attempt at a zine. Making comics and zines is the ideal way to make cool friends, and we don't deserve the caliber of content we got. I guess this means we have to actually print it soon?

+ Our secret translation project coming to fruition.
We're in the weeds right now, working out butts off every weekend on the project, but it's been a real pleasure seeing how a smart publisher with ambitious ideas about the types of manga that can sell for English audiences gets things done. We won't be posting about this again for a few months, but I think readers of this blog will be happy come next summer... JUST SAYING.

Growing the readership of this blog.
This post spiraled into a meandering, self-congratulaty mess, but Evan and I wanted to take a second to say thanks to our dedicated readers. You guys are totally awesome and I've learned tons from your comments, emails and the discussions we've been able to be a part of in 2007. Here's to more posts, more conversations and more contests in 2008 (Congrats again to Sophia for winning our first ever 4-koma competition!), and meeting more of you cool folks at cons and events this year.