Archive for March, 2008

March 31, 2008

EMMA
by Kaoru Mori

The deal: Emma is a completed 7-volume series released by DC’s CMX manga imprint. The covers are printed with a sort of watercolor effect on textured matte paper, which is unusual and aesthetically appropriate.

The summary: Emma takes place in Victorian England. It is about a maid who falls in love with a man of rank, and their struggle to overcome the class gap in society that separates them. They are joined by a group of rather colorful characters as the reader follows them through their trials and tribulations.

The review: Emma is the maid manga for people who hate maid manga. Instead of gratuitous cheesecake and unlikely situations, Emma presents a well-researched Victorian England, down to the architecture, costumes and dress, and representation of society. At times it seems to draw more on Victorian-era novels than it does on manga, which is refreshing.

Emma begins with the maid’s unlikely meeting with William, a man of some nobility. For William, it is love at first sight, but this is Victorian-era England, and as such there’s no gushing or declaration of love. They’re replaced instead with well-planned encounters and offers of gifts. The story follows this thread until it hits the barrier of their different classes, at which point it becomes a struggle for them to see each other through. Emma moves away, William becomes engaged to a girl from a “respectable” family, and the direction of their lives seems to continue to spiral out of their control.

Emma would have been a cute story in and of itself, but what really makes it so much fun is the colorful cast of characters within. Hakim, the eccentric Indian playboy prince who arrives on William’s doorstep with a herd of elephants and a harem, the German couple who take Emma in when she is looking for work, William’s mother, and the gaggle of maids and servants that Emma works with are but a few members of the dynamic cast found within the book.

Each volume is also closed out with a mini-comic from the author herself, where she talks about herself and her work on Emma, which is a fun bonus.

The ending leaves a lot of questions unanswered, though, and I hope that the eighth pseudo-volume of short stories helps clear these questions up.

The recommendation: This is a romance manga recommendation from the guy who really hates romance manga. I really enjoyed Emma for two reasons: the fantastic cast within and the realistic representation of Emma and William’s romance within the setting. Everything is very subtly done, with blushes and expressions often speaking much louder than words.

From CMX, Manga, 7 volumes, $9.99

GRAPHIC ARTISTS GUILD HANDBOOK: PRICING AND ETHICAL GUIDELINES
Twelfth Edition

The deal: The Graphic Artists Guild Handbook: Pricing and Ethical Guidelines is a handbook for graphic artists (this includes but is not limited to illustrators and designers of all kinds). A new edition is released by the Graphic Artists Guild each year. As a sidenote, the book is oddly sized.

The summary: The Handbook is a hefty volume chock full of information for today’s professional illustrators and graphic designers. It answers a lot of questions about how to handle situations with clients, what you can ask for and what you can’t, as well as very handy price charts that outline the current going rates for particular types of work. It also contains sections about contracts, which allows graphic artists to arm themselves with the knowledge they need to be treated fairly in a professional scenario. It also contains recommended reading and resources.

The review: This book is a must-have for graphic artists, especially freelancers. Many basic questions like, “How much should I charge?” and “Do I get to retain rights to work I create?” are answered in this book. It is a reference book that ought to be on every freelancer’s shelf. The types of work are broken down into sections, and it is extensive: Corporate Graphic Design, Branding Design, Package Design, Typeface Design, Photo Illustration, Broadcast Design – the list goes on. It also explains some very important concepts, including the dreaded Work-for-Hire clause that has trapped many, many illustrators and designers.

Design and Illustration are not always seen as “real” work by other industries (although that has changed immensely in recent years), and as such professionals are sometimes under-compensated and … well, I’m going to go ahead and use the words ‘tricked’ and ‘fleeced’ by people who know how to use the words of a contract against them. This Handbook allows you to educate yourself against being trapped into unreasonable contracts and situations.

The recommendation: If you’re a graphic artist, especially a freelancer, pick this reference book up. It can be invaluable.

From Graphic Artists Guild, $35.00

March 27, 2008
Posted @ 4:45 PM by Dave in AppleTalk | Comments Off on Two slick apps worth checking out…

I’ve been looking for some better ways to do things recently. I found two pretty cool apps that make computer life a little simpler.

If I’m anything like you, I’m sure you have one too many email addresses. I recently started looking for a way to consolidate several of them to my gmail address. I’m sure like you too you’ve got that old hotmail address sitting around that you still check every so often. Now if you’ve searched for a solution to forward hotmail easily, there isn’t one. Microsoft does allow you to forward your address to other Microsoft owned sites, but what good is that.

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Posted @ 12:06 AM by Hawk in Rant | 61 Comments »

Issue 438 was something I have been wanting to draw for a while but never got the chance.

