"Detail her BRA. It'll drive them crazy, Jim."

*I’m getting hit today. It’s a short one.

*Mirth Dept: You know, Adrian Tomine has built up this reputation over the years - people say his work is depressing and mopey and ‘emo’ and the like. But you know what? The first page of Optic Nerve #10 gave me one of the biggest laughs I’ve had all week. Just beautifully executed comedy. And that’s before I checked the letters page and read the story about an anonymous reader giving a signed copy of Tomine’s Scrapbook to his favorite call-girl as a gift (“Anyway, she seemed appreciative - the sex that followed was even more amazing than it usually is with her.”). This is why people mourn the death of the mailbag page.

Also funny was Frank Miller’s cover art for All Star Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder #1 Special Edition, a beautifully stiff close-up shot of Batman punching a police officer in the face. Nice and direct, and somehow transgressive in its sheer bluntness (even though there’s been scenes like that in the book itself). And naturally, Miller’s enclosed script is good for a few horselaughs (I now like to imagine that he addresses all of his scripts to ‘Jim,’ even when that’s not the artist’s name). The ads really clash against the b&w art, though.

While I’m at it (and maybe I’m just in a silly mood now), I even found laughter in bits of the new Following Cerebus (#6), specifically regarding the part where Dave Sim describes his efforts in attempting to contact Chris Ware for issue #5’s interview suite. There wasn’t even anything particularly funny about the story - I guess I just find the thought of Dave Sim leaving messages on Chris Ware’s answering machine to be inherently comedic. It’s probably just me.

*A good interview with Tim Lehmann, author of the recent Manga: Masters of the Art, is up at Comicon. The book is an image-heavy interview compendium of visits with a dozen varied manga talents, ranging from easily recognizable names like CLAMP and Kia Asamiya to more outré talents like Suehiro Maruo and Mafuyu Hiroki - it’s got loads of neat stuff for those interested in any of the included artists, or those willing to learn more (I certainly got to liking Hiroki, having never heard of him prior). The interview, meanwhile, has some nice info on the creation of a book of this type, fascinating stuff on its own.

*And finally for today - I’m going to resist offering any ‘picks’ on the nominees for Festival Awards at Angouleme, since it’s bound to transform into ‘hooray for the books I’ve heard of,’ but I do find the mix of English and Japanese-language originals to be quite healthy (in other words, I surprised myself with how many of these books I had heard of), if also reflective of the niceties of European release dates (note Quimby the Mouse). Also, much international jealousy is inspired (argh! France is already up to Volume 6 of Kazuo Umezu’s The Drifting Classroom!). I’d hate to have to isolate a Best Art winner out from a lineup featuring Chris Ware, Taiyo Matsumoto, Thomas Ott and Stephane Blanquet…