27 August 2009

Skip Beat!

Skip Beat! 1-5
By: Yoshiki Nakamura
Language: Swedish, English, Japanese...
180 pages, b&w, soft cover
Bonnier Carlsen 2008-
ISBN: 978-91-638-5910-6

OK, I'm a middle aged guy from Sweden, and this is a comic for teenage girls in Japan... When I was reading the first volumes in this series, my fiancée commented on what a strange job I have. Well, to be truthful, I liked Skip Beat, despite the fact that it quite obviously wasn't written for me.

Yes, the premiss for the series is, as is so often the case with Japanese comics, on the verge of being ludicrous (a young girl trying desperately to get into show business simply to get back at a man who wronged her - never mind what she should do when she is actually in show business...), but that is just a way of getting the story rolling. And yes, everything is extremely exaggerated in the typical way of shoujo comics, emotions making everyone run around in circles, explode and so on. But it is very charming, and not a little intoxicating.

I read the first five volumes in two days, and had loads of fun, both with this (hopefully not correct) insight into the strange world of Japanese show business and with the interesting ways in which the artist tells her story, using many ways of communicating which would be totally alien to a comics artist from the West. Well, that did sound very high brow... but like I said earlier, I actually enjoyed reading this. I will probably not pursue the series any longer, and I would probably not recommend it to other readers sharing my demographic background, but for younger readers I think this could very well stay interesting well into and past the 23 volumes so far published in Japan.

Gorg Mallia at the Comic Art School

Today we had the honour of having the distinguished Maltese cartoonist and communications professor Gorg Mallia as a guest speaker at the Comic Art School. He is always a delight to listen to. Despite being the foremost cartoonist in Malta and one of the forerunners of taking comics to the academic world, he talks about comics with the same enthusiasm as a young kid having just found his first Spider-Man at the local grocery store.

When this photo was taken, the students were drawing more or less mean-spirited caricatures of Gorg as he was talking, and he then got an opportunity to see what they thought of him. Well OK, so the instructions of doing them mean-spirited came from me...

Portrait: Joann Sfar

This is one of the portraits from the recent past for which I am most pleased. I met the French artist Joann Sfar at the festival in Angoulême in 2007, and did an interview with him in the middle of the incredibly loud and intense festival area. Meanwhile, he drew the above picture, imagining e as if I were a character in the series Donjon. For those of you who want to see how close he came, one can see images from that time in my blog from the festival. The character will also be used as a model for the interview in comics form to be created for the magazine Bild & Bubbla, by yours truly and Jimmy Wallin.