Cleveland Snow Day!!
How I managed to only begin to catch up on my comics.
Hey there, everyone! I hope your 2022 has been kind to you so far. We’re coming up on two years since things took a dip, but we’re still here. That’s all that really matters right?
Winter used to be my favorite season, but a lot of my friends and I can agree on this, that was before we got older and had to drive in it. That shit sucks! Especially when you’re just a chill sedan driver like me and not driving around a sweet Jeep or truck, something that can handle those slick roads no problem. Snow days when I was younger used to make me think like I was transported to Hoth or something.
Cleveland gets a lot of different weather patterns. We can get some crazy cold days, and then a day or two later we’ll be in 50-60 degree days. Hell, even if it crawls above 40, you can see some folks out there wearing shorts. I’m not sure what they’re trying to prove, but you do you dudes.
This winter hasn’t been particularly brutal, I haven’t really experienced something wicked in quite sometime. But after we turned the calendar and moved to 2022, we’ve gotten some snowier days than usual and one gnarly storm too. It came in about two weeks ago at this point, but this was one that the local news was calling a “dayum” kind of storm. They were predicting some snow, ice, and then MORE snow. Heavy impacts across the board, and this wouldn’t just be an overnight storm that would hit us while we slept, but an all day affair. It would start while we slept, but would not let up for nearly 24 hours. And all this on my day to be at the comic shop early and open things up.
Did I make it? Fuck no, nobody did. The day before the storm was coming in, I was at work all day for New Comic Book Day. I had gotten some Spectrum or First Energy texts while at work about service outages. I didn’t think much of it, my cat doesn’t know the Wifi password anyways. But when I was driving back home later, I noticed that Tremont was a little darker than usual. That was because the power had been out the entire time, and was still out. I had to check Twitter and other sources to learn that it’d been out most of the afternoon. And the estimated return of service had kept being pushed back further and further. Allllright then, nothing to worry about. Just a huge “dayum” snowstorm coming in the next day and I haven’t had power for 5 or so hours. In total, it took 9 hours for it to come back, after I had layered up and crawled into bed and hoped for the best. It clicked back on at 1:30am, and it couldn’t have been sooner. Needless to say, I wasn’t very excited about the storm coming in.
But it worked out that we stayed closed that Thursday, it was an average week of new releases at the shop and Thursdays are a little more laid back than other days. But now that I had power and could relax about that, my snow day was as good a day as any to catch up on some comics.
What was I gonna crack into? I’ve got my persistent stack of new issues I could’ve read, a short box, a spinner rack, and a separate stack of trade paperbacks I could jump into also. Luckily I’d just finished the fifth Dune book, Heretics of Dune (arguably my favorite in the series thus far also, even more so than the original) a couple days earlier and I like to take it easy with novels. I don’t want to overload myself, because once I start one, it’s pretty hard to read anything else and that can be kind of detrimental to getting through all the new comics I already have and am constantly adding to. So where was I gonna start? Well, there is one more stack of books I have that I’d been meaning to clean up. That’s my manga stack.
I didn’t get into manga until 2020. The girl I had been seeing earlier that year was a self-described weeb (“a non-Japanese person who is so obsessed with Japanese culture that they wish they were actually Japanese,” the Google definition) and she had introduced me to some manga and animes that caught my attention. Growing up, I never watched more than maybe My Neighbor Totoro once or had ever seen a single episode of Dragon Ball Z, but I had watched Akira and Ghost In The Shell in college and they were pretty awesome. That relationship ultimately was short lived, and that summer while I was part-time at the comic shop, on top of working full-time at a human resources company, outside of work hours, I had nothing but free time to myself (it was peak Covid times after all, so not much else to do otherwise). That’s when I got into Berserk. And holy shit, was it fucking awesome. I’d never read anything like that, both in terms of story and artwork. Kentaro Miura is a legend and while I truly appreciate reading a comic where the artist is grows and matures and refines their artwork over the course of the series (Steve Dillon’s artwork on Preacher is another example), Berserk was nearly 30 years of that growth and it is astounding. It’s something to really behold. But after I burned through 40 volumes of Berserk in about 2 or 3 months, I really grew to respect manga and seek out more.
I have a few series now that I read, but it’s not ever really very high on my priority reading list. But my stack had really started to get away from me, a couple months of just building up, and I’d been meaning to find a day to crack in and knock it out. But hey, snow day, the perfect day for it.
If you know me personally, you’ll know that I’ve got a thing for sexy books. Omaha the Cat Dancer is honestly one of my favorite series. It’s a legendary soap opera-esque slice-of-life romance comic that is very sexy and erotic, and oh stars all anthropomorphic cat people. And I also go after a lot of the black bag or polybag NSFW variant covers for some titles I read. I think they’re so cool and unique! So when I started trying to find new manga series to get into, and after I’d gotten dumped, Rent-A-Girlfriend seemed like a logical pick for me.
