One of the most exciting booths Sub-Cultured visited during BEA and had the opportunity to talk with was with JR*Comics about their line of graphic novels. A Korean company, they are offering the “Four Great Classical Novels” of Chinese literature,written between the 14th and 18th centuries, in graphic novel form. They currently have sixty volumes of three of the four esteemed novels, adapted by writer Wei Dong Chen and art by Xiao Long Liang and Chao Peng. Each volume includes informative character lists, maps and appendixes to help the reader; a nifty feature.
The first offering, Monkey King, chronicles the origins and adventures of charismatic Sun Wokong, the mythic monkey king and his exploits during the Journey to the West; the first volume consisting of his birth, tutelage, defeating an ogre, and being dragged down into the underworld, and then some!
The second novelization, Three Kingdoms is based on the historical novel of the same name, showing a romanticized version of the age between 169 AD and in 280 AD during the fall of the Han dynasty and rise of the Three Kingdoms.
The third offering, Outlaws of the Marsh, or Shui Hu Zhuan is about 108 outlaws and bandits, reincarnations of 108 banished and later repented demonic spirits, or Stars of Destiny, who occupy Mount Liang and eventually become heroes for the kingdom.
The fourth classic novel, Dream of the Red Chamber, a courtly romance and drama about the rise and fall of the Jia Clan juxtaposed against the love triangle and friendships between three protagonists is currently in development and expected to be released in English by 2016.
Spearheaded by the energetic JR Han, I was incredibly lucky to be able to sit down with the publisher and talk to him about the comics, which have been a six year process of love to complete and get translated for the English market. I asked him what inspired him to tackle these novels and how long it must have taken to get them here.
” I loved these classic stories, so I wanted to play a role in sharing them, I’ve been very patient.” He said, “It takes about one month to translate a volume, 20 months to translate the entire 20 volumes for each of the three stories. It then takes a year to edit and make sure it’s translated perfectly. We need to be patient when investing and producing in putting these classics in comic form. It takes time.” I wasn’t surprised that it takes so long; the sample volume 1 giveaways JR*Comics was handing out for each series showcase dazzling full color pages. That alone takes time.
I asked why he wanted to share the stories with American readers, particularly teenagers; “We thought they had perfect range. Monkey King is about adventure, Three Kingdoms is political. Outlaws of The Marsh is about outlaws, gangsters, and Dream of The Red Chamber is about love. I want American readers to understand basic Chinese culture, so they can form bonds.” He stressed the need for countries like the US, China, Korea and Japan to be able to work together more and by sharing cultural literary legacies in an easy to read format, it makes learning about other cultures funner and that teamwork more possible. “I have a friend who’s son did not like to read, but we gave him one of the graphic novels and he really liked it and now enjoys reading more.”
JR believes by putting these stories in comic form like Batman and Spider-Man, you reinvent the past for the present but are also encouraging kids and teens to read more than just superheroes. No surprise, he’s an avid comic’s fan himself and admits he’s tried to see as many superhero films as they come out. I asked if he saw The Amazing Spider-Man 2, “Gwen dies!” he cried out, dismayed. He wants the same effect for these classics and to expand young readers, so JR is always looking for classics to reinvent.
I asked about future plans, and Mr. JR Han wants to do a western tale following the publication of Dream of the Red Chamber; Robin Hood. I asked him if there are any ideas for what would come after that and he shook his head and laughed; one great story at a time.
You can find the JR*Comics titles at book stores, libraries, and Amazon.com.
Stay tuned for a giveaway of three copies of the first volumes of the first three books as well as posters!
See you all real soon!
Bryan Q Miller, author of Stephanie Brown’s wonderful two year Batgirl Vol. 3 stint and of Smallville (both TV and it’s new Digital First comic) fame has had it a bit rough the past year. His pitch alongside Gail Simone to get Stephanie Brown unbenched from the reboot’s as a member of an all new female group featuring other heroines like Bumblebee and Misfit were shot down repeatedly despite multiple revisions. Then after months of keeping it secret, followed by official announcement, public interviews and an extremely warm response from fans and press; Miller’s attempt to instate Stephanie as Smallville’s canon Nightwing for the digital comic series was suddenly behind the scenes dismissed by editorial and changed (generally in inking only) to that of Barbara Gordon. Bryan was meanwhile also removed from a Superman panel at a convention whilst the news broke. It was a move so petty and spiteful that even non-Stephanie Brown fans and Marvel fans alike, made comments on how the entire thing was truly a raw deal and incredibly unprofessional of DC and outright cruel to both Bryan and to Stephanie’s fans.
But it looks like Bryan has been revving up his engines in secret and has been venturing into the great unknown of “do it yourself”. He has teamed up with the extremely popular and upcoming artist Marcio Takara of Boom! Studios The Incredibles and DC Comic’s own Blue Beetle and a perpetual favorite on tumblr and have together launched a Kickstarter campaign for EARTHWARD, a in their own words; “A full color, 110-page graphic novel celebrating adventure, exploration and family. IN SPACE!”
Look at that cool ship. Sound too good to be true? Well, it is very much real; and it needs your support. Did I mention Takara’s art is gorgeous?
