Publisher: Fanfare / Ponent Mon
Visit Fanfare / Ponent Mon's Disappearance Diary page
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When the pressures of his life as a manga artist got to be too much to bear, Hideo Azuma decided to run away from it all and became a homeless person. As if once wasn't enough, he escaped again to take up a blue-collar career as a pipe fitter for the gas company, and when his alcoholism got out of control, he checked into rehab.
You'd think that this autobiographical tale would be a total downer, but Azuma tells an uncommonly funny (and admittedly edited) account of his life on society's fringes that is both humorous and humbling.
Visit Vertical's Black Jack page
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Osamu Tezuka's scarred and stoic surgeon with a heart of gold returns, and this time, American fans will get to read the entire 13-volume run of the adventures of Black Jack in this classy re-issue of classic manga.
Even fans who missed Black Jack the first time around found much to love in this reissue, as Vertical published this series with fresh translations and even hardcover versions that included rare stories that weren't included in the Japanese editions.
Publisher: Deux Press / Aurora Publishing
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This elegant collection of short stories stood out simply because it wasn't so much a "boys love" title as it was about grown men who experience love and lust in sophisticated, sensual and nuanced scenarios.
The first of two releases from est em that appeared this year, Seduce Me Before the Show introduced American readers to this standout talent. est em's art and storytelling style is so strikingly different, it has rare crossover appeal for comics fans who usually don’t bother to read yaoi manga.
Publisher: Drawn and Quarterly
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A young creative couple struggles with making ends meet while sorting out their codependent relationship and the social upheaval that surrounds them. Loneliness, doubt, fear and betrayal are woven into this mesmerizing and cryptic story.
Originally published in 1971, Red Colored Elegy is a unusual graphic novel that gives American readers a glimpse into gekiga, or dramatic, experimental and edgy stories created outside of manga's mainstream.
Publisher: Del Rey Manga
Visit Random House's Me and the Devil Blues page
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While there was a lot of great seinen manga out this year, Me and the Devil Blues is worth a mention mostly because it took an unusual subject (the life of blues legend Robert Johnson) and gave it a few surreal twists that offer surprises, even for fans who are familiar with Johnson's so-called deal with the devil at the crossroads.
With bold, dark strokes, Hiramoto uses this American legend as a launching pad for new stories that weaves fact, fiction and legend into something that's his alone.
Publisher: Yen Press
Visit Yen Press' Shoulder-A-Coffin Kuro page
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A young girl carries a coffin on her back and travels the countryside with a smart-alecky bat and two cat-eared girls. That's essentially the premise of Shoulder-A-Coffin Kuro, but this deceptively winsome fairy tale has a dark, melancholy streak running through it.
As part of Yen Press' effort to bring more yon-koma (four panel) manga to America, Shoulder-A-Coffin Kuro mixes full-color with black and white artwork in a story that only begrudgingly gives up its secrets as it tells its charming slice-of-life fables.