chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)

So I have utterly failed at reading anything of substance this week. In fact I was going to post that I had utterly failed at reading anything this week when I was saved by the arrival of the first collected volume of the web comic Stand Still Stay Silent by Minna Sundberg. Because, in fact, I have been reading a lot of bits and pieces of SSSS (why not S4? - that simply isn't how the fandom rolls, I guess) and related stuffs, like fanfiction and TVTropes entries. This is part of Yuletide prep, because I'm going to request SSSS, but I always meant to blog this comic anyway.

Stand Still Stay Silent is a science fantasy series set in Scandinavia. It starts with an extended prologue. In our recent past, a pandemic known as the Rash has spread around the world. The disease seems pretty harmless if somewhat debilitating at first, but after a few weeks, it becomes clear that everyone underestimated the Rash. In the end, as far as the central characters of the main timeline know, only Iceland and a scattering of populations in the continental Nordic countries survive.

The main story starts 90 years later with the survivors having adjusted to the New Normal. Isolated communities and a very few small cities are surrounded by wilderness haunted by weird, horrific warped creatures that used to be human beings and other mammals (they're often referred to as "trolls"). A badly underfunded research expedition is being assembled to go out into the Silent World (the lands that were abandoned by the remnants of the human race) to seek out and bring back technology and medical information. This band of misfits is our main cast.

Humorous or poignant interactions among the expedition crew members alternate with spooky or downright terrifying encounters with the trolls, who are as varied as they are grotesque. The fact that the crew members are all from different countries (except for the Finnish cousins) and mostly speak only their native languages adds another layer of complexity to the situation. And then there's the fact that not everything that happens can be explained by science ... .

Sundberg's artwork is vivid and dynamic. The palettes tend to be limited: monochrome schemes overlaid with washes in one or two colors and small spots of intense hot or cool colors. The details of the larger set pieces are impressive (warning: wide image), especially for a comic that's updated five days a week. The world-building is intriguing. The story is full of the family-of-choice and hurt-comfort tropes that make things work for me. And the storyteller punctuates the action of the series with artful infodumps in the form of in-story posters or pamphlets.

The most common criticism I've seen is that the pace is fairly glacial. Things do pick up considerably once the prologue is complete. The cast is ethnically diverse only within the confines of Scandinavia: everyone is very white. There are a number of female characters in the full cast, including two in the adventuring crew, and they have plenty of agency (one is the commander). No one is explicitly LGBTIQ, but then, romantic/sexual relationships haven't been part of the plot thus far (although a number of straight couples are shown in the prologue). No one seems affected by a disability unless you consider Lalli to be on the autism spectrum (which I do, actually).

Anyway, I'm enjoying the hell out of this one.

chomiji: Nase Asumi with a wry smile on her face, and the caption Awesomesauce (Asumi - awesomesauce)

E. K. Weaver is livestreaming a work session tonight until midnight U.S. Central Time. She's drawing the cover and other artwork for the T.J. and Amal omnibus! And you can chat with her, and I asked whether she will be doing signed copies with drawings in them for the omnibus, and she said yes! And you can hear her music she's playing as she works.

*dances*

She's drawing Amal now ... he looks gooood!

(But ... I had to turn it off because it was making my poor old iMac bog down.)

chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)

What have you just finished reading?

Some more odd serial art stuff from the Small Press Expo, most of which didn't make much of an impression. The one exception was Bread & Wine: An Erotic Tale of New York, by Samuel R. Delaney and Mia Wolff. As most of you probably know, Samuel Delaney was one of the first successful African American science fiction writers. This is an actual, biographical story of how he met his life partner, Dennis, who was a homeless man living on the streets of New York. It's very explicit and frank; in parts it's very sad and in others, it's very tender and joyful.

Also, the latest National Geographic, which had a rather disturbing story of a storm chaser who was recently killed by one of the tornados he was pursuing, along with a colleague and his own adult son, an accomplished photographer.

