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Shaenon K. Garrity
This is where I write stuff.
New Smithson! 
11th-Mar-2007 11:00 pm
We missed last Thursday's update, but here's the page now:


Also, I hope you caught last week's installment of The Chronicles of William Bazillion:


And a belated Smithson update means a belated Overlooked Manga Festival!

Normally, I don't exhort readers to run right out and buy the manga featured in the Overlooked Manga Festival. This installment is an exception. Venerable alterna-comics publisher Fantagraphics is currently embroiled in a bullshit nuisance lawsuit launched by former sci-fi writer and current professional boob-grabbing asshole Harlan Ellison, and it desperately needs money to help cover legal fees. If this week's manga catches your fancy, you can order a copy directly from the Fantagraphics website. Or, alternately, purchase any of the other fine comics available from Fantagraphics, from Usagi Yojimbo to Castle Waiting to Fred the Clown to Ghost World to The Complete Peanuts. (Just this past weekend I finally got around to picking up Ellen Forney's collection I Love Led Zeppelin, which is excellent, as is her previous book Monkey Food: I Was Seven in '75.)

Anyway, that's your public service message for the week (and it'll probably get me sued by Harlan Ellison). On to the manga!

Yes! The one manga from Fantagraphics that's NOT porn!

I think it's safe to say that Anywhere But Here does not resemble any other manga published in English. For one thing, it's a comic strip, and not too many manga strips have made it to these shores. For another thing, it's a really weird comic strip.

The Fantagraphics site compares it to The Far Side, and it's similarly surreal, but the humor is more cerebral and deadpan, and frequently more bizarre. Each strip finds the stolid protagonist making his way resolutely through another strange, silent scenario. Some are based on ingenious visual gags.

Some comment whimsically or cryptically on human nature.

Some seem to be just odd little exercises in surrealism.

And many require careful reading to get the joke, if any (I freely admit to not understanding a number of Anywhere But Here strips).

I think I like the above strip because it reminds me of The Greatest Batman Joke of All Time, from Evan Dorkin's Dork #9:

Evan Dorkin, you magnificent bastard.

(Dork #9 is not available through the Fantagraphics website, but other back issues are.)

In Japan, Anywhere But Here runs in TV Bros, "a respected magazine of television and media criticism," according to the back cover of the book. This sounds remarkably like The Journal of Television Studies, a magazine my husband keeps saying he wants to start because he can't find any really serious critical examinations of "Charles in Charge." I only hope that, when it launches, the JTS includes comic strips as brilliant and baffling as this one.

It's a real shame that Anywhere But Here fell through the cracks of American comics fandom. It's a familiar story: manga fans ignore it because it doesn't look like manga (i.e., no ninjas, panties, or rape fantasies), and fans of alternative comics ignore it because it's manga and everyone knows that manga is all panty-ninja rape fantasies. But if you're in the market for a smart, one-of-a-kind manga experience, you can do worse than this slim volume of twisty gag manga.

Previous Overlooked Manga Festivities:
Please Save My Earth
From Eroica with Love
Even a Monkey Can Draw Manga
Dr. Slump
Your and My Secret
Wild Act
Knights of the Zodiac
The Drifting Classroom
OMF Special Event: Manga Editors Recommend Manga, Part 1
OMF Special Event: Manga Editors Recommend Manga, Part 2
OMF Special Event: Manga Editors Recommend Manga, Part 3
OMF Special Event: Great Moments in Manga Baking
Shout Out Loud
Warren Buffett: An Illustrated Biography of the World's Most Successful Investor
Sexy Voice and Robo
OMF Special Event: 2006 Overlooked Manga Update
The Four Immigrants Manga
Gerard and Jacques
Ode To Kirihito
Bringing Home the Sushi
Banana Fish
Skip Beat
OMF Special Event: The Greatest Manga Magazine in American History
Cyborg 009

12th-Mar-2007 07:07 pm (UTC)
Is it wrong for me to want to hurt 23 Skidoo preemptively?
12th-Mar-2007 08:36 pm (UTC)
The first manifestation of chukamucka power?

