Thursday, December 16, 2010
Some manga that didn't make the cut:
Cross Game vol.1
Otodama vol. 1
Peepoo Choo vol. 1
Cardcaptor Sakura complete set
I feel kind of bad that manga dominates the list. It's not all I read this year, I swear! Just a big chunk. There's also a lot of noteworthy comics released in 2010 that I just didn't get a chance to read (such as Parker:The Outfit or Two Generals by Scott Chantler).
While there was a lot of interesting stuff released in, I'm hoping that 2011 has a stronger showing (or at the very least some new 'Umbrella Academy' issues).
Friday, September 24, 2010
Welcome to the sixth (free!) "Dear Lucky Agent" Contest on the GLA blog. This will be a recurring online contest with agent judges and super-cool prizes. Here's the deal: With every contest, the details are essentially the same, but the niche itself changes—meaning each contest is focused around a specific category or two. So if you're writing a book-length novel that's paranormal romance or urban fantasy, this sixth contest is for you!
What they're looking for is the opening hook, so the first 150-200 words. I think I might have something I could possibly submit...
He's known for his views almost as much as he is for his accomplishments. If you ever want to flush a few hours of your life down the toilet, google 'Dave Sim misogyny.' You will have enough reading material to keep you going for days. I don't just disagree with this guy politically, but about some very basic ideas about how the world works.
So when I met him yesterday, I was both excited and nervous. Excited because this guy is a fantastic artist and his work ethic awe-inspiring. Nervous because it's kind of uncomfortable meeting a man who, while he is able to draw some beautiful female characters, in his rants paints your entire gender with broad, ugly strokes.
It turned out to be a lot of fun. Sim was doing portfolio reviews, and I tagged along with a few artist friends. It wasn't long before Sim broke out his inking pens and was showing us all the subtle differences between them. He was funny and patient, and had some really good tips for the artists who's work he was able to look over. The event ran for two hours, and I think all of us would have been willing to stay longer if the librarian didn't kick us out.
Dave Sim is still in town. He'll be doing more portfolio reviews today, and tonight he'll be doing a signing (his last one, apparently) at Strange Adventures.
For more info, check out the facebook page for the event:
Or Strange Adventure's site:
Friday, September 10, 2010
I like writing the reviews for several reasons. It's in my nature to view things critically, to break things down to what works and what doesn't. I even like the 100-word cap, as it forces me to use only the words that are needed. Writing the reviews also helps ease my guilt about spending time and money to watch something like the live action movie version of Blood: the Last Vampire, the cinematic equivalent of cotton candy. I'm not just doing it because I want to see some awesome vampire vs. monster fights, but for work, damnit! Oh, how I suffer for my craft.
I sometimes worry that what I review holds no interest for anyone who might possibly read The Coast. Did my favorable review of Taiyo Matsumoto's Gogo Monster manage to win him any more fans? Will people who usually shy away from manga pick up Saturn Apartments or Solanin because of what I wrote? There's no way of knowing.
Or at least, usually I wouldn't, but yesterday I got lucky. In the most recent issue of The Coast I wrote a review of a manga called Black Blizzard (I wrote a longer review for Kuri-ousity here). While doing some errands downtown I stopped in at Strange Adventures, one of the best comic book shops on planet Earth. I like to think of it as 'Cheers' for nerds: it's where everybody knows your name. As I was talking to one of the staff there he mentioned that earlier in the day a guy came in looking for 'the manga that had been reviewed in The Coast.' The guy even turned to the page the review was on to point it out.
It's a very minor thing, but it's still neat to think that someone read my review of a book and was intrigued enough to go to a comic book store and seek it out (especially something as obscure as a Japanese comic from the 1950s). It's just nice to know, and gives me hope that maybe what I review isn't as off-the-wall or irrelevant as I sometimes think it is. So thanks a lot mystery manga dude. You don't know it but you made my day.
Friday, September 3, 2010
I’m so hungry. I stare at the blocks of text on the screen, letting the words fill my mind so I can ignore my empty belly. It doesn’t work. It’s one of those chicken and egg situations: need to write to eat, need to eat to write. Finally I give up and swallow down a Nutri-Grain bar. Sorry mind, matter wins this round.
One of my favourite pieces of advice James D. Macdonald gives on his long thread at Absolute Write is not to eat while writing. It becomes a habit, and soon you’ll find yourself unable to string together sentences unless you have a plate of nachos within reach, piled high with lightly melted cheddar and mozzarella, a sprinkling of hot peppers, onions and tomatoes, some mild salsa and sour cream on the side...that bar wasn’t enough, I’m still super hungry.
