Monday, April 17, 2006

MAKE MINE MANGA: A Midnight Opera VOL1 - review

This week I'm going to be taking a look at one of what I think is the more exciting things going on in the world of US comics, OEL (original English language) manga.

OEL has it's detractors, namely people who claim US creators shouldn't, or can't do manga. To me OEL manga is just another term for comic books, and can encompass anything from bad to good. However, a lot of the exciting upcoming talent I've seen in the industry, are being given an opportunity to show their stuff by manga and book publishers (as opposed to the insular traditional US comics market, where contemporary style and forward thinking is in direct conflict with the corporate business plans), and I'm truly anxious to see what they do with their creations, and where it takes them and comics in the US.

Title: A Midnight Opera
Volume: 1
Creator: Hans Steinbach
Publisher: TokyoPop

Story: An undead goth musician, fighting both his brother and Roman Church "Soldiers of the Order" from the 16th century France to today. A Midnight Opera is an interesting read that seems an equal balance of testosterone, with werewolf carnage and battle sequences, as well as pretty long haired goth men, music, and a touch of romance for the ladies.

Art: Steinbach's style reminds me very much of a cross between Rob G (Teenagers From Mars) and early Dale Keown. His figures and lines are all long, thin, and exaggerated. He's also got a great design sense, capturing expressive action and movement on the page, along with great costumes and backdrops. Very impressive, I really like it.

Overall: While some OEL manga feels hampered by the size of the format, A Midnight Opera uses that format to it's strength. A great read, and I believe volume 2 is just released.


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