Archive for the 'Various' Category

24th Mar 2011

Pen & Ink

Rating: ♦♦♦

I always kind of scoffed at the “How To” artbooks that get released. I have an art degree, I know how to draw. The only thing that improves your ability to draw is practice. You have to draw day in and day out, and draw everything you see. Then, eventually, you will start to get better at it. Yes, some people have an innate ability, but even people who profess that they can’t draw really can, once they practice and learn the connection between what your eyes see and how your hand moves.

What I really liked about this release is that it did stress the importance of practice. It had a week long list of exercises for getting used to using a pen, and a list of goals you were supposed to have achieved at the end of each exercise. Using pen and ink requires a completely different set of skills than sketching with a pencil or a marker.

The other nice thing this release covered was the use of tones. I’m lazy. If I’m going to use tones on something, I’m going to throw it in PhotoShop, and do it digitally – but this release gave instructions for using them from a pre-printed sheet. Also part of their weekly exercises was using cross-hatching to create your own gradient shading, instead of using tones. It’s nice to know all the different options that are available to artists.

I also appreciated the interviews with manga artists on how they use different materials to achieve different effects. While I don’t see myself running out to by a lot of the “How-To” books, this release has made me look at them in a bit more favorable light.

Posted by Cynthia | Posted in ♦♦♦, Miscellaneous, Various | 1 Comment »

27th May 2008

Connections: A Boys Love Anthology

Rating: ♦♦♦♦♦

As much as I love my manga, there are just times when I want to curl up with a good book. It’s even better when I can curl up with a good book that have boys angsting, laughing, fighting and fucking. Here we have a collection of stories where we have boys doing just that. Some of these stories are by authors whose works I’ve already fallen in love with through reading their works online and some I’ve never seen.

Usually when I’m reading an anthology, I only find myself liking half of the stories. There’s always some stories that just stand out and grab your attention and then there’s the stories that you’re just skimming to say you got through them so you can get onto the next story.

There was really only one story that left me scanning it quickly to get onto the next story in the book and I’m pretty sure that’s just because I’m just not too fond of the time period that the story was set in.

I had two favorites in the book: “Chance and Daring” by Laylah Hunter and “Realness” by Colin. “Chance and Daring” sucked me in because I love the time period it’s set in and there’s just something about vaguely aristocratic boys sneaking out to go slumming and hump each other that makes me happy.

“Realness” grabbed me for its vaguely futuristic setting and the concept of being completely wired to the internet has always been something that has caught my interest. Let’s not even go into the fact that I like the thought of boys on the ‘net looking for each other and stroking off to thoughts of what they’re going to do to each other.

Of course now on recollection, I want to babble about every single story in the book because each one of them had something that I could gush about.

I keep being amazed by the quality of work that Iris Print is putting out. This isn’t BL for people who want light sweetness and fluff. This is nice, graphic and not everything has a happy ending. I like bittersweet endings better myself. Please tug at my heartstrings. You’re guaranteed to have me coming back for more.

If all the things that Iris Print is going to be putting out are going to be of this quality, then they’ve got a fan for life in me.

Posted by Cynthia | Posted in ♦♦♦♦♦, Connections: A Boys Love Anthology, Various | Comments Off on Connections: A Boys Love Anthology

26th May 2008

J-Boy 1

Rating: ♦♦♦♦

I always liked the idea of the Be-Boy anthologies. Books that came out monthly/semi-monthly that carried works by a variety of artists. I would always stop and look at them when I went manga shopping, then put them back on the shelf due to the fact that I couldn’t read a single character in them.

June has brought us over something very akin to the Be-Boy anthologies. Here we have a huge collection of shorts, drawn by a variety of artists printed up in pretty colors and ready to go. Be still my beating heart. I think I’m in love.

Like most anthologies, I don’t think there’s anyone who’s going to like every single story in the book, but there’s enough of a variety that I think most people are going to find at least a few stories that they like.

I was thrilled to find that the opening story was by Haruka Minami. It took me a while to get into her work, due to the fact that some of her characters can look very young, but the fact that her characters are incredibly filthy helped me get over the slight squick over the age-apparent thing pretty quickly. The story included in here is no exception. I’m very much hoping that the story will be continued, or that there will be more by this artist in future volumes.

As for presentation, June outdid themselves with this one. The book is printed in all different colors of ink. Some of the pages are different colored as well. It all makes for a very neat presentation. I don’t know why in the hell having purple ink thrills me so much, but it does. I think a lot of people are going to be very happy with this anthology series. I know I’m eagerly awaiting the release of the next volume.

Posted by Cynthia | Posted in ♦♦♦♦, J-Boy, Various | Comments Off on J-Boy 1

23rd May 2008

Rush 00

Rating: ♦♦♦♦♦

With the Rush compilations, Drama Queen has finally achieved what Yaoi Press has been trying to achieve with all of their releases. Here is a gorgeously illustrated collection with engaging storytelling, stellar presentation and it just leaves you waiting impatiently for the next volume to come out.

There have been a lot of grumbles in the BL community about OEL boys love stories and how they are supposed to be somewhat lacking from what’s being imported from Japan. I hope that this series of anthologies will put that to rest.

We start off with “Night and Day” by Akira Atsushi. It revolves around Adder, a pretty young male escort who’s in need of some cash, and Jin, who’s in desperate need of someone to drag him out of his world of doll collecting, teach him how to dress and behave in public. Jin’s sister makes Adder an offer: two million dollars if he can make Jin straighten up and fly right. Adder’s determined to get that money. While Jin’s bound and determined to keep going along his path to geekdom. Simply gorgeous art in this one. I find myself lusting after Jin even before he gets his makeover. I just can’t wait until those two to get naked.

