Rapper of the Year for 2007

many rappers' records outsold his, but none of them cats really outshined Pharoahe Monch, recipient of the ghettoManga Rapper of the Year Award. his first solo album in eight years, Desire was by far the best record i heard in '07, led by title joint Desire, as well standout tracks Push, Let's Go and Free. Monch broke his foot off in the beats for this record, sharing production credits with underground sensations like Black Milk, 99Keys and Mr.Porter, as well as crafting the Lion's share of the tracks.
let's hope we see more of the Mighty Pharoahe in '08!


Movie of the Year for 2007

it was a really close race, but the ghettoManga Movie of the Year Award for 2007 goes to Smokin' Aces, the ensemble caper movie that launched the soon-to-be-legendary movie carreers of Common and Alicia Keys. very few movies captured the ghettoManga vibe like Aces, with all the action, laughs, chicks packin' steel, and stylized violence you might expect in the Manga of the Year or Comicbook of the Year winner. the best compliment i can give a movie is that when i'm done watching it, it makes me wanna draw comics. well this movie has it in spades (pun intended)! click the pic to read my review of the movie, in case you missed it.

the Princess and the Frog

the upcoming Disney flick, the Princess and the Frog appears to be coming right along...

click here for a summary about this film.

more news as i get it.



Comicbook of the Year for 2007

the ghettoManga Comicbook of the Year is Ex Machina written by Brian K Vaughan (Y the Last Man, Pride of Baghdad, Runaways) with art by Tony Harris (Starman, Spiderman:With Great Power, Down). the book stars Mitchell Hundred, the Mayor of new york city who got the job the same way many politicians get their jobs, by trading on the fame, success or accomplishments they have achieved to get the confidence of the voting public. I don't know what the guy running against Hundred had in his goodwill account, but Hundred had the ULTIMATE trump card: in order to run for Mayor, he revealed he was the world's greatest (and only) super powered vigilante, The Great Machine! and did i mention he used his ability to communicate with and control machines to stop that second plane from hitting the world trade center tower?
so anyways, Hundred hangs up his jetpack and futuristic gadgetry so he can "do some real good" as the most powerful man in New York, and his exploits as Mayor are every bit as exciting and entertaining as the flashbacks to his days as the Great Machine! the unparalleled team of Vaughan and Harris forgoes some of the flash and hyperbole of typical superhero comics, but they nevertheless create real tension and suspense with sharp dialogue, political intrigue, and great characters. the ongoing sci-fi mystery and superhero backstory is supported by the realistic tone of the story and art. Tony Harris' immaculate interior art comes wrapped in an even more immaculate covers, which he also draws and designs.

the story is heating up, and Vaughan has already established that the story has an end coming (though hopefully not anytime soon!). if you've never read Ex Machina, go cop The First Hundred Days, which collects the first story arc. the series is on issue 33, but there are more trades to help you get caught up... trust me, it's WORTH it!

Illustrator of the Year for 2007

above- detail of "Dilla" by Mike T (click for the full pick!).
"Dave Chapelle" by Mike T.
i have said all i have to say about the ghettoManga Illustrator of the Year for 2007, Mike Thompson... the short version: he's dope. he's done work for all the major urban mags, clothing lines, rappers, videogame companies, and even (every now and then) for himself. he's got the photorealism thing locked, and makes being a perfectionist ACTUALLY look like a good idea! peep his work on his website.

Cartoonist of the Year Award for 2007

Mountain Girl created by Ross Campbell
only God knows how i managed to get married to a woman who is not particularly interested in comics. but one thing i know for sure is that my wife loves her some Ross Campbell. that would be reason enough for me to give the ghettoManga Cartoonist of the Year Award for 2007 to Ross Campbell, but as it turns out, he's a damn good comicbook artist as well!
my first exposure to Ross's work was the southern-fried Zombie one-shot The Abandoned, which laid his knack for naturalistic characterization right next to his otherworldly gift for drawing sexy, big-boned girls with attitude. and i mentioned there's Zombies, right? anyways, by the time i put down the book (at that time, i had no money to buy the book... i was straight BROKE!) i was an INSTANT fan. soon, i was able to get in contact with Ross on deviantArt (or maybe it was mySpace), and was exposed to the width and bredth of his work...

