Welcome to the first I Wish I Wrote That of 2011! I’ve got a great batch of writing to share with you this month, which is a pretty great way to start off the year.
First off, today’s main attraction is a wonderful essay posted just last night, the latest in Jason Thompson‘s “House of 1000 Manga,” this time featuring Swan.
Published incompletely in English by the now-defunct CMX, Swan is one of those manga I am trying my hardest to collect before the volumes become so scarce that they all go for $300 apiece from skeevy Amazon sellers. I haven’t yet made it to the double-digits, something that reading Jason’s essay makes me deeply regret. Almost nobody can make me want to read a manga the way that Jason Thompson can (which is why I went immediately broke after the release of Manga: The Complete Guide), and the way he talks about Swan, I expect my bank account will suffer again. A quote:
“I didn’t expect that a shojo manga about ballet would be one of the most fiery-spirited shonen manga I’ve read in the last few years. Blood and sweat, competition, agonizing training sequences — these are things that are more common in boys’ manga, but Swan transfers them to the ballet and somehow makes it a perfect fit. It’s a mixture of rivalry and hard work, art and elegance; a combination of yûjô, doryoku, bigaku … I don’t know if this is just stereotypes, but judging purely from Swan, Japanese girls in 1976 were 10 times more badass than men in most countries today.”
Jason’s maybe not as “quotable” as some snarkier manga critics–I’m not doubled over with laughter when I read even his funniest lines. The beauty of his writing is found in the whole, and the whole is what must be read. I wish I wrote that!
A few other terrific links:
Khursten Santos has a new review up at Otaku Champloo, for est em’s gorgeous BL anthology, Red Blinds the Foolish. “There was a time when I used to dream of Spanish fiestas. La Tomatina. Hogueras de San Juan. San Isidro de Madrid. Corrida de toros. And I did not dream of this because my country, the Philippines, used to be a Spanish colony. My fascination with it lies in the romance of the activity. There was something beautiful and romantic with the order that comes with the chaos of a fiesta.”
At The Manga Critic, Kate Dacey reworked a older review of Taiyo Matsumoto’s Blue Spring, and the result is beautifully descriptive: “Matsumoto eschews linear narrative in favor of digressions and fragments; as a result, we feel more like we’re living in the characters’ heads than reading a tidy account of their actions. Snatches of daydreams sometimes interrupt the narrative, as do jump cuts and surreal imagery: sharks and puffer fish drift past a classroom window where two teens make out, a UFO languishes above the school campus. Even the graffiti plays an integral part of Matsumoto’s storytelling; the walls are a paean to masturbation, booze, and suicide, cheerfully urging ‘No more political pacts–sex acts!'”
This one’s going to get super-meta, but in my very first incarnation of this column, I praised Shaenon Garrity’s essay about Cathy Guisewite’s Cathy. Today, Noah Berlatsky did the same at The Hooded Utilitarian, and dammit, his is better than mine. “Ultimately, though, while I appreciate the insight into my own animosities, what really made this perhaps my favorite piece of the year was the insight into Shaenon’s affections … the piece is filled with affection, and indeed love. That love is directed precisely at Cathy’s fans; the Baby Boomer women. Among those women is Shaenon’s mother…and Cathy Guisewite herself.”
And speaking of Shaenon Garrity, her latest post at comiXology, about Neil Gaiman’s Sandman makes me want to finally finish the series, which I had loved until I got too bogged down in the visual overload of its ever-changing artwork. “I dreaded rereading Sandman because it was the comic that got me hooked on comic books, when I was a nerdy teenager who hung out with the goths and followed them to Kent State coffeehouses on Friday nights, and there was no way it could possibly live up to my memories. The Dark Knight Returns didn’t; the art’s still amazing, but all of Batman’s monologues now sound like they’re about butt sex, and the fact that I can’t read them without giggling indicates that I’ve somehow gotten more juvenile since I was sixteen.” Or maybe I just want to read more Shaenon.
That’s what I wish I wrote this month! Readers, what about you?