I am all caught up with the webcomic Yellow Peril. I have made an LJ feed for it, yellowperilcomi. LJ needs longer names for the feeds. :-(

Finally, I read vol. 4 of House of Five Leaves. I think I'm starting to get used to the mangaka's drawing style. However, I can't agree with the comments I've seen online about how wonderful it is.

What are you currently reading?

Still reading Max Gladstone's Three Parts Dead, which is getting really, really good. Things have taken a massive turn for the worse in the story; I'm mentally biting my fingernails.

For some reason, I have also started a re-read of Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, which I had downloaded onto my phone sometime ago. It's a pleasant enough diversion, except when the author goes off onto a spate of Rebecca-worship.

What do you think you'll read next?

Still haven't started [personal profile] ann_leckie's Ancillary Justice. Also, I've got my Yuletide canon re-read stacked up and ready to go, plus I need to do a canon review for some beta reading.

 

chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)

What have you just finished reading?

Not nearly such a busy reading week as last week!

I think the only things I actually finished reading were the latest volume of Blade of the Immortal (vol. 27), and the first couple of volumes of an indie comic, Tales of the Night Watchman, that the Mr. picked up at Small Press Expo. I was rather underwhelmed by it: just not my thing.

Volume 27: Mist on the Spider's Web was awesome. I should do an entire post on these most recent volumes of Blade of the Immortal sometime. Some people have noted that Rin is not much of a fighter and that Hyakurin and Makie are much more typical female characters, with Hyakurin as the femme fatale spy-type and Makie as the amazingly skilled woman with Major Issues. But then we had Ainu swordswoman Doa, and shinobi Meguro and Tampopo (I thought they were just comic relief at first — Samura's version of C3PO and R2D2 — boy, was I wrong!), and then this current volume had a marvelous arc for Ryo, the kenshi who's the illegitimate daughter of an important man. Even though it turned out badly in the end, she was fantastic.

What are you currently reading?

I have started Max Gladstone's Three Parts Dead, and I am enjoying it, but it's not grabbing me hard the way that the Dirk & Steele books were. I'm also trying to catch up to the current storyline on the webcomic Yellow Peril. With the Mini, I can read webcomics in bed! (Yes, cho, welcome to the 21st century.)

What do you think you'll read next?

I have volume 4 of the manga House of Five Leaves. I should probably blog the series properly after I finish that, since I can usually tell whether I'll continue with a series somewhere around vol. 3 to 5. Also, I bought [personal profile] ann_leckie's Ancillary Justice, which has been getting great reviews.

 

chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)

What have you just finished reading?

Marjorie Liu's Dirk & Steele books are beginning to become like potato chips for me: bet you can't read just one!

On [personal profile] oyceter's rec, I tried Shadow Touch next. Suddenly, for me, Liu has gone from the rather tentative romance author about whom I was "Eh … OK" in Tiger Eye to being very recognizably the author of the Hunter Kiss urban fantasy series (which I have enjoyed very much thus far). I really enjoyed this book, although it was so much harder-edged (particularly in the early scenes in the mysterious research facility) that I got a bit of mental whiplash.

Oyce's other rec was Eye of Heaven. About halfway through it, I suddenly remembered a series of RPG characters I played in my early 20s who were very much like the heroine of this story. Oh yeah! Anyway, the male lead in this book was one of the secondary characters whom I had especially liked in Tiger Eye. There is a lot of complicated Plot Stuff that's building up across the entire series and that is reminiscent of some of the plot elements of the Hunter Kiss series, making me wonder whether subsequent books in Dirk & Steele are going to have transdimensional world hopping and demons too. I'm amused by some of the reviews I'm reading of these: apparently people who like the more typical sorts of romances find these not romantic enough and too violent. Oh well … de gustibus non disputandum est.

I was at Small Press expo for the last 90 minutes of the event the other week, and one of the things I picked up on a blitz through the dealers' room was Back to the Grind, the first collection of Jamie Noguchi's webcomic Yellow Peril. I was attracted initially by the picture of lead character Kane on a recognizable Metro train on the cover and ended up talking to Noguchi, who drew me a cartoon on the inside of the book to go with his autograph. I enjoyed this and will have to catch up on Kane's more recent adventures online.

