Oct 24, 2016
The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 607: Shidima #1, January 2001
One aspect of early 2000s comics that I've never really explored, though I did collect Crimson and Danger Girl briefly, is the "North American Manga" phenomenon, the adaptation of manga-styles and themes into the North American comics publishing market. This includes not only adapting the narrative and artistic styles, but figuring out how a manga-styled series can be published in North American comics format. And these are issue for which I have no solid opinions or theories - hence that "never really explored" bit above.
Shidima is set in the fiction world of the Warlands series, from which is spins off. I know nothing about that series, or, really, about the one I'm reading today, but it appears to be either feudal Japan or a fictional country that bears striking resemblance to feudal Japan. The art is, as one might expect from Dreamwave Productions, of the highest caliber. Dreamwave is a studio that grows from the first blush of Image Comics and their propensity for production studios, and their titles mesh the grim'n'grittiness of early Image titles with the clean lines and stylization of manga.
I've been considering the popularity and affect (not effect) of manga and anime of late - having just finished the emotional rollercoasters of Another and Steins;Gate, I've been thinking back to Scott McCloud's argument for "iconic ramification" in Understanding Comics, and to the reasons why I find such strong emotional investment in these animes - could it be that simplicity of facial delineation that allows me to place myself in the characters' shoes more easily? And, honest, shave off my beard and I'm basically One-Punch Man anyway.
Minus the superpowers, I guess.
So this simplicity is what makes it easy to invest myself in the comic even without any prior knowledge of the world, and to feel things more viscerally (and speaking of viscera, this comic is remarkably bloody) than I might with a more definitive and realistic art style. Though, this investment in character is not enough to prompt me to search out the series, or its parent. The story needs to be worth my time as well, and I didn't find it to be so. It was good, but not "ohmygodIhavetogofindeverythingtodowiththisstoryRIGHTNOW!!!" good.