Mar. 27, 2007: The first draft of history (some revisions may be necessary)

March 27th, 2007 by Dirk Deppey

“Absolutely, librarians are the graphic novel industry’s biggest cheerleaders. I have never heard of a library that introduced graphic novels without seeing healthy — or even abnormally high — circulation rates. So the answer is yes, librarians are still excited about graphic novels, and we (the graphic novel industry) are correspondingly excited about librarians. Seattle was a nice lovefest.”

- Diamond Kids Group director Janna Morishima,
pleased with the reception comics publishers recieved at
the recent American Library Association meeting in Seattle, WA


It seems I owe Keiko Takemiya an apology. Was Moto Hagio’s “November Gymnasium” the first shounen-ai story? Kyoto Seiku University associate professor Matt Thorn, perhaps the most knowledgable living Westerner on the subject of shoujo manga, says “No” in yesterday’s comments:

But just to split hairs, it is often argued that Keiko Takemiya’s “In the Sunroom” (published in December 1970) is the first shounenai manga, though I don’t believe there was a kiss in that one. The page you reproduced above (published in November 1971) contains, as far as I know, the first boy-on-boy kiss in a commercial shoujo manga.

Ah, so I at least got the first male-on-male kiss in shoujo manga, then? Well, that’s something… oh, wait, here’s an email from University of Illinois graduate student James Welker:

I stumbled across your “regrets” column and it kind of makes me regret feeling that I ought to point out that the kiss in “November Gymnasium” was preceded by a kiss in Takemiya Keiko’s “Sanruumu nite”/”In the Sunroom,” published in Bessatsu Shojo Komikku in Dec. 1970. As far as I know, this is the very very first shonen-ai manga (but I won’t put money on it) and the protagonists in it very much appears to be the original Gilbert and Serge of Kaze to ki no uta. I have the reprint from 1976 put out by San Komikkusu and the kiss is on p. 52. Of course the guy is immediately stabbed and dies in the next couple of frames, ending the story, but….

And with that, another stack hits the regrets pile. Ah, well. Perhaps today’s review, covering the first volume of Keiko Takemiya’s sci-fi epic To Terra, might balance the scales a bit?

(Above right: What is it about the Magnificent Forty-Niners and beautiful naked boys? Wait, don’t answer that. Illustration for The Song of the Wind and the Trees [Kaze to Ki no Uta], taken from the Shojo Manga! Girl Power! exhibition catalog; ©Keiko Takemiya.)

On to the news…



  • Comic-book artist Marshall Rogers died over the weekend of as-yet-undisclosed causes, according to a report found on Newsarama. He was 57 years old. Rogers is perhaps best known among comics fans for his collaboration with writer Steve Englehart and inker Terry Austin on DC’s Batman property, but he worked for a variety of publishers. At Marvel, Rogers drew well-received runs on such characters as Dr. Strange and the Silver Surfer. His best work, however, was done in such creator-owned works as Coyote and Scorpio Rose (both done in collaboration with Englehart), and his whimsical solo title Cap’n Quick and a Foozle. The Forbidden Planet Blog has a nice appreciation of Rogers; the news has already started making its way into newspaper offices, so I imagine we’ll be seeing more write-ups in the coming days. (Above: covers to the first issues of Scorpio Rose and Cap’n Quick and a Foozle.)


Comics Industry

  • Buried in this press release from creators-aid organization The Hero Initiative: The organization is working toward obtaining professional guild status, which would allow it to negotiate for and offer health-care coverage for its cartoonist members. Also noteworthy: The organization has cemented its relationship with co-founder Jim McLauchlin by hiring him as its second full-time employee, where he’ll be joining development director Janine Bielski in expanding the group’s reach and influence.

  • Quoting from a New York Times report, GalleyCat‘s Sarah Weinman notes that Hachette, the parent company of newly formed graphic-novel imprint Yen Press, will now be known as Grand Central Publishing.

  • Broken Frontier‘s Beth Davies-Stofka talks to cartoonist and historian Trina Robbins about issues currently facing women in the funnybook industry.

