Oh crumbs, out of time again.

*I’m lost and baffled today. For all of whatever free time I had, I wound up scouring through my old issues of The Comics Journal, reading the entirety of Bill Randall’s intermittent manga column, Lost in Translation, which ran for much of Milo George’s time as managing editor, and continues today under Dirk Deppey, although I don’t believe it’s appeared since issue #263 (the current issue is #269). There was a lot of insight stored up in those essays, and I especially appreciated the two-part examination of the origins of the gekiga movement in manga (found in issues #244-245), which started in the 1950’s, and eventually spawned everything from the formidable waking-life-and-other aesthetic of Yoshiharu Tsuge to the swaggering mega-franchise of Golgo 13; Randall restricts himself to examining the less genre-driven examples of the style, touching on the wandering post-war open-eyed malaise of the man that coined the very term gekiga, the soon-to-be US-visible Yoshihiro Tatsumi (I've recently secured a used copy of his 1987 English-language collection Good-Bye and Other Stories, which you too can find on major bookselling sites for under eight dollars - more on this book later, in preparation for the Adrian Tomine-edited release of Tatsumi's second English-language collection, The Push Man and Other Stories, from D&Q, which will apparently collect some of the same material as the earlier book), as well as the works of Tsuge and his dreamtime disciple Imiri Sakabashira (whose work has appeared in English in Fantagraphics’ ahead-of-its-time 1995 alternative manga anthology Sake Jock - used copies of which can also be secured, if for considerably more than eight bucks), plus some slightly more contemporary work from Hajime Yamano (veteran of another US alt manga anthology, Blast Books’ 1996 release, Comics Underground Japan, review somewhere in here).

Here’s a sample of Randall’s material, featuring some great manga recommendations and a sharply-put rejoinder to the ‘unflipped manga = greater authenticity’ meme that we’ve all heard and absorbed (“As to the question of authenticity, if it's that important, move to Japan, learn Japanese, and read it on the train. The point of a translation is to make a work intelligible to a completely different culture, to interpret it so that the barriers of language and custom are no longer insurmountable. Un-flipped manga is at best a half-translation, and while they are popular at the moment, it's a fad.”). I hope to read more of his work in the future, as he’s also managed to convince me that Toyokazu Matsunaga’s Bakune Young (more here) is maybe the finest manga in town, and having read selected chapters in those old issues of Pulp I scored for a buck a pop, I only want to see more…

*Care for even more chit-chat on manga, even if it's kind of old? Here's manga-influenced bandes dessinées creator Frederic Boilet (of Yukiko's Spinach and Mariko Parade fame), with his 2001 Nouvelle Manga Manifesto, in case anyone hasn't read it yet. I think it's just as interesting for what it says about domestic public perception of comics in France and Japanese reactions to non-Japanese books as it does about international stylistic joinders. Interesting how Enki Bilal (mixed review of his latest film Immortal, based on bits of The Nikopol Trilogy, right here, from this week) apparently did about as poorly in a commercial sense in Japan as he did in the US. Don't mind the ALL CAPS for IMPORTANT TERMS AND PHRASES and you'll learn quite a bit.

*Crap. Look at how out of time I already am. I’ll have more stuff tomorrow, I promise. Until then, here’s an academic essay on Alan Moore’s work on Watchmen and assorted Rob Liefeld characters that I saw on Tom Spurgeon’s site; it’s a decent piece (reading Dr. Manhattan’s future-cognitive powers as a metaphor for the comics page is pretty sharp), though it concludes with Moore acting in resignation, while I see the later ABC books as a type of rebuilding for the future, the next step for his Liefeld-derived works. I’m also not too sure about some of the author’s minor points (placing Dr. Manhattan as a transformative force on the likes of Grant Morrison’s Xorn is maybe not the most apt connection to draw, particularly considering that Xorn appeared long after Watchmen in the context of a separate heavily referential superhero book, with his own commentary-baggage included). Still, it’s worth a read.