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By Nate VanLindt On 22 Mar, 2017 At 07:44 PM | Categorized As Books, Comics/Manga, Featured, Reviews | With 0 Comments

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Chances are you probably grew up reading either the ‘Hardy Boys’ or the ‘Nancy Drew’ novels.  Those old blue and yellow-spined hardcovers on your bookshelf filled with stories of the exploits of Frank and Joe and Nancy and Bess.   Just the mention of Franklin W. Dixon or Carolyn Keene brings back fond recollections for many of us, and they weren’t even real people.  All the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew stories were ghost written by contract writers for years.  The same goes for the ‘Bobbsey Twins’ books by Laura Lee Hope and the ‘Tom Swift’ novels by Victor Appleton Jr.    These books gave literally generations of young readers the basics of deductive reasoning and entertained them all the while.  The first Hardy Boys book was published in 1927 and the first Nancy Drew book in 1930 and they’ve been in continuous print ever since.

With their long-lasting popularity, it’s not surprising to see Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys occasionally resurface every decade or so for a facelift and some renewed book sales.  But one thing that most any fan would definitely not be expecting is the new comic series from Dynamite Comics entitled ‘Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys: The Big Lie.’  ‘The Big Lie’ is everything that no one would expect from a Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys team-up comic.  It’s gritty, violent, and hard-hitting right from the beginning.  The content is grim, the artwork has a rough retro feel, and the story is quite frankly, shocking.  It’s hard not to go into details without ruining the plot, but suffice it to say a fair assemblage of well-loved characters manage to make an appearance in issue one without things feeling crowded. On top of that, there are some surprising cameo appearances that might cause you to wax nostalgic.

Anthony Del Col of Kill Shakespeare fame manages to pull together tendrils of all our communal visions of Bayport from our childhood and weave them into the beginnings of a crime drama more reminiscent of an episode of Homicide: Life on the Street than a children’s mystery.   On top of that, Werther Dell’Edera’s minimalist art, which echoes notes of Darwyn Cooke but with more rough realism, perfectly rounds out the feel of the story.  Frank, Joe, and Nancy live very much in our present in this story and not in the picturesque Bayport that we read in novels as children.  People in this world are imperfect, petty, vicious, and most assuredly real.  It’s a novel approach to characters that have been relegated to childhood memories for far too long.

For those of you that weren’t raised on a steady diet of old clocks and tower treasures, never fear.  ‘The Big Lie’ stands well on its own regardless of your familiarity with the original source content.  It’s well-written, well-drawn and starts off a solid crime drama with a bang.  Issue one is at local comic book stores now, but it’s hard to expect anything but greatness from the forthcoming issues.  This one is a sleeper waiting to become a hit and whether you’re a fan of Frank, Joe, and Nancy or not, ‘The Big Lie’ is an absolute must-read for the indie comic reader.   One caveat however – this comic is definitely not for young readers.  It’s rated Teen+ and well deserves the rating.

By otakuman5000 On 25 Feb, 2011 At 05:32 PM | Categorized As Comics/Manga, Conventions, Reviews | With 2 Comments

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Just about every sort of hobby, media, and form of entertainment has a convention that is associated with it. From experience, I must say that going to a convention is sometimes the best experience for someone who is a fan of anything. Some of the best, and sometimes outrageous, yet fun conventions are anime conventions held throughout the United States. If you have the knowledge and experience of attending any sort of convention, not just anime or comics, you are absolutely going to love reading Svetlana Chmakova’s manga series, DramaCon.



Volume 3 Cover of DramaCon

The entire manga series takes place at an anime convention, and chronicles the hilarious and outrageous events that occur around Christie. Christie is a girl who is attending an anime convention for the first time, along with some of her high school and college friends. The story about the different events that happen to Christie can at times be funny, romantic, and emotional at various points, each showing the kinds of things that go on during an anime convention. The story is dynamic and can be unpredictable at times, it is a real treat for people who have been to anime conventions in the past.



Walking through the Convention

There are many characters involved with Christie’s story, as is the funny thing with all anime conventions, there are tons of characters running around. Besides Christie, other important characters involve Christie’s boyfriend Derek, their room-mates and school friends, and the mysterious Matt. There is just enough characters that give something to overall story, with very little amount of characters wasting space at all. While there are some questionable attitudes and motives of some characters at different points of the manga series, most doubts are over shadowed by great pacing of the story, and good development and growth for key characters.



Christie and Matt

One of the strongest points of DramaCon is it’s use of convention references and situations that plays a key part in the story. From the Paki packs and Artist Alley, to the cosplay and J-Pop dance club, DramaCon definitely has a lot references Con-Goers are going to recognize. What is even more gratifying, and humorous, is the response Christie has to some of the more stranger events that take place during an anime convention, for example the idea of screening a Hentai anime with other convention attendees. What is also interesting about DramaCon is the references to other modern pop culture icons and media. For humorous effect, and copyright protection, Sventlana Chmakova changes the spelling and pronunciation of different stars and shows that are recognizable. An example would be Justin Timberlake being spelled as Tustin Jimberlake, or Marylin Manson refered to as Narylin Nanson. These are changes that are silly but convey the message of who the person she is using as a reference as really is.



Excerpt from Dramacon

There are only a few low points to DramaCon. The main one being just how short the manga actually is, completing at only just three volumes. The story is real short compared to most manga out there, but never the less, the story is complete and not left as a cliff hanger by the final volume. The other small problem this manga has is the quick completion of some characters’ involvement with the main story. Because the manga itself is very short, some arcs feel a bit rushed, including the portion about Christie’s ex-boyfriend meeting up with her again towards the ending. Christie and other main characters however, are not given a rush job and develop fully by the final part of the manga.



What happens when you oogle a girl at an anime convention


DramaCon is really a love letter to anime conventions packaged up as a manga series. There are plenty of references and nods to different aspects of attending a convention, and much exploration about attending a convention for the first time. It is a fun read and, although short, is a great publication from TokyoPop manga. It is a shame that this manga is such short lived because it would have been great to explore other aspects of other types of conventions, not just strictly anime conventions. For anyone who has never been to any sort of convention before, you might feel a bit confused at first, but will quickly and easily begin to enjoy this manga. For anyone that has been to a convention before and knows where this manga is coming from, you will absolutely love what you read here.