Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Leek & Sushi II - Manga Cupcakes

For the last few years the Japanese Embassy have been holding a comic drawing competition entitled ‘Manga Jiman’ where they ask entrants to take a set theme and then make a short comic about it. Style and content is up to the artist, with many winners adopting atypical/non-manga styles as well as the expected super-shiny artists. It’s an exciting prospect for anyone interested in fresh talent with lots of previously unseen artists making their first steps into comic-making. The competition allowed lots of new stories to be made, but aside from the winners’ exhibiton there was no real place to read them. It only made sense for them to be put into a book…

Enter Itch Publishing who recruited as many of these comics as possible and printed the highlights for the world to read. The second anthology in the Leek & Sushi series, the year’s theme of the competition was ‘The Sun’ and boasts 20 comics. That's a hell of a lot of content.

There may be those of you rolling your eyes yet again at the idea of non-Japanese making ‘manga’, but to be honest the world’s become a smaller place with many modern styles becoming a cocktail of influences from many areas. We’re talking Scott Pilgrim, the recent X-Men anime, Stan Lee’s manga series Ultimo and a generation of fans who simply don’t give a crap where something’s come from so long as it’s good. As a massive manga fan I understand that there are pros and cons to both sides of the argument and while I admittedly still bear a strong bias towards works from Japan, there's so a lot of good material out there that doesn't deserve the turning up of noses.

Basically the point is that there are comics being made in this country that sit outside of the typical sci-fi/superhero or the kids-only crowds. I’m not telling you what to like, but you might be missing out on something cool you wouldn’t normally consider. Leek & Sushi is a pretty good place to start as you get a nifty cross-section of artists for a taste of what’s out there. In case you weren’t aware the London Expo is at the end of the month, an event with a bustling Comic Village packed with comic creators of all types and styles. I recommended visiting and having a dig around, you just might find something worth your time…

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