Like a lot of writers, I strive to make time to write every day. It would be so much easier to just squash (mmm, squash) eating time and writing time together and type with one hand while the other holds a PB&J sandwich. But I can’t do that. One is for the reasons outlined above: I don’t want to fall into the habit of including food as my writing routine. The other is that when it comes to meals, I rarely do simple. I might start making something, like say soup, and decide that I want lentils in it too, and then I decide I need a salad, and basically the whole things snowballs to the point where I spend more time preparing the meal than actually eating it. For example, for lunch I’m going to have fried eggplant with cherry tomatoes, tofu and rice. The eggplant is already cut up and sitting salted on a plate in the kitchen so they won’t be bitter when I cook it. It takes a little more time and preparation, but it’s going to be so good when I finally eat it.
Of course, that time preparing food also cuts into time I could use for writing. But once again, got to write to eat, got to eat to write. And I like cooking, almost as much as I like eating. The trick isn’t too see it as an obstacle to writing, but in service of it. Sounds obvious (next blog post: “Breathing an important part of the writing process”) but it’s easy for me to get wrapped up in the idea that the only important thing in the world is my word count for the day. When I get in that mindset I really do ignore the growling in my stomach, except for the times when I growl back at it, reducing it to whimpers. My writing is never any good when I get that way. The characters all seem like they’re out to get me, minor distractions balloon to volcanic proportions, typos occurs every other word. Eventually my mom calls and if I manage not to bite her head off in the first thirty seconds I start telling her about how everything is just going to shit. To which my mom, fountain of all wisdom, will listen and ask “When was the last time you ate?” And I usually don’t answer right away, because I realize she’s right. So then I eat something and things are better. Not just with the world at large, but with my tiny world that takes up the laptop screen. So that’s what I’m going to go and do now and write later. By now the eggplants should be nice and sweet.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Alison Bechdel http://dykestowatchoutfor.com/
I can't believe I only recently discovered Alison Bechdel. 'Dykes to Watch Out For' is one of the most addictive comics I have ever read. It's like printed crack. 'Fun Home' is my new barometer for autobiographical comics. the layouts and storytelling in it are just astounding.
Faith Erin Hicks http://www.faitherinhicks.com/
FEH's art is fun and clear, ditto for her story-telling. She manages to use geek cliches (ZOMBIES!) to her advantage rather than as a cheap way to pander to her readers.
Hope Larson http://hopelarson.com/
Hope Larson has a whimsical but solid style. I like how she uses gutters (aka the space between panels, not actual sewer gutters).
Kate Beaton http://www.harkavagrant.com/
You like history? Kate Beaton loves history so much she'd marry it. Or at least draw a very cool webcomic about it.
Madeleine Rosca http://clockwork7.deviantart.com/
So cute, so creepy. I just learned that there is an omnibus edition for 'Hollow Fields,' which I plan to get my mitts on as soon as I can.
Amy Reeder Hadley http://www.tentopet.com/
Christy Lijewski http://nyanko-chan.deviantart.com/
Svetlana Chmakova http://www.svetlania.com/
Rivkah http: www.rivkah.com/about/
Queenie Chan http://www.queeniechan.com/
Tokyopop has (rightly) gotten a lot of flack in the past for how they treated English language creators, but one of the good things they did was propel a lot of female creators to the forefront of this new wave of manga. The names listed above are just a few of the crators who got a break through Tokyopop.
Chynna Clugston http://newwavezombie.blogspot.com/
I have to be honest, I've never really gotten into Chyna Clugston. Maybe I just haven't given her work a fair shot. But that doesn't mean I don't recognize her influence.
Jessica Abel http://www.jessicaabel.com/
A comic book writer. Her graphic novel 'Blood Sucks' was a surprisingly awesome vampire story.
Becky Cloonan http://www.estrigious.com/becky/
I love Becky Cloonan's art, just love it. If you haven't checked out Demo yet, get your ass to a bookstore.
So there's that. It's not a lot of names, but hopefully it's enough to show that the comics world isn't quite the sausage factory some people make it out to be.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Monday, March 1, 2010
Book Review: Etiquette Guide to Japan
By: Boyé Lafayette De Menta
Last Friday I talked about ‘Living & Working in Japan,’ a book that covered practically every practical concern about surviving in Japan but was a bit skimpy about what to do in different social situations. That’s where ‘Etiquette Guide to Japan’ comes in. The book has the usual stuff like chapters on bowing and titles, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There’s also chapters on where to sit at the table (be careful not to take the seat of honour) to getting drunk with your co-workers (not a minefield of embarrassment like it is here in north America, but actually a vital part of working in Japan. It’s only when you’re drunk that you can correct your boss or co-workers without either of you losing face).
Each chapter not only tells you the dos and don’ts it also digs in deep to explain why it’s that way. In the end the book is a history lesson as well as a mini-Japanese charm school. It’s written in clear, easy to understand language. If you’re going to Japan, then this book will help you avoid some of the more serious faux pas. You should also check it out if you’re interested in a look at a different culture.
