[The Umpteen Millionaire Club is our series which puts forth book club discussion questions for Fantagraphics titles. The Comics Journal interns Keith Barbalato, Lucy Kiester, and Daniel Johnson put together this set of questions. As this is intended for those who have read the book and may contain spoilers, questions can be found behind the jump. - Ed.]
Inio Asano's Nijigahara Holograph cuts back and forth between two timelines, filling in details bit by bit: events ripple throughout a town and take their toll for years to come, resulting in violence and sexual guilt. A foreboding force circulates among a community following a woman's suicide. A group of students put a classmate, Arié, into a coma. As troubled new student Amahiko attempts to make friends at school, his life intertwines with the cycle of assault and death.
Butterflies ominously proliferate as children whisper rumors of a mysterious creature lurking in the tunnel behind the school. To appease its wrath, they decide to offer it a sacrifice — a human one. But this is only the beginning of Nijigahara Holograph, which takes place in two separate timelines and involves the suicidal Amahiko; Kohta, the lovestruck bully; their teacher Miss Sakaki, whose heavily bandaged face remains a mystery; and many more brothers, sisters, parents, co-workers, teachers, aggressors and victims who are all inextricably linked to one another. Ten years later, all will have to face what they've done or suffered through — and maybe the end of the world.
Nijigahara Holograph — complex, challenging, and elliptical — was named one of the most anticipated new manga at Comic-Con International: San Diego. Hailed as a voice of the current generation in Japan, Inio Asano, whose Solanin was nominated for Eisner and Harvey awards (and was made into a feature film), delves into David Lynchian territory with this psychological horror story.
"Inio Asano is one of the best new manga creators, hands down." – Shaenon Garrity, About.com
"Inio Asano is one of the great emerging voices in manga… [Nijigahara Holograph] is guaranteed to be one of the books of the year, and should help cement Asano's reputation." – ComicsAlliance
"Asano is so young, and [his] ability to talk about human nature, and the distress of becoming an adult is equally painful and beautiful. [He] is in my opinion one of the best and more moving storytellers working nowadays." – Emma Rios (Pretty Deadly)
Even as butterflies ominously proliferate in town, the rumor of a mysterious creature lurking in the tunnel behind the school spreads among the children. When the body of Arié Kimura's mother is found by this tunnel's entrance, next to apparently human traces, the legend seems to be confirmed. Is the end of the world coming? In order to appease the wrath of the beast, the children decide to offer it a sacrifice: The unfortunate Arié, whom they believe to be the cause of the curse, is shoved into a well that leads to the Nijigahara tunnel — an act that in turns pushes Komatsuzaki, the budding thug who has carried a torch for Arié for a while already, entirely over the edge.
But this is only the beginning of the complex, challenging, obliquely told Nijigahara Holograph, which takes place in two separate timelines and involves the suicidal Suzuki; Higure, his stalkerish would-be girlfriend; their teacher Miss Sakaki, whose heavily bandaged face remains a mystery; and many more — brothers, sisters, parents, co-workers, teachers, aggressors and victims who are all inextricably linked to one another and all will eventually — ten years later — have to live with what they’ve done or suffered through.
Asano, whose Solanin was nominated for the 2009 Eisner and Harvey comics awards (and which was made into a feature film in 2010), delves into disturbing territory with this Lynchian horror story, told in his unnervingly crisp and detailed panels.
SPECIAL OFFER: Add Wandering Son Vol. 7 (coming Summer 2014) or Vols. 7 & 8 (coming Winter 2014/2015) to your order for just $19.99 each, a savings of at least $5 off the cover price! Use the option menu on the product page to make your selection.
Shimura Takako’s sensitive and charming series about two middle-schoolers wrestling with their gender identities continues.
In Volume 6 of Wandering Son, our protagonists are riffing on the play Romeo and Juliet for the school festival. Nitori-kun, the boy who wants to be a girl, and Chiba-san, the girl who has a crush on him, co-wrote the script (in Vol. 5), but Chiba-san has an agenda. She wants to play Romeo, with Nitori-kun in the role of Juliet. But Nitori-kun wants Takatsuki-san, the girl who wants to be a boy, to play Romeo. But you know what they say about the best-laid plans of mice and men... casting is to be decided by fate, with names drawn randomly.
