Diamond! You've ruined me!

*When the past was the future, we could not predict what it held.


52 #5 (of 52)

Scrublands (funny, rude, yet distinctly personal comics from South Africa's Joe Daly)

Golgo 13 Vol. 3 (of 13): Power to the People

Plus a film review of A Prairie Home Companion.

And the future pasts are no clearer to us now.

*For example, it seems Diamond’s computers have exploded or been kidnapped by ghosts or something, which means there’s not going to be any updated release lists until tomorrow. Which means I’ll just hold off on Monday’s other recurring feature until then. Still, I believe Rick Veitch’s Can’t Get No graphic novel is due out this week, so I’ll say now that it’s probably heading to the top of my list, provided that it shows.

*Drawings and Catchy Tunes Dept: Hey - Yasuomi Umetsu! That’s the closing credits sequence to the currently-airing Girls’ High, a television anime adaptation of Towa Oshima’s High School Girls manga (available in English from DrMaster). Nice to see Umetsu is getting work out these days, even if it’s only something to catch the eye as the staff names roll; he’s always been one of my favorites, and even in something as minor as this he animates his unmistakable character designs with personality and wit.

Although perhaps I speak misleadingly when I speak of 'minor' things - far and away Umetsu's biggest project was the 13-episode 2004 television anime Mezzo, which he scripted and directed on an apparently low budget, and the dispersing effect of the project’s breadth is evident. Some episodes are almost painful to look at, so limited is their animation (and what is available on dvd is reportedly an improvement on what actually aired in Japan), with Umetsu occasionally resorting to such storied b-movie tricks as long, long shots of cars driving around, all to eat up time that might otherwise have to be spent on more intensive material. Some of it was due to money, no doubt, but there’s also something to be said of Umetsu’s ability to hold things together better under the space constraints of the OVA format, or a short film, or maybe a feature.

But his perpetually in-development feature directorial debut Kiss and Cry doesn’t seem to be moving forward much. It has recently been announced that work is beginning on Kite 2, a sequel to Umetsu’s infamous, popular 1998 OVA hit, a hardcore porno (which isn’t to say it’s sexy in even the slightest - it utilizes explicit sex acts almost exclusively as a means of repulsion) that crossed over to become a top seller in Japan; it’s available in the US in no less than three different cuts, and became well-known enough for music video personality Hype Williams to pay the project homage in his Ex-Girlfriend video for No Doubt (a straight-up live-action US film adaptation, presumably without the hardcore sex, is also in development, though the wisdom of bringing in whole to live-action a project that draws much of its power from the filtering of Luc Besson-type live-action tropes through an idiosyncratic anime iconography is questionable to me).

Interestingly, Umetsu’s name has not yet been attached to the anime sequel project from what I've seen, though he’s the property’s creator, and I expect many will be hesitant to check out a sequel that doesn’t have Umetsu’s own stamp on it.

*And since we’re on the topic of Japan, Vertical’s one-volume release of Osamu Tezuka’s Ode to Kirihito is now set for an October 24th release, at a fantastic $24.95 for 828 pages. Nice!

*Interview blogs: wave of the future? I don’t know, but there’s now a new one up to join the recently-launched Graphic Language, though this one’s got a much more constrained focus - Bob Andelman’s Will Eisner: A Spirited Life Interview Series, a weekly blog devoted to augmenting Andelman’s print-format anecdotal biography of the late comics pioneer, Will Eisner: A Spirited Life. It looks like a number of gaps in the print book will be filled by this online project; I can't wait for the talk with Drew Friedman, whom Eisner claimed to have thrown out of a comics class he taught.

But the first interview is with the redoubtable Howard Chaykin, who’s simultaneously affecting and confrontational as he recalls a heated encounter between himself and Eisner that Andelman did not include with detail in the book due to concerns about its veracity. Chaykin is no fawning fan of Eisner (“a great bamboozler” he dubs him), though his respect for the man’s place in the industry is evident - it’s a lively, candid chat.