The fifth grade. The threshold to puberty, and the beginning of the end of childhood innocence. Shuichi Nitori and his new friend Yoshino Takatsuki have happy homes, loving families, and are well-liked by their classmates. But they share a secret that further complicates a time of life that is awkward for anyone: Shuichi is a boy who wants to be a girl, and Yoshino is a girl who wants to be a boy. Written and drawn by one of today’s most critically acclaimed creators of manga, Shimura portrays Shuishi and Yoshino’s very private journey with affection, sensitivity, gentle humor, and unmistakable flair and grace. Volume one introduces our two protagonists and the friends and family whose lives intersect with their own. Yoshino is rudely reminded of her sex by immature boys whose budding interest in girls takes clumsily cruel forms. Shuichi’s secret is discovered by Saori, a perceptive and eccentric classmate. And it is Saori who suggests that the fifth graders put on a production of The Rose of Versailles for the farewell ceremony for the sixth graders — with boys playing the roles of women, and girls playing the roles of men.
Wandering Son is a sophisticated work of literary manga translated with rare skill and sensitivity by veteran translator and comics scholar Matt Thorn.
Download a 20-page PDF excerpt of the entire first chapter (3.3 MB).
Catching up on our Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Review: "...Fantagraphics Books’ new Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse: “Race to Death Valley” contains all you need to know to revel in the very different, deeply pleasurable work of [Floyd] Gottfredson. Working with one of the most famous — and most anodyne — cartoon characters in the world, Gottfredson turned the grinning, goody-goody Mouse into a plucky, even reckless adventurer, his smile transformed from a people-pleasing smirk into a challenge to the world.... Gottfredson drew Mickey with a nosy snout and the bright eyes of an adrenalin junkie. The mouse’s diminutive size inspired Gottfredson to have the character attempt daredevil races, leaping stunts, and develop a flurry-fisted fighting style.... This beautiful volume gives the Great Rodent his humanity." – Ken Tucker, Entertainment Weekly
• Review: "Fantagraphics does a very smart thing with [Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse Vol. 1], packing it full of historical materials to set the story for the comic strip. Having David Gerstein edit it is, of course, the smartest thing they could have done.... Simply put, it's the most extensive collection of 'extras' I've ever seen in one of these comic strip reprint series to date.... Reproductions are as great as you could ever hope for from material that's 80 years old and originally printed in the inkiest of newspapers you could imagine.... It's a kick to see this more interesting version of Mickey running around, saying and doing politically incorrect things. It's amazing to see how much detail an artist could pack into a small series of panels like this. But, most of all, it's a whole lot of fun." – Augie De Blieck Jr., Comic Book Resources
• Review: "This is, first of all, superb material.... Way back when, [Mickey Mouse] had a continuity and some darn good stories, illustrated with dynamic and expressive art. It was everything you could have wanted a newspaper strip to be, including being quite funny at times...and even suspenseful. The book itself is perfect and by that I mean I can't think of a single way it could have been improved. The reproduction is sharp. The editorial material fills you in nicely about the history of the strip, plus there are articles that discuss its merits and significance. The volume itself is handsome and will look good on your shelf." – Mark Evanier
• Plugs: Some great press mentions for our Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Free Comic Book Day comic, including the AP's Matt Moore and Whitney Matheson of USA Today Pop Candy, who says "This is sort of what FCBD is about, isn't it? Fantagraphics presents Floyd Gottfredson's amazing old Mickey strips from 1935 that are still entertaining today. Perfect for all ages..." The Wright Opinion's Brendan Wright says "The line work is beautiful and fluid, with plenty of panels that are funny to look at without reading the words. Thorough as always with this type of project, Fantagraphics has provided both an intro by David Gerstein an an appreciation of Gottfredson by classic Disney animator and official Disney Legend Floyd Norman."
• Review: "For Isle of 100,000 Graves, the cartoonist Jason works with a writer, Fabien Vehlmann, for what is at least the first time in his strong North American publishing run. It's a fun collaboration over which to muse because it's hard to tell exactly what Vehlmann brings to the table. The writer has grasped onto Jason's use of deadpan humor and wistful character moments to an uncanny degree.... Because of this deliberate care in both building their personalities and working from them in terms of how they react to certain story moments, both leads come across as incredibly endearing. A story-ending plot twist almost gets lost in a by-that-point hilarious one-liner about the methods used in bringing it about." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
• Review: "Underground-influenced comics fall into certain patterns — idiosyncratic art, rambling tales of daily life, copious use of mood-altering substances — but [Leslie] Stein makes hers [Eye of the Majestic Creature] fresh with the addition of a talking guitar.... Stein’s style is very readable, with sparse linework and a lead character that resembles a more tripped-out Little Orphan Annie, with huge blank buttons for eyes. Stein’s settings and other characters show more detail, especially in the complex stippling, demonstrating her outward focus.... Her world is full, even if it’s one that’s a bit off-kilter..." – Publishers Weekly
• Review: "Peter Bagge continues the saga of Lisa and Buddy Bradley and their son Harold in Hate Annual #9.... Peter Bagge has always made you care for these characters no matter what crazy problems they had. He has this rare gift of getting his readers to empathize with the drawings on the page and realizing them as real people.... Bagge shows us a very human side to the characters he creates and mirrors life in a sometimes painful way.... As we live our lives, we can look at these pages and see a little bit of ourselves in the drawn panels. This is what makes this series, and all previous ones, stand the test of time and remain a great read. Rating: 8.5" – The Comic Book Critic
• Interview:The Daily Cross Hatch continues serializing the transcript of Brian Heater's MoCCA panel conversation with Peter Bagge: "I started drawing Buddy in 1980, when he was a member of The Bradleys. He was always 10 years younger than me. He started out as an adolescent — not always exactly 10 years. That’s on purpose, because that 10 years gives me space. When you’re going through a crisis or a rough time, it’s not funny, but 10 years later, you can look at the whole situation more objectively and find the humor in it."
