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Danielle Leigh’s Reading Diary — 12/27/08

by  in Comic News Comment
Danielle Leigh’s Reading Diary — 12/27/08

Quick takes on this week’s comics / manga reading:

The Best American Comics of 2008 edited by Lynda Barry

The Super-Cool Life of Strawberry Chan by Ai Morinaga

Venus in Love vol 5 by Yuki Nakaji

One Thousand and One Nights Vol 6 by Han SeungHee and Jeon JinSeok

***

The Best American Comics of 2008 edited by Lynda Barry

I always think I’m going to like Comics Anthologies and I almost never do. This volume was an exception — it was eclectic in the best sense of the word and most selections were tantalizing enough that I definitely want to track down longer works from these creators.

I spend most of my time in the manga sand-box these days, but reading this book was a wonderful introduction to the exciting diversity of American comics. There was a mix of some of the major sequential narrative “epics” currently being created (such as Jason Lutes’ Berlin, Alison Bechel’s Dykes to Watch out For, anything by Rick Geary) as well as wonderful short stories from “fresh” new (to me) artists like T. Edward Bak and Sarah Oleksyk.

This was a great book to help pass the time relaxing during this holiday break — I basically started it the second my grades were turned in and finished it the next morning. And now I almost want to read the whole thing over again just to experience American comics once again through this book.

Highly recommended.

 ***

The Super-Cool Life of Strawberry Chan by Ai Morinaga

I have a deep fondness for Morinaga’s comics but the whole thing with a frog in love with a human boy and the boy who abuses him doesn’t really sit all that well with me.  This is actually the second volume of zany-frog-boys’-boarding-school antics and the one-note joke of the series probably wore out its welcome in the first volume.  However, one highlight of this volume was a very masculine girl who somehow finds herself enrolled in an all boys school…and unlike every other shojo manga in the world, actually is so masculine no one can tell the difference.  Even in the shower.  Oh Morinaga.  You so crazy.

Stick to Your and My Secret or My Heavenly Hockey Club for more robust characters *and* laughs.

 ****

Venus in Love vol 5 by Yuki Nakaji

Venus in Love continues to charm my socks right off, with gentle romance and love-triangles that are realistic never over-wrought and drenched in melodrama.  In this volume Suzuna and Eichi become closer and their silly flirting / fighting never gets old, even though it probably should.    It is so darn sweet you’d think I’d go into sugar shock.  Somehow Nakaji makes me, cynical old me, believe that college students can actually have real romance instead of drunken hook-ups and morning-after-walks-of-shame. 

Another fine volume in this lovely series.

 ***

One Thousand and One Nights Vol 6 by Han SeungHee and Jeon JinSeok

I came to this title late, but find that it is always a lovely diversion.   The basic plot is a re-imaging of the Scherezade fairy tale, but between (what I assume) is a young, tyrannical prince and a kind, sweet young man whose stories will eventually soften the young prince’s heart.  Most of this volume is devoted to the story within a story, as the young story-teller weaves a narrative about the love affair of the brilliant scholar Socrates and the capricous Alcibiades.  The artist is able to represent many different “exotic” locales — ancient Greece, pre-modern middle east, and while the writing is very strong, the art really grabs you and lets you get lost in multiple worlds, not just the one.  The scope of this manga seems both huge (the stories within the story) and yet quite intimate (all stories are really about the relationships between lovers as far as I can tell). 

Review copy provided by Yen Press.

 ***

Titles up on deck for next week’s reading diary:

Nightmare Inspector: Yumekui Kenben

Red Blinds the Foolish

 Mushishi vol 6

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