Library of Congress names graphic novelist Gene Luen Yang (“Boxers and Saints”) as Ambassador for Young People’s Literature

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New York Times (by George Gene Gustines):

Gene Luen Yang often mines his life for his graphic novels. He has explored being a first-generation American, and harnessed his love of computer programming. Starting this week, he will have a whole new experience to draw on.

On Monday, the Library of Congress is to name Mr. Yang the national ambassador for young people’s literature, the first graphic novelist to be so honored since the post was created in 2008.

When I was coming up in the ’90s, the comic book industry and the book industry were largely separate — they had their own awards, distribution systems and stores,” Mr. Yang said in a telephone interview from his home in San Jose, Calif. But now, “these worlds are really converging in interesting ways.”

Mr. Yang’s stories leapfrog genres and often pose questions about acceptance, identity and culture. Perhaps his best-known graphic novel is “American Born Chinese,” about Jin Wang, a boy who has trouble fitting in when he moves to a new school in the suburbs. The New York Times greeted the book as “a dark exploration of Asian-American adolescence” that blends two cultures “in inventive, unexpected ways.”

An excerpt from Gene Luen Yang’s graphic novel “American Born Chinese” (2006). CreditGene Luen Yang

American Born Chinese,” published by First Second in 2006, achieved a couple of firsts for a graphic novel: It was a finalist for a National Book Award and it won the Michael L. Printz Award. It also received an Eisner Award, one of the most prestigious honors in the comic book world, for best graphic album.

His other books include “Boxers and Saints” (2013), a work of historical fiction with dollops of mysticism set during the Boxer Rebellion in China; and “Secret Coders” (2015), illustrated by Mike Holmes, about students solving mysteries at an unsettling school. (The text slyly teaches readers basic computer coding.) In June Mr. Yang joined the group of writers working on Superman for DC Comics.

Mr. Yang, 42, the son of Chinese immigrants, grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. He began drawing at 2, he said, and “I basically never stopped.” His gateway for comic books was Superman, which he began reading in fifth grade. Marvel’s Fantastic Four and Spider-Man soon followed. He started creating his own comics. “I was always interested in telling stories through drawings,” he recalled.

At the University of California, Berkeley, Mr. Yang majored in computer science partly to please his father, who wanted him to pursue something practical, and minored in creative writing. He worked as a computer engineer for two years after graduating and then began teaching computer science at a high school, a job that lasted 17 years. He gave it up only when his travels in support of his books began to involve too much time away.

Secret Coders,” released in September, was inspired partly by his teaching experience. “What I wanted to do was combine a narrative with lessons,” he said. “You ought to be able to do basic programming from reading the first volume.” Mr. Yang is also running an art contest related to the book to encourage readers to try some basic programming.

Mr. Yang also taps his background for his work with DC Comics. “When DC approached me, ‘Superman as the prototypical immigrant’ was one of my first thoughts,” he wrote in an email. He noted that dual identities are a daily reality for the children of immigrants. “Many of us use one name at home, another at school,” he said. “We move between two different sets of expectations the way many superheroes do.” When he recounted Superman’s origin story in an issue published in November as part of an adventure set in Oakland, Calif., he gave the superhero some immigrant anxieties about belonging.

In reflecting on his new role as ambassador, Mr. Yang said he found his wife, Theresa, a development director for an elementary school, a tremendous resource. He said that he was inspired by her program for encouraging students to read and write in different genres and that she was enthusiastic about the ambassadorship. His children — a son and three daughters — are a little harder to satisfy.

It is difficult to impress any kid that you see on a daily basis,” Mr. Yang said. The same is true of his children’s reactions to his books, though all of them are avid readers. “They tell me they like them, but they like other people’s books better than mine.

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French-Cambodian actress Élodie Yung as Elektra, revealed in the new ‘Daredevil’ Season 2 trailer

Elektra Revealed in ‘Daredevil’ Season 2

Entertainment Weekly/MovieWeb:

Marvel’s Daredevil is set to introduce the violent sexy mercenary (The Girl with the Dragon tattoo actress Élodie Yung) in season 2. She’ll complicate Matt Murdoch’s life while he struggles to handle new threats in Hell’s Kitchen, including Frank Castle a.k.a. The Punisher (Jon Bernthal).

Above is a first photo of the actress in the show — albeit without her double-sai-dagger-wielding costume on.

Elektra and Punisher will be joined in Daredevil Season 2 by returning stars Rosario Dawson as Claire Temple, a.k.a. Night Nurse, and Scott Glenn as Stick. We also reported in November that Sonia Braga has signed on to star in Marvel’s Luke Cage as Claire Temple’s mother, but it isn’t known if this character will also surface in Season 2 of Marvel’s Daredevil.

