Sabrina changes, imaginary Kubo interview, grade inflation

When all the changes were going on at Tokyopop, word leaked out that Peach Fuzz creator Lindsay Cibos was drawing Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, which was always drawn as well as written by Tania del Rio. Johanna Draper Carlson follows up with an interview with Tania, who says that she was just taking a break from the art duties and reveals that she is working on a two-volume series about quinceañeras for Tokyopop. (Image is one of del Rio’s Sabrina covers, presumably (c) Archie Comics, as she says in the interview that Sabrina is work-for-hire.)

It seems like everyone but John Jakala (and me) go to interview Tite Kubo at SDCC, so John takes matters into his own hands and imagines an interview, as well as a happy aftermath.

If, like me, you didn’t make it to SDCC, hike on over to MangaCast, where Ed Chavez has posted audio of several panels: Broccoli Books, Del Rey, and Chip Kidd’s Bat-Manga panel.

At Rocket Bomber, Matt Blind profiles DMP and looks at new releases and online pre-orders.

Sesho finds a new Boogiepop novel at Borders.

Otakon starts today, and Gia, and Erica Friedman, and the Ninjaconsultants will be there.

News from Germany: Manly Manga and More brings lots of German manga news, including August releases, best-sellers from May-June and July, and a list of new titles and cancelled series.

Before the reviews, an interesting note: I like Casey Brienza’s reviews a lot—she is smart and perceptive and puts the books she reviews in their proper context. At her LJ, she tends to be a hard grader; she ranks titles on a 1-to-10 scale and I’m always surprised at how many get a 6 or less. The reviews she writes for ANN are just as smart and just as critical, but she notes on her LJ that she has had to inflate the grades there so the bell curve centers on a B. She says her opinions haven’t changed, just the way they are “coded,” but it’s a point to ponder. One of the problems of using a scale or letter grades is that everyone has a different center, and if you’re not familiar with that particular writer, the grade may not be that helpful. I avoid ratings myself because I think most manga will have different values for different readers, depending on their tastes and interests. Anyway, check out Casey’s recent reviews of vols. 1-2 of Sand Chronicles and vol. 28 of Naruto, three books she seemed to like anyway, to get a taste of her reviewing style.

Reviews: Birthday girl Lissa Pattillo reads vol. 1 of Black God and vol. 9 of Love Mode, and invites guest reviewer Kagami Han’ei in to review vol. 4 of Hissing, at Kuriousity. Drop in and wish her a happy birthday! Deb Aoki weighs in on Yen+ at and invites readers to vote for their favorite series. At PopCultureShock, Chloe Ferguson reviews vol. 1 of You’re So Cool, which she finds entertaining despite the fact that it breaks no new ground, and Isaac Hale reads Tokyo Is My Garden. Sabrina reviews vols. 1-3 of Switch and Dan Polley checks out vol. 3 of Shiki Tsukai at Comics Village. EvilOmar has more brief manga reviews up at About Heroes. Connie checks out vol. 2 of Manga Sutra, vol. 7 of Elemental Gelade, and vol. 19 of Berserk at Slightly Biased Manga. Oyceter reads a little manhua, vols. 1-2 of Knight Princess, at Sakura of DOOM. Julie checks out vol. 9 of Kagetora, vol. 5 of My Heavenly Hockey Club, and vol. 1 of Sugar Princess: Skating to Win at the Manga Maniac Cafe. Jason Green reads vol. 1 of One Pound Gospel at PLAYBACK:stl. At Read About Comics, Greg McElhatton enjoys vol. 1 of Toto, a book I liked a lot as well. At Manga Life, Barb Lien-Cooper picks up Zondervan’s Manga Bible and is surprised at how much she likes it. Also up at Manga Life: Ysabet Reinhardt MacFarlane on vol. 12 of Tail of the Moon and vol. 3 of Honey and Clover, and Park Cooper on vols. 1-3 of Psycho Busters. Erica Friedman posts part 1 of her review of vol. 5 of Yuri Hime S at Okazu. New at Emily’s Random Shoujo Manga Page: Aishiteiru no yo Kyohei-san!, Silver, and Yasuko to Kenji. Tangognat reads One Pound Gospel and vol. 1 of Kiichi and the Magic Books. Leroy Douresseaux checks out vol. 2 of Gimmick! at The Comic Book Bin. Sakura Kiss reviews vol. 1 of Mister Mistress at The Yaoi Review. James Fleenor looks at vol. 1 of Wild Ones and vol. 1 of Time Stranger Kyoko at Anime Sentinel. Billy Aguiar is back from his SDCC break and posts reviews of vol. 1 of Warcraft: Legends, vol. 1 of 1520, vol. 1 of Jade of Bango, and Vidia and the Fairy Crown at Prospero’s Manga. And I’m finally catching up with Sesho, who has posted podcast reviews of Rose Hip Rose, vol. 1 of xxxHolic, and Yen+ (part 1, part 2), as well as some closing thoughts on Yen+.

