A little bit delayed, but here are the final items on the list:
Now that I’ve seen part of the adorable anime series, I keep wondering what Kiyohiko Azuma’s manga Azumanga Daioh looks like (or, generally, how a yon-koma (4-panel strip) manga can be adapted into a continuous anime at all). This might be the next comic I’ll buy.
As a child I read a lot of Franco-Belgian humorous adventure comics, many of which I only borrowed from the library instead of buying them (or having them bought for me). One of these series was Les petits hommes by Pierre Seron. I vaguely remember that it wasn’t that great, but apparently there are many more albums in this series than I’ve actually read. Maybe I should give it a second chance.
And that’s it. I almost managed to finish this ’30 day comic challenge’ in time. Looking back, I realise that this format has some issues, mainly because some of the items on the original “30 day song challenge” list don’t translate well into comics. Furthermore, the list items would be more interesting if they weren’t so personal – “a song that reminds you …”, “a song that makes you …” – because you can’t really argue about these things. Instead, I would have preferred less subjective and more absolute statements, e.g. “the longest song/comic you know”, or “the song/comic that best represents globalisation” (or what have you), “the song/comic with the most unexpected twist”, etc. Who knows, I might create my own “30 day comics challenge” one day.
It’s getting harder and harder to come up with comic-related equivalents for these “30 day song challenge” items, but OK – suppose someone wanted to make a documentary about me, which comic should the camera focus on at least once? Apart from Akira, a suitable choice would be Shōtarō Ishinomori’s Japan Inc., both the English and the German edition of the first volume, as they exemplify what I do in my research.
Comics can be enraging when they’re bad, but there’s another, good kind of anger that comics can instil: for instance, when acts of injustice are convincingly narrated, readers may sympathise with one character (the victim) and feel sorry for him or her, and become angry at another (the evildoer). Mark Millar is a writer who is particularly good at portraying the darker sides of human nature and eliciting strong emotions such as anger – e.g. in many scenes in The Ultimates, drawn by Bryan Hitch.
Currently I’m thrilled about The Multiversity: Pax Americana by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely. I’m not giving away which other comic it is based on, though, in case this might still be a spoiler for anyone. For me it certainly was a major appeal to only gradually realise this while I was reading it.
Paper Tiger Comix was an enjoyable, though rather short-lived, British underground anthology magazine. Highlights: the surreal, enigmatic multi-part “story” Pograzye 23 by Clive Scruton, and several short stories by Richard Cowdry, who is always brilliant.
Tsutomu Nihei is one of my favourite comic creators, though I must say his current mecha space horror series Knights of Sidonia (already mentioned in a previous blog post) is his least interesting of those I’ve read so far – and at the same time probably his most successful, being adapted into an anime.
Making fun of a comic is hardly ever an appropriate way of criticising it, but some comics almost ask for it. Mai, the Psychic Girl by Kazuya Kudō and Ryōichi Ikegami (blogged about a year ago) has many virtues, but also some rather ridiculous elements that one can’t help making fun of, e.g. the name of the German antagonist – “Turm Garten” (literally “tower garden”).
Several ex-girlfriends kindly gave me comics as presents. I’ve blogged about one of these comics: Paris aishiteruze (À Nous Deux, Paris!) by J. P. Nishi.
I hardly ever blog about French-language comics, so some people might think I don’t like them. But I do, actually – Donjon by Lewis Trondheim and Joann Sfar, for instance, is even on my top 10 favourite comics list.
Day 16 – A
song comic that holds a lot of meaning to you
Civil War by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven was the first comic I’ve written about in a scholarly article, so naturally this comic has a lot of meaning to me.
Day 17 – A
song comic that annoys you
Comics can be annoying in a lot of different ways. It’s annoying when you have wasted time reading a comic you don’t like, or wasted money purchasing a copy. It’s annoying when other people or advertisements tell you how great a certain comic is, when you have already found out you don’t like it. Rather than merely being disappointed with a comic that you’ve read once and tossed away for good, however, annoyance is more of a perpetual nuisance: an annoying comic just keeps popping up and demanding your attention. For the last couple of months, Hajime Isayama’s Shingeki no Kyojin a.k.a. Attack on Titan has been that annoying comic for me. Although no one could possibly expect this manga to live up to the enourmous hype surrounding it, one is at the same time tempted to think, “millions of readers can’t be wrong, right?”. So I thought I’d give this series a chance and at least read the first volume. I did, and annoyed I was. With other best-selling shōnen manga, I can at least understand why other people like it, even though I don’t like them much myself: One Piece is genuinely funny, Naruto is well drawn – but Shingeki no Kyojin is neither, nor has it any other redeeming qualities. Still, now that the live-action film adaptation is around the corner, there seems to be no end to the hype.
Day 18 – A
song comic you have as your ringtone/want to be your ringtone desktop background image
My computer desktops still have their standard operating system images, but the other day I was tempted for a moment to change that when a nice wallpaper image of Kozue Chiba’s Koi toka, kiss toka, karada toka was posted on I Love Shojo (see also my blogpost about ILS). Then again, I haven’t read this manga yet, and I didn’t even like Kozue Chiba’s Crayon Days much (see my short review), so ultimately I left my desktops as they were.
Day 19 – A
song comic you’re currently obsessed with
Katsuhiro Ōtomo’s Akira will probably play an important part in the PhD thesis I’m writing, so I currently spend more time reading this comic (and reading about it) than any other.
