What I Read in 2023

As I’ve been doing for the last few years, here’s a list of comics and comics-related things that I read in the past year–with some scattered commentary as I see fit!


Catwoman: Lonely City – Cliff Chiang

Catwoman: Lonely City (2021-) #1 eBook : Chiang, Cliff, Chiang, Cliff, Chiang, Cliff, Chiang, Cliff, Chiang, Cliff: Kindle Store - Amazon.com

I mentioned this book in a “so, what are you reading?” conversation with a friend at one point and I got a “I didn’t know you were down with superhero stuff” reply. I guess, looking over the rest of this year’s list, that I shouldn’t really be surprised by that perception of my comics taste… but, for what it’s worth, I used to read plenty of superhero stuff. The reason I don’t so much these days isn’t that I’m some artsy-comics snob, but rather that I just don’t have the time and energy to keep up with continuing, serialized, monthly books. And that’s why, when something like Catwoman: Lonely City comes out–a self-contained superhero book with a beginning, middle, and end by a good artist–I’m usually game to check it out. 

Catwoman: Lonely City is Cliff Chiang’s “one last heist” Catwoman story and it’s thoroughly enjoyable. It wears its influences on its sleeve–Darwyn Cooke’s New Frontier and Catwoman, Batman: Year One,  and The Dark Knight Returns most notably,  Chiang is an incredible draftsperson and he’s too precise and exacting to pull of the Mazzucchelli “dumb line” look that some of this material seems to consciously reference–but that’s fine; if I want Mazzucchelli, I’ll read Mazzucchelli.  If there were more superhero stories like these–done by top-notch cartoonists with a singular, distinctive aesthetic, and consumable as a stand-alone story, I’d read a lot more “capes and tights” stuff.

Asadora vol 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 – Naoki Urasawa

Asadora vol 1-7 English Manga Graphic Novel Brand New Lot Viz Media Up To Date | eBay

As I type this, I have Volume 7 of this most recent Naoki Urasawa series on hold at the library–so, maybe I’ll squeeze in one more volume of this in 2023! 

I don’t think I’m going out on a limb in saying that Naoki Urasawa is one of–if not the–most revered manga-ka working today… which is why I’m kind of surprised that there’s not more buzz about this book in comics and manga circles, You’d think Naoki Urasawa doing a (spolier alert!) kaiju story would be a hell of a lot bigger deal! The story’s a bit of a slow build and very occasionally elements involving the title character border on saccharine, but I was 100% sold after the first volume. It should go without saying, but Urasawa’s artwork is gobsmackingly-great. In this one you get plenty of hardware (including some flashbacks featuring WWII planes and warships) as well as his always-stunning mastery of character design and facial expressions. Get onboard, y’all!  

Fusion – Moebius

Judge Dredd Brian Bolland Apex Edition – Brian Bolland

Witch Hat Atelier vol 5, 6 – Kamome Shirahama

Scribbles – Kaoru Mori

The History of Hentai Manga: an Expressionist Examination of Eromanga – Kimi Rito

Image

If you’ve been waiting patiently for a 400+ page scholarly (you can tell it’s scholarly because there’s the obligatory colon in the title) volume that examines, analyzes, and catalogs phenomena specifically related to hentai–AKA Japanese porn comics–then your wait is over! This volume is divided into six initial chapters that examine formal and/or drawing techniques that are specific to hentai (“The Spread of the Nipple Afterimage,” “Reinventing the Tentacle,” etc.), then two chapters on historical issues related to hentai publication and production (censorship, translation), then a final catch-all chapter for any other formal/drawing stuff that didn’t merit a full chapter at the beginning. 

While I may sound a little glib (I mean, given the subject matter…) this is actually a very interesting and thorough look at a subset of comics that we in the west don’t get a ton of exposure to–and I’m always fascinated by areas of comics that develop their own unique formal visual language. In the case of hentai examined here, it’s particularly interesting since much of this formal language has arisen as a way to circumvent Japan’s sometimes stringent/sometimes less-so (but always in flux) censorship laws.

Batman Year One Absolute Edition – Frank Miller, David Mazzuccheli, Richmond Lewis

King-Cat Comix & Stories #82 – John Porcellino

Malgré tout (FR) – Jordi Lafebre

Thankfully now out in English as Always Never via Dark Horse, Malgré Tout was hands-down one of my favorite books of 2023. If you follow me on any social media (or have read my past yearly “what I read in…” posts) you know I think Jordi Lafebre is one of the very, very best working cartoonists right now. His pure cartooning chops–especially his mastery of pose, gesture, and facial expressions–are pretty much unmatched by anyone currently in the field.  (Hey, here’s a baller move: a cover that’s an illustration of your story’s main characters’ upside-down reflection in a rain puddle.)

