Eye on Comics

Comics criticism and commentary from Don MacPherson

Archive for the 'Reviews – Tokyopop' Category

Battle Beauties

Posted by Don MacPherson on 31st July 2007

Battle of the Bands Vol. 1 original graphic novel
Writer/Artist/Cover artist: Steve Buccellato
Letters: Lucas Rivera
Editor: Rob Tokar
Publisher: Tokyopop
Price: $9.99 US/$12.50 CAN

Though I’ve enjoyed Steve Buccellato’s work in the past, I approached this new project with some trepidation. Given the ramped-up T&A factor at play on the cover, I figured I was in for a low-brow sex romp, the equivalent of watching a sorority-house pillow fight. I started thumbing through the pages, my mind made up already. Fortunately, it didn’t take long for Buccellato to change my mind. While I wasn’t taken with the WWE-style violence that’s included as part of the property, the story and characters won me over. Buccellato offers action and romance with his take on an Amerimanga book, but the real appeal lies in the humor and the characters’ unrestrained joie de vivre. Buccellato adapts his comic-art style to bring a greater Japanese influence to the surface, but he really doesn’t have to stray too far from his previously established cartooning style. One of the reasons the book works so well is that the art matches the high energy and quick pace of the script incredibly well.¬†Fans of such comics as Chynna Clugston’s Blue Monday and Jen van Meter’s Hopeless Savages will no doubt enjoy Battle of the Bands. Read the rest of this entry »

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Long Live the King

Posted by Don MacPherson on 15th July 2007

King City Vol. 1
“Book One: Cat Master”
Writer/Artist/Cover artist: Brandon Graham
Letters: Lucas Rivera
Editor: Rob Tokar
Publisher: Tokyopop
Price: $9.99 US/$12.50 CAN

Brandon Graham is hardly a newcomer in the comics industry, but King City is the first one of his projects I’ve encountered (unless my memory fails me, which is possible). I sought out this book thanks to a good buzz online, and I quickly discovered its good reputation is well deserved. Though a release from Tokyopop by a U.S. creator, I wouldn’t call this a sample of Amerimanga. Though there are Japanese influences in the plot and characters, there’s a much more European vibe at play, spiced up with American attitude (the good kind). Graham’s peripheral elements read like something out of Warren Ellis’s head, but he also brings a softer, more grounded quality to the characters and sci-fi society that’s attractive and entertaining. King City is a surreal story that incorporates multiple genres while dedicating itself to none. The result is a surprisingly unique and fresh foray into comics storytelling. Read the rest of this entry »

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Is There Love After Death?

Posted by Don MacPherson on 1st March 2007

My Dead Girlfriend Vol. 1 original graphic novel
“A Tryst of Fate”
Writer/Pencils/Cover artist: Eric Wight
Inks: Eric Wight, Mike Allred, Michael Cho & Nick Derington
Greytones: Mark Lewis
Letters: Mark Lewis & Lucas Rivera
Editor: Julie Taylor
Publisher: Tokyopop
Price: $9.99 US/$12.50 CAN

People in the comic-book industry have been singing the praises of Eric Wight for a couple of years now, but I don’t think we’ve really seen a project that one could point to as really belonging to him. The one-time animation artist has illustrated short stories in a variety of comics titles, but there was never one that one could call “that Eric Wight book”… until now. Given the amount of work he’s done for the big super-hero publishers, it might strike one as surprising that Wight would opt to make his debut as a writer/artist of original graphic novels outside that arena. Signing up with Tokyopop for this project is not only a good thematic fit, though, but it offers him a stronger penetration into a market that might not be as familiar with his work. My Dead Girlfriend is a light, entertaining read. The imaginative mix of the supernatural, comic elements and teen melodrama is quite charming, and the sweet and innocent love story is saccharine, yes, but quite cute and touching too. Read the rest of this entry »

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We Are a Hedge

Posted by Don MacPherson on 4th December 2006

Mail Order Ninja Vol. 1 & 2
Writer: Joshua Elder
Artist: Erich Owen
Letters: Lucas Rivera
Editor: Paul Morrissey
Publisher: Tokyopop
Price: $5.99 US/$7.99 CAN (per book)

After reading the first two volumes of this new American-produced title, I was struck by one overriding thought: it’s rather juvenile. I mean that in both the positive and negative connotations of the term. There’s a youthful energy to the characters, and on the surface, there’s an innocence at play that’s appealing (but quickly dispelled). But writer Joshua Elder’s script is inconsistent, switching between a zany comedy mode to straightforward action. Furthermore, the premise and story fail to follow any kind of internal sense of logic. Manga fans will be pleased, however, with artist Erich Owen’s Japanese-inspired artwork. It’s sharp and clean. He handles the choreography of action scenes quite well, and I rather enjoyed his eye for character design. Read the rest of this entry »

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There’s Strife After Death

Posted by Don MacPherson on 24th October 2006

Afterlife Vol. 1 original graphic novel
Writer: Stormcrow Hayes
Artist/Letters/Cover artist: Rob Steen
Editor: Luis Reyes
Publisher: Tokyopop
Price: $9.99 US/$12.99 CAN

This is my first Tokyopop book.

As best as I can recall, I’ve never read one of Tokyopop’s graphic novels. I am not a manga fan, and Tokyopop is known as a manga publisher, but more recently, it’s been branching out beyond Japanese adaptations. Afterlife is a U.S., homegrown horror graphic novel. It’s clearly inspired visually and conceptually by Japanese comics fare, but it stands up well on its own as an original and thought-provoking premise. Writer Stormcrow Hayes explores faith and ethics from a unique perspective, challenging his readers to question their own moral and social beliefs. The plot and characters are somewhat diverting, but the larger questions posed here stand out as the book’s greatest strengths. Read the rest of this entry »

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