Theresa Zysk gives us “Children of the Bones”, which features a militaristic society and a young man named Taxi who just got kicked out of his house. He moves in with Lucy “Call me Luce” who doesn’t bother to hide his sexuality from anyone. Taxi claims to only be interested in females and is slightly disturbed by this development.

Of course it’s all a front and Luce finds his secret stash of male-on-male porn after Taxi returns home from a disastrous confrontations with some of the members of SOLDIER. The boys end up in bed together, while the surviving members from the squad that Taxi had a run in with are left plotting revenge. I was not as fond of the art in this one, though it did grow on me and very much fits the story.

Laura Yokoshima brings us the next story in the collection, “Master!”. It’s an odd story that seems to be going three different places at once. I’m sure this is something that’s going to resolve itself in the future installments, but it did throw me for a loop the first time I read it. We’re introduced to a young man who is complaining that there is this annoying fellow who recognized him at school as being a fellow Japanese and the extent of the aggravation that this kid puts him though.

Then the young man goes home and we find that he’s got a dog boy in residence who caters to his every whim. Yes. Every whim. Lovely hot sex. We then find out that the young man is a mage who rescued the dog from drowning and in casting the spell turned him into this dog/man hybrid. At the end of the story, we find someone who claims to be the father of the young man hiring a shady character to “protect him with his life.” Very interested to see where this one is going to go.

Lastly is the story “Roulette”, written by Tina Anderson and illustrated by Laura ‘Zel’ Carboni. This was my first introduction to Carboni’s art and I was blown away by the amount of detail that she works into every frame. It’s definitely not done in the traditional manga style, but it’s gorgeous nonetheless. Please don’t let the fact that the characters don’t look like the stereotypical manga characters turn you off from this story. Really it’s just gorgeous.

The story is set in Atlantic City in 1982. The style of this story is based off of the 1983 movie Scarface. Very violent gangsters, something that Anderson excels at. The storytelling is sharp and biting. These are in no way, shape or form fluffy nice characters. They do very bad things for a living and are comfortable with that fact.

I can’t sing the praises of this anthology enough. If this is the quality of the OEL that Drama Queen is going to be bringing over to us, then sign me up for a subscription and make sure my issues come on time.

Posted by Cynthia | Posted in ♦♦♦♦♦, Rush, Various | Comments Off on Rush 00

22nd May 2008

When Worlds Collide

Rating: ♦♦♦♦

There are a lot of BL fans out there who turn their noses at any and all OEL (Original English Language) stories. I guess they feel that if it doesn’t come out of Japan or doesn’t have ‘manga’ style boys, then it isn’t any good. That’s truly a shame because they’re going to miss out on some great releases.

I, for one, really don’t give two shits about the country of origin when it comes to my boys love stories. I just want them well written, well drawn and to let me escape from my real life. If they can do all of the above, then I am a happy girl.

When Worlds Collide satisfies all of my criteria. I admit that I was first interested in the anthology because one of my favorite artists, Liv Lingborn, had illustrated one of the stories. Tina Anderson wrote the story about a Vietnam vet who picks up a hitchhiking hippie in the early 70s and the night that they share together. Anderson never sticks to safe subjects. One of the things I’ve always respected about her stories was the fact that they always make me think. You can never just absorb one of her stories and walk away. The combination of these two together is a complete knock out. Absolutely stellar work.

Then there’s the story by Danielle Kelley with art by Wendell Cavalcanti and Carlos Alberto. It’s just a basic high-school love story, but it’s illustrated in this 1950s comics style that truly makes the story come alive. The style is certainly not what I was expecting, but it works with the story. I was rooting for the boys and getting nostalgic for my days of comic book collecting.

And then there’s the story of the boy who becomes a birthday present; and the story of the kidnapped nobleman who finds true happiness with his captors; and the vampire who’s falling for the boy he took in to pay off a debt. All of which are addicting.

Iris Print has a talent for picking out the best of the best. I haven’t been disappointed with a release by them yet.

Posted by Cynthia | Posted in ♦♦♦♦, Various, When Worlds Collide | Comments Off on When Worlds Collide

19th May 2008

Yaoi Hentai 1

Rating: ♦♦

Yaoi Press is one of the first American comic companies to come out with hardcore BL. I have to give Yaoi Press mad props for sticking its neck out. It took a lot of guts to go against the Japanese BL machine. However, the quality of this volume of four stories is not what I expected…

“King’s Masterpiece” – This is the best piece in this volume, hands down. The story and art style are very professional. The sex is dirty enough that I seriously got into it. This is not a lovey dovey story (or collection, for that matter).

“Into His World” – I did not care for this piece at all. The art is, for lack of a better word, fanart-ish and, while clean, it lacks a certain finesse I’ve grown accustomed to. The story is jarring and weak. It’s like the author wanted to put everything into one story just in case she never got another chance to publish something.

“Wicked” – I wholly admit to not caring for the art style here. That didn’t stop me from liking the piece as a whole though. The characters are little too young looking for my tastes. The story is strong and filthy with a nice ending.

“Trach the Tentacle Monster” – A completely goofy, tongue-in-cheek piece. As anime/manga fans, we all know about tentacle monsters and this story just smashes all tentacle monsters together to make this uber-sex-monster with an attitude. It’s very funny and it’s easy to forgive the artist for amateurish style.

All in all, I don’t think that Yaoi Hentai is worth what Yaoi Press is asking ($12.95 US). I’ve seen better art online, actually. If you want to pick it up, get it used and you won’t feel like you got ripped off.

Posted by Nikita | Posted in ♦♦, Various, Yaoi Hentai | Comments Off on Yaoi Hentai 1