Everyone should read the new Miles Morales novel

I’ve been telling literally everyone who will listen to me about Jason Reynolds’ new Miles Morales novel, available now from Marvel Press:

At 16, Miles is concerned he’s destined to follow the same path as his father and his uncle, who both went in and out of jail as teens for petty crimes and more. His Spidey senses keep going haywire at the worst time: in the middle of history class, taught by a “subtly” racist teacher named Mr. Chamberlain who seems to have it out for Miles. And every mistake he makes at Brooklyn Visions Academy puts his scholarship — and his future — in peril.

Miles’ struggle in this story isn’t an exclusively superhuman one, and the fight against the Big Bad isn’t even one he truly needs superpowers to fight. (Although his superpowers definitely help. A lot.) His journey is an incredibly personal one: trying to figure out whether he deserves to be Spider-Man or if he’ll never be anything more than a criminal, which is how many of the school’s administrators treat him.

You can read my full review now at Girls in Capes.

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Archive: #BlackComicsChat hosted by Thelonious Legend & Marcus Kwame

Last night, I had the great honor of joining #BlackComicsChat for a panel on diversity!  #BlackComicsChat is hosted on Twitter and YouTube by Thelonious Legend and Marcus Kwame.

The artist guest of the night was Robert Jeffrey II, an Atlanta-based artist whose work Route 3 was one topic of discussion.  I’m really excited to check out this comic – learn more about it here.

Other guests included Prof. Deborah Whaley (@dewhaley) and CG (@BlkGirlManifest) of Black Girl in Media.

Check out the archived video of the panel here, and make sure to follow Thelonious and Marcus to learn about upcoming #BlackComicsChat nights!

Guest Appearance: Comics Squee

It’s not every day a person gets asked to talk about stuff they like.  But that’s exactly what happened when I was asked to guest on Comics Squee, a podcast about the comics, graphic novels, and sequential art that excites people most.

You can find Episode Two of the podcast here.  In my segment, I discuss Avatar: The Last Airbender The Search Part Two, released in July with its third installment in October.

Other panelists’ segments discuss the Marvel Super Heroes tabletop game, Amala’s Blade, and Castle Waiting.

[Guest Post] Writing for Graphic Novels

I had the feeling that it would be easier to achieve the minimum of 100 pages for Script Frenzy than the 50.000 words for last year’s NaNoWriMo and till now that seems to be the case, even being my first time writing a script and not having written much on the second week.

It was a bit tough deciding what to do, the novelty of it and the many possibilities making me euphoric (a videogame? A comic? Oh, how about radio plays?) but I ended up choosing to script a story that I had on my mind for a while in graphic novel format.

Usually, before I draw the final comic or graphic novel pages I make thumbnails of them first with the dialogue for each panel and notes scribbled on the margins, so adding scripting before all that was a new approach to me.

I started piecing the outline together and developing the characters around a month before the event started. I was pretty excited to try something new and developing a (sort of) new story, especially after the fun I had last year with NaNo. Having a lot of free time then helped the want of doing something, of being productive and work on personal projects.

In the first couple of days, still struggling with the new writing format, I was a bit too focused on how the layout of the page would look in the end which made me slow (I was indecisive and second-guessing it a lot) but slowly I started to try to just keep the number of panels per page in check and not be so perfectionist about where exactly they would go. I realized it was more important for me to spare most of the effort for the flow of the story right now. Layout problems can be solved later (or so I hope), even if some tweaking is needed. Still, I have to constantly remind myself to write first and edit later.

Each panel description was either a pain or an enjoyment. I have a pretty strong visual for some of the panels so describing them exactly the way I want them makes my mind at ease. However when I don’t have a specific image my vague and/or short descriptions leave me feeling that my script is lacking. Then again, not all panels will be all action packed right? I don’t think it’s a bad thing, even if the feeling doesn’t quite leave me be.

