COMICAZI Comic Book Spotlight via Dig Boston

INTERVIEW: BOB BUTMAN OF COMICAZI by DIG BOSTON

This local comic book shop, Comicazi, is definitely on my list to check-out/return to. Dig Boston just posted a great Q&A interview with the owner of the shop Bob Butman:

What are your favorite comics?It just changes so often, so, y’know. I can go from really, really be loving something that’s out this week to digging out some comics from the sixties.

What do you like this week, for instance?The Massive, Brian Wood. I don’t know where it’s gonna go, but it’s a nice introduction to a world that’s kind of refreshing. It’s a little different post-apocalyptic and different take, definitely, cause you’ve got Y: The Last Man, you’ve got The Walking Dead, these are all kind of post-apocalyptic futures, and this one’s far, far from both of those. So far, so good, I’m really enjoying that.

What are the best and worst parts of your job here?That’s tough. The best, there’s tons of good. We have a huge community here. My parents came to visit this past week, and they were staying with us, and I’m driving down the street, and I’m waving to Officer Tom, who comes in and gets his Warhammer. I can’t go far without bumping into somebody that I know through the store, and what a big outstretched community that has become…


Read the full interview here.

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Cursed Pirate Girl by Jeremy Bastian Is Frackin’ Awesome

Cursed Pirate Girl cover by Jeremy Bastian

My latest read and most amazing discovery? Cursed Pirate Girl by Jeremy Bastian.

This epic graphic novel has been around for the past several years — how could I not have known about it before?!?! It wasn’t until the other weekend when I was noodling around the comic book shop that I learned about Cursed Pirate Girl. It was one of the featured books on display.

I picked it up because it looked amazing. A badass girl with an eye patch on the cover? Fierce. And then, I opened the book…

Holy shit.

The illustrations are frackin’ phenomenal.

It’s so very rare to see good black and white artwork in graphic novels. Usually, the balance is so far off where there’s too much black or too much white that it hurts the eyes. But here, I couldn’t get enough of Bastian’s work. His inking and line work technique are exceptional — creating tones of gray even in the night scenes where black is the primary color.

My eyes were overwhelmed in a good way. I wanted to see every single detail — I still do (I’m going to re-read the book but re-read the artwork this time).

crazy,  magical illustrations & textured, frayed paper

Flipping through the pages, you feel as though you’re being transported to another world — think The NeverEnding Story / Alice in Wonderland as drawn by Sir John Tenniel / Peter Pan. The story itself is so well told. A parrot in a fish? Yeah, I believe that. Why wouldn’t I? Of course! Brilliant.

And what I appreciated most? That the Cursed Pirate Girl is so fearless. She can kick your ass if she wanted to. She found out she was missing her eye (I won’t reveal how) and what does she do? She just finds something to cover it. No biggie.

If I had a daughter, this would be tops for bedtime story/required reading.

I am so blown away.

Thank you, Jeremy Bastian for the inspiration and magic!

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Batgirl, Issue No. 44: My Search Continues…

Batgirl, Issue No. 44

I’m on a mission to find back issues of Batgirl / Cassandra Cain at my local comic book shops. Granted, Mr. Lee found an eBay listing for a lot of what I’m looking for, but I’d rather have an adventure and search through old boxes — that is part of the fun.

Fortunately, success was had yesterday at New England Comics in Quincy. I wish there’d been more but I’ll take what I can get 🙂

This was an interesting issue. Up until now, I’ve only known of Cassandra Cain as on her own. But, here, I got to see her under Batman’s wing.

Oh well, won’t find out much else until I can find another issue(s) in some random order. Wish me luck next time! Altho, my life would be a lot easier if DC Comics would just compile her earlier appearances into a trade paperback.

P.S.Apologies for being MIA the past week. I got hit with the flu — even rung in the new year all sick and gross on my couch. Only a week later do I feel semi like my old self…which means, comics are on the way!

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New Fave Band: The Floating Heads

electro // pop // rock // by jessica sun lee + leo white

It was cold. I was hunkered down for a night of figure sketching when I got the call:

“Let’s check out some bands over at the Radio!” Mr. Lee said.
“Uhhh…but I’m all settled and warm right now…” I whined.
“Come on — it’ll be fun!” Mr. Lee continued.
“Ughhh…ok, ok. Fine, fine. Let’s do this,” I relented.

It was freaking ass cold outside, but I’m so glad that I decided not to succumb to lame-ness by staying in. I did get several good sketches in so all was not lost on that front.

Three bands played that night and The Floating Heads were my fave by far.

The lead singer/guitarist Jessica Sun Lee was cute, funny, and I loved her voice. Definitely reminded me a bit of Sneaker Pimps and Ladyhawke.

Note: Not counting Jessica, Mr. Lee and I were the only other Asians in the house….as usual 😛

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End O’ December Reading List

Can you believe that I still haven’t gotten to these treasures yet? Oiy, what am I doing?!

