Akira Club (2007)

Although I haven’t been reading many comics lately, I have been looking at some pretty pictures. And the pictures don’t get much finer than in this comprehensive round up of images from the manga series Akira – the post-apocalypse never looked so good.

This book collects images cut from the collected editions as well as out-takes, preliminary sketches and merchandise associated with the comic and in a few cases the anime. The book is split into 4 sections:

Akira Illustrations: This contains cover illustrations from Young Magazine – the magazine that first published the serialised story in Japan – as well as cover illustrations from the collected editions.

Title-page Collection: This section contains the 120 title pages from the inside of the magazine that were omitted from the collected editions to prevent the break up of the narrative.

Memorial Gallery: This has images of the various items of merchandise produced during the publication of Akira such as promotional posters, toys and t-shirts.

Unpublished Works: The final section has some out-takes and examples of revisions made when creating the collected editions. Some of these show Otomo’s quest for perfection as he makes artistic revisions to the original but some are examples of the process involved in converting the format from reading right to left to the western left to right. For example, a simple mirror image is not always desirable as the buttoning on jackets ends up looking wrong and so art revisions are required to correct and other oddities.

I loved this book as I love the art of Katsuhiro Otomo with its attention to the minutest detail. It made me want to go and dig my copies of the Epic series out of the loft and re-read them – it’s been a while.

Manga is not something that I have read a lot of – apart from Akira I can only think of two other series that I have read completely and they are Nausicaa and Death Note. It should be something that I should be more into as the industry tends to have more pure sci-fi stories than the American comic companies. The trouble I find is with the saturation of the market now it can be hard to tell the good from the bad and, given the usual manga character drawing style, the serious from the juvenile. I bought the first few collection of Gantz recently to give it a try as it looked interesting but any recommendations for a more hard sci-fi series would be gratefully received.

The Nerdliest Thing That I Did Today

Since I buy trade paperback collections of comics much more than individual issues these days, I am starting to amass quite a collection. So I was thinking that I need to find some way of easily cataloguing them so I know what I have as some are on bookshelves but a lot are stored in the loft of the house.

Since I have a barcode scanner on my Android phone I thought that it should be possible to scan the books and have them automatically added to a cataloguing service on the web. And sure enough you can. There may be several such services but I settled on the app LibraryThingScanner that works with LibraryThing as I already had a web account there that I wasn’t really using much up till now.

So this afternoon and evening I have catalogued the comic books on my shelves (unread and stored books still to do) and I am pretty happy with the results – it was a much better experience than I had with some specialist comic cataloguing tools. So now, as well as just having a list of my books on the web, I can change the display easily to different views and download a csv file for consultation when I don’t have web access.

One of the views is just a display of the book covers only which is very cool – click on the image below (and again when you get to image shack) for a full size version:

One happy nerd tonight!

A Game of Thrones

So I have just finished A Game of Thrones and enjoyed it very much. It probably helped that the TV adaptation was so good in the first place and made me want to read the book.

As with any adaption there are going to be differences between the book and the show – such as missing scenes, characters delivering other characters words – but I’ve got to say that while these things exist to a small extent, the TV series was a pretty faithful adaptation of the book.

There were a few major differences between the book and the TV series:

1. The ages of the characters. In the book the characters are quite a bit younger than they appear to be on the TV series. Daenerys starts the book at 13 years old – which makes her brother and the things that happen to her even creepier than in the TV series. Eddard Stark’s children are all young as well – Robb and Jon (although I don’t think Jon is Eddard’s son but I guess I will find out if I am right later) are 14.

2. Sex. I was glad to see that the frequent sex scenes in the TV show are, for the most part, not a feature of the book. The sex scenes always seemed to be gratuitous in the TV show and I think the show suffers because of them. I read an article recently that was an introduction to SciFi for the novice and one of the elements they claimed that SciFi contained that might be appealing to new readers was sex. I don’t know what they based this on as I rarely encounter sex scenes in the books that I read (the writer must have been a big Laurell K. Hamilton fan). I would hope that they were not required to give a genre series or book mass appeal.

3. Ros. The prostitute Ros has not appeared in this book. Is she a totally invented character? Is her only purpose to provide a pretty, distracting background as a major character in the story delivers some exposition? This seems to have been her role so far anyway.

4. Shae. This is one character that is made more interesting in the TV series compared to the book. In the book she just appears and sleeps with Tyrion a few times. In the TV series she is more feisty and intriguing in her dealings with Tyrion. I hope this is the scriptwriters speeding up her development in the series compared to the book. I will be disappointed if Martin’s portrayal of her does not introduce some of these elements to her character.

Having come to the books via the TV series I was confused by the passage of time. In the series there is no measure of the passage of time – other than in the development of the direwolf cubs which are bigger almost every time you see them. I was sort of disappointed that this is reflected in the original novel. Is not until late in the book when Tyrion reflects on events and mentions that almost a year has passed that you get a sense of things moving much more slowly than the pace of the novel would suggest.

Anyway I will be pressing on with the next novel and hoping that the intrigue is maintained and looking forward to more fantastic elements being introduced via Jon’s travels beyond the Wall and Daenerys’ quest for revenge.