Saturday, May 7, 2011

Happy Free Comic Book Day!

Today was my third time participating in Free Comic Book Day. The first two times were during my long stay in Japan (Hi, Japan! Do you miss me? I miss you!), where it conveniently fell during my annual Golden Week trip to Tokyo (Hi, Tokyo! All my love!). So this was my big initiation into FCBD, American Style. My comic shop of record is currently JJ's Comics & Cards, a store where I'm always treated as though I'm a very special person.

And I am. And so are you!

JJ's Comics & Cards put out a snack spread, offered a lot of discounts-- 10% on new comics, 25% on graphic novels (I should've bought that New Mutants Vol. 1: The Return of Legion trade, but I was trying to keep my purchases down around 20 bucks thanks to a downturn in my personal economy), 50% on action figures-- and had Georgia-based manga pro Adam Arnold on hand to sign copies of his Vampire Cheerleaders/Paranormal Mystery Squad volume 1 book from Seven Seas Entertainment. Which I missed. The signing, not the book. Oops! But more on that in a second or two.

I did buy Arnold's book. It's sexy manga fan service type stuff of the kind I usually ignore. Not that I'm a prude. What I am is pretentious. I wanted to support a local creator, though. Because I've been totally oblivious to this Adam Arnold guy, when I first heard the title Vampire Cheerleaders and the local connection, I expected something self-published and amateurish. I've seen way too much crappy manga online and in print. In fact any crappy manga is way too much. Writers farting out nonsensically random stories, art with the big eyes but awkward figures made of sritchy-scratchy line quality betraying an unsure hand. Heaps of story and visual cliches badly presented in cheap packaging.

While the subject matter may not be my thing, I was pleasantly surprised to find Vampire Cheerleaders to be a slick little book by an actual writer and artists and in no way cheap looking, with very solid manga-style artwork of its type. Well-constructed figures, nice gray tone work. I used to see tons of this stuff at konbini (convenience stores) and magazine shops when I lived in Japan. Not your spectacular Takahashi Rumiko or Yazawa Ai level stuff, but appealing nevertheless. Just from a casual perusal, I'd say if you're into sexayyy manga and vampire vixenry, this book is probably worth your time. Now I'm stoked to give it a real reading and post a review of it later this week.

And now I'm also sorry I missed the author. It would've been fun to hear his point of view and to learn a little bit about how he got started writing and editing manga, plus a little about how these "original English language" manga come about. The pro ones, as opposed to those... others.

I know, I know. "Get to the free comics, you pseudo-intellectual jackass!" you're all screaming at me. "We're dying to know which comics you chose and we really have to pee and it's getting to the point where we can't hold it anymore so if you don't get this over with and end our suspense, we're going to damage our kidneys or burst our bladders or at the very least wet our pants and it'll be all your fault!"

We can't have that! I'd never be able to live with myself! For the love of corn, go pee and by the time you get back feeling lighter and refreshed, I'll finally be telling you yes, I did choose some free comics from the store's once well-stocked but increasingly picked over FCBD display. Here's what I selected:

1. Michael Moorcock's Elric: The Balance Lost by Chris Roberson, Francesco Biagini and Stephen Downer
2. Bongo Comics Free-For-All 2011 (my traditional choice)
3. Baltimore by Mike Mignola, Christopher Golden and Ben Stenbeck
4. Super Dinosaur Super Special! by Robert Kirkman and Jason Howard

That last one? Well, I had an issue of Walking Dead in my hand and one of the store employees pointed out Super Dinosaur is also by Robert Kirkman, so I took it just to be polite. I love Kirkman's Walking Dead, but I'm not a Kirkman fan to the point where I need to have everything the gentleman writes. This looks like a comic book adaptation of the kind of Cartoon Network show I never watch, or a toy line tie-in. Those aren't necessarily bad things, but they also don't serve to attract me as a reader. But once again, I need to read it before I pass too harsh a judgment.

Also arriving at my palatial Roman villa-style estate (heavily guarded by my personal army, so don't get any funny ideas about breaking in here and stealing my fortune in diamonds and rubies and sapphires which I keep lying about like so much bric-a-brac... perhaps I should sell some and give myself an economic stimulus, huh?) via the good people at the post office today: Creepy Volume Two from the delicious Dark Horse Archives series and the surprisingly in-color Star Wars Omnibus: A Long Time Ago... Volume 1, which collects the first twenty-seven issues of the old Marvel Comics Star Wars series, including their adaptation of the first movie by Archie Goodwin, Howard Chaykin and Marie Severin (among others).

I am loaded down with comics to read!

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