Anyhow, there are only 5 or so days left in the year…1 or 2 if you believe the Mayan end-of-the-world prediction. So with what little time that’s left either way, I’m hoping that I can power through these:

What’s the rush? The fact that there are a couple Derek Kirk Kim books I want to get at 🙂

So, here’s to getting lost and inspired, especially with the nutshit craziness of the holidays — I mean, I <3 Christmas, but I also hate it at the same time. I mean, Christmas would be perfect if it were exactly like Thanksgiving, but still with the mistletoe, tree, Christmas movie specials, and music…oh, and snow.

*sigh*

If only I ruled the world.

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The Only Batgirl I Care About…Cassandra Cain!

“I don’t kill. But I don’t lose, either.”

In the world of superhero comics, it’s rare that there be any major character that sorta, kinda looks like me — that I know of anyway. Usually, the super hero ladies are blonde, super boobed-out, and prefer to fight in a bikini top and G-string. Which is perfectly fine, but it’s not something I can quite identify with.

Hence, my comic book tastes gravitating toward Sunday comics (i.e., Fox Trot, Get Fuzzy, The Boondocks) and autobiographical graphic novels (i.e., Optic Nerve, Persepolis).

Anyhow, during a trip to the comic book shop awhile back where I was waiting for my Comic Book Amigo to finish going through the latest Walking Dead issues, I — for some reason…perhaps out of boredom — started flipping through an issue of Red Robin. And what greeted me in the opening spread was the above image featuring a kickass lady with short, dark hair — like me, like me! And, get this — she had clothes on to boot!

I did a quick search on my phone and found out the following info about her:

Cassandra Cain is a fictional character in the DC Comics Universe, one of several who has served as Batgirl, a character in the Batman comic book franchise. Cassandra’s backstory presents her as the daughter of assassins David Cain and Lady Shiva (Sandra Wu-San)…Cassandra was the first Batgirl to star in her own ongoing Batgirl comic book series; a Eurasian character who was replaced as Batgirl by Stephanie Brown in a 2009 storyline. She returned in late 2010, where she was now shown working as an anonymous agent of Batman in Hong Kong before adopting the new moniker of Black Bat. Read More >

I still remember that jail cell/lasso scene.

She’s Asian AND she’s…Batgirl!

I mean, the only other female superhero I ever identified with growing up was Wonder Woman.

For one, it was because of the Lynda Carter TV series I’d catch after school, but the underlying factor was that she had long black hair…like me (at the time).

As a little girl, that meant a lot. Even though Wonder Woman is not Asian, through my 8-year-old eyes, she looked enough like me that she became an honorary ass-kicking, Asian super heroine.

So it’s nice to discover many many years later that there exists a fearless comic book hero who I don’t have to misappropriate as Asian because she really is one.

As an adult, it still means a lot.

(PS: Dear DC Comics, please bring back Cassandra Cain whether as Batgirl again or as Black Bat. Do it!)

 

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Up Close and Personal with Cartoon Artist Lillian Chan

Recently, I did a Q&A with JadeLuck Club, Celebrating Asian American Creativity.

1) Tell me about yourself. How old are you? What are you currently doing? Do you live in Boston? In Boston’s Chinatown?
Well, I was born and raised in Boston — primarily Jamaica Plain. Ever since I could remember I loved drawing and playing with words & images together. But, it wasn’t until much later — after graduating from UMass Amherst and working in the web development field — that I decided to actively pursue art. Currently, I’m the design director at Mimoco (www.mimoco.com), best known for the MIMOBOT designer USB flash drives. And during my off days — if I have much time left — I work on my comic Empty Bamboo Girl (www.emptybamboogirl.com)

2) Tell me about your childhood. How much does Ah Lin! reflect your family? Does your family own a Chinese restaurant, for example?
I grew up in a pretty typical Chinese immigrant family household. My dad worked as a cook in a Chinese restaurant out in the suburbs (and which he still does to this very day) and my mother started off as a seamstress back when the Leather District in Chinatown was bustling with fabric manufacturing. They worked hard so that my brother and I could have opportunities that they never had.

3) How did you get into cartooning? How did your parents feel about it?
I didn’t seriously get into it until I started working at the Sampan Newspaper, a small local newspaper in English and Chinese based out of Boston. I was writing for them at the time — putting my journalism degree to good use. But then the editor at the time and I started talking and he suggested putting together a comic for the newspaper. I liked drawing (he knew it) + writing so I thought I’d take a stab at it. I’ve been working on the comic ever since.

But as far as I can remember I’ve always been doodling.

4) What career did your parents want you to pursue? What did you decide to pursue?
Of course, my parents wanted me to study something that would give me a financially secure future — so something in the science or medical or accounting fields. My older brother studied biology and went into the biotech industry. But, I wasn’t science-minded whatsoever. So, while at UMass Amherst, I studied journalism since that was the only major that interested me. Studying art seemed to be out of the question. My parents weren’t enthusiastic about it and I didn’t have enough in me at the time to go for it.
So, I graduated and got a job at a publishing house doing something I was slightly interested in. It wasn’t until a few years later that I decided it was time to pursue art. I wasn’t happy so I applied to MassArt and was floored when I got accepted. My parents weren’t too happy, but by then I was old enough and determined enough.

