Manga pioneer Toren Smith as remembered by Lea Hernandez


by Lea Hernandez – My long-time friend Toren Smith has passed away after a protracted bout of ill health, and I’m heartbroken. I worked for him over the course of seventeen years as part of his elite Studio Proteus team; doing retouch on adult comics, and rewriting titles like 3×3 Eyes, What’s Michael? And Oh! My Goddess!. If Toren had lived another year, I would’ve known him for exactly half my life.

Studio Coffee Run 2/23/12: Archer, True Blood, Kick Ass and RED sequel news, etc.

Archer, the wildly successful animated show that surpasses even Mad Men in the number of drinks the characters consume in a single episode has been renewed for a 4th Season. The Emmy and Annie Award nominated FX cartoon has been averaging about 2 million viewers per episode this season, up 32% from last season. And […]

WB turns to BLEACH to get the Akira out

Although their attempt to remake Akira as a movie about white people went down in flames, WB has not given up on manga source material—now they are planning a movie based on BLEACH, the hugely popular manga and anime by Tite Kubo. Will this be another, heh heh, whitewash? Probably—because Hollywood fears Asians as leads—but at least Masi Oka (from Heroes) is on board as a producer. Others involved are producer/potential director Peter Segal (GET SMART, THE LONGEST YARD), screenwriter Dan Mazeau (WRATH OF THE TITANS), and Oka and Michael Ewing of Callahan Filmworks. Viz Productions’ Jason Hoffs and Branon Coluccio are also in the production mix.

Actual Asian person Ken Watanabe potentially offered role in AKIRA remake

The long on-again, off-again life action Akira movie is decidedly on again at Warners, with Jaume Collet-Serra to direct the Steve Kloves script. Given that AKIRA is a worldwide classic of anime and Japanese film in general that hugely influenced both animation and the cyberpunk movement, it seems ripe for reinvention in that Hollywood way.

And of course, also in that Hollywood way, despite the story being set in and infused with Japanese culture, because American moviegoers are all white and cannot be persuaded to pay money to watch Asian people on the screen, the film is being moved from New Tokyo to “New Manhattan ” (essentially New New York) and replacing all the Asian characters with white people if casting rumors are true.

Live action AKIRA is GO once more at WB

After many starts and stop — an Albert Hughes directed version had the plug pulled after pre-production had already started earlier this year — Warner Bros has greenlit a live action AKIRA remake again. This time Jaume Collet-Serra (ORPHAN) is set to direct. The movie apparently got new life after the budget was cut to a practically spartan $90 million.

Urasawa’s MONSTER debuts on Netflix streaming

A growing body of comics observers have jumped on the bandwagon for Naoki Urasawa as the best genre cartoonist currently working with his layered, dynamic storytelling. But not everyone has gotten the religion! His 21st CENTURY BOYS is currently coming out from Viz, but with 15 volumes in print it could be a bit daunting to jump into. For those who prefer a video introduction, MONSTER, based on the manga of the same name, just began streaming from Netflix. The 74-episode series deals with Dr. Kenzo Tenma and his efforts to stop an insane killer whose life he saved as a boy.

Tokyo International Anime Fair 2011 canceled; Viz releases a statement

With the ongoing tragedy in eastern Japan unfolding before our eyes, it’s inevitable that there will be cancellations to many planned Anime/Manga events. Although Tokyo is not affected directly by the quake, given the difficult conditions — potential blackouts and crisis management– the Tokyo International Anime Fair 2011, which was to be held March 24-27 has been canceled, according to the website of the venue, the Big Site in Tokyo. According to posts on the Anime convention mailing list, the Big Site venue was damaged in the quake; in addition, air travel to Japan is being limited.

The Anime Contents Expo is also expected to be canceled.