Western Comic: The Black Feather Falls

May 14th, 2017

Having fun at a comic show is a matter of making fun for yourself. If you like celebrity and media premieres, the big Comic-Con shows are a good bet. If you like spending time with comic artists you like, smaller shows are the way to go. And if you, like me, rejoice in explosions of creativity in independent comics, then shows that celebrate people who make, read and love comics are  a lot of fun. Of all the shows I attend, Comitia, TCAF, MoCCA and Queers & Comics are the ones that I enjoy the most. Not because I don’t love a three-ring media circus or 10,000 vendors all crammed into a huge space, but because of the sheer energy of creativity.

Today I am enjoying the final day of the Toronto Comics Arts Festival in Toronto and thought it a great day to speak of a comic I picked up at the MoCCA Fest in NYC,  sponsored by the Society of Illustrators after they acquired the titular Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art. 

This year I went primarily to see a lot of people I already knew and throw money at them. I picked up the print version of Power & Magic there and literally spent my last few buck on today’s acquisition. 

Ellen Lindner’s The Black Feather Falls, is the Agatha Christie-esque murder mystery comic with a team of women leads that I needed. 

Tina Swift is an American living in 1920s London, in hopes of avoiding familial pressure to marry and  to get herself a career. Tina is working as a shopgirl, but hopes to become a newspaper reporter. When she attempts to see a man about a newspaper job, she encounters a dead man on the street, next to which a black feather has fallen.  Also strangely, she cannot find the man with whom she was supposed to meet at the paper. Instead she encounters his snarky, somewhat bitter secretary, Miss MacInteer. 

The absence of MacInteer’s boss and the black feather, launch Swift and MacInteer into a massive mystery that involves strangely insular islands off the coast of Scotland and the London underworld. The two women come to rely on and trust one another and, in the end turn up to be a great team of reporters…and detectives.

There isn’t any relationship developing between Swift and MacInteer in this story. The book itself is rated appropriate for all ages, and lacks significant violence or sex. That said, don’t underestimate the power of fandelusion. I could easily see them having an ill-advised fling. ^_^

But, more importantly, a team of adventuress-detectives have been born and I know I need more of those!

Ratings:

Art – 7 Not sophisticated, but fun
Story – 8 We all need a little female detective teamwork from time to time
Characters – 8 They rub each other the wrong way, but make a good team, just the way they should
Yuri – 0 for real, 2 inside my head
Service – 0

Overall – 8

So if you too enjoy a spot of original comics story-telling and all the 1920’s detective pairs you can get, you’ll want to take a look at The Black Feather Falls

Send to Kindle


LGBTQ Comic: Princess Princess Ever After

May 12th, 2017

There is a (probably apocryphal) story about the late Joseph Campbell, when teaching a class about his now-classic Hero’s Journey Monomyth. The story says that at the end of a lecture on the Arthurian quest legends about the Holy Grail, one of his students asked why there were no roles in the legends with which women could identify. Campbell was puzzled and pointed out that women are present as the hero’s mother, the hero’s queen, and the damsel-in-distress. “What more do you want?” he asked. “I want to be the hero.” the student replied.”

I recall that it was Bill Moyers telling that story, but itw as also a long time ago and I could be so very wrong. But the story itself, when I heard it had me nodding like a melodramatic bobble head. Of course, you stupid-smart old man. OF COURSE we want to be the hero. How and why this confused Campbell and still confuses an awful lot of men is the history of western civilization and beyond the scope of this blog. But, what is dead-center in this blog’s wheelhouse is a story that does not need to be convinced of this simple truth. Princess Princess Ever After by Katie O’Neill is a lifetime’s worth of itch-scratching and fantasy fulfillment suitable for the youngest or oldest child you know.

