Archive for November, 2008

In praise of small victories

It’s a running joke that I can’t manage anything in book form that doesn’t have pictures.  For a while, the only two novels I managed to get through after my son’s birth were Koushun Takami’s Battle Royale, and Yasunari Kawabata’s Sound of the Mountain.  And Sound of the Mountain took me a whole year to read.

It’s funny, in both a laughable and ridiculous way, that reading – active reading – and actual thinking (thinking!) is now part of my job – especially since I consider it a major accomplishment to sit down and finish a book.  That said, I’m happy to announce that I’m back to reading books, real books, and the first book that I’ve had the privilege of reading (that isn’t a sex manual, or Japanese pulp) is Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers: the Story of Success.

A lot of times success is attributed to the superstars and brands that we all recognize.  And Gladwell dissects this.  But the other thing that he does, is scale down success, and praise small victories – something that we can all appreciate.  For myself, I’m always surprised when any modicum of accomplishment shows itself in my home.  However, when the sofa’s clear of books, my son’s socks match, the reviews are filed, the interview done; when I manage to remember to check pockets before doing the laundry so that I’m not opening up a washer to an explosion of leaves and sticks and other sundry once-live items; and I manage to get a hot, homecooked meal onto the table for dinner, that’s when I know that success lurks even here.

Here’s a link to more of my thoughts on success and my review of Outliers.  My return to prose is brought to you in part, by Playboy.com.

Leave a Comment

this week’s edition of PW

…has a sweet little manga story that I did about Eiji Han Shimizu’s collective, Emotional Content.  I actually spoke with Eiji-san quite a bit for this story, and found out that he’s ethnically Korean (hence his middle name, Han).  Korea and JP do not have the best history, and Koreans – N. Koreans in particular – are pretty much treated as second class citizens.  Up until recently, it was mandate that all Koreans (and other foreigners) be fingerprinted.  And Koreans in Japan have a history of struggle and thuggery since, for most, the yakuza were the only ones doing any hiring.

So it kind of made Eiji’s success in Japan, in culling this collective of artists and creators, and in aspiring to have some sort of positive impact on the world, the type of story that I wanted to do right by.  I see a lot of ambition in this city; people aspiring to greatness.  Sometimes, it’s humbling to meet someone who’s aspiring to a common good that we all can share in.

Leave a Comment

Unrelated: something sweet to put a warm smile on your face

I think cupcakes are a wonderful thing.  And anyone who knows me knows that I consider cupcakes to be God’s gift to frosting.

I’ve blogged about baker extraordinaire, Tawny Ong, and lo!  The Faerie Princess of Spun Sugar and Chocolate Ganache is holding a cupcake soiree! Yea, baby!  Modern Vintage Designs and Spoon+Fork Studio will also be hosting.

This will be taking place tomorrow night at the Point Studio, hpgrp gallery, on Little West 12th St., from 6-9.  Be sure to RSVP to hold a space.  In fact, it may be too late.  Haha, yeah, I posted late on purpose.  But if you do secure a spot, come early; my son and I have the most charming habit of licking the frosting off the tops of the small, cup-shaped cakes, and then putting them back on the serving platter.  Just a little trick we picked up from touring the pre-K to 3rd-grade birthday party circuit.

Kuroda-sensei’s Mad Flower show is also currently on exhibit at hpgrp, and will be up ’til Dec. 14th.  Checkitout!

Leave a Comment

When you’re all alone, and mourning the death of your boyfriend….

Sometimes the only thing to do is pick-up his guitar and slam out all his songs in a crowd of people – just to heal your own broken heart.

Volume 2 of Solanin, the last installment in Inio Asano’s subtle, post-college, slice-of-life seinen manga, is out now.

Comments (2)

All Naruto, all the time – again

In a time when everything around us seems to be falling, manga is still something of a constant.  Sales have slowed, but slow sales still = sales, and manga has gone from hare to tortoise, plodding along, but a sure contender in the race nonetheless.

