Q: Can Batman defeat a pro wrestler in his natural element? --@ykarps
A: At first glance, this seems like one of the easiest questions I've ever tackled in this column. I mean, of course he could, right? He's Batman. While the rest of us were learning algebra in 8th grade, this dude was traveling across the world learning how to be the best possible expert at everything, just in case he needed it for his never-ending war on crime. Surely that would have to include professional wrestling, the King of Sports, if only because there's no other discipline that combines theatricality and combat in the way that would serve him so well back in Gotham City.
And yet, the more I think about it, the more I realize that, as shocking as it might be for me to say this as the World's Foremost Batmanologist... I doubt even Batman could beat a pro wrestler in his natural element.
I've never really been into Dragon Ball. I mean, look, yes, there was that brief period in high school where I was getting my one and only P.E. credit by taking a table-tennis class, and a friend of mine and I would kick off our shoes in the gym and claim that we had been using them to train in ten times Earth's gravity, but that was more down to being a couple of teenage goofballs than any particular love of the source material. I've seen the show, but I never bought a club shirt with Goku on it or anything, you know?
Even so, I was pretty curious about Jaco the Galactic Patrolman, a new manga from Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama. The only thing that was really holding me back was finding out that even though it was a self-contained story in one volume, it's tied into Dragon Ball, set in the same universe and serving as something of a prequel. I wasn't sure if I'd jump on, but then former CA contributor David Brothers offered to send me five bucks to cover the cost of the first volume if I didn't like it. It turns out that was a pretty safe bet, but I'm guessing he knew going in that it had a scene where a tiny spaceman punches out a monster shark.
The last twelve months offered comic book readers a wide variety of work ranging from the most crowd-pleasing superhero epics to the most idiosyncratic of indies, and the return of old favorites to the emergence of exciting new talent. It was a busy and productive year for the industry, and one we’re pleased to celebrate with what we’re certain will be an uncontroversial, unenumerated list of awards that will prompt only resounding agreement and unbroken fellowship amongst our readers in the comments below.
Takeshi Obata is an icon. His work on the horror manga phenomenon Death Note, with writer Tsugumi Ohba, defined horror for a generation of comic fans. The manga Hikaru no Go, with Yumi Hotta, spurred the ancient board game Go to sudden contemporary popularity in 1998. Another Ohba collaboration, Bakuman -- a manga about the creation of manga -- has over 15 million copies in circulation. Obata also illustrated the manga adaptation of All You Need is Kill, a military science fiction light novel by Hiroshi Sakurazaka that was recently adapted for the screen as Edge of Tomorrow.
And Obata's art is gorgeous. He handles Gothic triptychs and domestic scenes alike with incredible skill, bringing sociopaths, pop singers and teen artists to vibrant life. I keep copies of Death Note and Bakuman on my shelf of manga for "people who think they don’t like manga," because his work transcends the boundaries of fandom. He is a master, and he isn't even close to being done.
ComicsAlliance was thrilled to have the chance to speak with him at New York Comic Con 2014 about his work, his influences, and international success.
Friends, this is the sort of comic book movie news I enjoy writing about: Naoki Urasawa (Monster, 20th Century Boys, Pluto) can now add the honor of becoming the first manga author to have his work adapted into film in Spain. Spanish director Javier Yañez obtained the rights to one of Urasawa's early short stories, Mighty Boy, from publishers Shogakukan, gaining approval from the master himself in the process. Although the film was largely privately financed, Yañez took the initiative to crowd-funding platform IndieGogo in order to raise the final $10,000 it required, and now it's finished and available to watch in full, for free (subtitled in both English and Japanese).
I spent a bit of time trying to track down Urasawa's original story online, with no luck (it's not been translated in English, and was published as part of an anthology volume), so I'm unable to comment on how the adaptation translates, or how faithful it is, but I can tell you what the film is about and if it's any good.
It's no exaggeration to say that Shonen Jump is one of the cornerstones of manga. Since it started in 1968, the weekly anthology has given rise to some of the biggest titles in manga history, including One Piece, Dragon Ball, Yu Yu Hakusho, and more -- and, judging by the covers, an awful lot of stories about baseball.
