Archive for October, 2008

Bat-Manga and Japan©

If you missed last night’s BatManga presentation with Chip Kidd at the Strand Bookstore, fear not.  You can watch it on StrandTV.  Watch to the end where Kidd mentions having gathered material for a volume 2 – which means certain story arcs in BatManga could actually be completed.  Yay!  The cliff-hangers in BatManga have thrown off the balance in my house, utterly frustrating my son and leaving me to pick-up the pieces.  “Dude,” I tell him, “It’s just not that kinda book.”  Well, maybe it really could be that kinda book.

This week is also the last week of Japan© at Fellisimo Design House.  Show ends Saturday.  Head over to check it out – and bring home a piece of contemporary Japan.  Some of the items being exhibited are for sale.

The garden necklace – the sprout is real

the plant necklace to scale

electric candlesticks

microwave cooker/steamer

the microwave cupcake maker

My favorite: the bread slicer.  It doesn’t actually slice bread, but if you look closely, you’ll see it’s for measuring the width of the slice, so that you have a slice of bread of uniform thickness every time you use it.  This is not a good description.  But basically, this contraption is one that’s got my friends convinced that I’m a retard because I think it’s brilliant.

Anyhow, it’s worth checking out for all the ingenious little items that they’ve got on display – things that you won’t actually find at Mitsuwa or at Sunrise.


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It must be Wednesday

Lately, I’ve been trying to keep on top of all the garbage that accumulates in my handbag – rubber bands, acorns, paperclips, pens, scraps of paper, lip-gloss, twigs, dried leaves.  It don’t always work, hence the brittle, dry, leaves.

But the fun thing about it is that you can always tell the season, the time of day, the day of the week, just by taking a peek inside.  In the summer, the leaves are replaced by sand. Sundays I’m usually on Mott or Grand St., so you’ll find packages of instant ramen, fuji apples, red grapes, green papaya, and bitter melon sticking out of my purse.  On Tuesdays homework comes home so that fat yellow folder my son drags around finds its way into my bag.  As for Wednesdays, well, sometimes Wednesdays are magic.

Most my comics forays are to Forbidden Planet, where today, in addition to picking up a copy of the Diamond Previews, I managed to stuff the Viz Big edition of Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball into my purse, along with volume 3 of Fairy Tail.

I’ve already complained about the valley of books that has taken over my apartment, so it can be difficult to rationalize bringing more home.  But my son has gone from Fairy Tail, to One Piece, to Dragon Ball in a succession of three short months.  And seeing the influences that Toriyama has had on manga creators like Oda and Mashima is like watching this linear progression in shonen manga unfold in simultaneous hyperspeed.

The humor, the sexiness, the parallel realities – these elements entwine themselves fluidly in Toriyama’s world and are lifted for Oda’s pirate adventure and Mashima’s bad-ass wizard’s club.  But what I really admire about One Piece and Fairy Tail, is the sense of homage that both pay to Dragon Ball.  Toriyama’s influence doesn’t feel like something stolen or capitalized on for profit, but like a thorough recycling.  Reading One Piece is a way of studying how fully Eiichiro Oda absorbed Toriyama’s style so that he could use it as his own.  People will talk about how manga creators grew up on manga, but actually seeing it (seeing the influence) brings a new depth to those kinds of statements.  These guys have grown up on Toriyama, breathed it like it was their air, so that it’s this vital part of them, a reflex.  And with each chapter in One Piece and Fairy Tail, they’re flexing their Toriyama muscle.

I haven’t yet showed my son the Viz Big edition – I’m a little worried that he’ll have an 8-year-old’s version of an aneurysm – but given the amount of sleep we’ve been losing from giggling ourselves silly during bed time over all the jokes made in Dragon Ball, I’m pretty sure the Dragon Ball marathon starts after Halloween.  I just hope we find a way to laugh ourselves to sleep.

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One week to go

Brigid‘s got a good pre-Election Day tip sheet to get us ready for the big day, and the breakdown is pretty much this:

“As you know, November 4 is Election Day. This year, there will probably be a strong voter suppression effort to keep certain people—college students, people of color, people in urban districts—from voting. There are news articles about various regions, but really, anyone is vulnerable.

