Tuesday, February 03, 2009

BEST X OF EVERYTHING 2009: Upcoming Books!

Holy shit, it's officially the second month of 2009. It is time to finish off these damn YEAR-IN-REVIEW 2008 posts in the next day or so. Already up on this here blog: BEST MANGA! and BEST COMICS! lists. Now finally, the MOST ANTICIPATED of 2009 list.

Click here for the BEST MANGA! 2008 list.
Click here for the BEST COMICS! 2008 list.

I'm gonna keep the commentary shorter, because for most of the books on this list, the precise details of what we've got coming is unclear. All you need to know is that these are the creme de la creme of upcoming and announced books... so far! Basically, if you start saving money and buy only these 12 books, you will have a good year. WARNING: Intense (but justifiable?) hyperbole ahead... Let's get this started!

(As always, I look forward to hearing recommendations and what you guys are looking forward to in manga/comics in 2009 in the comments!)

13. Unlovable, Volume 1 by Esther Pearl Watson

For years, zine master (and the artist whose style I most want to ape) Esther Pearl Watson has been releasing minis collecting her Unlovable comics, detailing the horrible and wonderful life of teenage Tammy! Unlovable has also been syndicated regularly in BUST Magazine; this 400+ page book from Fantagraphics includes piles and piles of those strips and tons of new materials. A gem of angst and subtle humor (and I hear there is second volume scheduled for later!)

12. Sayonara Zetsubou-Sensei by Kōji Kumeta

This is a manga I don't know much about (and haven't seen the anime of) but which cool folks have said good things about. Coming this year from Del Rey, the series features a nihilistic and sharp-tongued teacher who fails at his suicide attempt in the opening pages of issue 1, and serves as our foil through which Japanese daily life and society get skewered and dissected. Also, funny schoolgirls and early Showa visual stylings. Could be interesting...

11. Moyashimon: Tales of Agriculture 1 by Masayuki Ishikawa

An absurd premise and lots of giant germs make up this little series, which is currently ongoing in Japan. Moyashimon follows an agricultural college freshman to whom germs and organisms appear large and can communicate with him. Creating a manga with lots of cute GERMS and BACTERIUM is a good idea from a marketing perspective (Yes, I've seen Moyashimon plushies at Kinokuniya!). This book has won a bunch of best debut/best new series awards in Japan already, and it's always nice to read a popular series in English while it's still hot in Japan.

10. Tales Designed to Thrizzle, Volume 1 / Tales Designed to Thrizzle #5 by Michael Kupperman

I feel like I've talked about Kupperman at length on here, but anyone that digs the gag stuff we've done and talk about on Same Hat should read Tales Designed to Thrizzle. The newest issue (#5) is coming out in April and is "The Old People’s Issue," while the first collection of issues 1-4 is coming out in July as a softcover collection. It features some goodies and a forward by comedy monster Robert Smigel. Oh also, Michael Kupperman just launched a new blog!

9. Swallowing the Earth by Osamu Tezuka

An interesting and notable licensing story, this volume is the first Osamu Tezuka release from DMP (Digitial Manga Publishing) and the first sign that anyone other than Vertical can get their hands on a Tezuka license these days. I'm curious to see how they do the production when having to compete with Vertical... The story is not one of Tezuka's most famous, but a tale about Zefilth (a woman who snares and taunts mens. SEXUALLY); It is notable as one of his first darker series in reaction to the emerging popularity of gekiga. Like all Tezuka, this is a must read.

8. Jin & Jam #2 by Hellen Jo

Details and specifics are mostly still up in the air, but I hope that we'll see the next issue of our buddy Hellen's extremely exciting debut series Jin & Jam from Sparkplug in 2009. I hear that by issue 3 we're gonna see some horror influences and this shit is gonna get BUCK WILD (is that a fair summary, Hellen?). I can't wait for this and other comics coming out by Ms. Jo this year. Catch her and she blows up, ya'll!

7. 20th Century Boys by Naoki Urasawa

A series that needs no introduction on this blog, 20th Century Boys #1 will be coming out very soon from Viz. After the completion of his fabulous Monster series, Urasawa is allowing English adaptions of his two next-most famous series to begin release in full force! The first of a film trilogy is coming out in Japan this year as well. Congrats to my buddy Kit at Viz, who is editing this giant genre tour de awesome.

6. Scott Pilgrim 5 by Bryan Lee O'Malley

THIS SHIT COMES OUT TOMORROW!! And with Edgar Wright (Spaced, Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, DUH) currently in Toronto working on pre-production for the film adaptation (and spot-on casting underway as well), it is a great time to be a Pilgrim fan. I have to admit to not finally getting into this series until last year (for a bunch of dumb, dubious reasons) but I will be at my local shop the minute they open tomorrow to get my copy of the penultimate installment.

