During my otherwise still born attempt to finish the “Fantasy and Science-Fiction” course on coursera, I bought Martin Gardner’s Annotated Alice, a book that I have long dreamt of owning. Since I didn’t do much of the coursework and I hadn’t quite read through the book, I keep it close at hand, and when the internet connection is not available, I like reading a bit from it. As it happened, the last time I picked up the book, I stopped just after the Gryphon asks Alice to follow it, around the lines:
‘Why, she,’ said the Gryphon. ‘It’s all her fancy, that: they never executes nobody, you know. Come on!’
‘Everybody says “come on!” here,’ thought Alice, as she went slowly after it: ‘I never was so ordered about in all my life, never!’
In other news, I have been tripping on a Mangaka named Katou Shinkichi. It so happened that in my eternal struggle to find something to read, I happened upon his twelve chapter work, Baka to Gogh: The idiots and Gogh, which has as different a rhythm from the manga standard as any that I have ever read.
I can’t quite explain right now why it works so well for me, but it did leave me wanting to read more by him. The only earlier work by him that I had read was the spectacularly weird Kokumin Quiz: The National Quiz for which he was the artist (but not the writer). Most of his other works, as far as I can figure out either haven’t been translated into English, or are collections of short pieces.
So, though I typically don’t like reading manga oneshots/short stories, I decided to give Katou’s Ranman a shot. The description with the scanlation described it as being a collection of “extremely short pieces: usually between 2-4 pages in length”. And short though they were, they were truly fantastic. It was like being back in my childhood, reading through fairytales.
Towards the end of Ranman, there is a set of very short ‘mixreadings’ — appropriations, if you will — of lines and scenarios from various classical pieces of literature. Including this one page one, which made me very, very happy.
Image taken from the scanlation by mangascreener.
In other news, I also found a treasure of Korean webcomics called Asaekkiga by Yung Young-soon, but I haven’t yet found the original Korean webcomic site, or the English scanlator’s site.
: I have, of course, read the two Alice books that Martin Gardner covers, and there are large chunks of those books that I have committed to memory. However, I haven’t gone through the books while also reading Gardner’s annotations.
: If you are a careful reader who has visited my past posts, you might notice that the endnotes haven’t been linkified. The reason being that it is too much work for me to bother with right now.
: Spectacularly weird. How weird? Spectacularly weird, even by the standards of manga. How weird? Well, let me explain. It is a Dystopian work set in a world where the lone superpower is Japan, and the visible face of the Japanese government is the National TV quiz, whose daily winners get to have their wish, no matter how ridiculous, fulfilled.
: Of course, Katou Shinkichi is not the only one who creates fantastic works in manga. Off the top of my head, I also love Amano Kozue (Aqua, Aria, Amanchu!) and Ashinano Hitoshi (YKK, Kabu no Isaki).