The plot is as advertised; a space family adventure for all ages. And I am floored by what they are attempting to do. From their Kickstarter:
The MERCURY SIX, consisting of Eldest BEN and his hot-tempered sister, ALYSSA; SMACK, the hustler; CODY and TRIN, the learned, proper set of twins; and little DANIELLA, orphaned by a SPACE PIRATE assault, then taken in as one of Mercury’s own.are sent on a standard supply run, but return to find Mercury adrift, and their respective parents missing. The only clue as to what happened – a warning recorded by their trusty TEACHBOT:
“DON’T COME LOOKING FOR US.”
The quest to piece their family back together will take them to the edge of known space and back, with the Armada, the Council and Space Pirates, all in hot pursuit. The one thing everyone wants, everyone needs, is the SECRET PROJECT the parents of the Mercury Six were working on:
THEIR PARENTS FOUND EARTH!
The need for an all ages, fun, heartfelt but smart comics for kids and teens (and adults alike) is very much needed. Graphic novels too. DC in particular hasn’t been doing any favors cancelling the relatively new Superman Family Adventures comic. EARTHWARD sounds like a breath of fresh air.
From Bryan Q Miller:
The goal is to create a piece of Graphic fiction that can be enjoyed by both children AND adults, while pandering to neither – a line that is rarely ridden in the current climate.
That said, while trying to make this as all-ages as possible, there is still some danger and space violence (explosions, blasters, etc.) present that may be uncomfortable for a reader younger than age 7. “Earthward” definitely wanders into the “PG”-range of the media spectrum.
The secondary goal, of course, is to have this be the first in a yearly series of adventures for the Mercury Six.
Bryan and Marcio wants to make these wonderful space adventures a yearly reality for young and old alike; will you be joining in to ensure lift-off?
Bringing you the best in regurgitated things that made an impression on me, here are my picks for the worthiest of the week!
Hey tributes! In case you haven’t been keeping up with your Hunger Games news, Sam Clafin has snagged the role of former winner Finnick Odair in the second installment of Suzanne Collins’ wildly popular trilogy, Catching Fire. Clafin will join Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) as the head back into the arena for the Quarter Quell. Want a sugarcube?
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It’s good to know that part of the reason why the Avatar:TLA/Korra franchise does so well is that they keep up with the trends of their fandom. Meelo. Gangnam Style. LOVE.
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Speaking of Gangnam Style, this skit from Fighting Asian Kidz at Cos and Effect 2012 will definitely have you bouncing in your seat and planning something awesome for your next convention!
In 50 years of publication, Madeline L’Engle’s classic story A Wrinkle In Time, has never been illustrated. On October 2nd, Hope Larson’s vision of the Murrav family and friends will be released in graphic novel format.
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And because I always have to include something ridiculous and something Game of Thrones related, I leave you with a ridiculous Game of Thrones video. Enjoy!
It’s Christmas Eve, and you’ve put together that final mini-build from the Star Wars Lego advent calendar. Now it’s time to settle in and bring the minions down to a dull roar with a little holiday story, complete with hot cocoa by a crackling fireplace.
My recommendation for geek moms with kids hovering around age 9 and older is Lee Bermejo’s nest graphic novel, “Batman: Noel.” Bermejo (“The Joker”) is one of the trade’s finest illustrators and he’s woven and excellent story to boot, with the Dark Knight’s own take on Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” It’s Christmastime in Gotham City. Time to break out the cocoa and Bactine.
I know, I know. You’re thinking that story has been done to death… brought back to life and done to death again. I can’t argue there. However, this take on it is so fresh and so Fanboy/girl friendly, you will feel like you are reading the plot line for the first time. And some of your younger Padawans may be!
The story places Batman himself in the Ebenezer Scrooge role as the wealthy loner, so obsessed with his personal demons he not only has robbed himself of any worthwhile personal contact, he has forgotten that those around him also possess a soul. The Bob Cratchit character is a small-time criminal, struggling as an impoverished single father of an upbeat but young son with a bum leg. The remainder of the classic “Christmas Carol” roles are seen via giveaway the “Past, present and future” ghost cameos, but I’ll give you one spoiler hint: Batman only has one “late” partner suitable to don this tale’s yuletide tights.
This story worked for me and my younglings on a couple of levels. First, it satisfied the gritty world of The Dark Knight, particularly for someone who keeps up with at no less than three “Batman” comic titles at any given time. Next, it left me with that toasty warm marshmallow feel that comes with Christmas time — yet without any saccharine sentiment to ruin it. Lastly, it was an impressive piece of comic book eye candy: especially the glimpses of the retro-style Batman (and Catwoman) costuming as well as the very believable present-day garb of the winged vigilante.
I will say I found the reverse white font a little hard on the eyes a couple of times, but in Bermejo’s defense, text boxes and bubbles would have really damaged the visual integrity of the book.
Read it with the family as a way to wind down before the Christmas morning mayhem, or get a blankie and curl up with a hot libation and pour yourself into a few moments of escape once the troops are in bed.
This article has been a long time coming. I meant to write this just as we (IHOGeek) were starting out but got distracted by Game of Thrones on HBO and by catching up on the last book of the series, a Feast of Crows. Then as I started a rough draft, George R.R. Martin released A Dance with Dragons, an installment fans have been waiting EIGHT whole years for. Needless to say, I devoured it in roughly two days, and was glued to my computer for any coverage of the show or book at this year’s San Diego Comic Con. Now, my life has that bittersweet empty feeling after consuming everything within reach and I have a brief moment of quiet in which to write this. Let’s delve into the realm of Westeros, shall we? (more…)