Comic Book Shop Hopping Weekend

Bedrock Comics and The Million Year Picnic = Batgirl success!

My weekend was pretty much spent comic book shop hopping — searching for back issues of Batgirl / Cassandra Cain. Here was the itinerary:

Bedrock Comics, 371 Worcester Road,  Framingham, MA
Mr. Lee and I first checked out Bedrock Comics out in Framingham. We’d driven by it before many times, but never stopped to visit. Why hadn’t we before?!

The owner (I think he was anyway), Jim was super nice and helpful — he found the only two back issues hidden amongst the Catwoman section!

Other than not being able to find Batgirl issues — for some reason there was no Batgirl section. Maybe someone bought them all out? If so, do I have an adversary in my quest? — everything else was crazy well organized. Issues were grouped together with a note if any were missing. AND, back issues were only $0.50!

This will definitely be a stop anytime I’m in Framingham for sure.

New England Comics, 14A Eliot St, Cambridge MA
Ok. So usually, when Mr. Lee and I hit up comic book shops there are sometimes signs saying ‘no beverages.’ We walk in anyway with our cups of coffee and usually don’t get hassled. But this time, immediately upon entering the shop, Mr. Lee was told to leave his coffee at the register.

There was no ‘hello’ or anything to acknowledge us first. It was ‘please leave your coffee at the register.’

I’ve actually never been to this particular location — usually Mr. Lee and I visit the Quincy or Coolidge Corner spots. Needless to say, we were a bit put off. We didn’t really noodle around. I did find a few issues, but we decided to leave instead and go to one of our fave shops which was just around the corner…

The Million Year Picnic, 99 Mount Auburn St, Cambridge, MA
It’s our tried and true stomping grounds and it proved to be most successful.

First off, the staff was super nice AND I found dozens of back issues — score! It was a substantial pile to carry and when I got to the register, I asked if I could possibly get a price break. It was a great suggestion by Mr. Lee because I received 10% off!

Currently, I have a lot of reading to do, but I’m also compiling a list of what I now have so that I can cross check in the future to avoid doubling up on issues.

This weekend was quite the haul and there are many more shops to visit (i.e., JP Comics & Games is a must on my list considering it’s in my neighborhood).

 

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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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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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Shouted Out!

I found Lillian Chan on Twitter. She claims that no one knows about her cartoon, Ah-Lin!, but I hope to change that! I hope she doesn’t mind that I am posting her cartoon on an imaginary encounter with her parents on Facebook. For more of her cartoons, click here. She turns her upbringing by a Tiger Mom into a cute, appealing, and funny cartoon strip. Check her out!

Thanks JadeLuckClub, Celebrating Asian American Creativity!

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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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