This book is, I think, the first I’ve read with Lafebre as the writer and artist, and it’s a banger: a beautifully-drawn (literally and figuratively) story of a couple who have been madly in love for years, but whose lives went on radically different trajectories. The narrative is brilliantly-structured in reverse chronology. As the book progresses, we move farther back in each character’s life, seeing how they’ve somehow missed each other at various key points, then, finally to their initial meeting and falling in love. It’s not, though, a story of regret and missed opportunities, but rather, a beautiful, brilliant meditation on fate and persistence. 

Les Cahiers de la BD #21 (FR) – ed. Vincent Bernière

Manga! Manga!: The World of Japanese Comics – Frederik L. Schodt

Marvel Comics in the 1970s – Eliot Borenstein

Bubbles #1, 3, 11, 12 – ed. Brian Baynes

Boys Run the Riot vol 1 – Keito Gaku

One Beautiful Spring Day – Jim Woodring

The Other 1980s: Reframing Comics’ Crucial Decade – ed. Brannon Costello & Brian Cremins

If–like me–your formative comics reading took place in the 1980’s, but was not focused mainly on superhero comics, and specifically not on the oft-cited “comics aren’t just for kids anymore” trio of Watchmen, The Dark Knight Returns, and MAUS, you’ll most certainly find plenty of interest in this collection of essays. The editors here assemble a strong slate of material focusing on some of the lesser-discussed, but arguably just as important, comics works from the 80’s. My favorites were, predictably, those essays that discussed work that was formative for me during this period: The Flaming Carrot, Neil the Horse,  The ‘ Nam, Shuriken, etc. The latter half of the book focuses more on retroactively examining 80’s comics through the lens of modern understandings of social issues rather than sticking largely to comics history as in the first half–but that’s to be expected, given that most of the authors are academics. I’d love to see a similar collection of essays that picks up where this one leaves off: examining small press and off-the-beaten-path comics from the early ’90s. 

The Bulidings are Barking: Diane Noomin in Memormiam – Bill Griffith

Popeye (Giant Comic Album) – Bud Sagendorf

The Forgotten Velvet – Luke Geddis

Spreading the gospel of Yule — Luke Geddes

I’m a sucker for Chick Tract homages/parodies and I’m also a sucker for comics about music–so this little Chick Tract format comic about later-era Velvet Underground memeber Doug Yule was 100% my jam. Often people who do tract-format comics just borrow the trim size and cover design, but don’t do much in the way of matching Chick’s (or Fred Carter’s) art style. And very few even attempt to craft a Chick-style proselytizing narrative. The Forgotten Velvet does all of the above–and does it well! Bonus: I was “converted” by the track’s argument. I was remided that my favorite VU records–The Velvet Underground and Loaded–are both Yule joints. 

Dwellings #1 – Jay Stephens

Tiki: A Very Ruff Year by David Azencot and Fred Leclerc

Three Rocks: The Story of Ernie Bushmiller: The Man Who Created Nancy – Bill Griffith

All Tomorrow’s Parties: The Velvet Underground Story- Koren Shadmi

Monica – Dan Clowes

Monica - The Comics Journal

The highest compliment I can pay a book is this–which is absolutely the case with Monica: The minute I was done reading it I wanted to re-read it. This is not a book that one can evaluate on a single reading, but I’m pretty confident in saying that this is the best thing he’s done since Ice Haven. A deep dive re-read is definitely in my future.

Les Sauvages Animaux (FR) – Johan De Moor and Stephen Desberg

Les sauvages animaux de Stephen Desberg, Johan De Moor

As mentioned re. The Forgotten Velvet, I love comics about music. I’m also interested in “funny animal” comics–and currently working on a music-related funny animal comic myself, In the Weeds. So, when I saw this French-language comic with animal characters that was about Led Zeppelin manager Peter Grant, I had to pick it up. 