On the first week the story I’ve been keeping only on my mind just ran with abandon, filling pages and pages of interactions and angles and expression, but then assignments sucked my time and energy and I felt inertia starting to creep. The second week was spent trying to keep up, finding a couple of minutes to write a page, seeing the goal of 100 pages by the 22nd to get a 100 euro donation to OLL start to circle the drain. I was afraid my descent from run to crawl would end on a full stop. And that’s why this weekend I’m metaphorically glued to my office chair unless the house is on fire.

Tomás is a Visual Arts student aiming for Concept Art. He draws, writes, plays games and turns junk into other stuff among other things. You can see some of his works at tomsp.tumblr.com.

Indie Toledo: Seann’s Anime & Comics

The first in a series about independent shops and restaurants in the Northwest Ohio (specifically Toledo) area.

The first time I enter a comic book or anime store, I’m usually not expecting much.  I have been in my fair share of both, and they tend to be a bit crowded and claustrophobic, the counter workers more interested in reading or watching their own thing to make conversation, or – in the case of many anime stores – carry more merchandise than comics, manga, or anime DVDs.

That’s why walking into Seann’s was a pleasant surprise for me.  The store wasn’t nearly as overcrowded as I’d come to expect from a store of that type.  In fact, it was very open and cool (it was a very hot day outside). That was definitely an inviting sign for me to check everything out.

Products

Seann’s carries primarily anime titles on DVD and Blu-ray, though the store also carries a decent stock of new and gently used manga as well as merchandise and snacks.  When first walking into the store, the rows of DVDs are all you see until your eye is drawn to the back wall, which had a rack of cute anime and cartoon plushies.

After browsing the titles – they had quite a few titles that were not as well-known alongside the hot sellers – I headed for the print section of the store.  The print section is for both manga and American comics: the manga titles sit on a bookshelf while the newest comics sit on regular racks.  There is also a table with boxes containing other titles, as well as titles that are a little bit older.

Near the check-out counter, there is a glass case containing sake bottles from local dealer Ohio Kimono as well as other items that are a bit more fragile.  On top of the counter, there are different types of jewelry and other fun stuff, like string dolls and keychains.  (The dolls are made from a single piece of string!)  By the door, there is a rack of Japanese-style candy and snacks, including fruit gummies and ramune.

Services

Seann’s buys back used anime DVDs as well as used manga.  I ended up buying two used DVDs, which are both in really good condition for being used – and they were about half the price of a new DVD, so I got both for $10.

The store also offers comic subscription services for monthly pickup, and they even offer a discount!  If you subscribe to at least 5 different comics, Seann’s offers a small percentage discount on the subscription.  There’s a catch, though: you have to pick them up at least once a month.

One service I found pretty unique, at least for an anime store in the Toledo area, is the rental service.  Patrons can rent DVD titles for up to one week.  The rates vary – you can rent a single title for one night or a boxed set for up to a week, all for different (yet affordable) rates.  This is great for those who never watch anything more than once, or those who love $1 one-night rentals to try out something they’ve never seen before.

Critic’s Conclusion

There is no reason for an anime/manga fan to NOT visit Seann’s.  With a wide variety of items and services, they have something for everyone: my best friend and I can go together, and while he browses the DVD rentals, I can pick up a manga or comic that looks interesting.  They also carry enough merchandise to be interesting for anyone who enjoys Japanese culture or media, from wall scrolls and dolls to stickers and notebooks to sake sets.

Comic fans may not be as inclined to visit.  As far as I can tell, the selection is somewhat small, as it occupies only a very small section of the shop.  However, a sign indicates that store employees can pull comics, and their subscription service is pretty nice.  There are also some beautiful art pieces on the wall behind the counter from a comic artist.  I don’t know too much about comics, but I can appreciate beautiful things when I see them.

Also, though I didn’t mention this in the body of the review, the young lady who was working when I was there was very nice.  She wasn’t pushy or trying too hard to sell anything, and when I asked questions she gave me knowledgeable answers.

I’d recommend this store for any anime/manga fan and anyone interested in comics or Japanese culture.

– Find Seann’s online at their website or simply type “Seann’s Anime and Comics” in the searchbar on Facebook.