see, that's how i found out about Wet Moon, an Original Graphic Novel series about a group of girls attending art school in a small southern town. the multi-racial cast of goth/punk chicks and the guys (and girls!) that love them is a captivating read! the lazy, slice-of-life story progresses so naturally that you barely notice you are reading a story. the artwork, dialogue and activity of the book seeps into your mind effortlessly (not an easy task!) thanks to the obvious skill and attention to detail of the do-it-all author.
In addition to having his original graphic novels The Abandoned and Wet Moon published (by TokyoPop and Oni Press, respectively) by others, he publishes at least one book, the unbelievable Mountain Girl, on his own. Mountain Girl is the ongoing saga of Iha Naga, a wandering warrior who will fight, conquer and eat any foe who stands in the way of her... yeah, i said eat... who stands in the way of her ongoing quest for... whatever. and when isay any foe, i mean any foe: man, beast, god, or any combination thereof! so far there are two twenty-odd page issues of the magnificent Mountain Girl comic, and i can't wait for more. by the way, Ross has a book scheduled to come out in June 2008 called Water Baby (another reason 2008 will NOT suck) that you can pre-order (artists love it when you pre-order!) here. i can't tell you much about that, beacause i don't know. but when i do, so will you!
peace fam!

Heath Ledger Passes Away at 28

Academy Award nominated actor Heath Ledger died today of a possible drug overdose involving sleeping pills in New York, police have confirmed. Ledger was taking sleeping pills after completing I'm Not There, in which he played one of the many incarnations of singer Bob Dylan.

The Australian actor had generated considerable positive buzz for his turn as the Joker in the upcoming fanboy wet dream The Dark Knight, but his filmography includes such varied pics as A Knight's Tale, Monster's Ball, The Patriot , 10 Things I Hate About You, and Brokeback Mountain, for which he got the Oscar nomination.

Ledger revealed to The New York Times in a November interview that he "stressed out a little too much'' during the Dylan film, and had trouble sleeping while portraying the Joker , whom he called a "psychopathic, mass-murdering, schizophrenic clown with zero empathy"."Last week I probably slept an average of two hours a night," Ledger told the Times."I couldn't stop thinking. My body was exhausted, and my mind was still going."He said he took two Ambien pills, which only worked for an hour", the paper said.

"We are all deeply saddened and shocked by this accident,'' Ledger's publicist, Mara Buxbaum, said in a statement tonight.

condolences go out to his family, friends and fans of this promising young actor.

gM Vocalist of the Year for 2007

the ghettoManga Vocalist of the Year for 2007 is Alicia Keys. the Grammy-Winning singer, songwriter, and actress (PLEASE tell me you caught her breakout performance in gM nominated Movie of the Year, Smokin' Aces!) took things up a couple notches with the release of her 2007 album As I Am last november.
Already heralded as one of the top new talents in black music, Keys blew me away with radio banger No One. and before i was done being mesmerized by that, she dropped Like You'll Never See Me Again... Keys' songwriting and piano composition (which have already won her the industry's most coveted awards) have actually gotten better, and the maturity and sincerity (or at least the ability to fake it) in her vocal delivery are simply heartbreaking.
cop As I Am (or just turn on your Radio. GASP! did i just say that?!) and enjoy!
comics. hiphop. news. art. culture

OGN of the Year 2007

i'm sure i've said this before. Felipe Smith is the future of comics, and his totally absurd, yet strangely realistic, semiautobiographical adventure in american manga (if, in fact, there is such a thing), MBQ is the ghettoManga OGN of the Year for 2007. the third and final installment of MBQ dropped this fall, from Tokyopop. Smith was also featured in several publications (Drink and Draw, Mangaka), where he was able to show his illustrating chops... but MBQ is a perfect launching point for the young star.
very adamant about not doing genres that have been done to death in comics, Felipe nevertheless brings the storytelling techniques and styles that are hard for regular comics nerds to resist, while showcasing the kind of humor, boldness, and well-placed sensitivity to real life experiences that make MBQ a book that can and should have true mass appeal.
Felipe's quiet mastery of the idioms of comics have won him all types of contests, been published on three continents, and will undoubtedly result in his becoming a big name in comics (or manga, if you prefer...).with this story completed and his highly accessible style front and center, there's no telling where we'll see mr. smith next. so cop MBQ now, while you can still get it cheap!

Video of the Year

the ghettoManga Video of the Year for 2007 is "Hip Hop Police" by Chamillionaire. i haven't spent much of this year giving a dang about music videos. the repetitive nature of the material has lead to what i would consider a low point in hip hop video production. however Hip Hop Police (like gM Video Award runner-up Stronger from Kanye West) actually manages to enhance the song without resorting to crass gimmickry, the way a good video should.

