Archive for August, 2009

Review: Leek and Sushi’s Manga Show

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 21, 2009 by comicmole

(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

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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.

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A page from 'Stars' by Donna Pesani

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).

A page from 'Tales by Ghost Light' by Karen Rubins

A page from 'Tales by Ghost Light' by Karen Rubins

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/

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Hello Again! Manga Jiman, and the Small Press at AyaRevolution 2009

Posted in Event, Other with tags , , , , on August 19, 2009 by comicmole

Hi, didn’t see you there, welcome back again to the small press burrow that is Comic Mole Investigates.  Its been a while but I hope that normal service will resume now with a cavalcade of new reviews! (hmm…I wonder how many I have to write for it to be considered a ‘calvalcade?’…)

Over the past couple of months I’ve been on my own little comicking adventure: writing and drawing an entry to this year’s Manga Jiman competition.  My comic is finished now, but the deadline for the competition is the end of September, so if anyone else out there wants to try their hand at making their own short (6-8 page) manga-inspired-comic then there might still be enough time to squeeze in an entry – ganbatte (good luck/do your best) if you choose to enter!

The Small Press at AyaRevolution 2009

It might be assumed that an anime convention is purely for the sale or promotion of large-scale commercial products: new DVD box-sets, pre-release showings of new movies, shiny new mass market manga volumes lined up for sale, and a crowd of eager fans chomping at the bit to snap up the products they want.  Well, to a certain extent that’s true, but there is a whole lot of individual creativity present at anime cons which is well worth experiencing.

Cosplay is one such element that is steadily growing as a con phenomenon, branching out from anime-based events to Expos and comic conventions.  The results are often fantastic to look at, but in some cases it requires many months of planning and construction to finish an outfit.

In the same vein of individual creativity is comicking: it can often take several months of a small press artist’s free time (or more) to create that next issue of their ongoing series, or that unique one-shot.  Unfortunately though the small pressers aren’t walking around with copies of their comics strapped all over them for you to peruse as they walk by (hmm…maybe we should try this…).  So if you like going to anime cons and already enjoy small press comics, or even if you’ve only ever read Viz or Tokyopop manga (but are curious…), don’t forget to clear the haze brought on by a room full of shiny new anime merch, and look out for the indie artists at your next anime event!

At Ayacon this year were: ITCH Publishing, Speedlines Publishing, Panic Room Comics, Sweatdrop Studios and Ushio (probably among others that I can’t remember off the top of my head ^^; )