It’s… not exactly what you’d expect from the cover. Somewhat oddly, the only characters in the story who are anthropomorphic animals are Grant and the band; everyone else is human. Even more oddly (or maybe not?) they are animals in-world. Meaning: the human characters often comment on/refer to their being animals, Grant is addicted to honey rather than alcohol, etc. That said, once you get past this odd formal setup it’s a really fun ride. It’s beautifully-drawn and if you’re an afficianado of classic rock, you can spot a lot of deliberate homages to well-known photos of the band.

Dédales – Vols 1,2,3 (FR) – Charles Burns

Dédales vol. 2 by Charles Burns : r/graphicnovels

Frustratingly, Charles Burns’s new series, Dédales, has not had an English release at all and has, instead, been coming out as a series of three album format books in French (and other languages). Supposedly, Abrams Comics Art has an English version in the works now that the French version has completed. I’m a huge Charles Burns fan, though, and there’s no way I was going to wait around for this thing go get translated, so I slogged through all three of them in French.

First off–as with Clowes/Monica–it’s increadibly heartening and impressive to see a mature cartoonist at this point in his carreer doing his absolute best work! It’s also amazing to see that he’s continuing to grow and expand with his drawing techniques. He’s doing a lot of interesting stuff here  that I’ve never seen before–in particular experimenting with color holds and also using 0/0/0/100 blacks (rather than “rich blacks”) to differentiate between the main narrative and  in-world films.

This is Burns’s most down-to-earth long story. Sure, there’s a lot of dream imagery, etc., but no one’s got a mouth growing on their neck, etc. It’s mostly a very personal story about a bunch of twenty-something kids and their personal and creative dynamic. 

Process: In the Weeds Sample Pages

I often get asked in interviews about my comics-making process and my answer is always the same: every book I do has a different process–and In the Weeds is no exception. So, here’s a quick look at my process for this in-progress book.

First off: no, I haven’t finished penciling the entire book. I have six more pages to pencil, then I have to double-back and re-pencil/tighten up the first 40-ish pages or so–pages that are so loose that they’re basically “giant thumbnails” rather than rough pencils. So why am I now finishing pages? I got asked to be in an upcoming comics art exhibition in Columbus and I figured that’d be a good opportunity to test out some of the new and odd bits of my planned process for In the Weeds.

General Process

My last book, Four-Fisted Tales, was my first–and so far, only–book I’ve done entirely digitally. I’ve really grown used to the flexibility of digital drawing, particularly in the thumbnailing and penciling stage. I can easily move and resize characters and objects, rearrange panels, etc.–all things that are difficult and time-consuming to do traditionally with pencil and paper. 

On the other hand, I’ve realized that I really missed the look, feel, and process of traditional inking with dip pens and brushes. Also: most of the pitfalls of digital comics-making seem to come into play mostly during the inking part of the process: zooming in excessively and laying in detail that will be ultimately invisible/not noticeable,  using snap and line-draw tools that can make art look stiff and sterile, and the risk of just a general “digital-y” look and feel to the work.

So, for In the Weeds, I decided to try to have my cake and eat it too: I’m working digitally (in Clip Studio) for the thumbs/penciling portion of the process, then inking traditionally on bristol board. I know I’m not the only one working this way. I took a lot of cues process-wise from cartoonist Faith Erin Hicks who was (and maybe still is?) working this way on her comics. 

The main thing I wanted to find out from my three “test pages” I brought  to completion for this art exhibit is whether this method more trouble than it’s worth. Let’s have a look…

Digital Stage

Here’s page 79 at the thumbnail stage. 

For clarity, I’ve added those colored border pieces just for this post: the red shows the “live area” of the page, between red and yellow is bleed, between yellow and teal is trim.   

And here’s the finished pencils:

As I do when I pencil traditionally, I work in colors rather than just a graphite pencil–a practice I think I picked up during my very brief experience working in an animation studio. It allows me just to work on top of an in-progress image in new colors, rather than erasing and re-drawing. 

One of the big time-saving advantages of working digitally at this stage is being able to just pencil directly over the thumbnails by turning the thumb layer’s opacity down and drawing pencils on a new layer above. Working traditionally, I’d either have to redraw from start or enlarge and then lightbox my thumbs. You can see that here, for example–the thumbnail underdrawing is visible beneath the pencils:

And here’s the page as completed pencils, ready to move to the traditional part of the process. I’ve used an adjustment layer to get rid of the color, laid in panel borders with Clip Studio’s panel drawing tools, and used the perspective transform tool on some digital type for the sign in the last panel–all things obviously that are done digitally. 