Princess Amira cuts a fine figure in uniform, with her fabulous hair, riding on her unicorn mount, Celeste. And when she encounters Sadie, a princess who has been imprisoned in a tall tower, she’s sure that’s she’s found both the perfect monumental adventure, and princess, for her. But first, she has to convince Sadie to be rescued. And then both Sadie and Armina must work together to face challenges and ogres and traumatic pasts. But since they do it together, you just know they’ll triumph in the end.

Although my childhood self might have scoffed at the simplicity of the tale here (she was prone to reading the story of Marco Polo, tales of Robin Hood and King Arthur in overblown faux-medieval prose) she would definitely, positively appreciated Armina’s uniform, her unicorn and her love for Sadie.

Ratings:

Art – 8 Fun and comic strip-y
Characters – 9 Ogres and unicorns and dragons and princesses. I’m all in.
Story – 9 Ichijinsha needs to read this, then take another crack at Yuri Light Novels. See? It’s easy!
Yuri – 9 and utterly adorable
Service – Nope. Well, there’s Armina in a uniform….

Overall – 9

Do the adventurous girl children you know a favor and buy them an early holiday present. Heck, buy them a not-holiday present. And get a copy of Princess Princess Ever After for yourself, so you can dream of dancing with ogres and facing bullies down and give ole misogynist Joseph Campbell the finger. ^_^

Send to Kindle


Marine Corps Yumi Manga, Volume 5 (まりんこゆみ)

May 11th, 2017

I made it all the way to the end of Marine Corps Yumi, Volume 5 (まりんこゆみ) before completely losing my shit.

In Volume 5,we start getting into the nitty gritty of non-com life as an American marine stationed in Japan. A large portion of the book is about joint training with the Navy, Army Air Force and the Japanese Self-Defense Forces, which includes a discussion for the Japanese readership of the crucial difference between the pronunciation of “Corps” and “corpse.”

Of course the reactions to the quarters and food vary significantly and some of the best bit are when the Marines look at their new space and think “Kkay” while the Army begins to complain and the Navy women are like “Cool! Look at all the SPACE!” 

Yumi acquits herself so well she’s “traded” to the JSDF for a while and we get important, super critical analyses on Japanese and American junk food (apparently we die without donuts,) and the rituals that accompany the ends of joint training, such as trading clothing items, like overshirts.

We get to see corpsman Erica Bush be actively horrible to anyone who needs help (“I’ve been cut.” “Here’s a bottle of water, now get lost.” “I have a broken bone.” “Here’s a bottle of water, now get lost!”) except Linda to whom she is overattentive. ^_^ 

Rita meets a guy working for the JSDF and there were more than a few autobiographical shades in that story. ^_^

It was all very amusing and I didn’t get choked up once.

Until the final pages, which included pictures from Ana’s memorial service, including – and this is where I lost it – a display of her challenge coins.  That was it. Goddammit, Ana. Seriously pissed you’re not here.

Ratings:

Art – 8
Story – 8 This volume had a lot of laugh-out-loud moments
Characters – 8
Yuri – 3, But Erica’s a complete dick about it. ^_^
Service – 5 

Overall – 9

Marine Corps Yumi is still ongoing in Japanese and I’m still tuning in regularly. It’s funny and poignant. Thank you Nogami-sensei for keeping it going. 

 

Send to Kindle


Revolutionary Girl Utena Manga, Volume 1 (English)

May 10th, 2017

A few years ago, we had the 15th anniversary re-release of the Revolutionary Girl Utena anime from Nozomi/RightStuff, and this year we have the Revolutionary Girl Utena Manga Complete Deluxe Box Set from Viz Media! And what a deluxe set it is.

This two-volume set of all 6 volumes of the manga (5 for the TV series, one for the movie) drawn by Saito Chiho, in collaboration with Be-Papas, comes in a black box that provides a similar kind of gravitas that the anime packaging provided, with beautiful rose-themed design work in both black glossy on black matte and in color. 

Volume 1 has the pink color theme of the first of the anime arcs, a nice nod to an established color scheme.