The industry’s stronghold is still putting the rest to shame: news of the Naruto Shippuden anime finding a home on Crunchyroll hit inboxes and blogs this morning – the deal negotiated with Shueisha no less (Shueisha, the “Media” in “Viz Media” and the “Shu” in “Sho-Shu Productions”).  Naruto will be available on Crunchyroll an hour after it airs in Japan – for Cruncyroll subscribers only.

Meanwhile, Viz Media will be streaming Naruto anime on their official Naruto site (www.Naruto.com) starting January 15th – and for FREE.  So take that, Crunchyroll!

Viz will also be placing Naruto manga on an accelerated release schedule moving through volumes 34 to 44 from February to April of next year.

By now, a few of us (like my editor, Calvin Reid, and the insightful crew at icv2) have picked up on Naruto’s anomaly status.  Not every manga will move over 2million copies (in the U.S. alone).  Over at PW, Jim Milliot reports on a drop in bookstore sales for September.  Is Naruto immune to the dips and falls of consumer spending?  And what will happen to manga with weaker sales?

(Incidentally, if you head over to Viz’s Naruto website, they’ve got a visual of Naruto with the kanji “ho” and “kage” written on his hand.  This visual really made an impact on me because the lines and creases in our hands are the entire story of our lives – our birth, our death, our destiny – what we carry around with us everyday.  And Naruto has written over that, essentially choosing his own destiny.  Everyone who’s read Naruto knows how badly he wants to become Hokage, so that he’s drawn with the kanji written into his hand is pretty amazing.  Just another reason why Kishimoto-sama is the man.)

I love Naruto as much as the next, but I do worry about a lot of the excellent manga out there that may get the snub when there is so much Naruto to contend with.  (i.e. Parasyte, one of my faves, and of course, my beloved GANTZ – vol. 2 of which is out now, with vol. 3 coming out at the end of December.)  I’m probably way off in my assumptions of the demographic, but Naruto is aging older, and I feel like the cosplayers I saw over the summer (cosplaying in Naruto garb) were all approaching their 20’s.

Regardless, Naruto lives on.  Hopefully other licenses will thrive in the same climate.

Comments (1)

Tough times

Emerging from my manga/Obama hangover and the comics web is aflurry with debate, riled up, their knickers in a twist.  Chip Kidd vs. Kuwata, creator credit vs. brand recognition, new vs. old, Batman vs. Lord Death Man.  Just thinking about it has got my panties in a tangle – which is rather uncomfortable since I’m still wearing them – and since there was no school yesterday, a karate tournament over the weekend, and a take-home field trip as part of homework, I’m keeping me and my undies out of the debate since I’m back to chasing deadlines and giving thanks to RedBull for giving me wings.

I will, however, do a little to address the rumor going around about Vertical, Inc and their lay-off.  One thing about said rumor that caught my attention is this: “laid off a number of people”.  That’s the red light right there.  Vertical is a small publisher so if they laid off a number of people, that would be the sound of them hitting the skids.  And they’re not.  I spoke to Ioannis Mentzas at Vertical and while Vertical is looking for new financing, and while they are postponing the release of certain novels (and who hasn’t?), if anyone can weather this financial tumult, it’s them.  Remember Buddha?  Those hardcover editions almost brought the publisher down.  And this was Tezuka during the teen manga craze of 2004 and 2005, not the neo-rennaissance of today’s gekiga and cross-over art house comics readers.  Additionally, Vertical’s past financers have been in Japan.  That’s not to say that their new financer will be Japanese, but it’s simply me pointing out that the Nikkei fluctuates while the Dow plummets.  So.  Vertical’s summer catalog has come out, they’re got a line of cookbooks coming out (which I blogged about during NYAF), they’ve got their Aranzi Aranzo cute/bad/evil DIY craft books, their BlackJack, and I think they’ll be okay.

But if these rumors have got your panties in a twist and you’re all about buying up the hardcover editions of Buddha, grabbing your own copy of MW or Ode to Kirihito (or both) because you don’t think Vertical will be around for much longer, go ahead.  It can’t hurt.

Comments (2)

President Barack Hussein Obama

Leave a Comment

Older Posts »