Digital Manga Launches New, Smaller Tezuka Kickstarter

After the massive failure of their overly ambitious Kickstarter to publish 31 books by Osamu Tezuka, Digital Manga is back with another try, one they’re calling “Smaller, Quicker, and Affordable”.

Ludwig B by Osamu Tezuka

It’s faster than I expected, frankly, but I suspect that Digital Manga started replanning long before the previous effort finished, given the amount of feedback they got from potential customers. This time, they’re asking for a more reasonable $21,600 to publish two volumes of Ludwig B, Tezuka’s unfinished Beethoven story created late in his life.

In the company’s Q&A, one gathers hints of the feelings behind the choice:

It is a fascinating drama with much emphasis on Ludwig van Beethoven’s rearing life and how he came to be one of the greatest music composers. Tezuka mentioned in his afterword that he relates to Beethoven in many ways, including to being a relocation freak himself. Beethoven changed his residence on 17 occasions in his lifetime, Tezuka moved 8 times before he got married. Tezuka actually visited Beethoven’s apartment in Vienna so you can imagine how much he was into his life while he was working on the title. The story takes you back to the late 1700 to early 1800 in Europe where the aristocrats frequently abuse and oppress the common people. As a commoner himself, Beethoven often encountered prejudice & discrimination but he bravely fought back and used it as motivation to end up being an official composer for the Royal Family.

Q2 – Why did you pick this series?
Because I can relate to the story so much. It’s like myself and my company, Digital Manga, where we are always pushed back by our big competitors with a lot more resources, connections, manpower, etc.

[…] Being poor makes you a great human being!!

The books will have a list price of $15.95, and Kickstarter supporters can get both in print for $32 (plus international shipping; domestic US is included), which seems fair. If you just want digital, the price is two-for-one, both volumes for $15. Many higher-priced tiers include collectible goodies as well. Estimated print date is next July.

Now, whether the previous Kickstarter titles will ever be tried again is an open question. I was once told, given my dislike of some of Tezuka’s old-fashioned “mature” works, that Rainbow Parakeet would be best for me to try. That was one of the titles in the failed effort. If it’s seen as tainted, that would be a shame.

In a statement included in the Kickstarter from the company president, they give this information:

So instead of publishing 50~70 books a year, we have switched the gear to 20~30 volumes. This change would substantially lower the cost of publishing including licensing fees, advanced royalties, labor, and other pertinent expenses. It would still take 20 some years to make all books available but it is way better than waiting 50~60 years. Under this revised schedule, we would still need to run each Kickstarter campaign with 1~5 books while leaving 1~2 weeks breathing period between each campaign in order to reach our milestone of rolling out over 400 books within the given time frame.

So expect to see a lot more Digital Manga Kickstarters this coming year. It remains to be seen whether they get declining results from using the method so frequently.

Agent Carter Promo Clips Work

Spinning out of Captain America: The First Avenger comes Marvel’s Agent Carter. One might make fun of the possessive title — are there others out there you’d confuse it with? — but it does keep the title sorted closely with Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. That’s significant because Agent Carter is a mid-season replacement for the latter.

Agent Carter stars Hayley Atwell as the title character, a spy who faces danger and sexism in the 1940s. She previously starred in an original short film as a bonus on the Iron Man 3 DVD.

The show is scheduled to debut January 6 and run for eight episodes. Two promotional previews (as seen below) have been released, and while the hair is wrong (too fluid, not restrained enough for the period), I admit, I’m eager to see it.

Bullwinkle Makes Me Laugh

DreamWorksTV has put together a supercut of what they call “Bullwinkle’s Best Worst Puns”, but I’d just call them funny. His literalism amuses me, particularly the A-Bomb joke. Not sure today’s viewers are going to get the “baseball suits” gag these days, though.

Bullwinkle is voiced by Bill Scott, with Rocky played by June Foray.

If, like me, this makes you want to watch the show, the DVDs of the seasons are relatively cheap at Amazon, or you can watch Season 1 for free if you have Amazon Prime.

Star Trek Klingon Bloodwine Announced

What a world we live in. If the franchise you’re a fan of is popular enough, there’s a licensed product for EVERYthing. Today’s case in point: Star Trek wine.

Star Trek Klingon Bloodwine

Klingon Bloodwine (for which the press release provides the helpful translation “tlhIngan ‘Iw HIq”) is now available for preorder at Vinport.com, licensed from CBS Consumer Products. (This follows the Klingon Warnog beer released this summer.) It begins shipping December 8 at $20 a bottle — but you can also buy six packs with other wines with Star Trek collectible labels at much higher prices. Or check with your local retailer.

The wine is described as “a medium-bodied red blend of Malbec, Syrah, and Petit Verdot from the Paso Robles AVA in California”. Sounds drinkable, anyway. I like the way the press release writer is clearly a fan having fun:

Klingon Bloodwine is a wine historically drunk in celebration and victory. Whether sipped while reveling in triumph or simply enjoying life among friends, this could be the finest vintage of Klingon Bloodwine until 2309. Traditionally twice as strong as whiskey and best served warm, this version of Bloodwine is more human-friendly at 13% ABV and can be served slightly chilled or at cellar temperature (60-65 F).