  • Newsarama‘s Michael Lorah speaks with Vertical editorial director Yani Mentzas.


Graphic Novels

  • The Sunderland Echo profiles local resident Bryan Talbot, whose new book Alice in Sunderland explores the community’s history as well as its connection to the works of Lewis Carroll.

  • Henry Jenkins reprints a conversation between journalist Huma Yusuf and longform cartoon journalist Joe Sacco (Part one, part two. Above: self-depreciating panel from Sacco’s contribution to The Comics Journal Winter 2002 Special Edition, ©2002 Joe Sacco; link via Wayne Beamer.)

  • David Welsh looks at the increasing presence of graphic novels in libraries.

  • Michael May reviews Joann Sfar’s Klezmer Book One: Tales of the Wild East.

  • Joe McCulloch reviews the first volume of Jeff Lemire’s Essex County trilogy. (Above: excerpt from the book in question taken from a preview posted to the artist’s website, ©2007 Jeff Lemire.)

  • Leroy Douresseaux reviews Andy Hartzell’s Fox Bunny Funny for Comic Book Bin.


Comic Books

  • Brian Heater offers the first installment of a two-part interview with Too Much Coffee Man creator Shannon Wheeler.

  • George Khoury talks to artist John Totleben about his early comics career, prior to his hugely influential run with Alan Moore and Steve Bissette on Saga of the Swamp Thing.

  • Curious to know if there were any good superhero comics out last week? Johanna Draper Carlson‘s got you covered.



  • Brigid Alverson notes rising worries in Korea over Japanese manga’s increasing dominance in bookstores. Looking at the figures provided as example, Simon Jones notes that the cost of manga licensing in Korea has risen as much as fifteen-fold, which he then goes on to compare to rising licensing costs here in the United States. “There can no longer be ‘small’ mainstream manga publishers,” he concludes.

  • Is Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata’s popular thriller Death Note “a poison that creates wicked hearts”? A number of schools in China have banned a line of notebooks with the manga’s logo and artwork, on the grounds that students appear to be pretending that writing names in the books will result in the deaths of the people named, just like the titular “death note” from the series. ComiPress summarizes a lengthy report on the matter from the Chinese newspaper Shenzhen Daily. (Above: detail from promotional artwork for Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata’s Death Note.)

  • The latest edition of the downloadable podcast MangaBogCast (5.9MB M4A audiofile) covers the CPM/Libre grudgematch, Borders’ retrenching, digital manga and more.

  • Leroy Douresseaux reviews the first volume of Kim Young-Oh’s Banya: The Explosive Delivery Man for Comic Book Bin. Wait — Derek Kirk Kim’s one of this book’s translators?


Comic Strips

  • Alan Gardner interviews Steve Boreman, creator of the new strip Little Dog Lost. (Right: excerpt from a Little Dog Lost strip, ©2007 Steve Boreman.)

  • The Onion A.V. Club‘s Noel Murray wonders why so few modern comic strips are being collected in book form in any meaningful way.

  • A selection of Happy Hooligan art by Frederick Opper, courtesy of Craig Yoe.

  • Mark Tatulli gives us the Lynn Johnston strip we’ve all been waiting for. (Above: So, that’d be “for worse,” then? sequence from last Sunday’s Lio, ©2007 Mark Tatulli.)



  • Shawn Hoke examines the second self-produced issue of R. Lee and Dug Belan’s Barrelhouse. (Above: excerpt from the mini in question, ©R. Lee and Dug Belan.)



  • Jesse Hamm explains how to draw a perspective grid when your vanishing points are off the page.

  • An old link but new to me: Adam Hughes — he’s the superhero pin-up artist who actually knows things like anatomy and cloth drapery, for those of you keeping score — can be seen drawing a convention sketch of Supergirl from start to finish, in a five-part, twenty-minute series of downloadable MP4 videos that’s actually kinda fun to watch. (Above: screen capture of Hughes at work; link via Terry Moore.)


Local News

  • Sam McManis of California’s Sacramento Bee profiles publisher James Israel, whose free monthly tabloid of left-leaning editorial-cartoons, the Comic Press News, has survived for sixteen years.


