I LOVE SHONEN JUMP!
I said it.
I didn't want to...
But you made me.
What's that? Some of you aren't familiar with Shonen Jump?
Then it's a good thing I'm here to tell you about it.
Shonen Jump is Japanese, long-running, big, thick WEEKLY, black and white magazine that's chock full of the hottest manga series. There are lots like it, but Shonen Jump is really THE creme de la awesome. I first picked up a copy in Japan years and years ago but my Japanese wasn't quite rockin' enough to read it properly. But then a bunch of years back they started releasing it here in the States in a monthly format so I grabbed it!
I first loved it for NARUTO... because, c'mon-- Ninjas RULE.
In fact, I spent a loooooong time pestering the folks at Cartoon Network to put Naruto on the channel. A LONG time. Then, of course, when they DID get it they said-- "Hey Mr. Warburton-- have you ever heard of this new anime series we got called Naruto? You might like it."
Anyway... Naruto was definitely my favorite for a long time. Shaman King was another sooper giant favorite and I was kinda bummed when they stopped running it (please disregard the American version of cartoon-- they totally changed it from what the manga is!). Sand Land, by the creator of Dragonball Z, which also ran, was cool. The Yu-Gi-Oh stuff was kinda silly... and I'll never get why anyone likes Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo. I tried. I really did. They jumped right into the middle of Bleach, so it took a little while to understand what was going on-- but now I really like it.
But my ultra sooper favorite grew to be ONE PIECE by Eiichiro Oda. It's about a kid named Monkey D. Luffy who wants to be King of the Pirates. That's simplifying it a bit, but it's really an amazing series with fantastically original art (the posing! the angles! the world!), sooper creative characters (a swordsman who fights with a sword in each hand and one in his mouth, a clown pirate who can dismember himself, giant banana gators) a weird sense of humor (Luffy and some of his crew tend to be brilliantly stupid), and a ton of real heart (a couple stories have brought a tear to my eye).
Now the only real drag about Shonen Jump is that since it only comes out monthly and some of the series have been running for eleventy thousand years in Japan, they're waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay behind the Japanese issues. By, literally, HUNDREDS of stories. And that's why I never watch the anime of Naruto or One Piece... I don't want to ruin the manga (which are often very different from each other).
BUT THEY'VE BEEN FIXING THAT!
First, they stopped running Naruto for a bunch of months and helped us catch up to the Japaense series by releasing more volumes of the compiled manga! Normally, one issue of Naruto has 3 or 4 twenty page chapters in an issue. But one of these babies has over 200 pages... and they gave us THREE A MONTH.
Can life get any better?
YES, IT CAN!
They've been doing the same thing with One Piece recently so for the last couple months they've been releasing FIVE (5) ... OMG... FIVE beautiful beautiful volumes EVERY MONTH.
I've never wanted it to be the beginning of a new month more.
One of the things I really love that Mr. Oda does better than anyone is group shots.
He takes the characters and puts them into these great situations that tell a fun story without words being neccessary. If you get a chance, find his Color Walk books.
A lot of his group shots are in there and I constantly refer to them for inspiration.
Now if I could just meet Mr. Oda and have him draw me a sketch I could die happier than I already am.