Star Trek fans everywhere will recognize the label of Klingon Bloodwine, a symbol comprised of the bat’leth or “sword of honor”, a traditional Klingon weapon. The back label includes the victorious Klingon phrase: “Celebrate! Tomorrow we may die!” (yIlop! wa’IeS chaq maHegh!)

Klingon Bloodwine can be enjoyed with grilled meats and mature cheeses, or traditional Klingon fare such as Heart of Targ.

I’m in the Paper Recommending Graphic Memoirs

Johanna Draper Carlson

The local paper, the Wisconsin State Journal, has a regular Sunday column where book-related folk recommend three titles. I was the latest participant, recommending Lucy Knisley’s An Age of License, Mimi Pond’s Over Easy, and Liz Prince’s Tomboy.

Somewhat ironically, this was just after I stopped subscribing to the paper — they decided to use a cable company-like strategy of expecting me to pay 50% more for the same product when they raised their rates recently — but I was surprised at how many people clipped the column and mentioned it to me.

Princess Ugg #5

Princess Ugg #5 cover

With the first collection just out, this issue moves the story of our princesses-in-training forward by introducing the potent force of sex.

The group sneaks out to a tavern to socialize with soldiers, where Ulga’s more brazen talents of holding her alcohol and arm-wrestling are popular with the men. Although Ulga’s skills at diplomacy and fitting in are improving, she doesn’t have the forced restraint of the other girls, so she usually takes things too far. That’s what makes her such a dynamic character, her authentic, larger-than-life self.

It’s a pleasure to see her change and grow, even if I wish that some of the directions she’s forced to learn weren’t quite so twisty. And it’s sadly realistic for those who dislike her to refuse to acknowledge her concessions and alterations, continuing to force her into the stereotype they originally tagged her with.

The schemes and machinations of Ulga’s nemesis, raised in that world of deception, still remain beyond her — setting up a premise which I’m curious to see how it plays out. I’m also concerned about Ulga’s family and tribe, facing a threat that will be more deadly without her. While each issue is a satisfying chapter, it’s these larger themes that make the series rewarding. (The publisher provided a digital review copy.)

Lumberjanes #8

The first storyline (the series will continue past this) concludes with the gal-pal campers saving the world from a remarkably authentic adolescent Artemis. She’s selfish and distractible and manipulated and focused only on getting the better of her brother. Unfortunately, her self-centeredness has resulted in grim consequences for one of the scouts, but the power of friendship will win through once again, as it has since issue #1.

Lumberjanes #8 cover

The diversely inspired, thick-line art style of the book is really growing on me. It feels handmade and enthusiastic and inspiring and energetic and well-meaning, much like the characters. I wouldn’t have expected blending camp tales with remade mythology to work so well, but it’s very much in keeping with today’s remix culture.

Lumberjanes is to today what the Dark Knight Returns was to another generation — a book that’s bringing in a whole new audience, an outreach book to a group that can love comics, once comics exist for them. Then it was older readers, those looking for mature content; now, it’s young women interested in active adventures, not appearances. It’s great to see a group of female lead characters (still rare in comics). Being a gang, they’re allowed to have different personalities and interests, instead of just being The Girl.

I’m also glad counselor Jen is getting more screen time. And I love the sense of humor in this title, from her facing down the goddess wannabe to the wishes granted from ultimate power. (Hint: One involves kittens.) Now that the major storyline is done, I’m curious to see where the series goes from here. (The publisher provided a digital review copy.)

Museum of Mistakes: The Fart Party Collection

Before she published Drinking at the Movies and The Infinite Wait and Other Stories, Julia Wertz’s autobiographical comics were published as the “regrettably known” Fart Party.

The now-out-of-print first two Fart Party volumes, as well as material that would have made up a third book, all dating from 2005-2012, are now available as Museum of Mistakes: The Fart Party Collection. Also in the book are Wertz’s early work, before her style developed into the familiar, blocky, black-anchored panels; behind-the-scenes material, including sketches and process pages; and a scrapbook of fan letters and answers and short stories.

At 400 pages, it’s a lot to take in at once, but the format lends itself well to pick-up-and-put-down reading. The chronological look back is presented with recent context. I found it refreshing that Wertz, as a more mature artist, doesn’t cringe over or regret or edit her early work. It doesn’t reflect where she is now, but it can be insightful to dip into over a decade of moments and jokes. It’s the ephemeral that can be revelatory, because we don’t think about how we’re presenting it or recasting it to be memorable for the ages. It’s also obvious that someone would and should change a lot between their mid-20s and mid-30s.

Museum of Mistakes: The Fart Party Collection can be pre-ordered, for a few more days, from your local comic shop with Diamond Distribution code NOV14 1056. There are a lot of preview pages at the author’s website.




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