(This review was originally written for REDEYE magazine issue 2.1.)
Leek and Sushi’s Manga Show: 150 Years of Friendship
Anthology: various contributors, 204 pages, A5 digest format, ITCH Publishing, £6.00
If you’re new to the world of UK small press manga-inspired-comics then Leek & Sushi’s Manga Show is a good place to start. This anthology compiles 17 short comics by different creators, which were originally entries for the Japanese Embassy’s annual ‘Manga Jiman’ competition in 2008. The tagline ‘150 Years of Friendship’ references the theme of 2008’s competition: to celebrate 150 years of co-operation between Japan and Britain, the creators were asked to somehow link their entries to the number 150. This makes for some interesting and varied reading in the volume.
Before each short story begins, a cartoon version of its creator is welcomed to the ‘stage’ for a short interview by Leek and Sushi: quirky comedy characters who represent Britain and Japan respectively. These introductory segments were designed and drawn by Willie Hewes, who also compiled and edited the book. They help to tie together each of the 17 individual comics into a volume that is entertaining to read from start to finish, rather than pick-up, put-down affair.
Seeing as ‘Leek & Sushi’ is a compilation, artwork and writing styles do vary within the book. However in general the standard is very high compared to a lot of other small press offerings; several of the stories that are featured in the book placed highly in the 2008 competition. For example, among others, ‘B+’ by Susan Golton and Steve Cook won 2nd place and ‘Stars’ by Donna Pesani won 4th.
‘Stars’ is an 8-page story with a steampunk aesthetic, about a little girl who gets her first chance to visit where her parents work: hanging the stars in the sky. The artwork is beautifully detailed and the story fits well into its allotted page count.
Other creators of note featured here are: Kate Holden (who placed as a runner up in 2007’s Tokyopop Rising Stars of Manga competition), Faye Yong (who has just finished work on the Manga Shakespeare version of The Merchant of Venice for SelfMadeHero), Karen Rubins (who is currently comic-illustrator-in-residence at the V&A museum), Sally Jane Thompson (who created ‘Little Thoughts‘), and writer Fehed Said (who wrote the graphic novel The Clarence Principle, published by Slave Labour Graphics).
The comic is presented as a chunky 204 page, A5 digest format book. Interior pages are printed on good quality white paper rather than the more flimsy paper you can get with mass-market manga. The cover is a little thin and papery, but other than that it’s a good-looking volume, well worthy of a place on any UK manga fan’s shelf.
Information on contributors, page samples and online shop: http://www.itchpublishing.com/news/leek-sushis-manga-show/