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  1. The thing about Casey Brienza’s reviews is: it actually means something when she gives a book a high score.

  2. Exactly!

    I also like it that she’s not afraid to skewer a book everyone else is raving about. I don’t always agree with her reviews, but they are always food for thought.

  3. But food for thought isn’t what the people who visit ANN want to see. Each volume only gets one review over there, not the many you see on the manga blogs (which most ANN readers don’t check), and visitors would like somewhat objective, hopefully witty, and usually slightly forgiving reviews.

    They don’t want to read about why their favorite series is an attack on liberalism or something. They want to hear that “volume three is really good compared to volume two because of plot twist A and new character B, but volume four drags out scene C far too long.” You have to know your audience to be an effective writer.

    As for grade inflation, if everyone else is doing it and you’re not, where does that leave your reviews when they’re collected by the aggregators? People don’t usually check the reviewer name; they think of ANN as a giant collective. So adjusting to fit the norm makes sense. This isn’t Harvard, after all.

  4. Good point, Sarah. There are different kinds of reviews, and ANN reviews tend to be just what you describe. I also think their other reviewers are good writers as well.

    As for adjusting to the norm, though, it seems to me that Carlo Santos dishes out quite a few C’s, D’s, and F’s. I was sort of surprised that Casey wasn’t in the same range.

  5. ANN sadly has lost it’s focus of the past year, now it’s a bit like the new AoD forums, a mass of adds with a little bit of good info. The encyclopedia, which is all i ever used, is now going out of date, and it’s seriously incomplete now.

    I’ve never really liked giving ratings myself. As you say peoples tastes are different, and what i may rate as say a 3, someone else may rate as 10.

    I prefer to just lay out what i liked, what i didn’t and then leave it upto the reader to make their own choice. When i first started i had a few emails from people whining about titles i’d given high marks (this was when i still rated) but they’d hated

  6. As far as grades go, it’s always a ongoing process of revision and recentering. But I will say that, when asked, people always demand that they be present in some form. I found that this was the case on my LJ, which is why I started grading 1-10 in the first place, and ANN has found the same thing.

  7. Many thanks for the birthday wishes, Brigid!

    On the note of grading systems, I’ve had to do it a few times for different sources but I find it too hard to classify something something like that. I’ll always be the person asking, “Can I give a C+ and a half…?”

    I try to sum up my reviews in the last paragraph, essay-style, so there’s atleast a short, overall thought round-up of my review (especially since some tend to get a bit wordy on me!).

    Sometimes it’s nice to see them though, especially in the case of ANN where they use grade systems for different parts of the book (art, story, etc.), allowing some more flexibility.


  1. […] I got to thinking about how readers like having reviews set-up. Thoughts were spurred by a post by Brigid , and the following comments, about what it is about reviews that readers like and […]