This problem is much more easily dealt with before Election Day, so please, if you have recently moved or haven’t voted in a while, or if you just like to nail things down, take some time today to make sure your voter registration is in order.”

To review:

– Make sure you are registered

– if your state has early an early voting option and you know who you want to vote for, vote early

– Bring a form of government issued ID with you to the polls – in addition to a recent utility bill as proof of residency.

– Go early in the day if possible

– Be prepared to wait in line

Some reading material you might consider for the wait:

Koushun Takami’s Battle Royale (the novel, not the manga)

Parasyte by Iwaaki Hitoshi (always good reading for a crowded room)

Sho Fumimura’s Sanctuary (illustrated by none other than Ryoichi Ikegami)

And if you can read Japanese (although I don’t recommend reading any of these in public):

Jiro Matsumoto’s Freesia

HEAT by Yoshiyuki Okamura – pen name Sho Fumimura – also illustrated by Ikegami

Sanpei Shirato’s Ninja bugeicho

Lastly, if anyone is still undecided about this year’s election and the next four years to come, or just doesn’t want to get involved in American politics, there is always the option to not vote at all.

Something to consider.

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Here’s some late Monday news:  online distribution site Crunchyroll will be hosting the SlamDunk! anime.


Online Media Distribution Giant and Leading Animation Production Studio
Begin Online Streaming, Subscription and Download-To-Own of Many Titles

San Francisco, CA and Tokyo, Japan (October 27, 2008) — One of the most
prolific animation production studios, Toei Animation Co., Ltd., is
partnering with online media distribution giant, Crunchyroll, to provide
streaming, subscription and download-to-own options for some of the several
popular anime titles to begin October 27, 2008.  More information can be
found at <> .

“A partnership with Toei Animation is fantastic for Crunchyroll and the
anime industry in the U.S. and international markets,” states Mr. Kun Gao
Crunchyroll CEO, “it is great validation to have one of the oldest, largest
Japanese animation studios using our platform to bring anime to a much
larger audience and monetize through new digital channels.”

Toei Animation Co., Ltd.’s Mr. Kanji Kazahaya, Director of International
Department, states, “we are excited and thrilled to be working with
Crunchyroll on developing our digital business.  We believe that digital
distribution holds the potential to improve the economics of our studio
rather than weaken it and Crunchyroll is a great company to work with
because of its reach and unique approach to end users.”

Viz released the SD manga by Takehiko Inoue this past September and there was some nervous murmurings and speculation as to how well it would do in the U.S. market (which sports manga hasn’t made much headway in).  But hey, if Del Rey is feeling positive about bacteria/agriculture manga (Moyashimon), then sports manga’s gotta have a chance – expecially if it’s SlamDunk!

Oh, and incidentally, if anyone’s curious about the bacteria manga, Moyashimon anime is available on Crunchyroll, too. ^_^

(links will be provided after dinner and homework)

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More movement

Ginee Seo of Simon&Schuster’s Atheneum imprint steps down and Ginee Seo Books folds.

Seo Stepping Down at S&S

By John A. Sellers — Publishers Weekly, 10/23/2008

Ginee Seo, v-p and editorial director of Ginee Seo Books, an imprint of Atheneum Books for Young Readers at Simon & Schuster, has resigned from her position with the publisher, according to an internal memo sent earlier this week by Atheneum v-p and publisher Emma Dryden.

Seo joined Atheneum in 2000 as v-p and associate publisher and launched her eponymous imprint in 2005 with Totally Joe by James Howe and Inexcusable by Chris Lynch, a National Book Award finalist. More recent titles from Ginee Seo Books include the Bob Dylan picture book Forever Young, illustrated by Paul Rogers; and Nic Sheff’s bestselling memoir Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines.

Seo’s last day in the office will be October 30, but she will continue to work with S&S on a freelance basis on the titles that were to have been published by her imprint in 2009 and 2010; those books will be published as Atheneum titles.

The past year has seen several changes at editor-driven children’s imprints at major houses, including the resignations of Laura Geringer and Joanna Cotler from their eponymous imprints at HarperCollins, as well as the formation of two new imprints, HarperCollins’s Bowen Press, headed by Brenda Bowen, and S&S’s Beach Lane Books, with Allyn Johnston at the helm.

