Bedside Manner: Station to Station
Manga, fantasy, YA, and more
By Jason Stout,
8:37AM, Mon. Feb. 7, 2011
I always have a few books going in different areas of the house: bed, bag, bathroom, etc. (incidentally, if you happen to be opening a bookstore, feel free to call it Bed, Bag and Bathroom, because that would be awesome). The books end up visiting each other's neighborhoods, but I brought them all to Bed Station Alpha so this post would be legit.
From top-ish to bottom-ish:
• Manga-master Naoki Urasawa’s 20th Century Boys. A group of kids who grew up together in the Seventies have to reunite and piece together clues from their past to save the world. Hilarious, poignant, and thoroughly engaging. A Japanese Scott Pilgrim for middle-aged people. Give it a try – these days, saying you “don't understand manga” is just another way of saying “I need my grandson to program my VCR.”
• Beasts of Burden by Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson (meet her next month at Staple!). A group of dogs (and one cat) protect their oblivious owners from supernatural threats. Dorkin’s well-honed humor is perfectly married to Thompson’s fantastic watercolors. High-quality entertainment that gets better as it goes along. A recent one-shot teaming the “wise dogs” up with Hellboy continued that trend.
• A Drifting Life by Yoshihiro Tatsumi. Like western indie/autobiographical comics, but interesting. An insightful tale of coming-of-age in post-war Japan, and an education on the artistic evolution of manga and of “the grand-father of Japanese alternative comics.”
• Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. You bet your ass I read books recommended to me by my 14-year-old daughter! A good chunk of the best new fiction is disguised as Young Adult. I had a great time with this subversive, post-apocalyptic trilogy, and personally thought it wrapped up quite well in this third volume. I'll go ahead and say I'm on Team Peeta.
• Bone by Jeff Smith. This one just lives here, unless one of the kids swipes it. You'll laugh, you'll cry, and not just from the perfect brush strokes. Carl Barks-inspired epic fantasy for all ages. Pretty much as good as it gets.
• Story by Robert McKee. I've been hearing about this book from aspiring screenwriters, and thought it might help me shape one of my myriad comic stories into a useable script to start drawing from. I've only just started it. Here's hoping.
• A Game of Thrones by Georges R.R. Martin. The Dune of the Fantasy genre. Such real and complex character development, I keep forgetting it has magic and dragons. Read it now, and get a jump on the highly-anticipated HBO series adaptation premiering in April.
• Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson. Still haven't read it. This one has been “on deck” for like, 6 years.
• The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester. Best Title Ever. It is mind-blowing that this pulp, sci-fi masterpiece was written in 1956 (!). This book, and anti-hero Gully Foyle, were way ahead of their time. Short and sweet. Again: Best Title Ever.
• Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson. Here I go again, trying to wade through what I am assured is one of the best books ever, for what must be the fifth time. I like it, it’s good, but it‘s a struggle somehow. Wish me luck.
• Blacksad by Juan Díaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido. Great Hammett-esque hard-boiled detective stories with how-do-they-make-it-work anthropomorphic animals. The art is simply amazing – beautifully painted with such an insane attention to detail, it‘s like you‘re in Paris in the Fifties. If I could eat Guarnido‘s brains and absorb his talent, I would, but I think I read somewhere that doesn’t work.