12th-Mar-2007 07:54 pm (UTC) - I Admit It Freely...
...I want Charles in charge of me.
12th-Mar-2007 08:31 pm (UTC)
At first I thought the stick/cloth-beating/cointoss strips were mean to be read as part of the same narrative .....
12th-Mar-2007 08:50 pm (UTC)
They are. It's tough to tell at first, but in each one, he's making arbitrary decisions. THe first time, he's walking in the direction the stick falls; the second time, he decides whether to dust the rug, or, errr, something with a gun by the way the pencil falls; the third time, it's a coin toss as to who he goes home with.
12th-Mar-2007 09:45 pm (UTC)

My mind has been blown. I don't know why I think I'm so smart, considering how often this happens to me.
16th-Jul-2008 06:14 am (UTC)
To the stupid things they're making you say' Here comes the motorcade moving so slow and hard like a snake in a closet holding sway in the boulevard here is your man all faces turn unanimously the small fry who sizzle in his veins in all security In the back of his car into the null and void he shoots the man of the centre of the motorcade has learned to tie his boots in the back of his car in the null and void he sees the man at the centre of the motorcade can choose between coffee and tea In the boulevard - the motorcade hold sway My Mind Ain't So Open My mind It aint so open That anything Could crawl right in The last place To lose yourself Is in the world Where we all cling Oh my lover We are opening Windows we see All that we've seen Overlooking A vivid room It is sunshine Got things to do My Life Happens around me Your life Happens around me too My mind.
17th-Oct-2008 05:08 am (UTC)
To the stupid things they're making you say' Here comes the motorcade Moving so slow and hard Like a snake in a closet Holding sway in the boulevard Here is your man All faces turn unanimously The small fry who sizzle in his veins In all security In the back of his car Into the null and void he shoots The man of the centre of the motorcade Has learned to tie his boots In the back of his car In the null and void he sees The man at the centre of the motorcade Can choose between coffee and tea In the boulevard - the motorcade hold sway Другие тексты песен из альбома Real Life Motorcade My Tulpa The Great Beautician in The Sky Burst Recoil Тексты и слова песен принадлежат их авторам.
13th-Mar-2007 12:10 am (UTC)

The other thing I like about that strip is that it leaves open the question of what the hell he was going to do if the pencil landed on the side with the gun. Apparently, he was equally open to the idea of beating a rug or robbing a bank.
9th-Oct-2008 03:26 pm (UTC)
Syd Cohen recalled: "It was going away and Peake cursing like hell on the radio and almost crying because he couldn't fire another shot, but suddenly I noticed that the vapor trails were getting thicker and thicker, and then I saw fire, and the next thing I knew that thing just disintegrated in the air.
16th-Jul-2008 06:47 pm (UTC)
They stick their tongues out at each other. Calvin mocks Hobbes walking. Hobbes returns the insult by mocking Calvin.
16th-Jul-2008 09:32 pm (UTC)
They stick their tongues out at each other. Calvin mocks Hobbes walking. Hobbes returns the insult by mocking Calvin.
12th-Mar-2007 09:08 pm (UTC)
What's going on with Harlan Ellison and Fantagraphics ? What's this lawsuit all about ? I know there are links to the legal documents and all, but english isn't my mother tongue, much less legal english... Is there somewhere online with clear explanations on all this business ?
12th-Mar-2007 10:24 pm (UTC)
From what I can tell, it basically looks like Harlan Ellison is suing Fantagraphics because of some perceived negative comments about him in their book "Comics as Art" (which, incidentally, hasn't even been published yet - the lawsuit is regarding some excerpts from the book published online and a few preview copies that they gave to friends.)

I'm not a lawyer, but it looks to me like an open-and-shut case of first amendment protection, but of course simply coming up with the legal fees to defend themselves can be a burden.
13th-Mar-2007 12:19 am (UTC)

The real reason, of course, is that Ellison and Fantagraphics co-founder Gary Groth have been pissed at each other for the past twenty years. They used to be friends, and then they broke up like a couple of junior-high girls, and Ellison is jumping at the chance to make Groth's life miserable.

His lawsuit might actually succeed. It's idiotic and groundless, but Ellison has good lawyers, and he sues people a lot.
13th-Mar-2007 02:03 am (UTC)

Ellison is surely a jerk (I ran into one woman who claimed to have stomped on his foot when he groped her behind) but he's written a lot of good stuff over the years. To what extent does or should the, uhh, jerkness of a writer negatively impact our enjoyment of their work?

13th-Mar-2007 03:14 am (UTC)
You shouldn't, really. It's possible to like a person's work while disliking that person or his actions. In fact, it's almost necessary these days. Everyone has his demons.