Man of the Year 2007

the ghettoManga Man of the Year for 2007 is the Mighty Mos def. i love his music, but 2007 was a pretty forgetable year for his rap career: Mos sold a measly 86,000 copies of his latest ceedee Tru3 Magic (pictured on the right), dropped a complilation in europe that stateside heads can't even buy, still hasn't topped his first solo plate Black on Both Sides (pictured above), and there is still no new BlackStar album with Talib Kweli. in 2007, Mos made more noise outside the vocal booth than in it...
, i was reminded why Hip Hop was considered THE revolutionary subculture in its glory days. similar to cats like PE and BDP back in the day, Mos is commited to rocking parties as well as rocking your dome and making you think! Mos used the platform to draw attention to political prisoners like the San Francisco 8 and the Jena 6 with vigor, humor and charm.

but that was just the tip of the iceberg... while many so-called black leaders were still in the dark, Mos was one of the (very) few rappers to travel to Jena, Louisana to take part in the initial Jena 6 protest, and subsequently organized a nationwide school walk out to continue to seek justice for them.
according to renowned hip hop pundit, Davey D, "a couple of months after that Mos Def went to San Francisco and put on a benefit concert to raise money for the SF8 who he feels are being unfairly prosecuted and railroaded for crimes they were aquitted of over 3o years ago.Mos not only put on a full fledged 3 hour concert complete with a dope back up band, but he also held a standing room only town hall meeting in one the housing projects in the Filmore section of SF to bring attention to this issue. He had two of the SF8 on stage with him. "

comparing Mos to 1940's actor, singer and activist Paul Robeson, Davey says "What makes Mos Def's situation so unique is that he's a popular rap star who has appeared in a number of Hollywood feature length films.
Him making such remarks could potentially be the kiss of death to his career and he really may wind up like Paul Robeson and be permanently blackballed. However Mos seems unbothered as he continues to speak out on what he sees as wrong"

in a time when most artists' moves are made solely to benefit themselves, Mos was more concerned with what was best for US as a whole. as he said at the end of the magnificent protest remix Katrina Clap, "Don't talk about it, BE about it!"...

that's what's up.

TPB of the Year, 2007

the Trade Paperback of the Year is Seven Soldiers of Victory, masterminded by british superscribe Grant Morrison (Shade, JLA, We3, All-Star Superman). there were many great OGNs and Trades this year, but no comic i read came close to the pure ambition of Seven Soldiers. Grant Morrision set out to revamp seven worn-out DC properties by reviving another, the Seven Soldiers of Victory (originally appearing in 1941). the idea is that seven heroes must save the human race from the ancient extradimensional the Sheeda. the twist: the Sheeda know this, and have been sytematically targeting and taking out hero groups with seven members, so the Seven must combine forces and defeat the Sheeda without ever meeting each other!

Morrison pulls this off by rolling out seven four-issue mini-series [Shining Knight (with art bySimone Bianchi & Nathan Eyring), The Manhattan Guardian (with Cameron Stewart & Moose Baumann, seen here), Zatanna (with Ryan Sook, Mick Gray & Nathan Eyring), Klarion the Witch Boy (with Frazer Irving), Mister Miracle (with Art by Pasqual Ferry & Dave McCaig), Bulleteer (with Yanick Paquette & Michael Bair), and Frankenstein (with Doug Mahnke)] bookended by wide screen intro and outro issues with art by the magnificent JH Williams.
Morrison insisted that a reader could choose buy only the series that interests them, not really needing to buy all seven minis to enjoy them, and he was right! i originally bought The Manhattan Guardian, Zatanna, Mister Miracle, and (my personal favorite) Frankenstein. the Guardian and Frankenstein pleased my Grant Morrison jones very well on their own (marvel ruined Mister Miracle for me by signing artist Pascual to an exclusive deal while he was working on the first issue... BOOO, Marvel!). that said, this joint is BEST read in TPB form. the stories are included in the order of their release, which actually shows a story progression THROUGH all the minis in a way i have never seen in what is essentially a crossover.

comics. hiphop. news. art. culture

Manga of the Year 2007

even though i didn't want to, i HAD to create a new category:
the Manga of the the Year Award for 2007 goes to Battle Angel Alita: Last Order, which continues the saga of Alita, an amnesiac cyborg warrior girl. the sequal to Battle Angel Alita, by FAR my favorite manga series ever (yes, family... it's THAT good!), Last Order follows the nigh-invincible martial artist into space, as she seeks deeper knowledge of herself through meditation, flashbacks, and of course, mind-numbing violence!

Battle Angel creator Yukito Kishiro combines dizzying amounts of scientific jargon, eastern philosophy/mysticism, and martial arts ultraviolence into a heady, intoxicating mix that has had me returning faithfully for years. while Last Order is not quite as good as the original Battle Angel Alita OGN series, it is head and shoulders better than any other Manga i read this year. the 10 part Last Order is expected to wrap up in 2008, so cop and read as many of the first 9 volumes as you can digest...

comics. hiphop. news. art. culture

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