Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Guess who threw an awesome gaming party last night? This guy right here... and his wife... who did the lion's share of the work. :) We had a bunch of people over and got to break in a bunch of new games we'd picked up recently.

Nanuk: One of our guests brought this. All eight of us played (it plays up to ten people!) and it's kinda like Liar's Dice except instead of dice you've got cards and it's all wrapped up in an Eskimo theme. Quick and fun, would play again.

The Fury of Dracula: Ok, we've played this one before many times but we finally bought our own copy so we won't have to borrow Aaron's anymore. Bit of a marathon session on this one seeing as how all the hunters were newbiew who had to learn the copious rules but they played a good game. They tracked down Dracula and VanHellsing killed him after sustining two bites and having only ONE point of health left!

Puzzle Strike: It's like Dominion meets Puzzle Fighter Turbo and they have a sexy baby. This little gem was designed by Dave Sirlin, a guy who used to work on designing video games (notably fighting games) so he's very much aware of things like challenge and player ballance. Every turn players ante a gem into their gem pile. If your pile totals 10 or more you lose so you have to combine little gems into big gems and them crash them into your opponents. Lots of mean attacks and cool powers make this a fun game.

Survive: I have been dying to get a copy of this ever since I heard it was going to be reprinted. Players must get their peoples (with hidden point values) off of a slowly sinking island. To sink the island each player must remove an island tile on their turn. Some island tiles give you helpful stuff (swim to safety, extra boat) but most of them have things that seriously bone you (whales, sharks and of course sea monsters!) Through a some smart playing and a little luck I won. Woo-hoo!

All in all we had a great time and hopefully this will be the first in a long line of gaming related soirees.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Never shall the two Dicks meet...

Dick Locher calls it quits on Dick Tracy and I gotta confess I've got some mixed feelings about that. On the one hand I've never liked the idea of "legacy" strips. As far as I'm concerned Dick Tracy died with Chester Gould.

On the other hand Locher's take on America's favorite detective was one of the strangest things to grace the comic pages. His art had this dense, almost expressionistic, quality to it. Storylines meandered all over the place for months on end like some sort of mash-up between a fever dream and a Samuel Beckett play.

And true Dick Tracy fashion the villains met their fates in some creatively gruesome ways. Killed by a falling wind generator, blinded by perfume, dental-electrocution, crushed by a plane during a play... To top off his run on the strip Mr.Locher has given us a frog-faced serial killer being eaten by rats in a granary during a thunderstorm. Shine on you crazy diamond.

Friday, March 4, 2011

40 whacks with a Top Shelf AX

You know the funny thing is about a couple of years ago when Tokyo Zombie came out I went ahead and purchased several issues of AX (the de-facto spiritual successor to Garo) from Last Gasp figuring, "There's pretty much no way I'll ever see this in English." Well wouldn't you know that Top Shelf would have to go and prove me wrong by releasing an English language version of the eclectic bi-monthly indy-manga anthology and I've finally had some time to dive into it and I gotta say I'm loving this book.

There is a wide variety of stuff sandwiched between these covers and at times it can be a bit of a mixed bag. I mean let's be honest there rarely is such a thing as a perfect anthology (although Kramers Ergot comes pretty damn close. RIP Buenaventura Press...) but the pluses far outweigh the minuses and we've been needing this book. There hasn't been this in-depth an examination of alt-manga since Viz's Secret Comics Japan or Blast Book's Comics Underground Japan (and let's throw Fantagraphics' Sake Jock in there while I'm thinkin' about it...)

The book itself is a shockingly beefy little tome. You get 400 pages in a compact 6.5 x 8.5 inch package (pretty close to the dimensions of the OG AX...) graced with a lovely cover by Akino Kondo and inside there's wide variety of alternative manga. There's good stuff by some familiar faces (Kazuichi Hanawa, Imiri Sakabashira, Yoshihiro Tatsumi, Hanakuma...) and there is a bunch of new artists who's work I've never seen before. Some stand outs for me included Enrique Kobayashi's ElDorado by Toranuskue Shimada, Takao Kawasaki's Rooftop Elegy, Shinya Komatsu's winsome Mushroom Garden, Yuka Goto's The Neighbor, Takato Yamamoto's ero-guro-esque Into Darkness, and of course Akino Kondo's pair of charming tales The Rainy Day Blouse and The Umbrella. And there were even a couple of stories in there from the volumes I bought from Last Gasp! Namely Mitsuko Yoshida's The Tortoise and the Hare as well as Namie Fujieda's The Brilliant Ones.

There are a ton of comics here and this book is definitely well worth picking up. And I just found out that it is official and Top Shelf will be releasing AX VOLUME 2!!!

I really enjoyed the first volume and I can't wait to see what the second one holds in store. Hopefully we'll see more work from AX regulars/superstars Shigeyuki Fukumitsu and Shigehiro Okada. I'd love to see Yuka Goto's totally bonkers art-brut Justice Corps in action. I've heard Toranusuke Shimada's Traumerei is a great read. And I'm dying to know what is the deal with Kotobuki Shiriagari's sprawling epic which seems to involve lots of explosions and people shrieking in terror.

Hopefully the next book will also include some artists who didn't make the cut for the first volume like the intricate screen-toned stylings of Shizuka Nakano. There's the European-flavored sci-fi/fantasy comics of Minoru Sugiyama (Mother Cosmos looks pretty cool...) And the crazy work of Michihiro Hori who's current series involves a group of high school students obsessed with making lacquered bowls. Of course if wishes were horses it'd be nice if they started including articles about manga/gekiga as well (a'la Comic Art) but I don't think that's gonna happen. Oh well.

Anyways... AX #1 is great GET IT. AX #2 don't drag yer feet gettin' here.