No new Smithson
page this week, but Brian has posted a most excellent painting of Mr. Gallant. Go admire it. I like Mr. Gallant. When Smithson is adapted into a hit teen drama on the WB, I want him to be played by Curtis "Booger" Armstrong.
I'm enjoying I'm Just Drinking,
a giant wiki of drinks based on webcomics. I contributed a couple of drinks for Jason Thompson's "The Stiff." There are three Narbonic drinks, but none for Li'l Mell or Smithson. It's so sad. Smithson should have drinks! Admittedly, though, Narbonic has the most drinking of all my webcomics, so it should probably have the most drinks.
Also, behind the cut is another thrilling installment of Shaenon's Overlooked Manga Festival.
When I proudly presented the last Overlooked Manga, From Eroica with Love,
some folks commented derisively on the characters' impossibly long shojo-tastic legs. I take this as a sign that we're ready to mock and insult popular manga conventions, which means it's time to learn the truth:Even a Monkey Can Draw Manga
is a raunchy tongue-in-cheek guide to manga that remains almost as true today as it was when it was published way back in 1990. Viz serialized it in the late, lamented alterna-manga magazine Pulp
and published this collection, in an oversized edition designed to resemble a how-to-draw-manga book. The original Japanese series is considerably longer, and its first volume includes some segments that were cut from the Viz version (usually, I think, because they dealt with material American readers wouldn't be familiar with).
The extremely loose plot has creators Koji Aihara and Kentaro Takekuma, as themselves, learning the secrets of manga so that they can become wildly bestselling manga artists. Together they discover the basics of craft...
...the iconic elements that define boys', girls', men's, and women's manga...
...the keys to writing in different genres...
...and the foundation of the entire manga industry (please brace yourself for awesome):
Some of my other favorite stuff: the overview of a shojo manga plot ("There's only one story that really works for shoujo manga! The heroine screams, 'I'm late! I'm late!' while running out of her house (because she's clumsy)! There are no alternatives to this beginning! Another important detail: she has to be chewing on a piece of toast!"), the mah-jong manga drawn with no knowledge of mah-jong, the explanation of why ladies' manga are like Tetris, and, of course, the lesson on placing dirty subliminal messages into your manga. It's all rendered in crude but enthusiastic artwork and played at a constant, vein-popping fever pitch. Also, Aihara and Takekuma draw hideous naked pictures of themselves all the time.
Basically, if you've read more than a couple of manga, this book will be hilarious. Actually, if you hate manga, you might still like it, since it presents manga as a soulless, hurriedly-drawn conglomeration of nonsensical cliches. Which is generally true, and yet here I am, reading it anyway, and posting my favorite parts on the Internet.
Thank you, Even a Monkey Can Draw Manga.
For teaching us to laugh about manga...again.