Good Comics Out January 2: Manga Classics and Comic Strip History

A small week, but a good one, as we welcome the new year.

Top of my list is the Heart of Thomas omnibus volume from Fantagraphics ($39.99) that I had a chance to read last year. This solid hardcover contains the entire classic shojo series, and it’s a must-read for anyone interested in the development of the genre. It’s also surprisingly gripping in its own right.

Also of interest to fans of historic manga is the second, concluding volume of Message to Adolf (Vertical, $26.95). My copy should be coming soon, and I’m eager to see it, since I enjoyed the first book. This is the first Osamu Tezuka series I can recommend without a “ok, but you have to ignore …” caveat for bizarre plot choices or sexism. It’s a great starting point for those who want to try Tezuka.

If you’re interested in American comic history instead, you might want to check out The Complete Funky Winkerbean: Volume 1 (1972-1974) (Kent State University Press, $45), reprinting the still-going high school comic strip. It’s as dated as you’d expect, but that’s part of the charm, checking out 40-year-old gags, and there’s an informative piece about Tom Batiuk’s work by R.C. Harvey. Batiuk also includes his own lengthy autobiographical introduction, explaining how the strip came to be, based on his work as a junior high school art teacher. Nice presentation, although the Sunday strips aren’t in color. I enjoyed the flashback and learning more about the strip’s beginnings.

Fantagraphics also releases the paperback edition of Castle Waiting Volume 1 ($24.99), which reprints everything from the hardcover except for Jane Yolen’s introduction (and the ribbon book marker). The original hardcover was one of my best of 2006; it’s a gorgeous twist on fairy tales, concentrating on daily life instead of big events, which makes it charming.

I’ve already reviewed Glitter Kiss (Oni Press, $15.99), which is flawed but entertaining and very well drawn, and the manga Strobe Edge Volume 2 (Viz, $9.99). Manga fans will definitely want to note that today also brings the first volume of Naoki Urasawa’s 21st Century Boys (Viz, $12.99), the two-book sequel to 20th Century Boys. My review is coming soon, but a sneak peek reveals that things are explained a little more clearly, for those of us who were thoroughly confused by the end of the previous series, and much of the volume focuses on flashback stories to the characters as kids. That’s one of Urasawa’s strengths, the way he captures their behavior so clearly.

What are you looking for today?

3 Responses to “Good Comics Out January 2: Manga Classics and Comic Strip History”

  1. James Schee Says:

    DC Comics

    The Flash #15 – easily the biggest surprise to me go the New 52 has been this series. Visually very distinctive, with nonconventional panel layouts that work. The team also explores the Flash’s power in ways beyond just how fast he can run. Plus it’s the Rogues and Flash versus gorillas!


    All New X-men #5 – getting impatient with the molassesly slow storyline here (& in other Marvel Now books like Fantastic Four) but loving the beauty artist Stuart immonen portrays it.

    Iron Man #5 – Closest Marvel has come yet to capturing Downey’s voice and feel in comic form.

  2. Johanna Says:

    Oh, yes, I always love seeing Stuart’s work — although I did laugh at the upcoming ANX solicit that had, as the big bullet point, “they get new costumes!”

  3. argo plummer Says:

    I get most of my stuff through the mail these days, but there always seems to be something I want to pick up that I missed on my online order form.

    Today is Morbius #1. I’ve enjoyed Keatinge’s work on Glory and have a soft spot for the character, so I’m intrigued.




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