BANANA FISH by Akim Yoshida-- set in the Big Apple in the 1980's, this saga focuses on a 17-year-old former male prostitute turned gang leader, who is trying to learn the secret behind 'Banana fish' a dangerous hallucinogen. This series has received wide acclaim, but I have to admit I found the graphics rather generic and bland, with very little to indicate that the story has an urban setting.
DANCE TILL TOMMORROW by Naoki Yamamoto-- a sex comedy about that old chestnut, the young heir who must accomplish something in order to inherit a fortune. In this case, our young hero is required to graduate from college, get married, and start a career before he will inherit a valuable stamp collection. But he's too busy producing plays for a trendy underground theatre, and bed-hopping with various members of the theatre troupe. This is a pleasant romp, done in an attractive exagerated style.
STRAIN by Buronson and Ryochi Ikegami-- This is a tale of a racist Japanese industrialist scheming to dominate the 21st century by cornering the world oil supplies. But he's hampered by a preoccupation with wiping out rivals within his own family, particularly his half brother. Illustrated by manga master Ikegami (who gave us the classic MAI THE PSYCHIC GIRL, and more recently SANCTUARY) this series has some of the most impressive graphics in current manga; particularly notable is the use of texture. Unfortunately, the script is excessively talky, and Ikegami focuses too much on portraiture (many entire pages are nothing but close-ups.) Also, the main characters have stereotypically handsome faces that become monotonous; the appearance of an obese fat man reminds us that the artist can be very engaging when he has a suitable subject.
VOYEURS, INC by Hideo Yamamoto-- The recently-released first graphic novel of this series is one of the most sophisticated storylines in recent comics, dramatizing issues of trust and privacy in an overcrowded technological society. (See review of VOYEUR in the June Amazing Montage Magazine.) The continuing series is expanding on that base, with a new storyline in which the obsessive voyeur has gone professional, and is pitting himself against other electronic voyeurs. Yamamoto's style maintains a cartoonish intensity while capturing realistic aspects of urban life and surveilance methods; it's my personal favorite of recent manga.
BAKUNE YOUNG by Toyokazu Matsunaga-- This is an ultra-violent thriller about a criminal mastermind, a kidnapping and hostage plot, and all-out warfare with the Yakuza. Grotesque and amusing, it's a refreshing departure from routine comics fare. Matsunaga shows real flare for portraying spectacular action.
Although all the serials are midway through their narratives, synopses are provided for each, and earlier volumes of the sagas are for the most part still in print as trade paperbacks. The anthology is an excellent means of sampling these series, as well as keeping up with them on an ongoing basis.
Finally, did I mention the price? $5.95 for 160 b&w pages! That's got to be the best buy in comics this side of the SPX anthologies!
Initially the column had its own website; in June it was folded into the Amazing Montage website. A subscriber service was experimented with for a short time, but was dropped because it was too time-consuming.
Recently the column has been picked up as a feature by Indy Magazine, bringing it to an audience of thousands! (Note: Indy Magazine is on a short hiatus this month while its editor enjoys his honeymoon!)
Associated with the column is the Indypreviews Publisher Guide, the most comprehensive online list of independent publishers.
AAA Pop Comics THE ATOMICS #2 Mike Allred. ____________________________________________ Aardvark Vanaheim CEREBUS #251 Dave Sim! ____________________________________________ Abstract Studio STRANGERS IN PARADISE VOL. 3 #30 Terry Moore! ____________________________________________ Aero Comics THE LOST ONES #3 Ken Penders' SF action series! ____________________________________________ Agremar Editions ATLANTIC WALL Full-color historical comic about WWII illustrated by Willy Vassaux! ____________________________________________ AIT/Planetlar ASTRONAUTS IN TROUBLE: SPACE 1959 50'S intrigue about a race to the moon! This realistic action series by Larry Young and Charlie Adlard has become a big hit! ____________________________________________ Amaze Ink/ Slave Labor Graphics DOCTOR GRAVE #1 Ultra-violent supernatural thriller about an obnoxious hero combatting demonic evil! Edward Clayton. SPARKS #3 Lawrence Marvit's intriguing series about a lonely girl who builds a robotic 'Mr. Right' continues! STITCH #3 Tommy Kovac's creepy variation on TOY STORY continues! ____________________________________________ Antarctica Press FAR WEST VOL. 2 #1 Richard Moore's fantasy western with gun-toting elves! BOX OFFICE POISON #17 Alex Robinson's outstanding slice-of-life series continues!! ____________________________________________ Buffalo Nickel Comics