Here’s the quick thumbnail sketch…

March 26, 2008
Posted @ 12:27 AM by Hawk in Rant | 15 Comments »

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I need to tweak a few things, so one more day…

March 24, 2008
Posted @ 12:13 AM by Hawk in Rant | 17 Comments »

Sorry about the lack of color in today’s comic. The drawing wasn’t coming out the way I wanted, so I had to start over couple of times. I’m pretty happy with the line art right now. The color version will be up either tomorrow night or sometime Tuesday.

EAGLE: THE MAKING OF AN ASIAN-AMERICAN PRESIDENT
by Kaiji Kawaguchi

The deal: Eagle: The Making of an Asian-American President is the story of New York Senator Kenneth Yamaoka’s rise to the Presidency. The series is complete, and the final English edition was released in 2002. It is a fictional account of the 2000 American election.

The summary: The story opens with a news program showing Senator Kenneth Yamaoka declaring his candidacy for the presidency. Japanese reporter Takashi Jo is watching this on the television until he is called away to confirm the identity of his mother at the morgue. He has no other living family members except for an absent father he doesn’t know, so when he is asked to follow Yamaoka’s campaign trail in the U.S. he accepts. Eagle sees Takashi Jo follow Yamaoka’s campaign from it’s inception till it’s victory. The outcome is no surprise, as it’s in the title – Eagle is really about the long road to the White House.

The review: I picked Eagle because of it’s relevancy. This is a political manga through and through, with the personal lives of several characters woven into the main storyline of the campaign. It’s also a rather good look at our political system from a “how it works” point of view, since it comes to us via Takashi Jo, a Japanese national who is on the outside of this political process looking in. There’s lots of political maneuvering, and you end up seeing a lot of familiar faces under different names – Al Gore is represented as Al Noah, there’s a mysterious Bill and his wife Ellery (obviously surrogates for Bill and Hillary Clinton). The majority of the books show Yamaoka battling his way through the primaries, surviving scandals and snafus with the advice and experience of his advisors and his own sound judgement. He forges alliances while sticking to his guns – if there is one thing that some people may find unbelievable, it is that Yamaoka is too idealistic a candidate – but speaking from the chair of the reader, I’d argue that that is what makes him interesting. This is entertainment, after all.

There are some underlying mysteries that become integral to the plot as well – what kind of man Yamaoka is, and a more literal mystery that bubbles to the surface and explodes in the last volume. The focus of the series seems to waver here, but by this time Eagle gets back on track and comes to an end.

The recommendation: Anyone who enjoys political thrillers or political fiction will enjoy this. It’s obvious that Kaiji Kawaguchi has done his research, both in terms of the political system itself as well as the players within. It’s also been nominated for four Eisner Awards, in the categories of best new series, best continuing series, best writer/artist, and best U.S. edition of foreign material. I have to stress, though – if you go out to pick this up, make sure you pick up the big volumes. The big volume version is 5 books long.

From Viz, Manga, 5 volumes, $19.95 or $22.95 each (depending on volume)

DEMO
by Brian Wood & Becky Cloonan

The deal: Demo can be found as a trade paperback collecting the original 12-issue miniseries. It is written by Brian Wood, who has also written Channel Zero, DMZ and Supermarket, among others. Becky Cloonan has also done East Coast Rising and been a featured artist in several volumes of Flight. The art is black and white.

The summary: Demo is what X-Men would have been if it had been conceived of in the 21st century. There are 12 stories here, each unrelated to the others in everything except theme, which is as follows: someone discovers they have a power, and they are then forced to face the ramifications of having that power. The visual styles and the stories themselves run the gamut, with some being a straightforward view of events while a few of the stories take a more abstract, narrative approach.

The review: I grew up reading X-Men, and I always liked the idea of normal people discovering powers, but I always felt like there was something very unbelievable about people putting on tights and fighting other people in tights. Don’t get me wrong – it can be entertaining, and I grew up on superhero comics – but Demo provides a look at the concept from a fresh approach, and I love it. Each of these stories is more about the humanity of the characters (or lack thereof), and it does something that superhero comics don’t – it sets the fantastic in the mundane, wisely reminding us that real people still have real problems even if they suddenly get a power.

The recommendation: If you want to try something new, give this book a look. I think this appeals more to a general audience than it will to hardcore superhero fans, but there’s something in it for everyone. Very interesting read!

From AiT/Planet Lar, 1 TPB collecting 12 issues, $19.95

March 21, 2008
Posted @ 12:23 PM by Dave in AppleTalk | Comments Off on How to get the most out of your Mac laptop battery.

Everywhere I go on campus I see people on their laptops. Their usually hunched over, sitting on the floor, next to an outlet. In fact it is almost a strange sight to see people not charging their laptops.

I don’t normally bring my charger with me, I guess I am one of the lucky ones. I get about 3.5 hours of usage on battery.

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