Review Day Tuesday: Heart of Darkmeat

Yes! Review Day Tuesdays are back, baby! The only change is there are now new reviews every other week.

You can get a copy of this book through Rubber Punk.

Thanks for watching!

You. Are. Awesome.

Review Day Tuesday: My Love Story!!

If you’ve read “My Love Story!!” published by Shojo Beat and created by Kazune Kawahara and Aruko, leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts on it!

Right now, I’m hard at work on some new illustration series’ ideas – drawing out some rough sketches, testing color palettes, and the like. I’ll talk more about those soon. Besides that, if you want to see some bonus comics like “Julia,” you can check out my Patreon page – it’s like KickStarter, but funds itself by the month and gets you more constant perks.

Thank you for reading and watching!

You. Are. Awesome.

The Heroic Legend of Arslan, Vol. 1: A Review

heroic legend of arslan volume 1 arakawa
Today: I review volume 1 of this series.

I love Hiromu Arakawa’s work. She’s one of my biggest inspirations in my comics-making career.

But I haven’t read much of her work outside of Fullmetal Alchemist and bits and pieces of a volume of A Hero’s Tale. I know. I bring shame upon my nerd head.

My friend Chloe, who is also a big fan of Arakawa’s, gifted me The Heroic Legend of Arslan (volumes 1 and 2) for Christmas. I heard Arakawa was working on this with a writer by the name of Yoshiki Tanaka, so I was super excited to read this.

I was thoroughly entertained.

Is it perfect? No. There are times where it feels like the characters are just throwing up exposition, but the action, the art, and the sincere characters really pull you through.

The story is about a prince named Arslan. He is the son of the war-hardened King Andragoras, who has never lost a battle. When Arslan reaches the age of 14, he rides into battle with his father against the Lusitanians, and I will stop there or else I would spoil it.

The first chapter of this manga was actually written by Arakawa, and takes place four years prior to the main events, to help give some context for the rest of the story. Don’t skip that chapter. It actually helps to give some wonderful insights into the character of Arslan, and is entertaining as hell.

One thing I noticed though, is the character designs.

In Arakawa’s work, she tends to use character designs that are similar across her work. To help clarify, take a look at Solf J. Kimblee from Fullmetal Alchemist, versus Marzban Daryun from Arslan.

kimblee and daryun
On the left, Solf J. Kimblee. On the right, Marzban Daryun.

Now take a look at Armstrong from Fullmetal Alchemist and Eran Vahriz from Arslan.

armstrong and vahriz fullmetal alchemist and heroic legend of arslan
On the left: Armstrong. On the right: Vahriz.

It’s Armstrong with a beard!

I think the reason behind this is that this references something done by one of the original manga masters, Osamu Tezuka. Tezuka took character designs across works like this because he was heavily influenced by movies. He saw the characters as actors, and he would have the actors take on new roles in various productions…or comics.

I think that’s what Arakawa does, as well. Her characters are actors taking on new roles. Is this an intentional homage? Or an art gag? Knowing Arakawa, it could be both.

Back to the manga, once you get into chapter 2, that’s when the warring and battles start. This is the real meat and potatoes of this first volume in the manga series. And it’s written and illustrated well. It’s not for the weak at heart, though, because it does feature a lot of impaling and catching people on fire.

You know, war.

Because of that, the characters (Arslan is a sweetie and Daryun is my all-time favorite), and the art, The Heroic Legend of Arslan is the rare story that has gotten me interested in manga again! I could not set this book down because I was so excited and eager to see what would happen next.

So if you’re tired of seeing the same old romantic-comedy manga on book shelves, give this series a try. It’s a breath of fresh air.

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you tomorrow.

A 5-Part Update

This post is coming to you in 5 Parts, so let’s get right to it!

Part 1. If you did not see it yet, I finally posted something on the Women Warriors Project. You can check that out here.

Part 2. My awesome friend Chloe sent me volumes 1 and 2 of The Heroic Legend of Arslan and I am SUPER EXCITED, because we both mutually love Hiromu Arakawa and it’s great to see her work on other manga.

the heroic legend of arslan manga volumes 1 and 2 and jak and elsa fanart
Chloe also sent me some fanart a classmate of hers made, which also looks fabulous.

I’m going to write and post a review of volume 1 this upcoming Tuesday, reviving a feature I introduced last year, “Review Day Tuesday.”

Speaking of recurring segments on the blog, that brings me to,

Part 3. Favorite Artist Friday!

I’m going to rename this feature “Featured Artist Friday,” so it’s not just my favorite artists being featured.

Featured Artist Friday is going to feature lots of different types of artists. So expect to see comics artists, painters, mixed media artists, sculptors, or just people I find while I flip through my stack of business cards I’ve accumulated over the years from conventions.

Speaking of art, though,

Part 4. New Mini-Comics!

I made and finished a new mini-comic recently called “Duck for Dinner.” It’s a short little autobiographical story.

duck for dinner mini comic
Duck for Dinner… the mini-comic!

It’ll be up for sale on Storenvy soon.

If you would like a digital copy of the comic for, say, $0.99 (US Currency) please leave a note in the comments. I’ve been thinking of offering short 99 cent digital comics for sale through Gumroad, but let me know what you think?

Speaking of Storenvy, though, that leads me to,

Part 5: Crafting Stuff!

