There are a lot of cool comic book blogs out there (see our sidebar for a list of a bunch of them), but I guess it is hard to pick which ones you think you'd like to read. So each week, I will feature a guest entry by a really cool comic blogger, and you all can then check out that comic blog after you see how cool they are from their guest bit. Today's entry comes from David Welsh, from Precocious Curmudgeon, a cool blog where David talks about comics and reviews them, with a slightly heavier bent on manga comics than non-manga comics.
If you read the average newspaper article on manga, you might be left with the impression that the entire market consists of big-eyed girls in love and print versions of popular cartoon properties. It's not quite that narrow in reality, and there are plenty of books that might catch the eye of an aficionado of western comics. Here are a few examples:
- Anne Freaks
(ADV): Lovely and lethal, young Anna enlists a couple of teen boys in her private war on terror. But are her motives altruistic, or is she just trying to get back at her evil dad? In this fast-paced blend of action and teen nihilism, creator Yua Kotegawa keeps the plot twists and startling character moments coming. It's not especially deep, but it sure is entertaining.
- Bambi and Her Pink Gun
(Digital Manga Publishing): If Anna is a little too elegant for your tastes, you certainly won't have that problem with Bambi. Crude, violent, and utterly belligerent, Bambi cuts a determined swath through a landscape of lowlifes and bounty hunters as she tries to deliver a mysterious (and disgusting) child to an equally mysterious group of old men. Bambi is one of those books that I sort of hate myself for loving, but creator Kaneko Atsushi's stylish art and warped worldview are hard to resist.
- Death Note
(Viz - Shonen Jump Advanced): What would you do if you were able to kill without consequence? When he finds the mysterious Death Note, high-school student Light Yagami decides to make the world a better place, killing criminals under the guise of the vengeful Kira. He wants to create a new world order where people are too frightened of Kira's vengeance to break the law. But quirky super-sleuth L is on Kira's trail, and a breathless cat-and-mouse game begins between the brilliant opponents. This is one of those books where you think it can't get any crazier, but author Tsugumi Ohba keeps upping the ante. Illustrator Takeshi Obata brings visual polish and precision to Ohba's twisty scripts.
- Fullmetal Alchemist
(Viz): Some comics are popular for a reason. Chalk it up to the successful anime on Cartoon Network if you will, but there would be no cartoon without the inspiration of Hiromu Arakawa's outstanding manga. It follows the Elric brothers in their quest to undo the damage wrought by their desperate early experiments with the mysterious powers of alchemy. They're searching for the secrets of the Philosopher's Stone, encountering a wide array of episodic adventures and indelible characters along the way. Beautifully drawn and wonderfully written, Fullmetal Alchemist has the feel of a science-fantasy classic.
(Viz - Shojo Beat): Lest you think manga is all teen assassins and fantasy adventure, let me recommend this wonderful slice-of-life story from Ai Yazawa. The book follows two women named Nana, one a wide-eyed innocent with a terrible romantic track record, the other an aspiring rocker with rougher edges and fewer illusions. They meet on the train to Tokyo, and the odd couple bonds over the prospect of new adventures in the big city. The strangers are soon room-mates, sharing an apartment and the highs and lows that come with independence. Nana is a gorgeous look at what it's like to be young, single, and broke in a world of possibilities.
(Del Rey): The San Diego Comic-Con may be just a memory at this point, but you can keep the nerd love flowing with this quirky and appealing book. Creator Kio Shimoku blends just the right amounts of affection and ridicule in this look at a group of college-aged otaku, diehard geeks who gather to obsess over comics, cartoons, and games (and pornographic variants of each) as members of The Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture. The stories are very funny in a low-key way. Instead of throwing the cast into absurd situations, Shimoku draws laughs from the characters' absurd reactions to the everyday. It's imaginative, character-driven fun.
- Sgt. Frog
(Tokyopop): When was the last time you laughed out loud at a comic? Was it an intentionally funny comic? Sgt. Frog earns plenty of genuine laughs as creator Mine Yoshizaki follows the invasion attempts of a group of extra-terrestrial amphibians. In chapter after chapter, Sgt. Keroro and his oddball platoon prove that no plan is foolproof if it's being executed by the right group of fools. But it isn't just wacky schemes gone awry. Yoshizaki throws in plenty of quiet moments and keeps a remarkably strong handle on the sprawling cast of aliens, earthlings, and misplaced fantasy figures of almost every stripe.