Grab a sketchbook and some pencils and pens! Ivan Brunetti will lead you through a fifteen- week course on how to create your own comics. Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice (Yale Univ., $13) is a small, thin book—but packed with ideas, tips, and exercises. You will begin with doodles to find your own “visual handwriting,” and progress through single-panel cartoons all the way to a four-page story. Brunetti has many clever exercises (condense your favorite novel into a drawing), but always stresses the hard, continuing work of daily drawing. “Practice is philosophy,” he says, and if you follow the course (or even try it for a few weeks), good things will happen.
Akira is one of the most important works of graphic fiction ever created. Written and illustrated by visionary Japanese comic artist Katsuhiro Otomo nearly thirty years ago, the series is now available again after nearly a decade of being out of print in English. The story of Akira revolves around a biker gang of derelict reform school students after one of their friends comes into contact with a secret military weapon, and follows them as they do battle to win their friend back and stop the apocalyptic force that is known as Akira. Many people are familiar with the animated version of this series that single-handedly revolutionized the world of animation, but to limit one’s experience of Akira to the movie would be a grave mistake. Comparatively, the two-hour film provides only a fleeting glimpse into the breathtakingly intricate, and philosophically novel, storyline woven by Otomo throughout the six-volume series.
The second volume in Katsuhiro Otomo’s science fiction masterpiece, Akira V. 2, follows the eff orts of our heroes as they struggle to prevent the awakening of the universal psychic force that is Akira. Having been captured after a showdown against their telekinetic former friend Tetsuo at the end of the first volume, protagonists Kaneda and Kei must navigate the labyrinthine military complex in order to find Tetsuo before he fully realizes his own psychic abilities and uses them to awaken Akira. The painstaking technical detail of Otomo’s illustrations and the intricacy of the storytelling makes reading Akira an experience like no other.