AND … I finally finished E. Nesbit's The Wouldbegoods! Arrrgggh. Nesbit generally seemed to respect her juvenile characters, but not in this volume. The kids are constantly getting into scrapes that are, to me as an adult, completely transparent. You can see the foolish errors coming from the first couple of paragraphs of any given adventure, and the eventual denouments are equally predictable. Also, I get tired of narrator Oswald's constantly put-downs of the girls in the little gang, and even though tomboyish Alice is usually described more kindly than the others, she still comes in for a lot of criticism and patronization. It's quite different from the children in the Five Children and It and its sequels, where eldest sister Anthea was a valued member of the group and little Jane's pouting and lack of fortitude were attributed to her age more than to her sex.

What are you currently reading?

Fanfiction, mostly. As noted elsewhere, I've been loading a lot of old favorites onto my iPad Mini.

I'm also about halfway through volume 3 of the manga House of Five Leaves. I'm enjoying it to some extent, but the art style is driving me nuts. I'm having a lot of trouble telling about half of the male characters apart, and that means I lose a lot of the impact of the various little criminal episodes and character revelations.

What do you think you'll read next?

I have downloaded Max Gladstone's Three Parts Dead, which I had on my Amazon wish list (I don't remember whose review got me interested) and which was on sale for $2.99, as well as (free) The Count of Monte Cristo, which (shockingly, I suppose) I have never read, and which [livejournal.com profile] lady_ganesh recommended. Also, [livejournal.com profile] smilaraaq just passed me a steampunk romance to try ... it's by Meljean Brook, whom [livejournal.com profile] lawless523 was just recommending the other week.

 

chomiji: Sanada Yukimuka and two of his Juuyuushi - trusted warriors - with the caption All in the Family (family - juuyuushi)

So Amal and Sangeeta? In today's update?

Awesome!

Why don't I see great siblings like these guys in the things I usually read? So many people in manga and speculative fiction are orphans, or they hate their siblings.

(Yes, I can think of a couple of exceptions, but spoilers. For Saiyuki, among other things.)

(And now I can hear Ariane Emory I: "Family can be such a liability." *sigh*)

chomiji: Discworld's Sgt. Angua of the City Guard, with the caption - Life's just one long bad hair day (Angua - bad hair day)

I feel rather as though everyone but me must have seen this at this point, but on the chance you haven't:

Hyperbole and a Half: Depression Part 2

Ally Brosch, the brilliant adbsurdist Webcomic artist who brought us Clean All the Things! (from This Is Why I'll Never Be an Adult), A Better Pain Scale, The Alot, and The God of Cake (not to mention Simple Dog), has been suffering terribly from depression for the last couple of years. This latest update quite accurately sums up what it's like to be depressed. And I'm really glad to see that she's now feeling rather better.

Yuletide!

Dec. 26th, 2012 09:08 pm
chomiji: A woman sits on a crescent moon, spilling snowflakes & fairy dust from a bag (Yuletide dream)

So normally I would lock this post, but the heck with it. I'm living dangerously!

Everyone was correct - there was no need for me to worry about the pinch hit thing. I have two lovely stories:

  • Nesting Instincts (Books of the Raksura - Martha Wells; G) is about what Chime needs from Moon. It takes Moon a little while to figure it out, and he gets advice (and in one case, a bit of bonus snark) from a number of my favorite other characters, including Jade, Heart, and of course Stone.
     
  • Sleep on the Left Side (Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal; T) is a roadside vignette in which TJ and Amal share some surprisingly good burritos and - unsuprisingly - music. The story includes links for the music of the group Cornershop, which was as new to me as it was to TJ (although I liked it better than TJ seems to). It was also a great relief to me that TJ has reconsidered his concept for Amal's tattoo!
chomiji: A cartoon image of chomiji, who is holding a coffee mug and a book and wearing kitty-cat ears (Gojyo  - King of Hearts)

(Warning: comments might end up including spoilers for the series.)

So, how 'bout those latest pages in "The Less than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal" - TJ's backstory? It's kind of an info dump, but E.K.'s drawings makes it worthwhile anyway.

