Fruits Basket

Tokyopop promoted Natsuki Takaya’s Fruits Basket as its “most eagerly-awaited manga series”, and sales figures and top rankings have borne that out. With its blend of comedy, romance, fantasy, and drama, all expressed in an attractively mainstream art style, there’s something here for everyone. An eternal optimist, Tohru Honda is proud of taking care of herself, even though she’s been living in a tent after her mother’s death. She’s on the property of the Sohma family, a rather unusual group […]

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Sensual Phrase

I’ve read manga aimed at more mature female audiences before, women (josei) instead of girls (shôjo), but none of it hit me quite this passionately. Sensual Phrase by Mayu Shinjo combines the things I like best about both shôjo (stories about love, searching for meaning in life’s choices, and figuring out what kind of person you’re going to grow into) and josei (real-world conflicts, like not being taken seriously at your work because of your appearance and balancing work demands […]

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Sgt. Frog

The setup for this comedy by Mine Yoshizaki is simple: Fuyuki and his sister Natsumi accidentally capture a frog-like alien. He was sent as part of an advance invasion force, but due to his incompetence, he quickly loses his weapon and is abandoned by his planet. The kids want to make friends with the alien, and he agrees to play along so that he can scheme uninterrupted. They treat Sgt. Frog as a pet, one that’s able to help with […]

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Good Writing Springs From “Negativity”

I stopped talking about the whole brouhaha over “negativity” among comic critics because at least in my case, I was tired of getting responses with all the intellectual fervor of “get back in the kitchen, woman”. (Thankfully, geek sexism is a lot less common in the blogverse than it ever was on Usenet, but obviously, it still exists.) It looks like several people used the opportunity for more thought-out pieces, though. Chris Tamarri (link no longer available) provides a lengthy […]

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Nightwing #115 Changes

Comics Should Be Good tracks the changes that happened to Nightwing #115 between solicitation and publication. DC seems to have truncated Devin Grayson’s storyline with Dick Grayson undercover as a villain working for Deathstroke. Just from the copy CSBG provides, it looks to me like they took connections to Villains United out of the title. We know Grayson was concerned about crossovers having ill effects on superhero comics; maybe that’s the kind of thing she was talking about.

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Queen Bee

Chynna Clugston’s never been shy about acknowledging her pop culture inspirations and interests, and in Queen Bee, it’s no different. During the talent competition, lead character Haley sings The Go-Go’s “We’ve Got the Beat”. When trying to figure out how to be popular, Haley watches classic teen movies from the 80s and today. Clugston also mentions Mean Girls a couple of times, which given how similar the plot is, may be too often. Haley is psychokinetic — she can move […]

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How Loathsome

The cover of How Loathsome features an attractive, androgynous figure naked from the waist up with arms wrapped around him/herself. S/he’s wearing black PVC pants, suggesting fetish culture, and appears to be comforting or protecting him/herself from prying gazes. It’s a great summation of the material contained within. The stories by Ted Naifeh and Tristan Crane explore queer life, drug use, goth clubs, and gender experimentation in San Francisco. In the first chapter, Catherine, the narrator, meets Chloe, a “tall […]

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Scene of the Crime: A Little Piece of Goodnight

Before Gotham Central, Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark worked together on the mystery Scene of the Crime. Jack Herriman is a private eye hired by a woman to find her missing younger sister, who may have become involved with a strange commune-like group. Both she and Jack turn out to have father issues in common; when he was a teenager, Jack was raised by his uncle, a crime scene photographer who helps out on cases. Now, he’s fallen into something […]

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