Outside of quite the eye catching title, it’s about a college guy named Kazuya who has also been dumped and is looking for love, so he decides to rent a girlfriend (a very real industry in Japan, much like an escort) and begins to fall in love with his fake girlfriend, Chizuru. I’m no expert in manga and the subgenres, but it’s a haram book I guess, and there’s multiple cute girls that Kazuya meets and could potentially link up with and truly be happy with. But this dude can be the biggest fuck up at times (I’m not judging, I can relate) and his secret fake relationship with Chizuru is threatened to be exposed multiple times to friends and family alike, and also his attempts to turn that fake relationship into a real one fail time and time again, but he never truly ruins anything. It’s funny, heartfelt, cute, and not really very adult either. Some more mature themes for sure, you’ll notice he’s got a lot of tissues and lotion laying about his apartment, and Kazuya is definitely a horny dude, but neither he or any of the girls ever have sexual relations. It’s kinda wholesome in that aspect, just guys and girls trying to find real love, but it’s a fun read.
I had the latest volume, Vol 10 to read, and also the new spinoff series, Rent-A-(Really Shy!)-Girlfriend to read also. It’s about a side character from the main series, and her truly painful social anxiety. She’s still trying to be a rental girlfriend, but she’s got her own motivations for it and she’s an innocent character. I enjoyed it, and am debating whether to continue on past volume 1, but we’ll see.
But enough of that lovey dovey stuff, let’s get back to the real action! I saw the Battle Angel Alita movie in theaters a few years ago, and while I didn’t love it, I really did like it. I wasn’t familiar with the character or story, I may have read a preview of the first volume digitally before or after the movie, but when I saw in the Previews Catalog that Kodansha would be reprinting the series in softcover (and also straight up saying it’d only be six volumes), I had to put myself down to get the series. They’re a little bigger than the standard Viz volumes, about the twice the size really, but much like Berserk, I was astounded by how detailed the manga really was. And violent!
Cybernetic heads get chopped up and limbs and blood go flying. And also the story from the movie really only is just a very condensed version of the first volume, and not even all of it at that. I read through volume 3 of Battle Angel Alita on my snow day, and she conquered the Murderball arena seen in the movies in that, and that subplot from the movie is the main plot for a time in the manga. And in volume 4, she goes full Mad Max and hits the road to get back her surrogate father, Ido, who’s been chopped up and preserved in a box and is being held by the new big bad of the series, Desty Nova. She also is way less cute and innocent than the film version portrays her at times, where she is more devil than angel (she is dubbed the Angel of Death now too).
I was bummed I got caught up on this series, I’m desperately waiting for the final two volumes to come out so I can finish her story. It’s a really awesome cyberpunk manga that is leaps and bounds above it’s film adaptation, which I still really enjoy.
Next up, this book isn’t a manga, but I had it in my manga stack because of the Scott Pilgrim vibes I was getting from it. It’s Legends of the Hole written, drawn, and self-published by Levi Lambright. Midwesterners like me LOVE the backyard game of cornhole, and this comic is the story of a superpowered cornhole tournament and two lifelong friends, Izick and Malek, and their quest to meet the cornhole legacies of their dads. I’ll always give a local creator a shot, and I’m really glad I did with this. After the sexual tension and sometimes cringiness of Kazuya’s failed romantic gestures, and Alita’s desperate and brutal trek to the city of Zalem, Legends of the Hole was a fun, chill, breath of fresh air. It’s Mortal Kombat meets cornhole. Just no fatalities. Honestly, my only complaint with this book was the score keeping. The way my buddies and I play is that you play until 21, and you have to end on 21 to win. In this comic, whoever hits 21 first wins, regardless of whether they go over 21 or not. Those aren’t my rules, but it’s also not my comic. A really good job, Levi, I’m excited for volume 2.
After Berserk, my next favorite manga series is the outrageously over the top Chainsaw Man, and I had two volumes I needed to catch up on. The series is about a guy named Denji, who starts in volume 1 as a homeless kid with his dog Pochita. But when his dog is killed, his dog offers up his soul to bind to Denji, and in the process become the Chainsaw Man. Yeahh, it’s awesome. He becomes a devil hunter, and links up with a team of devil hunters lead by the mysterious and seductive Makima. Kazuya in Rent-A-Girlfriend is horny, but he’s also human and has limits. Denji is so horny, his only goal in his goal is to touch a boob. That’s it, that’s what drives him. But he’s more likeable than that really low life goal would leave readers to believe. In volumes 8 and 9, the stakes are really raised and the big bad they’ve been chasing, the Gun Devil, shows himself and the team goes to hell also.
It’s over the top in a way you have to read to believe, but it’s phenomenal. It’s a series that honestly could only really work as a manga, but this year there is a anime adaptation that is supposed to come out. While I could consider myself a manga reader, I still can’t really break into anime. Anime’s storytelling can be a little slow, with whole episodes dedicated to something that I could read in 10-15 minutes in the manga. And ultimately, I’m a reader. But you bet your chainsaw revving ass I’m gonna check out the anime. It’s Chainsaw Man, how could I not?
And then my snow day was over. I’d read all day and afternoon, had a couple sandwich breaks, went out and shoveled my car, and then had work the next day. So while you may have noticed my manga stack had a few other titles in there, I got through the majority of them. And besides, every comic fan should have a small stack at least of books to read, it keeps you going and reminds you that you’re stack is never really gone.
So until that next snow day, or laundry day at the laundromat.
P.S. Oh and I also finished my Matrix trilogy rewatch too, with The Matrix Revolutions that night also. Reloaded was much better than I remembered it, but the flaws in Revolutions were more apparent. But it’s The Matrix, I love it.