Posts Tagged ‘Naoki Urasawa’

Live Free or Blog La-Z


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

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I had planned a better post, but scanning problems are delaying things a bit, so here’s a few links to tide things over.

You know, there’s a prominent comics link-blogger who likes to go on and on about how hard it is to put these things together, but based on my limited experience, it actually seems like a great and incredibly easy way to post stuff online, even when you’re busy with a day job, a baby, election day, scanner foul-ups, early morning meetings, etc. If I was actually paid to do this every day, I bet I could get a routine going with my RSS feeds where it took me less than an hour to round up links to all of the “important” comics blogosphere blogonet sites every morning. Kind of fun!

1. Austin English is a great guy and all, but he has weird ideas about what’s ugly and what isn’t. (And seems to compare Denny O’Neil favorably to R. Crumb, an aesthetic crime that should not go unpunished. (Jk Austin! Sorta.))

2. I knew about Talking Lines, but didn’t realize there was another interesting looking new R.O. Blechman book out.

3. Birthday tributes to Steve Ditko weren’t even a dime a dozen yesterday, unless you pay way too much for your internet service, but this one, despite its brief length, was particularly provocative and original.

4. Naoki Urasawa talks process. [via]

5. A too-rare interview with Peter Blegvad appears in the new Believer. [via]

[UPDATE: And I didn’t realize it when I originally posted, but the issue includes a TON of good comics material that I should have mentioned.]

6. Almost every post Jog writes these days is worth linking to, but since everyone already reads him anyway, what’s the point? That said, this review of J.H. Williams III and Detective Comics is unusually thorough and well-wrought, even for him.

7. And here is an insightful appreciation of last week’s Chris Ware New Yorker work. Click on it; it’s not boring.

8. Finally (but not leastily), for those of you who didn’t notice, this weekend brought the grand debut of our newest online team member, the great Jason T. Miles. Please make him welcome and stay tuned for more. I don’t want to ruin his next post by giving anything away, but it sounds pretty awesome.

That’s it. I hope you found at least most of those worth reading. Nothing is more annoying than linkblogs full of garbage. On second thought, I have to admit that maybe this isn’t that easy to do exhaustively if you hope to maintain any kind of quality control. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m finding less and less of interest in the actual comics blogosphere blogonet these days. Writers outside it seem more thoughtful lately. Still, ninety minutes tops.

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I Don’t Read Comics Anymore


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

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Sorry about that. It makes it hard to think of things to say about them, though.

Actually, I’m exaggerating. I read and mostly liked the two new Urasawa series that finally got published last week, and re-read and loved the Tezuka story that one of them adapted. I still don’t have anything to say about them, though.

So how about this instead?

1. Paul Karasik can still surprise me, which surprises me. Check out his take on the above Jimmy Olsen cover over at the Covered blog.

2. I like a lot of Alan Moore’s stuff, but have recently gotten tired of reading all the articles about how he doesn’t like movies made of his comics. Not that his stance bothers me, but I’ve heard it a million times now, and don’t understand why the entertainment press still thinks it’s so shocking and interesting. So it was funny (to me) that when I read the latest big Alan Moore interview, this part jumped out at me as being particularly enjoyable:

One of my big objections to film as a medium is that it’s much too immersive, and I think that it turns us into a population of lazy and unimaginative drones. The absurd lengths that modern cinema and its CGI capabilities will go in order to save the audience the bother of imagining anything themselves is probably having a crippling effect on the mass imagination. You don’t have to do anything. With a comic, you’re having to do quite a lot. Even though you’ve got pictures there for you, you’re having to fill in all the gaps between the panels, you’re having to imagine characters voices. You’re having to do quite a lot of work. Not quite as much work as with a straight unillustrated book, but you’re still going to do quite a lot of work.

I think the amount of work we contribute to our enjoyment of any piece of art is a huge component of that enjoyment. I think that we like the pieces that engage us, that enter into a kind of dialog with us, whereas with film you sit there in your seat and it washes over you. It tells you everything, and you really don’t need to do a great deal of thinking. There are some films that are very, very good and that can engage the viewer in their narrative, in its mysteries, in its kind of misdirections. You can sometimes get films where a lot of it is happening in your head. Those are probably good films, but they’re not made very much anymore.