5. Dungeon, Zenith Volume 3 by Sfar/Trondheim/Boulet

Dude, after getting a taste of the end of the Dungeon timeline (with the poignant and wild Twilight books) and wild sidestories (in the recent Monstres books), Sfar & Trondheim are taking us back to the core tales of the Dungeon continuity. Back before Herbert was taken by the dark one, and Marvin was still a grumpy brute and not our anti-hero, Volume 3 ("Back In Style") follows up on Duck Heart and The Barbarian Princess. Keep 'em coming, NBM!

4. Pluto by Naoki Urasawa

Dude, it's the motherfucking "WATCHMEN of Manga"... or maybe it's even better than that. An Astro Boy side story, put through the magical thought grinder and suspense noir machine that is Naoki Urasawa a la Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. Oh, and the translation is by our favorite manga experts, Frederik Schodt and Jared Cook. What more could you ask for?

3. Black Jack #3-8 by Osamu Tezuka

Maybe it's something I'm taking for granted, but I had to remind myself when making this list (and with alll the great classic manga coming down the pike)... the Vertical mana-fest continues with 4-5 additional books of classic Black Jack coming out way... Unlike the first 2 books, the rest of the series is almost entirely never-before-seen stuff that wasn't in the original Viz attempt at publishing. This is like 1000 pages of Black Jack stories in 2009. CAN YOU DIG IT????

2. Ax Anthology, Volume 1

For more information see here. The first in what I hope will be an extended series of contemporary underground manga, this collection IS THE BOOK FOR YOU, SAME HAT READERS! We will hopefully continue to have the inside line with editor Sean Michael Wilson, and much more news in the coming months. After a long dry spell, our own "Secret Comics Japan" or "Comics Underground Japan" book is finally coming!

1. A Drifting Life by Yoshihiro Tatsumi

Dudes. The absolute most interesting, absorbing and unique book (not just manga or graphic novel or whatever) of 2009, hands down. I have read the first 100 pages in English (some panels soon, if I can get permission) and it's an absolute feast of manga history and delight. I just heard that editor/letterer Adrian Tomine and the man himself, Yoshihiro Tatsumi will be attending the Toronto Comic Art Festival in May for the debut of the book (and will be giving a presentation about the work). I think I will have to be there for that.

Ooku by Fumi Yoshinaga

"Ooku" refers to the section of the Edo Castle where the shogun's wives, concubines and female family were relegated. This series is by the creator of the wonderful series Antique Bakery, and follows a historical Japan where 75% of all the men are wiped out by a small pox plague thingy. Feminist ordeals and nuanced gender wrangling will follow. I am deeply curious about the first books of this planned 10-volume series.

Cold Heat anthology by Frank Santoro/Ben Jones

I've read bits and pieces of the Cold Heat books, but never given this series it's fair shake. Thanks to a collected first volume of all the floppies to date, I'll have the chance to digest it properly. Very nice.


I posted a bit about ORANG on the EAZB, but the latest volume of the nearly-annual comics anthology is coming out later this year. In addition to the usual lot of cool international cartoonists, I hear it might have some stuff of specific interest to Same Hat readers. The book and details are still being finalized by editor and rad cartoonist Sascha Hommer... Now to get some euros so I can order when the time comes!!

Electric Ant #2 and the underground manga book we're working on...

I won't use this as an excuse to spend a bunch of time teasing books that I can't say much about yet... But Evan and I are working slowly (and soon ramping up production!) for a late 2009 (?) release that I hope will delight Same Hat fans. Alongside that, I'm working to line up new contributors and finalize the table of contents for the second issue; Electric Ant #2 - Exquisite Corpses (the bodies and collaboration issue). News about the book will come out here, and about the zine over on the EAZB.


Joseph Luster said...

2009 is going to be an expensive year.

Anonymous said...

i've only seen a few fansubbed episodes of the zetsubo sensei anime. it was okay but motsly mediocre.

sh said...

huh!!, where did you hear about possible ORANG contributers???? Nothing is for sure yet.

Peter said...

Technically not upcoming (published December 2008) but I can't wait for this to fall on my doormat. It's an art-book of a french comic book artist staying in an artist residency in japan.

Joseph Luster said...

Oh yeah, and I remember you mentioning in your best of 2008 that no one is talking about Monster Men, which, after reading it, began to distress me, as well.

So this is better late than never, I suppose: http://tinyurl.com/d6fz3d

Azraelito said...

Ax and Tatsumi sure for me!!

Apart from that and very sad that is not in the list: children of the sea by daisuke igarashi that is an incredible artis!Viz has licensed it!!

Apart from that waiting the news of evan and ryan of which manga are they working on??

