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A copy of the latest Fullmetal Alchemist lay open on his stomach, and an empty thermos smelling strongly of grapefruit vodka and tonic was found nearby. Apparently, Mr. Welsh has chosen to observe Labor Day by doing as little of it as he possibly can. Had we been able to rouse him from his stupor, rest assured we would have demanded something more substantive.)

Much is made of the availability of manga. Most bookstores carry shelves of the stuff, and many comics specialty shops offer a selection. But even with these outlets at a shopper’s disposal, there’s no guarantee that the merchants in a reader’s area will get copies of every new title to hit the market. Retailers have to make choices, even if they have the buying power of a Barnes & Noble or Borders, and that means that some books will slip through the cracks.

Mangaphiles who’ve never set foot inside a comic might be unfamiliar with Previews, the monthly catalog published by Diamond Comic Distributors, Inc. Like a manga magazine, it’s as thick as a phone book. It includes solicitations from comics publishers of every size and philosophy. Very often, it features a truly appalling image on the cover, such as this month’s celebration of the Witchblade 10th anniversary issue. (There’s a lovely Frank Quitely image from All-Star Superman on the back cover, but there’s no avoiding the boobs and the modeling clay. Sorry.)

For those of you with no desire to experience Previewspersonally, I thought I would take a quick trip through the September 2005 edition and see what new manga titles were debuting in November. (I’ve included links to on-line solicitation information when it’s available.)

Dark Horse presents two titles from its Ginger Blossom line of Harlequin manga adaptations. A Girl in a Million(written by Betty Neels, illustrated by Kako Itoh, $9.95) falls into the Pink category (purely romantic). Response(written by Penny Jordan, illustrated by Takako Hashimoto, $9.95) is code Violet (more sensual, not intended for younger readers). The third Dark Horsedebut is Reiko the ombie Shop (written and illustrated by Rei Mikamoto, $12.95), an “ultra-violent, comical, and disturbing” story of a young necromancer on the trail of a serial killer. A comic with zombies in it? Who’s ever heard of such a thing?

CMX, the manga arm of DC Comics, presents Tower of the Future (written and illustrated by Hiwatari Saki, $9.99). In it, the lines between reality and fantasy blur for high-schooler and RPG fan Matsuyuki.

First up from ADV Films is Lagoon Engine Einsatz (written and illustrated by Yukiru Sugisaki, creator of D*N*Angel, $10.95). It’s a done-in-one collection, and its plot summary is utterly baffling: “Sakis, the Scion of the Godslayer, gets entangled in a deadly incident when an unknown ship enters Lagoonarian airspace. After uncovering explosives along with the seeds of Abomination, Sakis begins a quest to uncover the mysteries surrounding the Ancient Gods!” The secondADV one-volume title to debut is Angel Dust (written and illustrated by Aoi Nanase, $10.95), where an angelic creature falls from the sky and draws a young woman into a battle with evil. I hate when that happens. It’s why I always carry a sturdy umbrella.

How many times have you asked yourself, “Sure, ‘Miracle Worker’ is a great play, but how would Astro Boy tell the story of Helen Keller?” Same here. Digital Manga Publishing answers that question with a translation ofEdu-Manga: Helen Adams Keller (written by Sozo Yanagawa, illustrated by Rie Yagi, $9.95). For those of you who just want to see hot guys mooning over each other, DMP has Kimi Shiruya: Dost though Know?(written and illustrated by Satoru Ishihara, $12.95) from its yaoi line. This one features turbulent romance between rival swordsmen. I shall leave you all to come up with your own double entendres.

Maybe this next entry is fudging things a bit, but I have to include Fanfare/Ponent Mon’s Japan as Viewed by 17 Creators (written and illustrated by… well… 17 creators from Europe and Japan, $25.00). “Ever thought about how you picture Japan? Is it from her history advancement? From the [teeming] day-to-day life of her booming metropolises? Or from the tranquility of her mountain shrines and temples?”

Manhwa publisher Ice Kunion has two new titles. The Antique Gift Shop (written and illustrated by Eun Lee, $10.95) promises “eerily bittersweet and dolefully melancholy” tales of enchanted objects and cosmic destinies. Heavenly Executioner Chiwoo (written by HaNa Lee, illustrated by KangHo Park, $10.95) stars the son of “a mysterious executioner who carries out God’s judgment.” I shall leave you all to come up with your own Pat Robertson jokes.

Tokyopop launches Ark Angels (written and illustrated by Sang-Sun Park, creator of The Tarot Café, $9.99). Daringly enough, this title features young girls with magical powers who must save Earth’s creatures from extinction while trying to live normal lives. One of the more eagerly awaited Original English Language titles has to be The Dreaming (written and illustrated by Queenie Chan, $9.99). Tokyopop describes it as a blend of Bizenghast and The Ring (with an emphasis on the latter, I’m hoping).

It’s hard not to love the utterly narcissistic title of The World Exists for Me (written by Be-Papas, illustrated by Chiho Saito, creators of Revolutionary Girl Utena, $9.99), though I don’t think I’m part of the Gothic Lolita audience. Last from Tokyopop is Tsukuyomi – Moon Phase(written and illustrated by Keitaro Arima, $9.99). “What more do you need: Cute cat girls, vampires, and psychic mediums!” Blend ingredients thoroughly, pour into rectangular pan, and bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.

If you’ve been reading the monthly Shojo BeatViz’s two debut digests won’t be new to you. If you’ve been waiting for the trade, there will be much rejoicing at the arrival of the first volumes of Crimson Hero (written and illustrated by Mitsuba Takanashi, $8.99) and Nana(written and illustrated by Ai Yazawa, $8.99). Well, there’ll be much rejoicing at my house at least. And the world exists for me!

And that’s it. If I’ve inadvertently missed anything of if you’ve heard early buzz or seen scanlations of any of the titles listed above, please stop by the Flipped Forum to correct, clarify, cajole, or warn.

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