Each volume comes with color page inserts from the magazine run and covers of the manga. The collection also includes a poster of Anthy and Utena, suitable for any Yuri fan and guaranteed to have you singing Rinbu Revolution as soon as you see it.

Unlike most manga series that come out at the same time as an anime, the Revolutionary Girl Utena manga is not a literal rendering of the anime at all, but a separate tale, using the same characters and elements that existed in the anime. The rose sigil, the dueling ground, Akio’s car, the planetarium projector all exist here, as they did in the anime. But they do not necessarily mean (or not mean) the same things. Where the anime went for visual effect, the manga relies on shoujo manga tropes of emotional relationships, complications and manipulation.

Compared to the anime, the manga is short, tight, and deeply complicated. When we meet her, Tenjou Utena is very apparently a very young, immature girl with a dream of a Prince that has extremely tenuous roots in reality. It becomes quickly apparent that everything around Utena has extremely tenuous roots in reality. And, when Utena arrives at Ohtori Academy, this does not change.

Where, in the anime, we spend a lot of time with the Student Council, here in the manga they swiftly take a second seat to Ohtori Akio. In the anime, Akio is insidious and horrible, here he is overtly manipulative and power hungry. His honesty about his desires for power and his use of Utena to that end doesn’t make him any less loathsome. What is significantly different is the character of Touga who appeared to be manipulated almost until the very end of the anime here defects to Utena’s side and acts in part as a Greek Chorus, explaining the whims of the gods, and part as a Virgil to Utena’s Dante.

Speaking of shoujo tropes, the relationships portrayed in the manga are almost all toxic. Non-consensual kisses and slapping are common. There is a lot of slapping in these 3 volumes. A lot. Even when it doesn’t really serve any function, or move the story forward. By the time Saionji hauls off on Anthy the last time, in the bonus curry explosion chapter, you can be forgiven for thinking Anthy wouldn’t mind seeing them all dead.

Ratings:

Art- 8 Good, solid, sensual, beautiful but compared to her current outstanding work in Torikaebaya it’s almost simplistic.
Story – 7 Uncomfortable making, weird, and still, strangely hopeful.
Characters – 7 Not as fully developed as in the anime. Everyone seems slightly more delusional.
Service – 5 Creepy non-con seductions and slapping so…mostly violence against women’s autonomy
Yuri- 1 Only if you’re reading anything into Anthy and Utena’s relationship which, as of yet, has not developed beyond lies.

Overall – 8 for content , 9 for presentation

It’s equally as uncomfortable as the anime, although in different ways. I like that Akio is more overtly horrible, but am sad that it’s at the loss of fully developed Student Council.

When I read this series the first time back in 1998 or so, when I remember that it was very difficult for me to read the word “hyou” (leopard) for the longest time. Yes, I know there is a leopard on the page. I wanted to find a official translation…and couldn’t. It moved me to buy my first Japanese dictionary. ^_^

Send to Kindle


Yuri Animation: Asagao to Kase-san Clip on Youtube

May 8th, 2017

Via YNN Special Correspondent Verso S., the animation clip being developed for Takashima Hiromi’s Asagao to Kase-san series has gone up on Youtube. Check out this “Kimi ni Hikari” starring Yamada-san and Kase-san, accompanied by, “Kimi no Egao” sung by Oku Hanako.

If you like the clip, please consider giving it a “like” and a comment on Youtube.

And then we all sit back and wonder, is this a teaser for something more? Is this testing the waters? Whiat, we have to wonder, is this clip for?

Well…

We didn’t have to wonder long, though because on Sunday the Asagao_Anime official twitter account sent out a post asking people what they thought of the clip…and asked for feed back….And commented that maybe full series might be in the works if they got enough response.

 

The official account has shown themselves fluent in English so, if you’re on Twitter, feel free to let them know what you think there, as well.

In all honesty, I thought this to be a genuinely beautiful animation of Takashima-sensei’s art. I’ll admit to grinning through the whole clip. ^_^

Here’s hoping that we’ll get a Kase-san anime!

Send to Kindle