I haven't checked in for a while, but that's only because I've been running around like mad in the best possible way. I spent the weekend at New York Comic-Con, talking to publishers, creators and fans alike.
Big Highlight #1: A totally accidental meeting with Phil Yeh, creator of the comic treasure The Winged Tiger (available through the site; go get it). I sat down in one of the beanbag chairs near his booth without even realizing he was there — and realized I was within twenty feet of an idol of mine. He was beyond overjoyed to have an American fan actually recognize him: while he's immensely popular in Asia and Europe, he's virtually unknown in the U.S., which is absolutely insane. I know I have a review of Tiger floating around somewhere, but if I can't find it I'll just rewrite it from scratch and bring it up to date.
Big Highlight #2: Dinner (although not a movie) with Stephen Vrattos of Vertical, Inc., purveyors of finer Japanese popular culture for almost a decade now. I've had great things to say about their books ever since they started falling into my lap (Guin Saga, Dororo, and so many more), and the catalog they have lined up for the rest of '08 looks terrific: Black Jack, por ejemplo. Turns out their biggest sellers have been the Aranzi Aronzo series — crafts and fun-activities books as if written by wickedly smart high school kids who do things like make thermite in the chemistry lab.
(Apparently the syringe pens they had made up to promote Black Jack were freaking some people out. Jessica [at right in the photo] almost scared the starch out of me when she leaped out from behind the table and poked me with one ... but then again, all it takes is a car backfiring outside to get me to climb walls.)
At the VIZ panel Saturday morning, I ended up with a Japanese copy of the first volume of Black Lagoon, a title they've licensed for the U.S. later this year and one I've been looking forward to ever since the way-too-over-the-top-to-even-be-called-over-the-top anime appeared here. The moderators asked everyone over 18 and interested in winning the book to stand up; about ten people, myself included, pushed themselves out of their chairs. "Okay, show of hands — Chuck Norris or Bruce Lee?" Everyone who voted "Chuck Norris" got a withering stare and stern orders to sit back down. I, being a staunch Bruce Lee man, was one of the few left standing. When they asked who the author was, my hand was first in the air, and I galloped up to the front to claim my prize. I'll be using this copy as a reference to check the quality of the translation, but I was surprised at how much of it I was able to make out when I read it on the bus back home.