• Review: "[Joe Daly's] latest, award-winning, on-going project Dungeon Quest is a delightful combination of nerdy discipline and pharmaceutical excess... Happily marrying the sensibilities of post-grunge, teenaged waste-lads... with the meticulous and finicky obsessions of role-playing gamers and the raw thrill of primal myths, this captivating and wittily indulgent yarn is enchantingly rendered in solid, blocky friendly black and white and garnished with lashings of smart-ass attitude. Strength: vulgar. Intelligence: witty. Dexterity: compelling. Mana: absolutely. Status: unmissable." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Interview:The Daily Cross Hatch begins serializing another of Brian Heater's MoCCA panel conversations, this time with Gahan Wilson: "The people who do horror stories and grim stuff are remarkably sweet people.... It was very odd. Why are horror writers like this? And it suddenly occurred to me — of course, what horror writers are writing about is the vulnerability of themselves and their readers and everybody and how fragile everything is.... They’re experts at being scared. If they weren’t experts at being scared, they wouldn’t write about being scared and scare other people."
• Interview: If you read Japanese, enjoy excerpts from a conversation between Moto Hagio and her colleague Ryoko Yamagishi from Otome Continue Vol. 6 presented at Poco Poco
• Feature:Eye of the Majestic Creature creator Leslie Stein is the guest contributor in the latest installment of "What Are You Reading?" at Robot 6. Among her picks: Yeah! by Peter Bagge & Gilbert Hernandez: "Gilbert’s illustrations are excellent and Bagge’s writing is funny, as per usual."
Anime News Network reports that Moto Hagio (shown above at Comic-Con International last year) has received the 2011 Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Award from the Japan Cartoonists Association of manga creators as part of their 40th annual Japan Cartoonist Awards. The honor is in recognition of her entire body of work, praised in the announcement as "revolutionary" and "of high quality." Congratulations!
• Review: "...[T]his... phenomenal one-shot [is] a baroque masterpiece... It's difficult to do justice to the artistic qualities of Tardi's stark, understated line drawings; whether he's depicting a motley crew of sailors, highly detailed industrial machinery, or an ice floe, the art is both technical and madly expressive. Precisely calibrated, perfectly laid out, and incredibly graphic, [The Arctic Marauder] is as good as adventure comics get." – Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
• Review: "This [story] sounds fantastical and almost the staple of short science fiction stories, but Jason’s work has a dark and twisted tone, like a hideous fairytale for a soulless child born in haunted forest. [...] I Killed Adolf Hitler manages to take the subjects of hitmen, time travel, dictators, alternate timelines, patience and love without ever feeling crammed or rushed. It fuses them into a story that by the end, leaves you marveling at its beautiful symmetry and craft." – Kevin Scully, The Negative Zone
"For their first new manga release in years, Fantagraphics pulled out the stops with their deluxe hardcover edition of this collection of short stories by shojo manga pioneer Moto Hagio. Elegant, thought-provoking and sensitive, the stories in A Drunken Dream offer a tantalizing retrospective of the forty-plus years of Hagio's career."
• Review: "[The Complete Peanuts 1979-1980] is... a genius volume... Some of the pieces here – especially the longer storylines – are absolute classics. [...] Plus, there’s just the sheer kookiness of some of Schulz’s pop-cultural references and inventions, which continues to astound here... Schulz is at the height of his powers as a cartoonist here, as well. [...] Such graphic flair! Such economy of line! A Peanuts nut couldn’t ask for more, really." – Naomi Fry, The Comics Journal
• Review: "Littered with violence, inappropriate sexual innuendos, misguided bravado and infused with hilarity, Dungeon Quest (of which two 136 page volumes are available) promises a uniquely entertaining graphic novel experience." – Rick Klaw, The SF Site: Nexus Graphica
• Profile: Anthony Mostrom of the Los Angeles Times gives a brief history of E.C. Segar and the creation of Popeye: "Segar had no idea just how fat his checks would become after the invention of Popeye. Indeed, he flirted with the idea of dropping the character after the 'Dice Island' story ended. Who would have guessed that a character so grotesque of face would be so instantly loved, his fame so long-lived that he would become part of a Google logo 80 years later?" (Via Newsarama)
The back page of the 2011 edition of the Comic-Con Annual magazine features the great moment at last year's San Diego con when Inkpot Award-winning manga-ka Moto Hagio met one of her inspirations, the great Ray Bradbury, and presented him with a copy of her book A Drunken Dream and Other Stories. Click the image for a larger scan and see another snapshot here.
• Analysis: At The Comics Journal, Ken Parille does a close reading of "Bianca" from Moto Hagio's A Drunken Dream and Other Stories (for which we provided a free PDF download of the story): "I first saw 'Bianca' as a conventional sentimental tale, exploring such familiar themes as 'the sanctity of childhood' and 'the power of art.' And many online writers, regardless of their aesthetic evaluation of its merits, seemed to concur. Some found its sentimentality beautiful, others found it excessive, but all agreed it needed little explication. Had I read it only once or twice, I would have agreed, too. Yet re-readings revealed to me a far different, and far more compelling, surface and depth."