Friday Funnies: grief is weird

This comic reduced me to a sobbing wreck.

always distressing to see a loved one in a dream knowing they are dead

I had those dreams in which it turned out that Sandra isn’t dead, but still in hospital, or she’s just there as we go about our daily business, only to wake up and realise that of course it’s all a lie. There’s nothing as nerve wrecking, as guilt inducing and soul crushing as waking up from that sort of dream and Sara Goetter captured it well. All three of her comics dealing with the grief over the death of her mother are excellent depictions of what it feels like to lose someone dear to you in fact, hard to read because of it. It’s been a while since I had to cry this hard over Sandra, it having been five year since she died after all, but this went through all of my defences like a punch to the gut.

(For something lighter by her, this comic about spotting and wanting to befriend a fellow geek in middle school is adorkable.)

Is diversity killing Marvel sales?

Short answer: no. Long answer:

Good gods do I hate most of what Marvel has been doing in the 21st century, from the debased widescreen storytelling to the shitting on everything its characters stand for, but what it has done right is providing space for more diverse superhero comics, both character and creator-wise. I stopped being a regular comics buyer, let alone a superhero floppies buyer since, well, the start of this century and getting a view of what the industry is like a decade and a half later I’m glad I did. Everything this dude listed as being more of a problem than Marvel pushing diversity is shit I’ve already seen in the nineties, then secondhand in the naughties, just more chaotically and more intensive. Pushing more titles, an obsession with events, an overwhelmingly short term focus at the cost of a long term vision: we’ve seen that all before. It’s just the speed that’s different.

The end result is a constant churn that just zaps all of my will to invest time and effort into the Marvel Universe — and I’ve been a Marvel fan for thirty years now. Best I can do currently is reading the “fringe” books: the Hawkeyes and Ms. Marvels that do new things at the edges of the Marvel universe, but even these get weighted down by events and extraneous shite. What I wouldn’t give for having a gimmick of just having twelve issues of a series coming out in a year with the same creative team, without crossover events or other crap cluttering it up.

None of which has much to do with diversity and its supposed flaws. Diversity is actually, as any fule should know, Marvel’s greatest selling point. Every time a white, male hero is replaced by a hero of colour, a woman, or both, it’s an immediate attention grabber in the way “the death of…” stories were in the nineties. Each new diverse hero creates immense goodwill among non comics readers, if done right because there’s such a hunger for heroes that look like America in the 21st century, Trumpian backlashes nonewithstanding. And if only Marvel could have a coherent, respectful way of marketing this diversity and not let it be buried under an avalanche of shite only diehard floppy readers care about, things like the Miles/Gwen romance would set the world alight, rather than being a one-week wonder…

Worrying about Valerian

Is it just me, or does this trailer sound too Hollywood?

To be fair, Luc Besson has already created a perfect save for the absence of the heroes themselves Valerian et Laureline movie in the form of The Fifth Element, but I’m still worried about how well the actual Valerian et Laureline movie will do. There are so many danger signs here. Most worrying is that the actors playing Valerian and Laureline look and sound dreadful here, but equally worrying is the plot as shown in the trailer, which looks dreadfully generic.

Which might be a fakeout, as the movie seems to be loosely based on Ambassador of the Shadows, from which it borrows its setting. The original had an ambassador kidnapped there and Valerian but especially Laureline coming to the rescue, chasing the kidnappers across all sorts of exotic, alien settings. In fact, Laureline did most of the heavy lifting there, with Valerian absent for long stretches. I have a feeling that won’t be the case in the movie.

In all, I’m somewhat skeptical that one of my abso;ute favourite nerd things will be translated correctly into film, but hopefully it will at least be a decent summer blockbuster to go see with the cow-orkers.

Naoki Urasawa’s Manga Exertions

Urasawa Naoki no Manben is a NHK documentary series in which mangaka Urasawa Naoki (20th Century Boys, Yawara, Master Keaton) goes around talking to and filming other cartoonists at work. There has been one special and two seasons of each four episodes so far:

  • Pilot: featuring Urasawa himself as well as Kawaguchi Kaiji (Zipang) and Yamashita Kazumi (The Life of Genius Professor Yanagizawa)
  • S01E01: Higashimura Akiko (Princess Jellyfish)
  • S01E02: Fujita Kazuhiro (Ushio and Tora)
  • S01E03: Asano Inio (Dead Dead Demon’s De De De De Destruction)
  • S01E04: Saitō Takao (Golgo 13)
  • S02E01: Hagio Moto (They Were Eleven)
  • S02E02: Hanazawa Kengo (Boys on the Run)
  • S02E03: Igarashi Daisuke (Children of the Sea)
  • S02E04: Furuya Usamaru (Lychee Light Club) NO English subtitles

Urasawa was inspired by an 1985 documentary the NHK broadcasted about Tezuka Osamu, the God of Manga. A third season of Manben was scheduled to run in September 2016.

Originally published at Metafilter.

Friday Funnies: Keijo!!!!!!!!

Keijo!!!!!!!! gets a lot more absurd than this

As you may be able to tell from the panels above, Keijo!!!!!!!! can be described in one word: stupid. It takes the standard conventions of the sports manga and applies it to a “sport” that consists of girls in swimsuits trying to push each other off wobbly platforms floating in swimming pools, using only their butts or breasts. Purely an excuse to draw pretty women’s asses? Not quite. What saves this from just being wank fodder is that the mangaka, Sorayomi Daichi, takes the sport absolutely seriously while still being aware of how silly it is; Daichi is also very good at thinking up inventive new techniques or combos, in the best tradition of bullshit sports manga powers. Everybody has their own breast or butt focused superpower, which the onlookers breathlessly explain and the heroine has to counter.

Keijo!!!!!!!! unlimited ass works

To give but one example, the girl above here has the very special power of being able to copy any of the other player’s abilities just by fondling their asses, activating them by remembering how they felt: unlimited ass works. It’s gloriously dumb and the author pulls out one example after the other in each new chapter and that for at least ninety chapters, that being as far as the scanlations have gotten. I won’t pretend that this is anything other than dumb entertainment, following a storyline that you can find in dozens of other, better (pretend) sports manga, but what I like about it is that it’s innovative, honest and open in its fanservice and not demeaning to its characters — what also helps is that these are actual adults, rather than the usual high school girls. Not perhaps a series to be proud of that you read it, but certainly a cut above the usual harem fanservice nonsense. And yes, of course it will get an anime.