Hi,and welcome to The College Perspective, back and refreshed after a longlayoff. Superhero tales havehistorically been the dominant genre in American comics, with the "Big Two"publishers vying for brand recognition amongst their superheroes, villains and antiheroes. With their historic nature, a degree of readerburnout is inevitable. Storylines will eventually start to seem less original,more trite and less engaging overall. It only makes sense that you can read about Superhero Xbeing dead and then returned from the grave so many times before becomingconsumed with how. There is a decidedhalf-life to these storylines, wherein they become more weak with each attemptat recycling the plot. With just thatfatigue from superheroics in mind, I'd like
to turn your attention to a few standoutbooks that you likely aren't reading, along with a justification of why youshould ditch a $4.00book
or two to take a shot at one of these more obscure books.
The firstbook isn't even an American book by any means. The manga, "Doing Time" by Kazuichi Hanawa
isa semi-autobiographical depiction of the author, a cartoonist, and hisday-to-day life in prison after being caught in possession of a firearm, whichis illegal in Japan. Hanawa was given a sentence of two years for his crime. The book provides insight into a prison system that is likely not recognizableto the English language market Fanfare/ PonentMon
brought it to. Instead of asalacious tale of prison rape or graphic depictions of violence, this prisontale is quite neutral and somewhat relaxed in its depiction of prison life. One of the most enjoyable sections contains adepiction of the types of food served to the prisoners, which is based on theirblood type. Throughout the entirety ofthe book, the structure for Japanese prisoners is notably more focused towardbecoming a productive and respectful member of society than American prisons,which are centrally focused on punishment. Hanawa provides a very interesting insight into life as a Japaneseprisoner, without focusing too much on internalization of feelings andinteractions. This book comes witha $19.99 cover price, but is out ofprint. However, there seem to be usedcopied availableon Amazon for less than cover price
The secondbook is one I've been promoting since it's inception in 2005. The quarterly anthology Mome
has been consistently one the most enjoyable permanent additions to mycollection. The anthology format and therelatively cheap pricing (about $15, but available cheaper at Amazon) keep mecoming back for more every time the quarterly book is published. Also, the mix of black and white strips,single page vignettes, color pages, and serial tales are a big part of the draw,keeping the experience fresh throughout the book. Each book is roughly from 100 to 140 pages,adding to the innate value. Despite mydistaste for the storytelling of Sophie Crumb, the great majority of the workproduced by the loose conglomerate of rotating cartoonists is, more often thannot, sublime and offers up tales fornearly any taste.
At theequivalent of between two and four monthly Marvel books, you can't go wrongwith attempting acquaintance with either of these books. If you just read this and are thinking aboutsticking with what you normally read, think about this: the greater the risk, the greater thereward. You get nothing but the same ifyou choose to remain incurious. Thanksfor reading and have a great December!
Check back in nextmonth for a review and in-depth discussion of McSweeney's DVD series of shortfilms, entitled "Wholpin".