Congratulations to Tokyo Zombie in the magazine that I work won the contest of best manga of the year!!It has a 9.5!We reviewed mangas that were publish here, in Usa and Spain!!In the month that the magazine came out won that month and then chechking the notes of everymanga we reviewed won the year!!

saludos from argentina

as always my english sucks!!

Sophia Foster-Dimino said...

I saw the first five or so episodes of Zetsubou-sensei, but I lost interest. Turned into predictable harem nonsense. I usually prefer manga to anime, though.

Horror influences + Jin & Jam -- awesome! I can't wait.

Black Jack - I dig it! Excited for the other Tezuka book as well as the Naoki Urasawa stuff, too. You have piqued my interest with this Watchmen comparison :]

Any word on how much the Tatsumi book will cost? I hear it's going to be enormous. And that mock-up is like... cubical.

Hope for more news soon on this mysterious and potentially delightful project!

Anonymous said...

Awesome list. I have to agree with Azraelito, though. Not including Children of the Sea is unforgivable. I still can't believe Viz licensed it.

Ryan S said...

@joseph: I totally agree... even with the total # of manga and comics coming out shrinking from last year.

@anonymous: Interesting... I wonder if the manga will be better? I almost always enjoy the manga better than the anime, in some cases even to the point where I can stand the episodes but love the comic. Weird but true, hope that is the case.

@admin: I heard some whispers from a little German bird we both know.. but I'm sorry to cause a fuss! Already toned down the post, my friend! (GOOD LUCK, THOUGH! I can't wait to read ORANG 7 & 8)

@Peter: Interesting--- I will have to check that out. I know Guibert's work a little... sounds curious and interesting. Thanks!

@Joseph: Wow, great article!!! I'm sure Dan at PB will appreciate it. This book deserves more love (and all the help we can muster)

@azraelito: Oh yes, I can't believe I forgot the Igarashi book! The sad truth is that I haven't seen the japanese edition and don't know much about the book. Links?

Thanks for the good review of Tokyo Zombie... I'm super happy to hear that you and the staff enjoyed it!! What is the magazine, btw? I didn't know you worked there :)

@sheisept: hmmm, sounding more and more like maybe i'll check the first volume out but not expecting too much. Yeah, Hellen has some tricks up her sleeves, I think. The first issue was just setting and 'getting to know you' I think. She is working on another comic aside from j&j right now, maybe she will share more details on EAZB sometime soon?

I believe the price of A Drifting Life will be $30 retail, which is insanely fair and WORTH IT. There are more Tezuka panels in the excerpt I read (for this grant support letter I wrote, long story) and he was like pixie dust and rainbows. Even at a young age he made quite an important impression on the other manga pioneers and his contemporaries. Dude died WAY. TOO. YOUNG.

No news I am allowed to share widely on the book, but our editor IS in japan right now finalizing some business across the board, and things are looking good for us, I hear. Who knows?

@kouros: Yeah, I totally forgot about it. And I don't actually know much about it or the mangaka (shameful, I know). School me and hook us up with some links! Also, if the book is a shogakukan release then it's less like Viz licensed it and more like the parent company handed it down to the US arm. They have right of first refusal (or whatever you call it) on all of those books, I believe.

links, plz!

Anonymous said...


That's the official website, anyway. The first volume has been scanlated, but mangascreener dropped the project once it was licensed.

Azraelito said...

Talking about children of the sea, I see in the website of Ikki, that there are 3 volumes!!

does anyone knows if it still continue?or has an end in volume 3??

It is a bit strange for viz to license a not popular manga with a not popular author that has a manga that is an ongoing series in japan?

well apart from that, I read the first volume of witches of igarashi and it was fine for me, what I didnt read was the short story in the anthology of Japan that was realeased by ponentmon!!


Anonymous said...

Yeah, volume 3 has been released, although I haven't gotten around to buying it yet (I only have 1 and 2). I think it's ongoing, but I'm not totally sure.

As for his other works, Witches is great, as is Hanashippanashi, which is a short story collection. He's also done something about his cat and Little Forest, which is essentially a cookbook in manga form. Children of the Sea is his most accessible work so far, and, if he ends it well, his best.

Anonymous said...

I´m a bit disappointed with '20th Century Boys'... Absolutely brilliant beginning, but the story takes toooo long. I read it until the number 18.

sh said...

hey ryan; did not cause a fuss, no problems at all; but now I understood where you heard about, after mailing with Berlin...we are still waiting for reply from Japan; if not this issue, maybe one of the next ones...

Anonymous said...

Regardless what has been said about the Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei anime I think it's incredibly amusing if you're familiar with anime and Japanese pop culture but you must be crazy to get all the references. It's also not actually harem, it's a parody and every character is a exaggerated stereotype.
The best thing about the anime is the opening: