Picking up from last time, here’s some more of Aki Irie’s work. This is just odds and ends I couldn’t fit into the last post… I mostly reference Gunjyo Schooldays, a 4(?) book collection of her short stories.
Compression/Decompression: I like how she handles it. A single page can cover years, and this one in particular conveys that and more nicely (and without words!): the grave is important to her but not to him, but SHE’s important to him, so he sticks around. He’s aloof, but clearly their relationship is close enough that he’s present during these visits. And over the course of years, she changes much more than he does.
By contrast, some moments slow down immensely. A whole page just to capture a particular mood:
I love how cozy her comics are. Everyone is comfortable in their own skin - sex is warm and friendly and just kind of is:
These parents are pretty cute:
Haha … kids.
Hair looks incredible:
Nice alternating panels of the ocean to describe the feeling in her chest:
Music in comics is interesting - Decisions that an artist makes about what’s important and what isn’t. Aki Irie is all about that feeling:
I really dig the trick with the rain along the center of the next page - it emphasizes weather, sets mood, and allows time to lapse in a very concise way:
I love the atmosphere here:
And I just really like this sequence of a super smart scientist at work:
I like short stories a lot. A good short story is a concise statement of an idea or a soft statement of atmosphere & mood. Irie shows a lot of range in these short stories. Whenever we get the chanceto doshortstories on Johnny Wander I’m probably thinking a little about how Aki Irie tells her stories, specifically the sense of wonder and delight she manages to capture.
(Most of our Aki Irie books came from Japan, but if you live in NYC you can find them at Kinokuniya, or Bookoff if you’re lucky. The short stories seem really difficult to find.)
Yuko and her father always stop at used books stores when they take trips to Japan. Several years ago she brought home 2 books of short stories called Gunjyo Schooldays, by author Aki Irie. I adore them… there’s a lightness and whimsy to it that really does it for me. The next time Yuko went to Japan she surprised me by bringing back Irie’s entire bibliography. Yuko’s the best.
Irie’s since moved on to a series called Ran to Haiiro no Sekai, so this is going to feature pages from the short stories and her newer series. I was originally going to make this one post but I just kept going and decided to break it into two … oops.
There are a few things about her work that really get me. The linework is pretty tight for the most part, but it feels loose and there’s something elegant and energizing about it. I like her ability to increase and reduce detail at will - the texture in the hair, the drape of the jacket, the crinkle of the shorts and then the clean stroke of the legs down to the socks (I also love her big-ass sneakers):
There’s a lot of manga where the backgrounds are technically gorgeous but they lack personality. Aki Irie’s backgrounds live in the same world as her characters. One of her short stories is about an old woman who takes a magical walk through the forest and it’s all about the environments:
Beautiful messes are a staple:
Most of her stories revolve around women. There’s a feeling I find difficult to explain, except to say that I get the sense that Aki Irie really loves women. Whether they’re lovers, mothers, friends, and whether they’re having fun or making mistakes, the women in her stories are shown through a lens of joy. It’s a difficult feeling for me to articulate.
I think i’m going to do a follow-up post at some point… mostly images I couldn’t get into this one.
Were you and Yuko planning on attending the new NY Comic Con? Y'know the one in June that's supposed to be all comics? I'm not sure what their policy on webcomics is, but I'm really hoping to go to Special Edition NYC and it would be cool to see y'all there.
!! Wasn’t aware of this one, going to look into it. Thanks!
Hey Ananth! Big fan of you and Yuko love the work you both do Johnny Wander is one of my favourite web comics right now (easily top 5) and waiting on the trade of Candy Capers. So I was wanting to ask, do you guys intend for Lucky Penny to be released as its own self contained graphic novel or will it be a part of future Johnny Wander volumes? And do you guys plan or thoughts on visiting the UK, possibly Thought Bubble, Leeds 2014? You will be greeted to a warm and royal welcome.
Lucky Penny will be released as a full-length graphic novel from Oni Press! No release date on that just yet, but we’ll be posting about it once things gel.
We’d love to go to Thought Bubble and fully intend to one of these years. Plus I’d love to see England, I’ve never been. No concrete plans just yet, though… We’re buckling down to complete Lucky Penny and planning the rest of our lives around that. RIDE OR DIE!
“Your name is Tasbeeh. Don’t let them call you by anything else.”
My mother speaks to me in Arabic; the command sounds more forceful in her mother tongue, a Libyan dialect that is all sharp edges and hard, guttural sounds. I am seven years old and it has never occurred to me to disobey my mother. Until twelve years old, I would believe God gave her the supernatural ability to tell when I’m lying.
“Don’t let them give you an English nickname,” my mother insists once again, “I didn’t raise amreekan.”
My mother spits out this last word with venom. Amreekan. Americans. It sounds like a curse coming out of her mouth. Eight years in this country and she’s still not convinced she lives here. She wears her headscarf tightly around her neck, wades across the school lawn in long, floor-skimming skirts. Eight years in this country and her tongue refuses to bend and soften for the English language. It embarrasses me, her heavy Arab tongue, wrapping itself so forcefully around the clumsy syllables of English, strangling them out of their meaning.
But she is fierce and fearless. I have never heard her apologize to anyone. She will hold up long grocery lines checking and double-checking the receipt in case they’re trying to cheat us. My humiliation is heavy enough for the both of us. My English is not. Sometimes I step away, so people don’t know we’re together but my dark hair and skin betray me as a member of her tribe.
On my first day of school, my mother presses a kiss to my cheek.
“Your name is Tasbeeh,” she says again, like I’ve forgotten. “Tasbeeh.”
Roll call is the worst part of my day. After a long list of Brittanys, Jonathans, Ashleys, and Yen-but-call-me-Jens, the teacher rests on my name in silence. She squints. She has never seen this combination of letters strung together in this order before. They are incomprehensible. What is this h doing at the end? Maybe it is a typo.
“Tasbeeh,” I mutter, with my hand half up in the air. “Tasbeeh.”
“Do you go by anything else?”
“No,” I say. “Just Tasbeeh. Tas-beeh.”
“Tazbee. All right. Alex?”
She moves on before I can correct her. She said it wrong. She said it so wrong. I have never heard my name said so ugly before, like it’s a burden. Her entire face contorts as she says it, like she is expelling a distasteful thing from her mouth. She avoids saying it for the rest of the day, but she has already baptized me with this new name. It is the name everyone knows me by, now, for the next six years I am in elementary school. “Tazbee,” a name with no grace, no meaning, no history; it belongs in no language.
“Tazbee,” says one of the students on the playground, later. “Like Tazmanian Devil?” Everyone laughs. I laugh too. It is funny, if you think about it.
I do not correct anyone for years. One day, in third grade, a plane flies above our school.
“Your dad up there, Bin Laden?” The voice comes from behind. It is dripping in derision.
“My name is Tazbee,” I say. I said it in this heavy English accent, so he may know who I am. I am American. But when I turn around they are gone.
I go to middle school far, far away. It is a 30-minute drive from our house. It’s a beautiful set of buildings located a few blocks off the beach. I have never in my life seen so many blond people, so many colored irises. This is a school full of Ashtons and Penelopes, Patricks and Sophias. Beautiful names that belong to beautiful faces. The kind of names that promise a lifetime of social triumph.
I am one of two headscarved girls at this new school. We are assigned the same gym class. We are the only ones in sweatpants and long-sleeved undershirts. We are both dreading roll call. When the gym teacher pauses at my name, I am already red with humiliation.
“How do I say your name?” she asks.
“Tazbee,” I say.
“Can I just call you Tess?”
I want to say yes. Call me Tess. But my mother will know, somehow. She will see it written in my eyes. God will whisper it in her ear. Her disappointment will overwhelm me.
“No,” I say, “Please call me Tazbee.”
I don’t hear her say it for the rest of the year.
My history teacher calls me Tashbah for the entire year. It does not matter how often I correct her, she reverts to that misshapen sneeze of a word. It is the ugliest conglomeration of sounds I have ever heard.
When my mother comes to parents’ night, she corrects her angrily, “Tasbeeh. Her name is Tasbeeh.” My history teacher grimaces. I want the world to swallow me up.
My college professors don’t even bother. I will only know them for a few months of the year. They smother my name in their mouths. It is a hindrance for their tongues. They hand me papers silently. One of them mumbles it unintelligibly whenever he calls on my hand. Another just calls me “T.”
My name is a burden. My name is a burden. My name is a burden. I am a burden.
On the radio I hear a story about a tribe in some remote, rural place that has no name for the color blue. They do not know what the color blue is. It has no name so it does not exist. It does not exist because it has no name.
At the start of a new semester, I walk into a math class. My teacher is blond and blue-eyed. I don’t remember his name. When he comes to mine on the roll call, he takes the requisite pause. I hold my breath.
“How do I pronounce your name?” he asks.
I say, “Just call me Tess.”
“Is that how it’s pronounced?”
I say, “No one’s ever been able to pronounce it.”
“That’s probably because they didn’t want to try,” he said. “What is your name?”
When I say my name, it feels like redemption. I have never said it this way before. Tasbeeh. He repeats it back to me several times until he’s got it. It is difficult for his American tongue. His has none of the strength, none of the force of my mother’s. But he gets it, eventually, and it sounds beautiful. I have never heard it sound so beautiful. I have never felt so deserving of a name. My name feels like a crown.
“Thank you for my name, mama.”
When the barista asks me my name, sharpie poised above the coffee cup, I tell him: “My name is Tasbeeh. It’s a tough t clinging to a soft a, which melts into a silky ssss, which loosely hugs the b, and the rest of my name is a hard whisper — eeh. Tasbeeh. My name is Tasbeeh. Hold it in your mouth until it becomes a prayer. My name is a valuable undertaking. My name requires your rapt attention. Say my name in one swift note – Tasbeeeeeeeh – sand let the h heat your throat like cinnamon. Tasbeeh. My name is an endeavor. My name is a song. Tasbeeh. It means giving glory to God. Tasbeeh. Wrap your tongue around my name, unravel it with the music of your voice, and give God what he is due”—
I got Buzz! today for Christmas and I literally screeched when I got it. I've read through it already and it's phenomenal! Both you and Miss Stone did a fantastic job with Buzz!, hell, this is probably one of my favorite comics that I've ever read already! I know you must be getting this a lot, so I'm sorry to be a bother, but I just wanted to let you know that you and Miss Stone have made my Christmas!
I got this a while ago but never got around to saying something - Thank you! Glad you enjoyed it.
I wasn't expecting what I got from Buzz! And to be honest... It was one of the best comics I've read this year. Congrats to you and Tessa for creating a really unique look and story on this. You all got me back into reading comics and drawing after a slump :)
Comic Book Resources - REVIEW: Adventure Time: Candy Capers #6 - In Adventure Time: Candy Capers #6 by Ananth Panagariya, Yuko Ota and Ian McGinty, Peppermint Butler and Cinnamon Bun turn to synthesizing heroes with disastrous results that lead indirectly to the return of Finn and Jake.
Pretty thrilled with this review! This gig in particular came along at just the right time for us to learn a lot about pacing and divvying up a storyline for issues.
Also, for BUZZ! & Tessa Stone fans— Tess drew the second story in Candy Capers #5! Actually we gave her a RUDE number of characters to draw in that short and I’ll be apologizing for the rest of my life. Sorry buddyyy. ♥︎