The new year has been hitting me over the head with a cast iron pan. Part of that is no doubt jet lag. Four months of languishing on the other side of the ocean will really mess with your body clock, and only now, a week after my return to the frozen shores of Canada, am I finally able to make it through an entire day without being accosted with abrupt and intense bursts of sleepiness. And part of it is just the usual scrambling to meet deadlines, with added moving back into my apartment and trying to remember where I put everything. All of which leaves me with no time for noodling around with books. Which is true sadness since my favourite thing in the world is to noodle around with books.
And this book is one I have been living with for months now. I started reading Manga Henshusha on a trip to Osaka from Cat Island in October since it was the thickest book I had to hand, and I was afraid the other slim volumes on my desk would simply not last me for the two-day journey. (Other bibliophiles, I’m sure, share my fear of finishing a book in the middle of a trip with nothing else to pick up after it.) But it’s also a book I’ve been looking forward to reading since it was released in the spring of last year. Because I am obviously interested in all the bits and pieces of the manga world. Take that clock apart and look inside. Plus, cover illustration by Natsume Ono! Continue reading
Sometimes books find you. Most of the time, you find the books, but once in a while, they find you. It’s weird when it happens, but also amazing. It’s kind of like when a friend gives you a book they think you’ll like and then you love it, but it’s more like going to a city you’ve never been to before, getting on the metro, and finding a book by someone you’ve never heard of sitting on the seat next to you in a half-empty train car. And you forgot to bring your own book with you, so you start reading it and it turns out to be exactly the sort of thing you love. That’s a book finding you.
So when my brain is not battling books for your entertainment (are you entertained?), it and I spend our time messing around with the Japanese language, trying to turn it into English for your entertainment (how about now?). You may remember that I work with the Toronto Comic Arts Festival because of all the Japanese messing around I do, interpreting for visiting manga artists. And you may further remember that this year the interpretee was the amazing Taiyo Matsumoto. And because he is amazing (this part you won’t remember because I haven’t told you yet), he brought gifts of books. And the book he brought for me was a collection of his wife’s manga, Twinkle. Which is how this book found me. Continue reading
I don’t know if you know about this thing called TCAF? It is where loads of awesome people gather near the beginning of May? This year, the main exhibition days are May 11 and 12, but there is lots of stuff happening in the week before and after, and the whole month in fact. Like this art show at a beer factory. Art + beer = Sign me up. You should totally come and check it out. But if you need another reason to check it out, how about insanely talented Japanese artist Taiyo Matsumoto? You know, the guy who wrote Ping Pong? And Tekkon Kinkreet? And so, so much more? TCAF is putting on a big show of his work, the first of its kind in North America and not much to compare with it even in his native Japan. So it is kind of a big deal.
And in my capacity as “Japanese guest liaison” for the festival (I love this title, makes me feel like I am always wearing sleek black suits with my hair pulled back into tight buns), I will be escorting Mr. Matsumoto around town and making sure something in English happens at his speaking events. He is pretty good at handling the Japanese part; hopefully, I will be equally good at handling the English. Because I really want people to fall in love with him like I have. Not only because he is a super-nice, super-sweet guy (because he is), but also because his work just grows more and more compelling and interesting. Continue reading
When I started reading Ping Pong, I had no intention of actually writing about it. Because it is a five-book series about high school boys playing ping pong. Okay, fine, table tennis, if you want to be a snot about it. Either way, I am not particularly interested. I only picked the series up because of my job, which is sometimes very, very dull (days of Excel spreadsheets about human resources issues, sound effects for porn manga) and other days very, very much the best thing ever (short story by one of my favourite authors, dinner interview with one of my favourite artists). And in the very much the best thing ever category, I will be following Taiyo Matsumoto around for a week or so in May.
If you have been hiding under a rock (and maybe you have been deeply hungover, in which case, that rock belly is probably the most comfortable place you can be, free from noise and light) (but probably crawling with wriggly things with too many legs, so I’d still abandon the rock and suffer the light and noise), Taiyo Matsumoto is a featured guest at TCAF this year. (As is famed gay artist Gengoroh Tagame and French artist David B.) (And many other talented creators. I always feel bad just singling out a couple. They’re all incredible!) And as usual, to make sure I am ready for what his fans throw at him, I am (re)reading as much of his oeuvre as I can get my hands on.