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Monday, April 28, 2008

Random readings

I should post here every now and then, shouldn't I...

The Update-A-Tron seems to be working well, with about 130 weblogs on the main list, and starting to get some decent traffic. Thanks to those who have linked to it. If you have a site (your own or one you read) that you'd like added, let me know. I'll try to add them as soon as possible, and otherwise the site pretty much runs itself, so it should be there as a resource until such time as Blogger breaks it in an attempt to "improve" the feature.

Been reading a varied bunch of stuff recently, including a lot of stuff from the ever trusty library, letting me try a lot of stuff I was mildly interested in but figured I'd only read once, and I've got enough clutter.

For instance, I can get a complete run of LONE WOLF AND CUB from there. I had gotten the first three Dark Horse books way back when, liked them well enough, but didn't really see myself getting 28 of those little things. But a chapter of it is an entertaining enough read, so I've been going through them at a steady pace, up to volume 6 so far. There's usually a clever enough hook to distinguish each chapter, but it can get a bit repetitive, so I'll probably take a break of a few months after each third.

A few other Japanese comics I'd heard good things about. PLANETES started off well, I really liked the first two books. Unfortunately it really didn't keep it up, and having just finished the second last book, it's not much more than a mild desire for closure that's going to make me read the finale. A shame, that set-up was great, and the art is really good.

I'd also heard good things about DEATH NOTE, and based on the first book, I agree (though most comments I've heard suggest it doesn't hold up this quality for the full dozen volumes). That first book is just pure gold, inventive and funny and bold. I was surprised how much I liked it (especially with it being, with PLANETES, one of the first backwards Japanese comics I read. Most times I tried it previously I'd screw up a reading order at least once every two pages, PLANETES I did a little better, DEATH NOTE I don't recall ever getting it wrong). And while I'm trying to read these things slowly, a chapter a day at most, I read the whole first book in one sitting. Unfortunately, it's a bit more popular than most of these things at the library, so it'll be a few weeks before I get more, but it's cheap enough and entertaining enough that I might just buy it before then.

I also just finally got around to getting the last few volumes of Tezuka's PHOENIX (including the book reprinting some 1950s pre-cursor work with similar themes). It's been so long that I decided to go back to the beginning, and the whole thing probably deserves a longer post when I'm done. It might even get one.

That's Japan accounted for. From Europe, I'm re-reading the ASTERIX and TINTIN stuff, in order for the first time. Both series were a major part of my childhood, and at the time I read them in pretty much random order (and in fact I think they were published in semi-random order). TINTIN, I have to say, starts off pretty weak (and I'm not even counting the early LAND OF THE SOVIETS and CONGO books, which I plan to read for the first time along with the unfinished ALPH-ART when I'm finished with the proper series). Some great art, and a few great scenes in the early books, but I'd have to say that THE BROKEN EAR is the first one I really liked, and I'm getting really impatient for Haddock and Calculus to show up. ASTERIX starts off much better, thankfully, and is pretty much near peak form by the second book, although knowing what's to come does leave a bit of a hole where you wish the later supporting cast would do something. Pretty much just Asterix, Obelix and Getafix in the first three books.

Also from Europe and other foreign shores, the Humanoids line that was published through DC a few years ago is surprisingly well represented at my library (much more so than I ever saw it represented in stores). I'd been curious about them. First stuff I tried was the two-volume SON OF THE GUN by Alexandro Jodorowsky and Georges Bess. That was pretty disgusting, and slightly insane, both in good ways. Jodorowsky and Fran├žois Boucq on THE BOUNCER: RAISING CAIN, was less effective. Trying some Enki Bilal next, I was completely and utterly confused by THE BEAST TRILOGY, and I doubt having the third chapter would help. And the less said about Yves Chaland's FREDDY LOMBARD, the better. So not a great track record with me (though some gorgeous books), but maybe I'll try a few more in a few months.

I've also been reading those odd little books by Jason that Fantagraphics has been putting out. I'm not sure what I think of them, really. Always quick reads, sometimes a few clever bits of storytelling or unexpected laughs. Of the seven books I've read I'd say MEOW, BABY!, a collection of short little gag stories involving mummies, werewolves, vampires, zombies, aliens and Elvis, is the more entertaining.

Let's see, what else... Lots of Vertigo collections available. Been reading Y THE LAST MAN, already through six books. Maybe the last one will be out around the time I'm up to there. It's pleasant enough reading, although extremely fast to get through an issue, with not a lot of depth in either the writing or the art to slow you down. But fun while it's in front of you. Also reading LUCIFER, which can be a bit hard to follow, and a bit uneven. Right now it's about 50/50 if I'll decide I need to buy a set of the books for my own collection or stop before the end.

Well, that's enough for now. It's just a fraction of what I've been reading. Hopefully if I get back to regular posting I'll put down some thoughts on the other stuff, for my own future reference if nothing else.

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