As you can see, I’ve also added some rough tones using a digital marker tool. Since the book is going to be screen-toned, I thought this would be a good way to start getting a general plan on how to tone the page. As we’ll see in a bit, that wasn’t a great idea. 

Traditional

Now for the tricky part! The general way folks move from digital pencils to traditional inks is to convert their penciled pages into a light color, usually “non-photo blue,” then print the pages onto bristol board and ink those as one would with a fully-traditional process. That, however is easier said than done.

In order to turn the linework blue, it must be selectable/isolated from the white background, so initially I needed to increase the contrast–to make the lines darker while hopefully not making random noise/artifacts also dark enough to be selected and turn blue.  Complicating this, was my poorly-thought out decision to use digital marker on the pages. I quickly realized that getting rid of the marker while leaving the linework was going to be tricky.  

Photoshop has more robust tools for this type of image manipulation than Clip Studio, so I moved to PS for this part of the process. And, given that I’d eventually be doing this to 130 or so pages, I went ahead and set up a Photoshop action to do it all automatically from here on out:

The initial few steps are me correcting some trim/canvas size issues, but the meat of the thing is thresholding the image at the fairly high end of things–225. Then selecting everything and turning it all to a 15/0/0/0 CMYK blue.  Here’s the end result:

As you can see in this close-up, the results are not bad. 

The doubled-up panel borders (my hand-drawn ones plus the ones I added via CSP’s border-drawing tools) proved to be really confusing during inking. Another mistake. From here forward, I’m laying in the borders with the border-draw tools right from the start.

Fortunately, I have an old Epson WF-7520, which is an all-in-one large format scanner and printer and it handled printing on 2-ply Strathmore bristol pretty well. You can see how the blue shows up in these pics (top one is from a different page):

My (digital) pencils are somewhat loose as you can see, so pre-inking I’ve had to go in and tighten up some areas. I had to refer back to print-outs of the digital pencils at times because some detail was lost in the conversion to blue. I’m hoping that will be less of a problem for future pages if I stop using digital marker and can then be less aggressive with thresholding during conversion. 

 

I’m inking using my usual inking tools, but I’m working much smaller than I usually do–more in the 140% ish range, rather than 175% ish, which is what, for example, Oyster War was–so I’m using nibs for pretty much everything other than feathering and spotting blacks. Nibs are G-Pen and Zebra. Brush is a Rosemary & Co. #4 sable Designer. 

I’m lettering with those Rapidographs, which I hadn’t used in forever. To get them working again after years being fallow, I bought a cheap ultrasonic cleaner, which worked like a charm!

(It also salvaged my long-clogged Rotring Art Pen!)

Here’s the finished, inked page:

Back to Digital!

I’m going to lay in my screen-tone digitally (more on that decision in a bit) so I now needed to move back into the digital realm to finish up the pages. The tricky part here is selecting and getting rid of all of the underlying blue while preserving as much of the black line art as possible.  

Selecting blue pixels in a purely digital file is pretty easy. Selecting a specific, underlying color from a scan of a physical sheet of paper is far more difficult. As with the pre-digital process, I tried a few different things and then saved the best result as a Photoshop action:

I’m doing a Curves adjustment both before and after converting to grayscale. I can’t really tell you why, other than that’s what seemed to yield the best results after a long trial-and-error process. The end result isn’t fantastic–I wound up with a fair amount of artifacts–but it’s workable. Here’s a zoom in and the full page. You can see lots of artifacts in the close-up, even after having done a quick round of clean-up. 

It looks good at size, though! The noise/artifacts are only really visible once zoomed-in. Maybe I’m just used to digital these days and expect zero noise? 

You can also see that I’ve done a bit of cleanup and adjustments. I fixed some of the marquee lettering, fixed the perspective on the left side of the last panel, and made the glass enclosure more even/symmetrical in that same panel. 

Screen-tone

Screen-tone has been ubiquitous in manga for decades and–owing to the increased readership of manga in the west–has now become a pretty common technique for adding gray values to line art here as well. With modern printing techniques, having visible tone (where you noticeably see the dot screen) is mostly an aesthetic affectation, rather than something necessitated for mechanical reproduction. That said, I wanted my tones to look good and to be set up correctly for printing. 

I had briefly considered trying to do my screen-tones traditionally with sheets of tone. I later decided against that, though, because I’M NOT A CRAZY PERSON. I did, though, go so far as to buy a pile of screen-tone when I was in Tokyo last winter. 

