Posts Tagged ‘manga’

Return to the Labyrinth volumes 1 through 3

September 17th, 2009 by Susie


I have known about and avoiding this manga sequel from TokyoPop to the classic Jim Henson movie the Labyrinth, for a few years now.  The Labyrinth is one of those special movies that I have watched many times since I was a child, and treasure as much now as then.  So when, around  five years ago I stumbled across the listing on Amazon for the first volume, I was taken aback.  I could not help but be worried that the people producing this series would miss the charm and wonder of the original.  I did not even want to take the chance that it would disappoint, so I left it alone.  I am not sure what made me check if the library had them now, but I am glad I did.  No, author Jake T. Forbes has not quite created a story as brilliant as the movie.  He has crafted a narrative that pays homage to the original, while cutting it’s own path through the Labyrinth. This time it is Toby, whom you may remember as the baby that heroine Sarah had to rescue from the Goblin King, who is the teenage hero. He finds himself pulled into the Labyrinth and makes friends both new to the audience as well as familiar ones.  His adventures in the first volume while not boring, do feel a little like a retread. However  it is as the story progresses and we learn of King Jareth’s designs for Toby and his motives and also as we get a broader view of the world he inhabits that I found my self truly invested in the story.  Volume 3 took the plot in a direction I was not expecting, and of course left us with quite the cliffhanger.  There is one more volume  in the works however it looks like the books have been released at least two years apart and number three  just came out last May, so I will be waiting for the conclusion for a while.  I especially appreciated that the author planted references to other Jim Henson fantasy works, such as the Dark Crystal, Fraggle Rock and the Story Teller.  Jim Henson’s work from the Muppets and beyond, was my very first fandom and it is still my most favorite.  Sorry Joss, I love you too!  I am really glad my fears for this project were completely unfounded.  If I have a small complaint, it is that the creatures that were created just for the manga don’t look like they were created by the same person who created the creatures for the film.  And of course they weren’t, Brian Froud designed the firies, Ludo, and Hoggle for the film, while Chris Lie is the artist on the manga.  It also would be nice if the series was in color, but then it would take even longer to be published.  The series has it’s own website and forums at

Buddha Kapilavastu

July 6th, 2009 by jason

Written and drawn by Osamu Tesuka

I just finished this first volume of eight of the life of the Buddha, and I’m flabbergasted. Buddha is for everyone who thinks they hate Manga. Even more, Buddha is for everyone who thinks they hate comics.

I’ll admit, that I’ve had a prejudice against manga, even as there’s been some that I’ve read and enjoyed. I look at the shelves at the bookstore and at the library, and see the millions of volumes of Naruto, encroaching on the graphic novels. And I shake my head at what has happened to comics. Recently, however, I took someone else’s lead and decided to revisit the idea of reading Japanese comics, and looked up some suggestions from the Around Comics forum. That led me to 20th Century Boys and Pluto. Pluto is a retelling of the Astro Boy comics of Osamu Tezuka, who is given posthumous author credit. I read a little about Tezuka, and decided to look up some of his work. Paging through the volumes at the library, the first thing I noticed was how different the artwork is from my idea of Japanese comics. This was much more like something out of Segar’s Popeye or Barks’s Uncle Scrooge. He was known as the Godfather of Japanese Comics, whatever that meant, and almost all of his series have been highly praised. He was the creator of Astro Boy, both the cartoon and the comic. And, of course, I feel if it’s at the library, it’s worth a shot. I may check it out and return it after reading five pages, but it helps the library’s circulation numbers. With Buddha, I was hooked almost instantaneously.

With Buddha Kapilavastu, we witness the birth of Siddhartha, although this is more of something occurring in the background, while the lives of monks, slaves, pariahs and generals take the center stage. We meet Tatta, Narradatta and Chapra, Chapra’s mother, and General Budai. Some of them are introduced as villains, but over the course of the chapters, are given more rounded characters and you can’t help but warm to them. The stories of these characters are epic, with high adventure, humour, and romance, and more than a little violence. It was a brutal world at the time of the Buddha’s birth, and we’re witness to the cruelties of the class system of that era. It’s enough to bring you nearly to tears, reading how the world and society treat Tatta, the Pariah, and Chapra and his mother, both slaves by birth. Tezuka interconnects all these characters, weaving their lives into a tapestry, with the birth of Siddhartha currently just a slight embroidery at the edge.

The art, as I said, is quite different from most of the manga I’ve seen. There are traditions in Japanese comics, in the shapes of the faces, in the expressions and what sweat drops and shading signify. You can see that in this work, but it’s more of a hint than anything else. It reminds me a lot more of the animation styles in the French co-produced cartoon of the Mysterious Cities of Gold. From what I’ve read about him, Tezuka was heavily influenced by Disney, and Tezuka in turn influenced a lot of anime artists since then. As well as having his own style, he likes to play with panel borders, and includes several highly detailed panoramic landscapes in the volume.

While I don’t think I’m going to picking up every volume of Naruto or Dragon Ball Z, I am going to continue with Buddha, and checking out Tezuka’s other work, like Black Jack and Dororo. I might even watch some Astro Boy, having never actually seen it. I’ve just cracked the surface of this artist’s body of work, and there’s a lot left to see.