Big sis Maho plans a trip to the beach with her boyfriend, but her parents send Nitori-kun along as an unwilling chaperone. Faced with unwanted changes to their growing bodies, Takatsuki-san discovers the wonders of “breast binders,” while Nitori-kun considers bras.
The Massive anthology showcases Japan’s most talented and influential gay manga artists, including Gengoroh Tagame, Jiraiya, Seizoh Ebisubashi, Kazuhide Ichikawa, Gai Mizuki, Takeshi Matsu, Fumi Miyabi, and Kumada Poohsuke. In Massive, many of these artists’ works are featured in English for the first time; this collection offers an intimate, in-depth look at a criminally overlooked component of Japanese queer culture. In addition to comics and illustrations, Massive features photographs of the artists and their workspaces; cultural and historical context; and interviews with the creators about what it’s like to be a gay erotic artist in Japan.
Edited by Anne Ishii and Graham Kolbeins, and designed by Chip Kidd, this unprecedented survey of manga "made by gay men for gay men" is an essential addition to the queer comics canon; it will introduce the genre often referred to as "bara" (a misnomer for gay manga that has taken on new meanings online) to a new, international audience.
Massive was originally scheduled as a PictureBox Spring 2014 release until its publisher, Dan Nadel, announced that he is ceasing operations. Although we’re sad to see PictureBox shutter its doors, everyone involved is delighted to give Massive a new home. "I'm thrilled that Massive, an essential guide to the world of gay manga, is going to see print next year. Anne Ishii, Graham Kolbeins, and Chip Kidd are the best guides imaginable to this fascinating work and the men who make it," says Nadel.
Inio Asano's Solanin was one of the most acclaimed manga to reach our shores in the previous decade (and a feature film back home in Japan), and anticipation is high for our English edition of Asano's Nijigahara Holograph (translated by Matt Thorn). Our advance copies arrived last week and Jen and Kristy got into a tug-of-war over who got the first one. There should be an adequate quantity of copies of this complex, gripping psychological/supernatural thriller to go around in February, but why risk it? Pre-order your copy now.
We're pleased to present the enigmatic prologue to Nijigahara Holograph by Inio Asano as a free, downloadable preview. After a flash of disparate images (butterflies, twin babies, a notebook, a tunnel, a headless animal, a falling or floating body), the scene opens in a hospital as a young man attends to his ailing father, then meets a mysterious old man outside who seems to know him. A couple of quick scene shifts — a man in a lonely apartment, a couple having sex, a man interviewing a woman — and we flash back to a sad but curious schoolgirl, a found corpse, a schoolyard confrontation, a spooky vision, and a heart-stopping incident. How do they all tie together? Why don't you pre-order the book and find out when it comes out in February?
Our elves have been busy and 10 more of our Spring-Summer 2014 titles are now newly ready for pre-ordering action. More will become available as they're built into our bookkeeping system (which can be an irregular process) so continue to stay tuned...
“While most manga about cross-dressing involve lots of shrieking and embarrassment, Wandering Son takes a quieter, more introspective approach.... It’s a very sweet manga with realistic characters — no dead parents or crazy teachers, just ordinary, loving families and supportive friends. This manga is a beautifully produced, hardcover book, and... it’s worth every penny.” — Brigid Alverson, MTV.com
“Wandering Son is meticulously accurate in its details, but universal in its emotions. Gay or not, readers shouldn’t find it too difficult to identify with kids who feel like their bodies and their friends are equally culpable in the worst kind of betrayal, preventing them from realizing the potential they see in themselves.” — Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
SPECIAL OFFER: Add Wandering Son Vol. 7 (coming Summer 2014) or Vols. 7 & 8 (coming Winter 2014/2015) to your pre-order for just $19.99 each, a savings of at least $5 off the cover price! Use the option menu on the product page to make your selection.