As you can see, physical/traditional screen-toning is still very much a thing in Japan. 

For me, though, I took the easy way out and did all my toning in Clip Studio, which has an incredibly robust suite of digital screen-toning tools (not surprising, since it’s rebranded/translated Japanese software).

Before digging in, though, I wanted to get a handle on how to decide on LPI (lines per inch) and value percentages. I’ve seen a lot of people–including tons of my students–just start throwing down screen-tone almost randomly with no real thought beyond aesthetics. This is a particular problem if you work in PS or Procreate, neither of which have native tone layers like CSP. In those programs you’re using brushes with tone patterns that can potentially resize–which can mean that you’re changing LPI all over the place. And you know what happens sometimes when you print something with tones and you’re not careful with this kind of stuff?

♫ That’s a moiré! ♫ 

A moiré pattern that is. Also: since I’m going for a particular look, I wanted to make a conscious choice about LPI since that determines the spacing/size of the individual dots. 

A side note: since most folks in the west are doing their toning digitally, there’s not a ton of information out there about how physical tone works. The best resource I could find is from the old (and sometimes pretty cheesy) How to Draw Manga series. If you ever want to experiment with physical sheets of tone, this is the best resource I’m aware of. From How to Draw Manga vol. 30, Pen and Tone Techniques:

Tone LPI varies depending on the paper type the art will eventually be printed on. Newsprint tends to be around 65 LPI. Magazine stuff is more in the 85 LPI range. If In the Weeds ever gets printed, it’d be on better paper than either, so my concern is purely aesthetic. There are certain manga which have tone that I really like just on an aesthetic level: low enough LPI that you can see the dot screen if you look, but not so low that they look kitschy or distracting. If only there were some way to figure out what the LPI of those tones I like are?

Behold the magic of the half-tone screen determiner! 

A screen determiner is a little transparent plastic sheet that you can place on printed tone to determine its LPI. Here I’m testing a page from Jiro Tanaguchi’s The Walking Man (one of my all-time fave manga!) and you can see the arm of the “moiré star” indicating the LPI: 85. I wanted something slightly looser so the dots were more visible. I love the look of the tones in Akira and those turned out to be 65 LPI which is what I settled on for In the Weeds.

There’s also the matter of percentage values. I went with a simple three-value palette: 25%, 50%, and 75%. 

For what it’s worth, Clip Studio’s tone layers are extremely robust and a simple slider can easily change the LPI (and lots of other things) on the fly. This is a much better way to do things than using raster brushes in Photoshop. 

So, here’s the final result!

Just looking at this on a screen, I think it looks good. However, it’s always a good idea to get something physically printed out as a double-check. So, here’s how it looks printed on a page rather than on a light-emitting screen:

Seeing this on a physical sheet of paper now, it’s looking too dark to me overall. I’ll tweak these pages before moving forward–probably switching my three value palette to 10%, 40%, and 65%. Fortunately this is very easy to do in Clip Studio. Since CSP’s tone tools aren’t actually rendering pixels until you output your file, you can use select tools, fill tools, etc. to easily change values. 

I’ll maybe update this post in the near-future with the results of my value-tweaking. Hope this long post is of some help to anyone trying to get digital and traditional comics-making methods to play nicely together. Feel free to ask questions in the comments, via email, or via social media (links in the nav bar)!

Oh yeah… so do I think this process is more trouble than it’s worth? Probably, but I like the results so far! Ask me again in about 125 pages. 

An Addendum to “The 10 Goodest Dogs in Comics”

A while back, The Beat published a list of top dog characters in comics, “SILBER LININGS: Who’s a good boy? The 10 goodest dogs in comics,” and it got me thinking about all the various great dogs in comics. Their list is generally a good one (other than Man-Wolf, who is clearly not a dog!) but there were a couple of notable absences I thought.. and I made a mental note to make my own addendum list at some point. 

So, here are a few comics dogs that I think should be added to the list (and note that I’m certainly not suggesting any dogs should be removed from the list to make room! As they say, “They’re good dogs, Brent.”) I’m adhering to the parameters of the original list and only including literal dogs–not anthropomorphic dog characters. 