I got the second collection volume recently, and I have to say that I don't remember that TJ had dyscalculia (which is mentioned, although not by that term, in the newest pages). Anyone remember where that came out in the storyline?

The second volume has the part where they're both pretending they're asleep, and TJ claims he was dreaming about being on "Wheel of Fortune." What happens right after that is one of my favorite parts ever. (Warning: it's very NSFW for pretty explicit m/m smexiness: Ch. 28: "Muscles Better and Nerves More.")

chomiji: A cartoon image of chomiji, who is holding a coffee mug and a book and wearing kitty-cat ears (Gojyo  - King of Hearts)

Just FYI, because at least one person had a question about it (note for DW users who saw this earlier: I seem to have the fix for the white space issue in my journal entries):

RSS Users:

The address for the TJ & Amal feed has changed. Please update your readers to check:

feeds.feedburner.com/tjandamal

or subscribe to

tjandamal-updates.tumblr.com

The old page-by-page feed will stay up, but it is buggy and doesn't update consistently.

The new feed contains weekly comics updates as well as occasional news about books, schedule changes, and convention appearances.

Thanks!
- EKW

The current LJ feed is lessthanepic; the DW feed is [syndicated profile] tj_and_amal_feed.

chomiji: A cartoon image of chomiji, who is holding a coffee mug and a book and wearing kitty-cat ears (Default)

Warning for naughty visual pun and mostly naked girl-kappas with strategically placed hands and hair.

Three Kappa Moon

(This is an occasional comic by Humon of "Scandanavia and the World." It's about gods and mythological creatures, and stars Jacob the cigar-smoking Hindu nature spirit and his girlfriend, Nini the cute kappa.)

chomiji: A cartoon image of chomiji, who is holding a coffee mug and a book and wearing kitty-cat ears (Gojyo  - King of Hearts)

I'll cut for spoilers 'cause I know at least one reader who likes to save 'em up and read 'em in a batch.

Cut for noodling on the latest couple of posts )
chomiji: Kitty does not understand!  A kitten snarling, with the word 'wut?' as a caption (kitty - wut)

... with TJ right here?

Is he just totally gobsmacked with tender lovin' feelings for his man, or is he on something else?

(Hmmm ... maybe a bit NSFW if your workplace is uptight and possibly homophobic.)

chomiji: A cartoon image of chomiji, who is holding a coffee mug and a book and wearing kitty-cat ears (Gojyo  - King of Hearts)

So I'm guessing that most if not all of you know about Danish cartoonist/artist Humon's webcomic Scandanavia and the World (a/k/a SATW), which seems to be her answer to Hetalia. I was poking around her DeviantArt site the other day and found that she has another webcomic that more or less fulfills my ideal combination of cuteness plus sexy stuff: Manala Next Door (also known among fans as "Jacob and Nini") [WARNING - mostly very NSFW!)

Manala Next Door is a comic about mythology and cultural assumptions. Jacob is a yaksha (nature spirit from Hindu mythology) who was raised by demons (yes, Humon knows that "Jacob" is not a Hindu name). He's still basically on the side of good, but he's pretty earthy (to say the least). Nini is a sweet adorable little female kappa ... complete with just about all the real habits and behaviors of the kappa from classical Japanese mythology. They are in love. And ... smutty hilarity ensues.

Some links:

  • Modest Demons (this one is actually worksafe): Jacob and Nini looking very cute in traditional clothing from their respective cultures
  • Nini the Cute Kappa (NSFW): how they met
  • The Yokai Bar (NSFW): Jacob takes his new sweetie to meet his buddies at the bar, including Ruth (!), the big blue oni.
  • Sweet Nothings (NSFW): The things Jacob does for love. This is probably my favorite comic of the set.
  • Foundling (just a little semi-nudity and brain-breaking-ness): Yes, Nini is a demon.
  • Girls' Night (NSFW): Nini invites five of her best friends over to get to know Jacob.
  • Surprise Fail (NSFW): Jacob's the one who has an unpleasant surprise.

Enjoy!

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