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Friday, Jan 22, 2010

It’s hard not to root for Joe Sacco when he’s just learning to smoke for the first time in the pages of Safe Area Gorazde. Really hard, even as a non-smoker. In the short, 5-page chapter “Drina”, readers find themselves awash in a cultural milieu around the cigarette brand that’s named for a local river, and that becomes a pop-cultural flashpoint for the entire war.


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Thursday, Jan 21, 2010

[Note: Even though the plot seems pretty far from primary when experiencing this head-trip of a book, the following contains details that could be considered “spoilers.”]


The Box Man starts and ends with a kappa, and we see everything it does. The creature hops on the back of a passing scooter, bringing us along as it observes and becomes part of an incredibly strange adventure.


The kappa is “easily the single most famous yokai in Japan”, according to Yokai Attack: The Japanese Monster Survival Guide. Among its other, nastier traits, the child-sized water-monster has a beak-like mouth and a shell like a turtle, and it likes to cause trouble.


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Wednesday, Jan 20, 2010

I was in third grade when I first heard about Spawn. On the bus ride to elementary school, my friends and I would always take some action figures, comic books, trading cards or something to entertain ourselves. But who were we kidding, we were really trying to show off. I would take my comic books thinking, “My friends will be totally impressed by this!” Back then, all it took to impress us was a flashy cover, and a cool looking hero. My Night Thrasher #1 was pretty impressive by those standards. However, the one that really captured us was my friend’s Spawn #1. He was a dark and mysterious hero, with incredible power, searching for revenge on those who ruined his life… and he used swear words. To a third-grader, it does not get much cooler than that.


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Tuesday, Jan 19, 2010

Back in 2000 there was a cool, clear logic to the Marvel Universe. Or at least to the Marvel Universes. There was the regular universe, the universe of “Earth-616”, a longstanding reality in Marvel’s Multiverse. This world housed all the characters that featured so prominently over Marvel’s thitherto 40 years of publications. There was the Mangaverse, its own distinction from the regular universe was clear. The Mangaverse was a place to re-encounter old favorites, this time their origins, histories and motivations interpreted through the cultural lens of manga.


Then there was the Ultimate Universe.


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Monday, Jan 18, 2010

In this week’s Iconographies Shawn O’Rourke continues his series of features on Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima’s Lone Wolf and Cub. This installment offers a deeper appreciation of the 28 volume story cycle as an example of the epic genre in literature. Drawing on the work of such literary scholars as Timothy B. Shutt and Raymond Queneau, O’Rourke illustrates how the grim depiction of a masterless samurai wandering the land in search of revenge, redeems not only the samurai code of honor, but the medium of comics as well.


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