Day 20 – A
song comic episode from a new album collection you are waiting for to come out
Day 21 – A
song comic you want to dance to read at your wedding
I’m not sure how the hypothetical bride would feel about this, but Action Comics #1 would certainly make a nice wedding present. On the other hand, it may be a bit too long to be read at the wedding right away. So how about a 1986 Sunday strip of Calvin & Hobbes, watercoloured by Bill Watterson himself, instead?
Day 08 – A
song comic you liked when you were younger
I’m still fond of many comics I liked as a child. A series I don’t quite like as much now as I think I did back then is Hägar the Horrible, still drawn by Dik Browne at that time. Some gags will always be hilarious, but many are not. Often, Browne simply ignored the Viking setting and made dull jokes about marriage and taxes instead. Current strips (by Chris Browne) can be read at hagarthehorrible.com.
Day 09 – A
song comic that makes you want to dance draw
Granted, “draw” isn’t exactly to “comic” as “dance” is to “song”, but I couldn’t think of a better analogy, and at least the transfer from passive reception to activity is retained. Initially I was thinking of comics that represent the act of drawing, such as Kozue Chiba’s Crayon Days (briefly reviewed here), but one of the few comics that actually made me pick up pencil and paper was Civil War: X-Men. The drawings of penciller Yanick Paquette and inker Serge Lapointe make use of clear outlines and compact shadows, with often only minimal parallel hatching, which makes them relatively easy to copy. It’s not as if the colouring (by Stephane Peru) wasn’t good, but the quality of the pencil and ink drawings is palpable even in the finished comic.
Day 10 – A
song comic that makes you cry
Although I can’t say it actually made me cry, I remember a scene early in Hal Foster’s Prince Valiant as a striking rendering of sadness and despair: Prince Valiant (and that other guy, Prince Arn) mourning the death of Ilene. That must have been around episode #80, from 1938.
Day 11 – A
song comic that reminds you of summer
While some episodes of Jirō Taniguchi’s The Walking Man are clearly set in other seasons, some most likely take place in summer, e.g. “Night Swimming”. Generally, taking a walk or aimlessly wandering around (which is what this comic is all about) is more fun when it’s warm and bright.
Day 12 – A
song comic that reminds you of your best friend
Back in school, Pat Mills’s Sláine was popular among me and my friends, particularly the albums of Simon Bisley’s run. That was at the same time when Braveheart became a cult film among us, and when listening to Irish folk music and drinking mead became fashionable.
Day 13 – A
song comic you sing to read in the shower bathroom
Currently there’s a “Snoopy & die Peanuts” collection (i.e. late Peanuts, originally from the mid-80s) that a flatmate put there. I think I’ll read some of it eventually, although I don’t like what I’ve read so far.
Day 14 – A
song comic you like hearing being read live
Uli Oesterle’s reading of Hector Umbra, which I think took place around the time it was re-released by Carlsen (2009), was great fun. He even had a DJ with him (which is only fitting, as there is also a DJ in the story).
Instead of just making other people take on the “30 day song challenge”, I’m going to try it myself. However, just like Paul Downey, I’ll replace “song” with something more suitable for this weblog. In my case, that would be “comic”, of course. Here are entries #1-7:
Day 01 – A
song comic that makes you happy
This already raises a tricky question. What exactly is it about a comic that can make you happy? The process of reading it? The memories of having read it? Owning a copy of it? Looking forward to reading it? And would it be enough for such a comic to be simply good (whatever that means), or should that comic have a specific emotional appeal in order to elicit happiness? Intuitively, I think I’ll simply pick Karuho Shiina’s Kimi ni todoke (the first two volumes of which I’ve briefly reviewed here in February) because it works on all of these levels. It’s a series that succeeds in letting its readers join its protagonist on a rollercoaster ride of feelings, so when Sawako finds happiness, why shouldn’t the readers be happy too?
Day 02 – A
song comic that helps you clear your head
Although I haven’t done any research on this, I’d wager that “clearing one’s head” is one of the more under-theorised concepts in the field of reception aesthetics. I imagine this “clearing” works like this: first you become so absorbed in a work that your mind is completely taken off of everything else, but after the act of reception you find it easy to focus on something else again – your head is clear. To cause such an effect, I guess a comic should be easily accessible, but maybe also have a certain abstractness and superficiality (in a good way), so that it doesn’t preoccupy you for hours after reading it. A comic that works well in this respect is Reza Farazmand’s often surreal webcomic Poorly Drawn Lines.
Day 03 – A
song comic that makes you laugh
I found Assassination Classroom by Yusei Matsui to be surprisingly funny. Nicholas Theisen blogged about it last year, but it was only recently published in German.
Day 04 – A
song comic that reminds you of something sad
Comics in which sad events take place are likely to remind readers of similar events in real life. In Bottomless Belly Button by Dash Shaw, for instance, many sad things happen to the characters, some of which surely many readers can relate to.
Day 05 – A
song comic that has a new meaning to you every time you hear read it
Gudrun Penndorf’s presentation at the comics translation conference in Hildesheim last month reminded me that there are still some references in Goscinny’s and Uderzo’s Asterix that I don’t get. Every time I read an Asterix album nowadays, though, I wonder how little I must have understood when I last read them.
Day 06 – A
song comic you can always relate to
I find most of Mawil’s semi-autobiographical comics easy to relate to. In particular, the events depicted in Die Band should feel almost eerily familiar to any reader who has ever played in a band. It has been translated into Spanish (La banda) and English (The Band).
Day 07 – A
song comic that is your guilty pleasure
While I don’t feel much guilt about any comic I read, sometimes people are surprised when they learn that an adult man regularly reads shōjo manga. I particularly enjoy high-school romance stories, a favourite of mine being Masami Tsuda’s Kare Kano.