Friday, February 26, 2010
By: Erica Simms
Last post I talked about ‘Cruising in the Anime City,’ a book that doubles as a treasure map for any dedicated anime fan planning a trip to Tokyo. If that book was all fun, then today’s book is all work. ‘Live & Work in Japan’ is structured like a normal guidebook, but unlike travel writing that is meant for tourists and short-term visitors, ‘Live & Work’ is for people who are actually planning on buckling down and making a go of it in Japan. Before reading this book, I was a little unsure of how I would be able to navigate a new life in a country so different from my own. After reading ‘L&W in Japan,’ I feel that I at least know what challenges lie in wait for me and how to overcome them.
There are a few different things that help make this book fun to read as well as informative. First off, there’s a ton of first hand accounts from expats who have lived in Japan. Hearing about their struggles and achievements gives you a good idea of what to expect, and also a bit of hope (if they were able to do it, so can I). It also puts a human touch on things, something a lot of guide books end up lacking.
The lay-out makes it easy to find whatever information you’re looking for, and the book covers everything from how to have a social life in Japan to business etiquette to how to rent an apartment (which can be a trying and difficult experience in itself, but once you throw in foreign concepts like ‘key money’, a guidebook like this one comes in handy). It’s pretty much a step-by-step guide to living in Japan.
If there’s one complaint with the book it’s that while it’s full of practical information, it could use a little insight about what to do in more informal situations. For example, I’m a vegetarian, so in the section about food I was hoping to get some advice about how to politely decline meat and fish dishes. No such luck, though there is a lot of other interesting pieces of information.
The book is packed with addresses, telephone numbers, and useful websites. A blurb on the cover calls it “Essential,” and I have to agree. If you’re actually planning on moving to Japan, or if you just want a look at Japan that’s more in-depth than the usual guidebook, you should check it out.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
By: Patrick Macias and Tomohiro Machiyama
While looking at my library’s collection of books on Japan, I found this gem. I didn’t know how much I needed this book until I saw it sitting there, nestled amongst tomes on more serious topics like cherry blossoms and photography of Mount Fuji . The title explains it pretty clearly: this is the nerd’s guide to the anime capital, detailing everything from the Gundam museum to where to get Morning Masume goods. If those names don’t ring a bell, then this book might not be for you. While the authors do a pretty good job of giving background info (for example, the back story of how Morning Masume came to be and how they exploded onto the music scene) but for the most part they expect you to know what they’re talking about. This book is for people who have already gotten their nerd degree, not folks still in Geek 101.
The breadth of topics is pretty amazing. While most of it is anime related, there’s also fascinating chapters on the different movie houses in Tokyo and the weird fast food choices available. It also gives some insight on aspects of anime fandom, such as the definition of terms such as “Moe” and “Otaku,” or giving brief history lessons on things like dating sims. While the books is a fantastic find if you’re planning a trip to Japan, it’s also a great read even if you’re not.
Another point in the book’s favour is that it’s funny. When visiting a cosplay cafe (the waitresses are all dressed up as anime characters) the author takes in the anti-social, male otaku who patronize the place and describes it as “an otaku version of Taxi Driver.” Yet while the authors might poke fun at some aspects of the city and fandom, it’s done with an obvious amount of affection and self-deprecation. There are a few interviews in the books with people who have taken their fandom to the extreme, such as the ‘King of Model Kits’, Chimatsuri, and rather than talking down or ridiculing the subjects the authors approach them as fellow fans. Of course, they’re still objective enough that when things get weird, they notice (the Chimatsuri interview is a great example of this. Even if you’re not interested in models, it’s still a fun and surreal read). In the introduction both authors pony up their nerd cred (Tomohiro Machiyama is even partly responsible for coining the term ‘otaku’) and it’s clear this is a book written by fans for fans.
Not to say it’s a perfect book. For one, it seems pretty squarely aimed at male anime fans. There are stories about maid cafes and ‘little sister’ cafes, but nothing about butler cafes. And if “Moe” (a phenomenon aimed at men) can get a whole section, why not yaoi or slash? While the book is filled to the brim with great info, it’s missing some of the more girly aspects of anime fandom.
Also, with something as jam-packed as this book, and index would have been a godsend. Still, it’s not so bad just flipping through the book: you don’t always find what you’re looking for, but you do end up somewhere pretty neat. Metaphor for Tokyo? I’ll know once I get there.
Monday, February 22, 2010
Of course, there's always a chance that I don't get into my chosen program and don't go to Japan. In which case this blog becomes the biggest internet joke since 'piano cat.' I'm hoping that doesn't happen.