Snowy/Milou

Snowy — Tintin.com

Seriously, no Snowy? In terms of just sheer popularity and eyes-on-panels, the only other comics dog that even comes close to Snowy is Snoopy (who’s at the #1 spot in The Beat’s list). Like Snoopy, Snowy (Milou in the original French) does occasionally communicate in words, so maybe not a 100% literal dog, but if Snoopy counts, so does Snowy. Not only is Snowy Tintin’s loyal companion who’s stuck with him through thick and thin and through all kinds of harrowing scrapes, but he also knocks back Scotch on occasion! Bonus: Hergé apparently named him in “honor” of a love interest that spurned him as a young man. 

Image

“Milou” = Marie-Louise.

Sam

If you can make it through “Sam” the adoption-to-death story of John Porcellino’s dog, Samantha Love, (from King Kat Comics & Stories #38)  with a dry eye, you are a monster. As with all of Porcellino’s work, the spare drawing belies the emotional richness of the narrative it conveys. We follow John and Sam’s relationship as John grows up, goes through adolescence, moves away from home, etc.–and all the while Sam is there for him. Until she isn’t.  This scant ten-pager is hands down one of the best short comics ever made–and Sam is clearly one of the bestest dogs ever.

The Walking Dog

Neither the titular main character in Jiro Taniguchi’s The Walking Man nor his dog are ever named–there are, in fact, almost no words at all in this book. What does this dog do that merit’s his (her?) inclusion here… well, strictly speaking, neither the dog nor the man really do much of anything. They wander around their town observing and just existing in the moment–and that’s exactly why I love The Walking Man. It reminds us that even in a world of nonstop activity and buzzing phones there’s joy to be found in the simple act of going on a quiet walk with ones dog.  

Pierre

Pierre is the hilariously awful papillon owned by Valerie Russo’s family in Peter Bagge’s HATE. Peirre makes this list mainly just because every single panel with him in it makes me laugh aloud.  Sadly, Pierre only appears for a few panels during the scene where Buddy meets Valerie’s parents. If I were in charge Pierre would have had his own spin-off limited series.

Manga Exhibition Photo Dump (Part 2): Junji Ito

This is Part 2 of a two part post of manga originals. Part 1 is here

I’ve been fortunate enough to recently see two truly spectacular exhibits of original manga pages. Seeing any manga originals is in itself a pretty rare occurrence–for a number of Japan-specific reasons–so it was truly a treat to see so many amazing originals in such a short span of time. 

In this post: the Junji Ito exhibit at Angoulême.

I’ve been wanting to go to the Angoulême festival for ages, and this past year I finally went! There was a real murderer’s row of guests and exhibits this year–the Music & Comics show and the Philippe Druillet installation were personal highlights–but I was most excited about the Junji Ito exhibit. My French wasn’t wholly up to the task of following his talk on Thursday afternoon, but I got the general gist of it. It was a failry by-the-numbers career retrospective interview.

We did, though, shortly thereafter make a beeline for the accompanying exhibit. (Which turned out to be a really good decision, since apparently the exhibit was even more packed Friday – Sunday than it was when we were there… and it was plenty crowded when we were there.)

Anyway, here’s a handful of pics. There were pieces up from pretty much all of Ito’s “greatest hits”–Tomie, Uzumaki, Gyo–as well as work from the recent torrent of collected works. It’s also the only exhibit I’ve been to with a soundtrack: creepy sounds! 

He did the special-for-Angoulême art in the poster above that was available is a really nice print. Here’s one framed (along with my daughter’s cat).

 

Manga Exhibition Photo Dump (Part 1): Kaouro Mori

Kaoru Mori "Ototo Yome Tales" (Kyoto International Manga Museum) |Tokyo Art Beat

I’ve been fortunate enough to recently see two truly spectacular exhibits of original manga pages. Seeing any manga originals is in itself a pretty rare occurrence–for a number of Japan-specific reasons–so it was truly a treat to see so many amazing originals in such a short span of time. 

In this post: the Kaoru Mori exhibit at the Kyoto Manga Museum.

Kaoru Mori is best known for her series Emma (which I admittedly haven’t read), but this show featured almost entirely work from her current series (that I’m a huge fan of), A Bride’s Story. Her sheer drafting ability is obviously absolutely stunning. There’s seemingly nothing she can’t draw–horses, incredibly detailed/rendered cloth and clothing, food/cooking, etc.

But what truly bowled me over seeing these originals was the use of screentone. Actual stick-on screentone is still very much a thing in Japan and one obviously sees it “in action” on the page if you read any manga. Seeing how she utilizes it up close and on the bristol board, however, was a truly revelatory experience for me.  

Enjoy!