Recently in Graphic novels/comics Category

Tim Gunn: Fashion crimefighter

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Tim Gunn
Tim Gunn is mentor to fashion designer
wannabes on "Project Runway."

Fashion  Tim Gunn Superhero
Tim Gunn (in gray hair and glasses) as superhero.


Tim Gunn is taking his fight against fashion crimes from the workrooms of "Project Runway" to the pages of a comic book. And, wow, does he get to wear a power suit.

The "Loaded Gunn" story line -- to save an exhibit of extraordinary superhero clothes from a cadre of villains -- is part of a book that reintroduces a group of Marvel's high-fashion "Models Inc." comic characters from the 1960s.

"It's a little 'America's Next Top Model' -- without Tyra (Banks) -- and a little 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,"' says Marvel editor Charlie Beckerman.

The Gunn project evolved on a whim, but it turned out Gunn was a childhood comic fan and a good sport, Beckerman says.

Gunn says the experience has been "the most bizarre thing."

"It's exciting and exhilarating, but bizarre. When they came to me, I said, 'I'm about to turn 56 years old. Are they crazy?' But it kept revealing itself in layers and next thing, I'm wearing the 'Iron Man' suit. I was dumbstruck."

Personally, Gunn says he always fancied himself more of a Batman type, but he's pleased with the result.

"Most superheroes are fighting the same thing -- good vs. evil -- but who's taking on crimes against fashion? Me!"

The biggest offense, hands down: clothes that don't fit properly, Gunn says. And, if he had the truly incredible power to remove one item from closets all around the world, no question it would be Crocs.

"It's the No. 1 fashion crime item -- and I see it a lot," Gunn says.


Marx goes manga

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Just in time for Christmas, Karl Marx is finding a new audience among Japanese comic book fans.

The manga edition of his masterpiece, Das Kapital, hit Japanese bookstores this month and sold about 6,000 copies in its first few days, said Yusuke Maruo of EastPress Co.

"I think people are looking to Marx for answers to the problems with the capitalist society," Maruo said. "Obviously, the recent global crisis suggests that the system isn't working properly."

Maruo said he hoped the comic version would provide an enjoyable introduction to the German socialist's original work, written in 1867. The targeted readers are office workers in their 30s. Christmas and New Years are a prime time for publishers, as many people have vacations and more time to read.

Japan Marx Comic
The cover sheet of a manga edition of Karl Marx's Das Kapital (AP)

The fictionalized Vol. 1 of Das Kapital chronicles a cheese factory run by protagonist Robin, who rebels against his father's socialist principles and becomes a slave driver after teaming up with a cold-blooded capitalist investor. But Robin struggles between his capitalist ambitions and his sense of guilt over the exploitation of his workers.

Maruo said the comic Das Kapital had been planned earlier this year after a revival hit of the 1929 communist novel The Crab Factory Ship, which portrays a ship's crew forced into harsh labor under a sadistic captain.

The book is being translated into English, Korean and Chinese for its upcoming manga debut in the U.S., Asia and Europe. Comic editions of the subsequent volumes are also under way.

Manga, a name used for Japanese-syle comic books, often combine complex stories with drawing styles that differ from their Western superhero counterparts, particularly in their frequent emphasis on cuteness.

Mari Yamaguchi/AP

SuperMcCain and Obamaman

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There is no question that our state's junior U.S. senator, Barack Obama, has lit a fire in the political landscape of this country. The youth of America might even refer to him as a superhero. One might also say the same about Sen. John McCain, with his storied military history and commitment to public service.

IDW Publishing has jumped on the election 2008 bandwagon and given both presidential candidates the supehero treatment with a pair of comic book biographies: Presidential Material: Barack Obama, (by Jeff Mariotte and Tom Morgan) and Presidential Material: John McCain (by Andy Helfer and Stephen Thompson).


The books highlight key incidents in the presidential candidates' lives leading up to their participation in this current and historic presidential campaign. Both comics are 28 pages of story and art, plus annotations, and will be released on Oct. 8 for $3.99. IDW also will release a trade paperback flip-book edition for $7.99.

Not a bad investment for what will certainly become a collectors' item.

Just plain fun to look at

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"Out of picture" is a term used for anything that's cut from a movie. It is also the title of a lush, new book put together by the animators at Blue Sky Studios, the folks behind "Ice Age" and "Robots."

In Out of Picture, Volume 1: Art From the Outside Looking In (Villard, 160 pages, $19.95), the Blue Sky artistic team was let loose to put their individual stamps on their own graphic stories. The result is one of most interesting books I've ever laid eyes on. I highly recommend it to anyone, regardless of literary taste. I'm not a big graphic novel reader but I was mesmerized by this book.

Out of Picture

Up in smoke

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When I was in college, I lived in a house with four other women, all of whom smoked. I was the lone non-smoker — not that I was offended by it; I just found it unpalatable. They all had quit by the time we came back to school for spring semester and, one by one, they all started up again.

But none of them ever came close to another of our friends — let's call her Jane — whose habit was so ritualistic, so cool and so second-nature, it bordered on art form. Jane never entertained the thought of quitting. As if.

These Things Ain't Gonna Smoke Themselves (Bloomsbury, $12.95) by Emily Flake could have been subtitled...

These Things Ain't Gonna Smoke Themselves