The Legend of Bold Riley

The Legend of Bold RileyCreator: Leia Weathington
Illustrator: Vanessa Gillings, Jason Thompson, Marco Aidala, Konstantin Pogorelov, and Kelly McClellan; Chloe Dalquist and Liz Conley

Publisher: Northwest Press
ISBN: 9780984594054
Released: June 2012

The Legend of Bold Riley is writer and illustrator Leia Weathington’s first graphic novel. Published by Northwest Press in 2012, the volume is a collection of related stories, each illustrated by a different artist. In addition to Weathington, Vanessa Gillings, Jason Thompson, Marco Aidala, Konstantin Pogorelov, and Kelly McClellan contributed their artistic skills to The Legend of Bold Riley, with Chloe Dalquist and Liz Conley assisting with some of the colors. I first became aware of The Legend of Bold Riley thanks to the involvement of Thompson (to whom I give partial credit for igniting my interest in manga). And it’s thanks to The Legend of Bold Riley that I discovered Northwest Press, a publisher specializing in queer comics, graphic novels, and anthologies. The Legend of Bold Riley is a sword and sorcery adventure featuring a princess as a hero. She also happens to be a lover of women. Happily, The Legend of Bold Riley doesn’t end with this collection. The second volume, Unspun is currently being serialized and Weathington has already started working on a third book.

Rilavashana SanParite, who would come to be known as Bold Riley, is the youngest child of the king and queen of the eastern nation of Prakkalore. She and her two older brothers are heirs to the throne, groomed to be fair and just rulers of the kingdom and knowledgeable in the arts of state in addition to the fine arts, sciences, history, and swordplay. But Riley finds that her heart lies somewhere beyond the walls of the capital city of Ankahla and even beyond the borders of Prakkalore. She wants to travel the world to see the places and meet the people she’s only ever read about in her studies. And so the princess sets out with a sword strapped to her side and a horse to carry her, first to the southern kingdom of Connchenn and then further to the jungles of Ang-Warr, the distant Qeifen, and all the lands in between. Over the course of her journey Riley meets gods and battles demons, the sharpness of her mind and wits just as valuable as the sharpness of her sword. She even falls into the bed of a lovely lady or two.

Although the stories in The Legend of Bold Riley all have continuity with one another, the prologue and the five individual chapters that follow can largely stand on their own once Riley has been introduced. As already mentioned, each chapter is illustrated by a different artist. Riley is always recognizable, but otherwise there is no attempt to have uniform artwork in the volume. Instead, the artists are given free rein, resulting in a marvelous assortment of different art styles and illustration techniques and a range of color palettes. The resulting shift of mood and atmosphere is quite effective in emphasizing the changes in the setting and the type of story being told from one chapter to the next. As Riley travels, visiting different countries and kingdoms, the artwork reflects those differences. The Legend of Bold Riley is diverse, and not just in its illustrations. The volume’s sceneries and stories take inspiration from the fantasy counterparts of India, Central and South America, Southeast Asia, and other areas.

The artwork in The Legend of Bold Riley may change from story to story, but Riley is always Bold Riley. She’s a fantastic and exceptionally appealing character, a dashing and daring young woman with strengths and weaknesses, remarkable talents, and human flaws. Although Riley’s sexuality is never the focus of the comic, it’s always a part of who she is as a person and as a well-rounded character. She falls in love, she makes mistakes, and she struggles and is challenged when faced with a world that’s not always black and white or even kind. The Legend of Bold Riley, while something new and refreshing, somehow also feels very familiar. It’s a collection of heroic tales, some ending in triumph and others ending in heartbreak. Because of its episodic nature there’s not a lot of character development, but Riley is such a great character to begin with that the work is still very satisfying. I thoroughly enjoyed The Legend of Bold Riley and look forward to reading more of Riley’s adventures in the future.

My Week in Manga: May 30-June 5, 2011

My News and Reviews

I was away for most of last week and the beginning of this week in order to attend a conference for work. (NASIG for those of you who are curious.) I had a good time in St. Louis and learned lots of useful things, but this did mean I didn’t get as much manga and anime in as I would have liked. It also means that this week’s “My Week in Manga” is a bit late. Forgive me, but I needed to do laundry and sleep.

Fortunately for me, last week was one of my lighter weeks at Experiments in Manga. I announced the winner of the Oh, Ono! manga giveaway and manged to successfully schedule May’s Bookshelf Overload to post while I was away. I also added two new resources to the Resources page: The Fandom Post and Manga Bubbles. For your online reading enjoyment, I would like to bring your attention to Manga Artifacts: Pineapple Army by Kate Dacey over on The Manga Critic; it’s a much better look at the manga than my quick take below provides.

Quick Takes

King of RPGs, Volume 2 written by Jason Thompson and illustrated by Victor Hao. The second volume of King of RPGs was one of my most anticipated releases for 2011. I loved the first volume so it didn’t come as much of a surprise to me that I loved the second as well. Most of the plot centers on MMORPGs and tabletop RPGs in this volume but there are still plenty of references other geek cultures, too. My favorite parts are when the role-playing insanity bleeds over into reality. Shesh, more than ever, is the main focus of this volume. However, new characters are also introduced, including the noble gold farmer Baijin Gangshi who I fairly adored. I really hope to see more volumes of King of RPGs; it’s a riot.