Comics Culture

  • Matthias Wivel and Xavier Guilbert engage in a good-natured debate over Wivel’s recent commentary concerning a seeming irrelevance in work by modern French cartoonists.

  • Scott Reed struggles with handling criticism of his comics work.

  • A pair of links detailing the connection between Jim Woodring and cake. (Above: From the first link, screenshot of Woodring discussing the Age of Cake; ©2007 Edgar Pêra.)

  • The importance of proper insurance policies in Gotham City.

  • Your Drawn! link of the day: Brad Cornelius has scanned a rare 1938 copy of Julian Tuwim’s children’s book Locomotive, The Turnip and The Birds’ Broadcast, as illustrated by Jan Lewitt and George Him, and posted the results as a Flickr collection. (Above: illustration from the book in question.)

  • Your Scans_Daily link of the day: From Shazam!, the origin of Talky Tawny. (Above: a talking tiger comes to town, ©DC Comics.)


Events Calendar

This Week:

  • Mar 28 (Bethesda, MD): Stagger Lee creators Derek McCulloch and Shepherd Hendrix will be putting in an appearance at Big Planet Comics on Fairmount Avenue, from 2-4PM. Click here for store information and directions.
  • Mar 28 (Montreal, Quebec): This month’s Montreal Comics Jam takes place at Sala Rossa’s Spanish Restaurant, beginning at 8PM. Details here.
  • Mar 29 (Waterbury, CT): Derek McCulloch and Shepherd Hendrix will be doing their Stagger Lee slideshow for the students of Prof. Bill Foster’s class on “Graphic Novels as Literature” at Naugatuck Valley Community College, from 11:20AM-12:40PM, and the public is encouraged to attend. Click here for campus information.
  • Mar 30 (New York City, NY): Derek McCulloch and Shepherd Hendrix will be discussing their book, Stagger Lee, and signing copies at the Chelsea Barnes & Noble on Sixth Avenue, beginning at 7PM. Details here.
  • Mar 31 (New York City, NY): Adrian Tomine will be signing copies of the news issue of his comics series Optic Nerve at Rocketship in Brooklyn, beginning at 8PM. Details here.
  • Mar 31-Apr 1 (Seattle, WA): This year’s Emerald City Comicon will take place at the Qwest Field Event Center, and feature Jim Woodring, Ed Brubaker, Peter Bagge, Gail Simone, Eric Shanower, Brian Michael Bendis, Kurt Busiek, Colleen Coover, Paul Chadwick, Terry Moore, Ellen Forney, Brian Wood, Michael Golden, Ande Parks, Gene Ha, Darick Robertson, among others. Details here.


Next Week:

  • Apr 4 (Columbus, OH): Scott McCloud will be making a presentation at Ohio State University’s Wexner Center for the Arts, beginning at 4:30PM. This event is free and open to the public. Details here.


Want to see your comics-related event listed here? Email me at and let me know. No sales-only events, please — it’s nice that you’ve marked things down at your store or website, but I won’t be listing it here.

Posted in News Round-Up | 3 Comments »

3 Responses

  1. Shaenon Garrity Says:

    “Wait — Derek Kirk Kim’s one of this book’s translators?”

    Yes, and the other one is his mom.

  2. Jones, one of the Jones boys Says:

    Weirder yet is that they mention their relation on the back cover like it’s a selling point: “translated by the mother/son team of Taesoon Kang and Derek Kirk Kim!”

    I bet A la recherche would have sold better if C. K. Scott-Moncrieff had translated it with his mum.

  3. Björn Says:

    ’d hate to think that Dark Horse, of all companies, doesn’t consider manga volumes to count as “graphic novels.

    I think Dark Horse is re-defining the meaning of graphic novel a little to make it work for them.

    Naruto is a multi volume manga whereas there is only one volume of 300. So, if you wanted to, you could argue that Naruto is not really a graphic novel as such…

    However, this of course does not work if Dark Horse considers its own titles like Hellboy graphic novels.


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