Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Satoshi Kon dead at 47

Legendary, award-winning anime screenwriter and director Satoshi Kon has died.

This is seriously depressing, folks. If you asked me who my favorite anime creator of all time is, I'd be hard-pressed to choose between Kon and Hayao Miyazaki, and anyone who's ever seen a Miyazaki film will know that's high praise for Kon. For both of them, really.

He's probably best known in the states for either Perfect Blue, a psychological horror film about the perils of fame and the loss of identity it brings, or Paprika, a wildly imaginative romp about dreams and storytelling in the unconscious that makes Inception look like a pop-up book by comparison. He's also the creator of the weird and disturbing 13-episode anime series Paranoia Agent and the surprisingly straightforward (but no less hilarious) comedy Tokyo Godfathers. For my money, though, his masterpiece was his 2001 film Millennium Actress: two documentary makers interview an old, long-retired actress about her many roles, but as they explore her past, they're slowly drawn into it, exploring her life and her films, and where the two intersected. It's a lovely film, with much of the same themes as Paprika and Perfect Blue but without the extravagance of the former or the horror of the latter. It's a beautiful, affecting work, and I can think of no better tribute to the man than checking it out for yourself.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Isaac & Ida, episode 2: Squirrels

That's right, folks, it's time for the next installment of Isaac & Ida, my short-lived comic strip in the newspaper of the University of Chicago, the Chicago Maroon, from way back in October of 2004. This week's strip discusses evolutionary theory in an extremely high-minded and intellectual way and also features a squirrel smoking a cigarette.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Teens Read book club: summer '10, session 2, American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

Because I am an absolute comic nerd, the second book I selected for my group of teens was Gene Luen Yang's marvelous book American Born Chinese. I'm not exaggerating when I say that this is one of my all-time favorite books—comic or otherwise—and so I was hoping for a similarly enthused response from my teens. Unfortunately, although nobody hated it, they were mostly...lukewarm, let's say.