For example, I was a fan of Woody Allen long before his infidelity to his partner and the accusations of pedophilia, and I sort of resented when everyone acted like I should suddenly stop enjoying his work because of his personal life. I still enjoy his work. I disagree with a lot of the choices he's made in life, but it's really none of my business.

Ellison is another case altogether. I've never read anything by him except for an essay he wrote years ago about the insane things he's had to put up with from fans and hecklers since he rose to prominence (ALMOST makes you understand why he is the way he is...) but honestly he's been such an insufferable asshole over the years to so many people that I don't know if I could bring myself to read something of his. I'd try not to let my perception of him cloud my judgment.

But no, if you're a fan, you shouldn't let the perception of others hinder your enjoyment of his works.
15th-Mar-2007 12:02 am (UTC)
Well, my general feeling is that the writer/artist/creative person owes us nothing beyond their writing or art or whatever and that's on their terms, really. When it comes to reading or watching stuff, the issue is how good the stuff is, not the character or views of the creator; the exception being when it gets in the way of the work, say if stories end up being political tracts or expressions of a philosophy that one as a reader/viewer dislikes (say, John Norman and the "Gor" books).

Ellison is kind of an odd one; the grope stuff is a bit surprising since from what I know of him he'd probably class himself as pro-feminist. He's always been arrogant, of course.
12th-Mar-2007 09:09 pm (UTC)
Nifty little manga. :)

By any chance, is there an ETA on the next Lil' Mel? I miss her. *pout*
13th-Mar-2007 12:09 am (UTC)

Li'l Mell is on hiatus because Neil Babra is busy with another comics project.
13th-Mar-2007 04:37 am (UTC)
As someone who never really got into manga, I've been enjoying the OMF a lot; I particularly like seeing the comics that "don't look like manga," like the Four Immigrants Manga and this comic. It's nice to see a more nuanced, less monolithic view of manga.

Anywhere But Here reminds me a little of the comic strip Lio, albeit with fewer monsters.
13th-Mar-2007 05:22 am (UTC)
Shannon, I get totally overwhelmed in the manga aisle, so thanks for OMF. It is a wonderful series & so got you friended. Plus I get to feel all cool for having bought Sexy Voice & Robo months before you posted it here. ^_^ Anyhow, just thought I'd comment because I bought this book somewhere after it came out & was reading it at the bank I worked at during lunch, where only one other person read books of any kind, and my coworkers were looking over my shoulder and then read & LOVED these strips. They were completely enamored, (and I think they finished the book before I did) but that was pretty much their entire foray into comic reading. I think if Fanta had pushed to put this next to the Far Side collections in stores, it'd have done incredibly well. Such a shame.
13th-Mar-2007 04:31 pm (UTC)
Coincidentally, I just bought this book last week. I've read it twice already. The first strip you've posted is my absolute favorite.

13th-Mar-2007 06:30 pm (UTC)
everyone knows that manga is all panty-ninja rape fantasies

That perfectly defines the basis of another gag strip manga - Gloom Party. But maybe that series had too much pnrf!
19th-Jun-2007 12:41 pm (UTC)
Another satisfied _Gloom Party_ reader here. But that 4-panel strip is much more "realistic", downbeat and far less whimsical than Tori's work here (co-incidentally, Tori's screenplay for the 3rd _Patlabor_ anime movie is rather downbeat and fatalistic as well, although maybe that's just a consequence of having to work with Oshii ;) )

14th-Mar-2007 12:10 am (UTC) - Completely OT
But I had to explain the abbreviations TA & SO from a comic in my Ur-Narbonic book to a patient today. From a Ratio strip. I'm considering that perhaps that particular Narbonic collection may well not belong in my waiting room. :)

And I think I like Anywhere But Here. I need to come back to this and look up where I might find more of it.
23rd-Jun-2008 03:54 pm (UTC) - gYbAmWSKaXFmjxaNHhL
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7th-May-2010 05:44 am (UTC)
About Tori Miki:
Tori Mikihas won awards for his essays, screenplays and manga, including the prestigious Bunshun Manga Award. With four best-selling volumes released to date, the comic strip series Anywhere But Here is one of his greatest successes.

You can buy the comic strip series Anywhere But Here at manga astore

Andy Landers


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