5) Would you describe your mother as a “Tiger Mom?” And if yes, how so?
My mom is an old school “Tiger Mom.” No sleepovers (although my friends could come over). There were violin lessons but that came out of my own initial interest during grade school where our music classes were subsidized. She and many mothers of her generation had to be “Tiger Mothers.” Coming from poor circumstances with little education and immigrating to a country they knew nothing about meant that they had to make sure their children would have a better future than they did. I don’t think it’s simply about going to Harvard for the name (well, maybe), but moreso I don’t want you to have to struggle working in a restaurant 10+ hours a day or sewing non-stop.  But, it can become intense — the amount of pressure that’s placed to succeed. As a kid, you don’t understand…and for some, they’re able to understand as they get older while others can’t step back from it and it can get to them.
I’ve chosen to step back and find the humor — if possible.

6) What’s next for you? What do you hope to accomplish with your cartoon strip?
What’s next for the comic strip is developing it into a graphic novel. So, I’m going back to old comic pieces I’ve done and writing to make that happen — hopefully it’ll be finished by the end of the year.

7) Is there significance for your comic strip title, Empty Bamboo Girl? What do you intend for it to convey?
The term “empty bamboo” or “hollow bamboo” is a cantonese term (jook sing) for American Born Chinese folk — it’s a bit derogatory because it means that you look Chinese on the outside but you don’t possess anything authentically Chinese on the inside…you’re hollow like a bamboo. But, for me, I want to take back that term and embrace it. So, what if I am? Does that make me any less Chinese? No. I’m Chinese American…Asian American…and this is my experience.
I just hope that there are those who can identify with the comic strip and not feel alone in their situation — to find the humor in it all. Or, maybe I just need to find some company in my misery

Read the Q&A here. Much thanks to Mia who runs the site!

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Why Chinese Mothers are Superior

So this article in the Wall Street Journal has been making the rounds on the innanet lately. There’s been a bit of controversy regarding Amy Chua’s parenting techniques.

Chinese parents can get away with things that Western parents can’t. Once when I was young—maybe more than once—when I was extremely disrespectful to my mother, my father angrily called me “garbage” in our native Hokkien dialect. It worked really well. I felt terrible and deeply ashamed of what I had done. But it didn’t damage my self-esteem or anything like that. I knew exactly how highly he thought of me. I didn’t actually think I was worthless or feel like a piece of garbage.

As an adult, I once did the same thing to Sophia, calling her garbage in English when she acted extremely disrespectfully toward me. When I mentioned that I had done this at a dinner party, I was immediately ostracized. One guest named Marcy got so upset she broke down in tears and had to leave early. My friend Susan, the host, tried to rehabilitate me with the remaining guests.

Some are really upset, but I myself find it hilarious. Hey, if she wants to impart some craziness to her children then that’s her thing. Also, calling your kid garbage in English vs Chinese loses its effect — it’s more harsh in Chinese (I think).

The only thing I take offense to is the title of the piece. Chinese mothers are superior? Ummm…they’re more like bat-shiyat crazy…like ALL mothers.

I could address it in my comic, but I have my own crazy mother character to portray.

🙂

[found via Angry Asian Man]
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Solanin by Inio Asano

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Just finished reading this manga and I loved it.

The art was just perfect and the story was quiet and yet utterly amazing. The only word I can use to describe the story and art is sensitive. Sometimes the art from other comic books throw me off from however fabulous the story may be, but here the softness and detail served as the perfect complement — along the lines of Adrian Tomine.

I also have to admit that what drew me to picking up the manga from the comic book shop was the fact that it wasn’t the usual manga where it goes on and on for 30+ books. That annoys me to no end.

Solanin is just this one book with this one lovely story that begins and finishes.

Afterword

I drew Solanin when I was about 24 years old. I had just graduated from college and I was feeling a bit insecure about my ability to succeed as a manga artist and whether I would be able to continue to draw manga that were true to myself. In my anxiety and impatience, I felt that all I could do in my mnaga was try to get a true depiction of the times as experienced by my generation.

Lovers, friends, money, jobs, a society with an unclear future, ones own pride…Writhing in these multiple, entangling factors, perhaps they are unable to draw any conclusions. Perhaps this instant now is just a small part of their futile daily lives. The only thing that’s certain is that they can never return to the days gone by.

There’s nothing cool about these characters. They’re just your avergae 20-somethings who blend into the backdrop of the city. But the most important messages in our lives don’t come from musicians on stage or stars on television. They come from the average people all around you, the ones who are just feet from where you stand. That’s what I believe.

~ Inio Asano, 2008

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