I didn’t enjoy it so much because of his critique of film—which I think (or thought) was pretty banal and almost conventional wisdom at this point (Godard’s work isn’t done, I guess)—but because it just seems so refreshing after reading so many articles and interviews with comic-book people who always seem to be trying to pump up comics by saying they’re just like movies, or could make great movies, or that the reason Will Eisner is great is because he used tricks from the movies, etc. It’s nice to hear someone involved in comics who doesn’t have an inferiority complex about them, and just flat out says they’re better, and on top of that, movies are bad for your brain.

Also, usually I get all bent out of shape when someone admits to not paying close attention to comics and movies for a decade or so before turning around and bashing them on and on, but I have to admit this time I was kind of amazed at how accurate Moore was. (Though admittedly his critiques apply mostly to the superhero and blockbuster varieties.) Maybe that’s a power you get when you’re a wizard.

On the other hand, I tried again this winter, and I still can’t get through Promethea. What a chore. It seems like being a wizard has its bad sides, too.

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Junk Rules


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

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As promised, here I’ll delve into some American and Japanese manga. But first, an aside. Does it seem odd that Tim and I are digging into mostly mainstream titles? It is, a little. For my part, in some ways the obscure stuff seems easy, and I’m more interested at the moment in trying to understand the popular stuff. I really like good genre stories the way I like, say, that new Nelly Furtado song. They do something that nothing else does—it’s very pure entertainment, not to heavy, not too light. Just fun for me. And I’ve had way more fun with this stuff than with my periodic dips into the superhero mainstream. In fact, I’m kind of hooked in the same way I get hooked on shows like “24”. These comics are unvarnished, unpretentious works—they’re very well crafted and, operating on their own scale, very successful. Ultimately that’s the present appeal for me. Underground-or-whatever-we’re-calling-them comics are so often interior affairs (except our beloved Hernandez Bros. and Bagge) all too infrequent (except for Kevin Huizenga’s Or Else series, which thankfully just keeps popping up) and mainstream comics are by and large burdened by untenable ambitions, so Manga is a good middle ground. Also, unhampered by genre constraints, most manga is concerned primarily with telling plot-based stories, which is, believe it or not, rare in this narrative medium.

First up is the first three volumes of the 10-volume Dragon Head by Minetaro Mochizuki. It’s a pitch black apocalyptic story that begins with a massive underground train disaster which is survived by just three teenagers: Teru, Ako and Nobou. The first two books form a scarily meditative narrative of life underground, as psychological phantoms and physical depravation take hold of the kids. The third finds them wandering out into a blurry, decimated Japanese landscape. Despite it’s disaster-movie trappings, Dragon Head is very much about the interaction between the survivors. It’s essentially a plot-driven character study. And while I sometimes cringe at the cartoon acting here, as well as the overdone anime-style storytelling, what occurs within the story is compelling. Mochzuki manages to make convey the shattering conditions without dipping into gratuity or melodrama. The tone is just right, and it’s quite scary.

Monster by Naoki Urasawa is a wonderfully histrionic murder mystery/soap opera. Pitched somewhere between Days of Our Lifes and Alfred Hitchcock, it follows an ambitious young doctor through his up and down career, which includes sinuous ties to a string of murders and the killer himself. It’s all rather complicated, but, as with Dragon Head, addictive. I’ve only read the first volume but certainly want to continue, if only to find out what happens. Is it great comics? Not really, but it’s extremely proficient. Monster does exactly what it needs to, and the spiraling melodrama (sex, death, doctors, etc etc) is fun. It lifts you up and takes you with it. That may be the secret of this kind of storytelling: it’s insistent and immersive, demanding that you both continue reading and actively empathize with the characters.

Well, that’s it for now. I can’t quite tell how insightful I’m able to be about the stuff. It’s very pleasurable, which as Jules Feiffer made clear in his The Great Comic Book Heroes, is the appeal of so much junk. But it’s summer and junk rules. Next time I’ll try out Scott Pilgrim.

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