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Ontology on the gone!

The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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08/23/2005 Archived Entry: "Manga anthology review: BAAU Down 4"

BAAU Down 4
Bay Area Artists Unite
Various artists

Review by Tom Good

The growing popularity of manga in the U.S. has inspired a new generation of artists to explore the style. Bay Area Artists Unite, located in the San Francisco Bay area of California, recently published their fourth annual collection of art by their members. These young artists, some of whom are still in high school, have put together some fun and promising work, and this trade paperback anthology provides a look at what may be the future of home-grown American manga.

Boy Meets Girl, by one sugar dream, shows off a sweetly flowing style and some very nice page layouts. The panels float across the page, producing a sense of motion, and the occasional overlap of elements from one panel into another helps to pull everything together. Understated character designs suit the romantic story, and my only complaint about this one is that I wish it had been longer.

Grind, by Christian "Ian Oji" Sy, with a story by Studio Kyuu, manages to fit skateboarding, video games, a mind-control soft drink, a Three Kingdoms joke, and more into just a few pages. The writing is above average, as is the lettering, and the art is clean and easy to read. I would like to see this as a full-length book.

The odd opening story, BAAUttle Royale, parodies the manga Battle Royale, but with BAAU members as the main characters. It is followed by a section about a BAAUttle Royale collectible card game. These felt like an inside joke that would probably be funnier for readers who know the BAAU members.

Alison Marceau contributed some pin-ups to BAAU Down 4, including a version of the Cassiel character that can be seen on Alison's web site. I admire the artistry in many similar pictures, but this one has that "something extra" that makes me want to find out about the story behind this character. Put this on the cover of a comic book, and I would pick it up.

Another pin-up by FoN says, "This is my angst. I call him Fluffy." The picture shows a girl with an angry-looking rabbit sitting on her head. This one made me laugh. FoN says, "I'm generally into drawing cute things. . . . cute things that inevitably are evil."

Pink's OMGWTFRAGNAROK offers comedy based on online multiplayer role-playing games. Dragon Saint, by George Cauley and Amanda "Usaku" Chaffee, explores a young woman's friendship with a cute baby dragon. And "I lost someone very dear to me," by Porku and Afuji, makes great use of textured backgrounds in a story about life and death.

With over 25 pieces in all, this collection confirms that the Bay Area is home to a thriving manga scene. I hope to see more from these artists in the future.

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