May 18, 2012

From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays: Gon and Mr.Men and Little Miss!

Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays, No.97

Welcome back to your favorite all-ages comics column: From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays! We’re gonna skip on all the intro shenanigans this week and just get down to it! Here we go!


Gon volume 5
Publisher: Kodansha
Writer/Artist: Masashi Tanaka

Gon has had a little cult following for years here in the U.S. It was originally published in a flipped version in the early days of the 1990s, then years later in the mid-otts by ill-fated CMX (who were actually publishing it un-flipped and in original volume release order). So now here we are, 2012, and we are having a third shot at this title being released here by Kodansha Comics (which hopefully will both complete the original series in full, as well as get to the brand new Gon manga  being released in Japan finally, after years of being gone).

Gon volume 5 takes us for a change from previous volumes where each story was a self contained chapter; here we get a sprawling epic that takes up the entire book. The story “Gon Goes Through The Underground” is an awesome tale that starts small and grows in size. It starts out with Gon curious about living in a hole, which leads him to trying to live with prairie dogs (since he can kinda fit in their burrows better). One day, a coyote and his cub show up for some food and a tiff begins between them, Gon, and the prairie dogs. Things get out of hand when the ground splits and the lot of them fall down into the deep underground, where they are confronted by a giant kaiju-sized spider, who steals the coyote cub to take him off to eat. Gon, the coyote, and one of the prairie dogs put their differences aside to go rescue the cub, and along the way are joined by a bat and a giant kaiju-sized termite, as they journey through the underground and into the epic confrontation with the giant spider.

If you’ve never read Gon, I suggest you pick it up, because as anyone will tell you, it’s pure graphic storytelling, meaning there is not one inch of dialog on the page anywhere. Tanaka was not just ambitious doing an entire series completely “silently,” but he also does it well, proving he’s a master storyteller of the graphic medium. Each page of his has a wonderful amount of detail and beauty, as well as moments of both laughter and suspense. This volume provided us with a more Shonen-based adventure story then previous ones, but it paid off to see Gon in a long form adventure, that was entertaining every bit of the way.

Kodansha’s presentation is nice, presenting it un-flipped and in original order like CMX did a few years back. My only issue is, although the binding on the CMX books sucked, CMX included two color pages at the start of every volume which were fascinating to look at. Kodansha includes these pages, but leaves them in black and white. Beggars can’t be choosers, I guess, considering most Gon fans just want to see the whole original series finally released, and the new manga, too (and the accompanying¬†Gon Korean-Japanese 3-D anime that will be airing).

Highly recommended!


Mr. Men and Little Miss: Little Miss Sunshine: Here Comes the Sun!
Publisher: Viz Media (Viz Kids line)
Writing: Michael Daedalus Kenny
Art: Victoria Maderna

The latest Mr. Men and Little Miss comic collection from Viz concentrates on the adventures of Little Miss Sunshine, and if you think the title “Here Comes the Sun!’ was just a throw away title, you’d be wrong. The majority of the comic is an adventure called the “Magical Musical Dillydale Tour” (for those who this parody means nothing to, it is of the cult Beatles film The Magical, Mystery Tour), in which after Mr. Messy crashes a bus into Little Miss Sunshine’s fence, he ditches it, and Sunshine decides she’ll clean it and paint all over it. After creating a hippie-looking bus, it catches the attention of a ton of Mr. Men and Little Misses all over Dillydale, and they pile in the bus as Little Miss Sunshine drives them around Dillydale, singing songs (all songs are parody of Beatles songs, of course). We also get a tale about celebrating Mr. Quiet’s birthday, where Little Miss Sunshine takes him out to noisily party to his dismay, and a tale called “Gidy Up!”, where Sunshine, Mr. Bump, and Mr. Lazy (who oddly looks like Andy Capp) learn to ride horses from Little Miss Daredevil, which takes them on a crazy ride.

The art by Victoria Maderna is incredibly cool. It’s bright, it’s colorful, it’s fun, and the characters look how they are supposed to look. Art wise, I think this book has the look that every Mr. Men comic should have. The writing by Kenny I have mixed feelings on. He’s not a bad writer in any sort of way, I just think it’s a comic where the majority of it will be lost on children in the United States. It may do well on the other side of the pond, but the vast majority of kids here will not get these Beatles references/parodies, and much of the humor therefore is thrown out the window (but their parents/grandparents will get it). They will just get colorful pages of characters apparently singing songs. True, there is probably a small fraction of them whose parents play the Beatles for them, or perhaps saw their Dad playing the Beatles Rock Band video game three years back when it was a hit for a few months, but the buck stops there, and a majority of the book is that comic. However, the stories about Mr. Quiet’s birthday and the horses I think will do awesome with kids here, because the humor isn’t based on any pre-required knowledge of rock and roll history. “Gidy Up!” is the strongest out of all the comics here because anyone can read it, it has plenty of laughs, and plenty of action.

So who will like this? Obvious choice is Mr. Men and Little Miss fans, but given the situational parody humor, Beatles fans will get a kick out of this one, too.


That’s it for this week, see you next! Until then, get your kaiju-game on!

Drew McCabe



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