ACCUMULATOR #1 Offbeat fantasy about a kind of memorabilia vampire, a time-traveling addict of pop-culture from bygone eras! By Novak and Jankowski! ____________________________________________ Caliber Comics THE RIPPER LEGACY #3 Thriller about a Jack the Ripper copycat! SHERLOCK HOLMES READER #3 Martin Powell extends Conan Doyle's tales with 'The Loch Ness Horror.' ____________________________________________ Crazy Mama Productions TALES OF THE VAMPIRE-- BED AND BREAKFAST #1 Satire about mother-dominated vampire pursued by beautiful women! ____________________________________________ Cup O'Tea Studios XENO'S ARROW #7 The acclaimed SF series about an intergalactic zoo continues! ____________________________________________ Dancing Elephant Press JACK STAFF #1 Brand new retro-superhero series by Paul Grist, creator of the critically-acclaimed KANE series! ____________________________________________ Dee Vee Press DEE VEE #14 Eddie Campbell and others in cutting-edge anthology! ____________________________________________ Drawn and Quarterly THE DAVID MILGAARD STORY -----and--------- JUST THE FACTS: A DECADE OF COMIC ESSAYS BY DAVID COLLIER Creator of Fantagraphic's outstanding COLLIER anthology, David Collier is a major talent whose offbeat autobiographical and historical comics are always a pleasure. Don't miss either of these new titles! ____________________________________________ Duality Press COLLECTIVE #2 Arvin Loudermilk and Mike Iverson's SF tale sounds reminiscent of Mack Reynold's ideological SF! ____________________________________________ Eddie Campbell Comics ALEC-- THE KING CANUTE CROWD 144 page Alec graphic novel by Eddie Campbell! Originally published as THE COMPLETE ALEX 10 years ago, this narrative is one of the Comics Journal's top 100 comics of all time! ____________________________________________ El Capitan Books STRAY BULLETS #22 David Lapham! ____________________________________________ Fantagraphic Books EIGHTBALL #21 Daniel Clowes completes his graphic novel 'David Boring!' FRANK #3 The first new Jim Woodring comic in two years! MEASLES #6 Beto Hernandez's delightful all-ages anthology continues, with Joost Stewart and Steve Weissman! ____________________________________________ Fink, Inc. POST, THE GHOST by Fink! ____________________________________________ Funny Valentine Press EMPTY LOVE STORIES 2000 Steve Darnell's satirical romance anthology! ____________________________________________ Henchman Publishing NODWICK #1 Aaron Williams' new wargamer satire! ____________________________________________ Insight Studios Group LIBERTY MEADOWS #7 Collecting Frank Cho's popular newspaper series! ____________________________________________ Kenzer & Company KNIGHTS OF THE DINNER TABLE #40 Wargaming satire! ____________________________________________ Lightspeed Press FINDER #16 More short stories set in the FINDER universe! Carla Speed McNeil's innovative and thought- provoking SF is not to be missed! ____________________________________________ NBM HOUSE OF JAVA #1 Mark Murphy's follow-up to the graphic novel about coffee-house denizens! ____________________________________________ Oni Press THE ADVENTURES OF BARRY WEEN 2.0 #1 Judd Winick's satire about a boy genius! FORTUNE AND GLORY #2 Brian Michael Bendis's tell-all about his Hollywood adventures continues! BLUE MONDAY: THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT #1 Chynna Clugston-Major's series about wacky high-school outcasts! ____________________________________________ Plieades Cluster INCUBUS #1 Mahmut Dervish's intriguing new series about a man pushed to the edge by marital tensions! ____________________________________________ Radio Comics FURRLOUGH #86 Anthropomorphic anthology! MANGAPHILE #4 Manga anthology! ____________________________________________ Sandberg Publishing JUPITER #7 Jason Sandberg's oddball retro-superhero series! ____________________________________________ Shanda Fantasy Arts NAUTILUS #4 Mike Curtis & Louis Frank's anthropomorphic SF series! SHANDA THE PANDA #27 Curtis, Teague, and McNeil! ____________________________________________ Sirius Entertainment SCARY GODMOTHER: WILD ABOUT HARRY #1 Jill Thompson with more of the wacky witch's adventures! AKIKO #38 More all-ages adventures by Mark Crilley! ____________________________________________ Strange Child Studios STRANGE CHILD COMIX #1 Tom Martin and Ethan Wenberg's toilet-humor anthology! ____________________________________________ Studio Foglio BUCK GODOT: GALLIMAUFRY VOL. 1 Phil Foglio and Barb Kaalberg with new adventures of the satirical SF detective! ____________________________________________ Top Shelf Productions DEAR JULIA TP Collecting Brian Biggs' groundbreaking graphic novel! ____________________________________________ Viz Communications EAGLE VOLUME 1: THE CANDIDATE Beginning Kaiji Kawaguchi's graphic novel about an Asian-American running for the Democratic nomination for US President! PULP VOLUME 4 #3 Manga-noir anthology-- see featured comics!