And I know that, because I just spent a good amount of time browsing an incredible Flickr gallery from Sao Paolo, Brazil's Kami Sama Explorer Museum, where they've collected a massive amount of covers from Shonen Jump's 46-year history, going from the first issue in July of 1968 all the way up to 2009. It's fantastic to see them lined up next to each other, because you can see the evolution of some of the most dominant styles in manga as you browse through, but there are also a lot of really great individual covers. So before you head over and take a look at the full gallery, check out 20 of my favorites below!
Censorship is a serious issue. It's one of the reasons that we here at ComicsAlliance always show our support to organizations like the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and rally behind creators who have been subjected to governmental restrictions on their work.
Occasionally, though, there are incidents of people pushing to get books banned that slide right past concerning and directly into the world of hilarious ineptitude.
Such is the case with Reverend Phillip Missick of Texas's amazingly named King of Saints Tabernacle Church, who pushed for the Cleveland, TX public library to remove manga like Matsuri Hino's Vampire Knight from its library, owing, of course, to it being a demonic product of Satan that would drag otherwise saintly children directly into the gaping maw of Hell itself. That, of course, is nothing new. What makes it amazing is that he didn't stop there, going so far as to declare pretty much everything around the manga to be the product of Satan, including a few Harry Potter toys, a bouquet of dried roses, and the actual room itself to be "occultic and demonic."
Breakdown Press, currently the most interesting outfit operating in UK comics, continues apace with the publication of exciting book after exciting book. Earlier this year, in June, it announced the launch of a new line of translations of classic and avant garde Japanese comics in association with manga scholar and translator Ryan Holmberg (who previously worked with PictureBox in a similar capacity), the first of which was Seiichi Hayashi 1969 'blues manga,' Flowering Harbour.
The second book in the publisher's alternative manga line will be Masahiko Matsumoto's The Man Next Door, collecting four gekiga stories from the 1950s. The book will be released to coincide with the London Cartoon Museum’s Gekiga exhibition, which begins on September 23rd, and will be available online at the Breakdown Press store shortly after.
Felipe Smith lived the dream of a thousand starry-eyed DeviantArtists when, in 2008, his nerd-skewering masterpiece Peepo Choo debuted at Kodansha-owned manga magazine Morning 2. When asked about what went into accomplishing this feat — becoming fluent in Japanese, keeping pace with the manga industry’s rigorous schedule, being an American noticed by the manga industry at all — Smith is all shrugs and smiles. His work spans the globe, he’s completely reinvigorated Marvel’s Ghost Rider, and, as friends pop by his booth, he slides smoothly in and out of the three languages he speaks, but you know, no biggie. Smith takes it all in his stride.
Peepo Choo, a gleefully lurid tale of cultural fetishization, yakuza, teenage boys, and gravure idols, lies far afield from Ghost Rider in terms of content. But Smith’s zingy, earnest voice unites the two works, and it is this voice that makes Smith such an exciting creator with such a tantalizingly unpredictable future. ComicsAlliance sat down with him at San Diego Comic-Con to discuss living and working in Japan, nerd culture around the world, and what Robbie Reyes brings to the superhero table.
Vertical Inc. publishes manga about eating disorders, adorable cat antics, 18th century prostitutes, and murderous high school cults. It brings avant-garde creators like Kyoko Okazaki and Moyoco Anno to Western eyes right alongside classic Tezuka work and more mainstream shonen fare like Knights of Sidonia and Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin. I point to Vertical when friends ask me how to get into female manga creators, how to get into horror manga, how to get into josei (women’s) manga, or how to just take a break from the cycle of standard sci-fi and fantasy.
Vertcal is utterly singular and entirely necessary to the comics industry, and it was to the Vertical booth that I sped once the doors to the San Diego Comic-Con Exhibit Hall were open this year. After examining their new releases (I recommend In Clothes Called Fat, another glance into female anxiety courtesy of Moyoco Anno), I sat down with Ed Chavez, Vertical’s marketing director, to talk about past successes, present realities, and future plans.
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