So I had a ton of excess paper and decide to bind some new books (because bookbinding is one of my new hobbies). I used a new technique I found the other day called the Slot-&-Tab method, which requires no thread or gluing.

bookbinding handmade books slot and tab method
Hand Made Books!

The thing is, I don’t have a use for these (although I’m keeping the grid paper book), so I’m thinking of selling them as filler notebooks or something on Storenvy. If you’re interested in getting one of these, drop a comment below.

And if you would like to see a tutorial, let me know about that, too, in the comments.

So what other things am I crafting?

Well, I have some T-shirts I don’t wear anymore…

t shirts
These shirts either don’t fit me or are just too bland.

I’m going to repurpose these into tote bags. Because tote bags are awesome, and you can totes (HA) use them in lieu of plastic bags when you shop, which is my favorite thing to do.

I’m not confident enough in my sewing skills to consider selling the finished totes, though, so it may be a while before I offer any for sale.

That’s all for today, but come back tomorrow, when I talk about a new artist for Feature Artist Friday!

“Between the Sheets” by Erika Sakurazawa: The Review

Before I get to the review, I need to do some housekeeping.

First, I’ll be making an appearance at Interventioncon in Rockville, MD/ Washington DC area this weekend, August 22 through the 24. Christian Beranek and I will be there promoting Validation and meeting everybody, so if you’re in the neighborhood, we’d love to meet you!

Second, I’ve added some new work here on the site. Check out the Sketches section if you’re interested in some character designs and other works I’ve done recently.

And now, the review, or as I like to put it, “How to Suck at Being A Romantic Lover.”

between the sheets manga cover

“Between the Sheets” was a rare find, especially since I got the Tokyopop copy, and Tokyopop is no longer a company here in the United States. Special thanks goes to my local comic shop, Hobby’s Inc in Bridgeport, for carrying this and other Tokyopop titles.

I bought this book expecting a great lesbian love story. Did it live up to what I had in mind?

No.

The book can be described pretty well as “watch two awful young ladies in Japan make terrible life decisions about relationships and pull shit to try and make each other jealous.”

The two characters, Saki (who I only know because the main character’s narration never stops talking about her) and Minako, are best friends. But Minako develops romantic feelings for Saki, who unfortunately is straight and keeps hooking up with absolutely terrible men who cheat on her with other women.

It eventually gets to a point where Minako sleeps with one of Saki’s boyfriends in order to prove that he is a grade-A douche and that she’s the only one that cares about Saki by protecting her from these men.

In case you can’t tell, I’m not a fan of this story.

The characters are flat and one-dimensional. You never see them do anything else other than talk to each other about boys. They go out shoe shopping at one point, but only because one of Saki’s lovers works at the shoe store. Saki is the driving force of the story, but she is the only driving force. She’s the reason the other characters act out, which is problematic, because they’re usually acting out to get her attention and love.

The romances (if you can call them romances) are actually quite poisonous. Saki herself has a double standard – where she can have affairs but her sexual partners aren’t allowed to have them (or at least, let her find out about them, as she tries to justify later). A relationship should be built on trust, and Saki is more than willing to break those bonds of trust for her own gratification.

Sadly, Minako is still in love with Saki, thinking that if only Saki could recognize her love, she would recognize she was a fool and just run away with Minako.

Except, no. That’s not how people work.

And then Minako sleeps with Saki’s partners in an effort to 1) get as close to her as possible, and 2) make Saki realize that the men in her life are terrible and therefore run to Minako, who is safe and wonderful and the “only one who really loves her.”

That is exceptionally problematic. Jealousy and bitterness are not sound foundations for a relationship of any kind. Sleeping with your best friend’s partners is an even bigger no-no, because it breaches trust with not just the partners, but with your friends.

Minako finds out about that at the end of the story (I’ll spoil it for you) when she tells Saki she slept with her boyfriends. Saki slaps her in the face (no surprise there) and screams at her to leave and never come back.

The story ends with Minako making love to one of Saki’s ex-lovers, and you can tell by the dialogue that they are both still very hung-up about Saki.

To me, Saki is not interesting enough to be a driving force in the story. As I said, she’s one-dimensional and that dimension is a terrible human being.

The art is very sparse throughout the whole thing, which sort of makes sense because the author probably wanted the focus to be more on the main characters’ emotions. Still, couldn’t Sakurazawa fill in more panels? Because the story is already empty enough without the unfinished panels and empty pages.

I am not kidding, there are some pages that are just word balloons and one or two faces. There’s no detail in the characters’ costumes or environments, either. The art is simple to the point of being boring and flat, not to mention that the tones are sloppy. A lot of people give Yoshihiro Togashi crap for some of the later volumes of Hunter x Hunter being “rushed,” but at least he made an effort and finished the artwork that he started drawing. Sakurazawa was in such a rush to make this story that sometimes whole pages are left empty and white and the tones are all over the place, like she didn’t have the time to clean up. Were her deadlines just brutal for this project? I don’t know.

In conclusion, “Between the Sheets” is a book you can definitely skip. There are, I’m sure, other lesbian love stories out there that are better crafted and care more about the characters than what can be seen in this work. Want a good place to start? Try Ai Yazawa’s work. She has far more enjoyable characters, facial expressions, and romances.

Know any good comics or manga I should review? Suggest them in the comments!

Also, I’m looking forward to meeting you all in DC for Interventioncon!

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you on Wednesday.