Pineapple Army written by Kazuya Kudo and illustrated by Naoki Urasawa. I primarily picked up Pineapple Army because of Naoki Urasawa’s involvement with the manga. In Japan, the series ran for eight volumes. You wouldn’t know this by looking at Viz’s single volume edition, though—it collects ten chapters selected from throughout the original series. They mostly stand alone, though I suspect there may be some recurring characters that I would have liked to get to know better. I’d like get to know the protagonist Jed Goshi better, too. I happened to particularly like his beefy character design and found his personality to be appealing as well. It will probably never happen, but I wouldn’t mind the rest of this series available in English.

Pretty Face, Volumes 1-6 by Yasuhiro Kano. It’s a ridiculous premise—Masashi Rando, high school karate champion, is nearly killed in a terrible bus accident. In the process of recovery, his plastic surgeon gives him the face of the girl he has a crush on since he only had her photo as a reference. Or something like that. Oh! And his crush just happens to have a missing twin sister, so Rando takes her place. Perhaps not too surprisingly, there is plenty of fan service, especially in the first few volumes although it does carry through the entire series. Narrative-wise, Pretty Face is very episodic and somewhat directionless, but there were a few moments here and there that made me genuinely laugh out loud.

Cross Game, Episodes 17-22 directed by Osamu Sekita. So, I still don’t really care about baseball all that much, but I do care about the characters of Cross Game tremendously. And since they care about baseball, I find myself at least interested in what is happening and cheer them on in their efforts. I’ve been very happy with how the characters are developing. I’m particularly fond of Azuma who turns out to be much more complicated person than he initially appeared. I’m also interested in seeing where the newer characters, like Mizuki and Azuma’s older brother, go. I’ll definitely be watching more of this series even if I don’t end up picking up more of Adachi’s original manga.

My Week in Manga: May 16-May 22, 2011

My News and Reviews

I’m still being a slacker, so this section is going to be rather brief again. I promise to try to do a little better next week and find some interesting stuff for you all. Last week I showed a little love for Brigid Alverson’s MangaBlog as part of my Discovering Manga feature. I also posted a review of Issui Ogawa’s The Lord of the Sands of Time, one of Haikasoru’s debut titles from way back when (okay, 2009 really wasn’t that long ago…) I enjoyed it and look forward to reading more of Ogawa’s works.

The Cross Game Manga Moveable Feast is already off to a great start so keep an eye on the index page over at The Panelists as it gets updated. As for me, I have a quick look at the first third or so of the anime adaptation and later this week I’ll be posting a review of the first Cross Game volume published by Viz (equivalent to the first three collected volumes in Japan.)

Quick Takes

Fujoshi Rumi, Volumes 2-3 by Natsumi Konjoh. I really hope we get more volumes of this series because I’m enjoying it tremendously. Abe has fallen for Rumi and hard, but the poor guy just doesn’t get otaku. He’s willing to learn, but he doesn’t always get it right and so their developing relationship is bumpy. I can’t help but root for him, though. Rumi is just starting to figure out she likes him. Chiba is having a bit more luck in his own romantic pursuits, but not by much. Both he and Matsui are incredibly stubborn. There are a ton of translations notes included to help readers keep track of all the pop culture references made, but even if you don’t take time to read them all the series is still funny.

King of RPGs, Volume 1 written by Jason Thompson and illustrated by Victor Hao. The second volume of King of RPGs is set for release this week, so I figured it was a good time reread the first volume. As a gamer, I really love this series and find it hilarious. A lot of the humor depends on at least a passing knowledge of RPGs and various other types of gaming and nerd culture. There are plenty of in-jokes and references, too, so someone not familiar with gaming will probably be lost. All sorts of nerdiness is displayed in King of RPGs: MMORPGs, table top RPGs, fantasy football, boardgames, collectible card games, miniatures, otaku, live action role playing, cosplay, Renaissance festivals, and more. And some of the characters, really, really get into what they’re playing.

Tokyo Babylon, Volumes 1-7 by CLAMP. I know quite a few people who love Tokyo Babylon, but I must admit I wasn’t particularly impressed by the early volumes. However, I did like the final few as things turn really dark and become less episodic. The series it’s actually pretty depressing; Subaru is never as successful as he would like to be and is very sensitive to those around him. And then there’s Seishirō, who proves to be problematic for him for a number of reasons. I liked CLAMP’s artwork in this manga which uses a lot of black space. I never quite got Hokuto’s sense of fashion, but I did like some of the outfits. Subaru and Seishirō’s story is apparently continued as part of CLAMP’s X series, which I haven’t read yet.

Azumi directed by Ryuhei Kitamura. Apparently the film is loosely based on Yū Koyama’s manga series Azumi, a fact I wasn’t aware of while watching the movie. Azumi is a member of group of orphans raised to be highly skilled assassians. Their mission is help secure the dominance of the Tokugawa clan by killing opposing leaders. However, the more Azumi becomes involved, the more she questions what they are doing. It’s an entertaining if somewhat mediocre film. The special effects are only okay and the choreography a bit awkward at times, although the huge battle towards the end of the film is pretty great. An interesting note on the language: Azumi speaks using a masculine form of Japanese.

Cross Game, Episodes 1-16 directed by Osamu Sekita. I’m not a huge sports fan and so I wasn’t sure if I would like the Cross Game anime or not. But from reading the manga, I did know that I at least liked the characters. So far, I find the anime a little slow going for my own personal taste, but I still enjoyed watching it and will probably watch more. The slower pacing works for the manga, but doesn’t transfer over to the adaptation quite as well. Or maybe it’s just that I can read through the baseball games (which don’t really interest me) more quickly than I can watch them. The anime does change up some things from the original, keeping it interesting even if you have read the manga.