Sunday, January 02, 2005

Today's Reads

I'm taking a lazy day, just sitting on the couch reading the comics I've had piling up for a while.

Scandalous - J. Torres and Scott Chantler's original graphic novel about gossip columnists in 1950s Hollywood, at the height of McCartthy's communist hunt was an intriguing read.

I'm not really that up on the history of what went on during those times, but it certainly seems like the creators did work to make it seem believable. With fodder for the columns being nods to famous people and situations of the era, like Rock Hudson and Lucille Ball.

Whether the story is historical accurate or not, the things the characters go through are still very relevant today. With groups and individuals trying to ban anything and anyone they see as Un-American, which amounts to anyone who disagrees with them.

Which isn't too far different from what our country today is dealing with still in the wake of 9/11. Where if you disagree with certain choices the government has made/is making, you can be quickly hammered using the same terms.

Even a Monkey Can Draw Manga - While it goes off into awkward tangents that aren't nearly as funny as the creators behind them think they are. With a bit too much time spent laughing at themselves and disgusting humor about bodily waste.

It does have some intriguing insights into some of the nuances behind drawing that I hadn't seen attention show before. Such as drawing panel borders, which seem like something so simple. Yet in manga the design of which can say a lot about what type of work you're doing.

The art of swiping from others work is covered as well in some detail, and talking about how different it is thought of in Japan than here.

Yet most interesting is the breakdown of some of the various genres manga covers. Especially the look at how the "hero" of the Shojo (girls manga) has evolved over time. As well as a brief discussion of the differences between manga for girls and manga for women.

The book didn't really teach me how to draw anything, but it was certainly an interesting read to see some insights that I'm still new to manga to have realized yet.

Boys Over Flowers #8 & 9 - The poor girl who goes to a rich kids school, Tsukushi Makino, faces even further challenges in these volumes. When Tsukasa, the rich boy "bully", who has fallen in love with her finds her with his friend Rui.

Tsukasa tries to have them both expelled from school, only to encounter interference from his older sister who doesn't want to see him throw a friendship and potential relationship away.

It is sort of hard to really figure out why I enjoy this series. It has some pretty wacky themes that go fairly far a field, and the characters all do things that can be unlikeable. Yet the romantic triangles, fights, clothes designs and all just come together to make it work.

The closest I can come to describing this would be, that it reminds me of what Archie Comics would be like if the center was on Betty. Yet the school she goes to is compromised completely of Reggies and Veronicas, though her influence slowly starts to change things.

Othello #2 - Yaya is a shy girl, who always went along and never spoke/stood up for herself no matter how badly her so called friends treated her. She has a secret from even herself though, because in her is another personality known as Nana.

Nana doesn't take crap from anyone, and she doesn't have to as she can beat up anyone who threatens her. Plus she has no fear or embarrassment about herself, summed up perfectly by herself in this volume with "I don't hold myself back. If I want to do something, I do it."

Which allows her to do things that many other people can only dream about, though in this volume we learn that she hasn't really thought much on what exactly she wants to do.

I thought I had this series figured out after volume one, with Yaya being kept in the dark about her own secret life. Along with her personalities being so different that few others in the book could see they were one and the same as well. Surely that would be enough fodder to fill up multiple volumes.

Yet this volume moved all of those themes forward in gigantic leaps that surprised me. Not so fast that they seem forced or too rapid, just surprising because I'm so used to ideas being milked until they have very little appeal left.

Yet this volume kept some of the heart of what makes the book so intriguing, the Nana personality is very much an empowering almost superhero level vigilante fantasy figure, but has moved them forward in order to open up other story possibilities. While also making me wonder where the story will go from here.


Shawn Fumo said...

Even A Monkey Can Draw Manga I think it an interesting case. As far as I know, it is primarily a parody of the How To Draw Manga books (which existed in Japan as well). I think it is a bit more resonant if you've already read those kinds of books, since it is poking fun not just at manga cliches but the cliches of teaching as well.

However, as you said, it also ends up having some insights of its own which are pretty interesting.

James Schee said...

Yeah that would make their "We are one step closer to achieving our dream!" stuff make more sense to be a parody.

Still as you say they make some good points, as a lot of great criticism comes from humor in my experience.