I don’t read a ton of weekly floppies or their digital siblings these days. Not only are the constant universe reboots and retreads impossible to keep track of, the Big Presses keep cancelling books I’ve only just gotten attached to, handing projects to artists and writers who are terrible humans, promising diversity and delivering…not that, and generally making a larger and larger dumpster fire of the industry.

The news coming out of Smaller Mainstays isn’t much better and I’m still several hives of rage bees in a trench coat about the all white-dude indie press panel with which SDCC cursed us.

That isn’t to say that none of these companies are doing good books. What I am saying is that I am very tired in general, and while I’m willing to dig to find potentially great titles, I’m not willing to put the time and effort into sorting through the detritus left by publishers who have let me down repeatedly to find an occasional gem.

So, instead of forcing myself to stare at stuff that lands me on the emotional spectrum somewhere between “don’t care” and “actively furious,” I’m walking around my house and collecting all of the graphic novels and comics I have which I haven’t read and putting them in an actual TBR pile. I’m also keeping an eye on the socials for anime and animation announcements and asking friends like fellow Rioter Vernieda Vergara which source books merit eyeball absorption. Then, instead of filing them away for later, I am adding them to that actual TBR pile.

Going forward, I am going to announce to all of you lovely folx which books I’m going to (try to) read in a given week and why I’m excited about them. Everything listed here will be at least six months old. Most of it is older.

As all readers know, there’s nothing like a self-imposed, publicly-announced deadline to get one’s ass in gear.

Check in: Week of November 1–7

On tap for the beginning of the month were: The Devil is a Part Timer! Vol.4, xxxHolic Vol. 1, Oishinbo: Ramen and Gyoza, and California Dreamin’: Cass Elliot Before The Mamas and the Papas. I somehow managed to get through all four despite the absolute dumpster fire of election week and I’m going to come out and say I am pretty damn proud of myself for it. It helped that all of the aforementioned titles were not only solidly good to great reads. Devil continues to be a bright spot in the chaos, giving me giggles when I need them with just the right amount of snark. xxxHolic, my first foray into the world of CLAMP, was as twisted and wild as promised and mythology of any type is for sure my jam. I like that the story stays firmly grounded in this world with the social interplay of Watanuki, Domeki, and Himawari while, at the same time, allowing all the characters to smile (or, in Watanuki’s case, grumble) and nod their acceptance of the supernatural and move on with the business of dealing with it. I did, in fact, learn some very interesting tidbits about Japanese cuisine from Oishinbo and the father-son competition is a good frame narrative, though I imaging the macho stuff may get a bit tired after a while. California Dreamin’ was a fascinating look at Cass Elliot’s early years, knowledge of which, in my opinion, can add pathos to someone’s biography when done properly (though not, as some on social media this week would have us believe, everyone’s).

And now for the new TBR: November 8–14

The PLAIN Janes

The Plain Janes by Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg

What with the election of the first female Vice President and all, I think this is a good week to celebrate the ladies of comics, especially the rebels and misfits. The Janes are certainly that: members of a secret club who refuse to accept their small town’s apathy, they plan to wake everyone up with guerrilla warfare. Guerrilla art warfare. High school may be hell but these girls, united in their shared name and their frustration with the adults around them, aren’t going to accept what everyone tells them they can’t change; they’re going to do the impossible and shake it up like a can of spray paint right before the first strokes of a mural.

The Devil is a Part Timer! Vol. 5 by Satoshi Wagahara and Akio Hiiragi

Quick and delightful, whatever volume of Devil I happen to be on is consistently a good break from whatever real world drama or stress I need a break from so I hold it in reserve for mid-to end week. I happen to know what goes down in this volume because I may have watched the anime in one sitting possibly and this is where it wraps up (though luckily the manga goes on for another 12 installments), but I don’t mind revisiting because it was pretty fantastic and also really very hilarious.

Tokyo Babylon: Book One by CLAMP

This is another one recommended by fellow Rioter Vernieda Vergara, written and drawn by the all-female mangaka group CLAMP. More! Mythology! Evil! Spirits! Onmyoji! And, I’m told, pretty subversive in its day because it was one of the first yaoi to be published in the States.

It was the Tokyo Babylon 2021 teaser that caught my attention and the surrounding buzz that piqued my curiosity so I’m excited to jump into the books that started it all.

Adi Parva: Churning of the Ocean by Amruta Patil

Patil’s graphic novel retelling of the Mahabarata is divided into two parts. In this first half, the Adi Parva, the spirit of the Ganges narrates from a feminist perspective from the birth of the cosmos to the birth of the Kauravs and the Pandavas. Her book caught my attention because while the cover uses the specific blue that’s often associated with Krishna and the other colors in Patil’s palette are reminiscent of other examples of traditional Indian art I’ve seen, her style is much more loose and expressive. I’ve also become interested in the ways translations and interpretations done by women (like Maria Dahvana Headley and Caroline Alexander) differ from those done by men.

I think I’ll stop there since I also have a couple of brand new comics and prose books to take in this week (hello, Leia Princess of Alderaan, Last Gate of the Emperor, and These Violent Delights). Let’s see how we go!

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