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Panty raid!

Last night was the launch of Yasumasa Yonehara’s photo exhibit at the Barry Friedman gallery down in Chelsea.  Mr. Yonehara was on hand to meet and greet and was also signing copies of his book of photos, Tokyo Amour.

Tons of hipsters and creepy men came to show their support (most of whom were my friends – the creepy old men, not the hipsters.)  The installation was prurient and voyeuristic, but incredibly playful and sincere with some girls exhibiting a sexuality that somehow mirrored purity. The energy in the gallery reeked of intimacy and a palpable anticipation as cameras were whipped out to take photos of the girls in the photos.  Naturally, I joined in:

“I don’t tell them what to do.” Mr. Yonehara said of his subjects when I met him.  “I tell them to be natural.  I tell them ‘do whatever you want.’  They choose the pose.”

Interestingly, most of the girls posed in the same or similar fashion.  I asked if the girls were models or pros, and Yonehara-san said that some were former models, some were porn stars, but some were ordinary girls.  “I want to show the reactions of the girls, their personality, their cute, sexy, beauty.”

Cute and sexy does not tend to go over well in this country – especially if the “cute” is in a girlish sense and the “sexy” is in an undressed sense.  So I asked Mr. Yonehara to explain the “cute-sexy” phenomenon in Japan.  “In Japan, we have a feeling, a shy, embarrassed feeling.  So, if we become totally sexy, there is a shy part.  Those shy parts become cute.  The shy parts, for the generation in their 20’s, they want to show it off.  Sexy+cute is key for girls in their teens and 20’s.  I want to help that feeling to come out.  Because they’re beautiful.”

Mr. Yonehara outside the Red Room.  The Red Room is essentially a room lit in redlight and wallpapered with close-up shots of naked female torsoes. But Yonehara-san took most of his photos for this exhibit with a Japanese instant camera, Cheki, much like an American Poloroid:

The idea is to capture the girls on film right at that moment –  to neither edit nor doctor the film – and capture/create a feeling of immediacy and affection.

Many happy men at the show including Rich Hahn who I met at MoCCA a few years ago and does LumaKick

Rich almost didn’t make it to the exhibit last night.  But I’m pretty sure that he’s happy he did.

Lisa Chen, who’s book of poetry, Mouth, was published last February by KAYA, was also in attendance to make this astute observation about the show: “It kinda makes you wanna get an Asian girlfriend.”

John Nee, who I wrangled into coming, agreed: “Yes, it does.”

Meanwhile, I hung out in the Red Room with my friend Mark, who kept it cool:

and took photos of me documenting the evening.

IMG_1644 by makrs amrk

Here I am with Rika and Mr. Yonehara.

IMG_1656 by makrs amrk

Shooting John.

IMG_1659 by makrs amrk

Mark gets a photo of me in the Red Room.  I actually wanted to stand by the wall papered with ass-shots, but Mark kept telling me “This is good!  This is good!”

IMG_1646 by makrs amrk

Mark’s favorite girl.  If you look up his flickr page, he’s got two different shots of this same exact image.  But in keeping with theme of plurality in the show, one is never enough.

The evening proved inspirational as the crowd ballooned with curious spectators.  By the end of the night, I overheard one man express his enthusiasm for Yonehara: “This guy’s my hero.  I wanna do this.”

Many thanks to Rika for inviting me to the show, introducing me to Mr. Yonehara and translating our conversation!  Is there anything Ms. Rika cannot do?  And to Mr. Yonehara for taking my questions despite a number of friends urgently pulling at his sleeves for a tour of his work.

The show will be up at Barry Friedman until December 20th – the day before my birthday! – so check it out and feel the warmth.

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Yen Press in Orbit

Just pulled this out of my inbox: a press release fr. Hachette announcing that it’s sci-fi /fantasy imprint, Orbit, and Yen Press will be combined into a single division within Hachette – all under the Orbit name.

Kurt Hassler will take on an old-new role as Yen Press Publishing Director.  Rich Johnson, Hassler’s other half (who started the imprint with Hassler and shared responsibilities as co-pub director) will be leaving Hachette.

Stay tuned for more.

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