Very good news for readers of my column, tipped by the gents at Same Hat! Same Hat!:

Top Shelf has a big anthology of manga from the avant-garde magazine AX on the way. Scottish expat/comics writer Sean Michael Wilson is joining series editor Mitsuhiro ASAKAWA for the 400-page volume.

As to the lineup they mention, I like Maruo & Furuya’s works about as far as I can throw them, but on some of the others:

  • Akino Kondoh I quite like, as I wrote about her in TCJ #289
  • Shinichi Abe too; he was one of three Garo artists (along with the guy who founded the comics store Mandarake and Suzuki OUJI) who define the magazine in the 70s; I bet they include his counterculture short “Yasashii Hito”
  • Nishioka Kyodai (or “Brosis” as they’re sometimes called) are a brother-sister duo who do creepy tales in delicate lines that recall Renee French
  • Yoshihiro Tatsumi? Really? What has D&Q missed?
  • Kataoka Toyo does grotty slice-of-life, and fires surface-to-air missiles from the nose (site in Japanese only, but you can poke around & find images)
  • Naoto Yamakawa does an odd-looking comic called “One More Coffee” that I’ve never read in a cartoony style that wouldn’t have looked out of place in pre-Kramers USA alt-comics
  • Toshio Saeki does finely-bound (cough) volumes of erotica (I guess, I haven’t read them either, but that’s what they looked like in the bookstore before the grannies walked by and made me too self-conscious to pick them up)

That’s a solid lineup, but there should be much more. As that the three previous English-language anthologies of alt-manga barely contained one good volume of work among them, this news makes me both hopeful and cautious.

I hope our guides choose quality over representative works. Too many of the latter just aren’t that good. (And I’d add that some of the most-praised artists, like Nemoto, who has a PictureBox book coming out, I find wanting).

But we should see Kotobuki Shiriagari & Imiri Sakabashira, two greats, and many more. I haven’t picked up AX in a couple of years, so I hope I’ll be surprised. With this book, some scanlations here & there, and the “Nouvelle Manga” works Frédéric Boilet has been promoting, you can get a very good idea of the most interesting new manga without torturing yourself by learning kanji.

(Also, the new AX has Hideo Azuma on the cover; Noah’s carnivorous review of his Disappearance Diary in the new TCJ had me howling & scowling.)


Update: For clarity’s sake, this is NOT a list of who’ll be in the book, just Ryan’s list of various artists in AX. Though I’ll be surprised if many of these aren’t, and will comment again whenever the full list is available.

Also: this is a test: ?????