Netflix hasn’t announced when the new season will debut quite yet, but hopefully we’ll find out more soon.

Entertainment Weekly also spoke to Daredevil showrunner Douglas Petrie, who reveals that Elektra will become Matt Murdock’s girlfriend. “Matt’s a deeply moral complicated guy and she’s just the best bad girlfriend you can possibly have. She does everything wrong and attractive, she’s his id, the wild side. Matt is always taming his wild side. Elektra just lets it out. He’s both repulsed and deeply drawn to that.

Akiyuki Nosaka, celebrated author of Grave of the Fireflies, passes away

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RocketNews 24 (by Casey Baseel):

Famed writer’s best-known novel served as basis for Studio Ghibli anime of the same name.

Born in the city of Kamakura in 1930, Akiyuki Nosaka didn’t have an easy childhood. His mother died two months after giving birth to him. His adoptive father was killed in an air raid on Kobe in the closing months of World War II, and growing up Nosaka would also lose an older sister to illness and a younger one to starvation after evacuating their home.

Nosaka would channel the pain of these experiences into his semi-autobiographical novel Grave of the Fireflies, which was published when the author was 37 and would be awarded the Naoki Prize for literature in 1967. While the novel has had limited exposure abroad, it was also adapted into an animated theatrical feature in 1988, which earned international acclaim for its powerful story, Studio Ghibli-produced animation, and direction by renowned anime icon Isao Takahata.

Nosaka suffered a stroke in 2003, and had been receiving convalescent care from his wife at their Tokyo home since then. On the morning of December 9, at roughly 10:30, Mrs. Nosaka discovered that her husband was not breathing. The 85-year-old author was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead by medical staff.

In addition to his wife, Nosaka is survived by his two daughters, both former members of the Takarazuka all-female stage troupe. The deeply respected writer’s passing brings great sorrow to fans of literature and animation alike, and its suddenness, like Nosaka’s signature work itself, is a solemn reminder of the preciousness of life.

Bandai to release life-like posable plastic figures to help you draw “realistic” epic poses

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RocketNews 24 (by Scott Wilson):

It seems like Bandai really wants us to get better at drawing. First they released the totally awesome and totally-not-just-for-kids Magic Illustrator, and now they’ve announced that they will be selling life-like posable figures for all of your human-sketching needs.

And what’s more, these figures come with dozens of sweet accessories, making it easier than ever to draw a someone wielding a sword, a deadly cellphone, or their own awesome lightning fists. Ready to never again lose friends by asking them to hold a pose while you carefully draw it? Then read on!

Now for those of you who haven’t done much life-drawing before, you may wonder: why would you need plastic models? Can’t you just draw without them?

And the answer to that is a resounding… well, er, uh, kind of. Some great artists can rattle off drawings of people no problem. But for the rest of us, it helps to have a model to work off, especially if you’re drawing something that doesn’t typically happen in everyday life.

▼ It’d be hard to model this scene without someone breaking their neck, but the posable figures make it easy to sketch.making_img

The posable figures themselves are being produced by S. H. Figuarts, a maker of high-quality Japanese plastic figures. They come in two varieties, male and female, appropriately named Body-kun and Body-chan.”

What sets these figures apart from other posable art models before is that these ones are built to only bend in natural human ways. This means you can’t accidentally put the figure into an unnatural pose, which could potentially mess up your sketch. And since they bend in over 30 places, you can get a lot more detail than from other similar products.

The figures also come with a variety of accessories and interchangeable parts, making it much easier to see what certain hand positions look like when interacting with objects.

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And the possibilities don’t end there. Here’s what people all over the internet have been doing to show off the unlimited potential of working with Body-kun and Body-chan:

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body-chan computer

body-chan angel

body-chan kicking

body-chan lightning

If you think Body-kun and Body-chan would make good additions to your artistic arsenal, then be sure to check back in April 2016 when they’re officially released. The models range in price from 4,320 yen to 6,480 yen (US$36 to $54) depending on how many accessories it comes with.

20 of the best outfits seen at this year’s New York Comic Con

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RocketNews 24 (by Phillip Kendall):

Check out these 20 cosplayers at New York Comic Con 2015:

1. Hulkbuster!

2Keith Estiler/Pixable

2. Goku and Master Roshi

12Keith Estiler/Pixable

3. Kapow-i GoGo

16Keith Estiler/Pixable

4. The Witcher’s Geralt and Ciri

18Keith Estiler/Pixablee

5. Conan!

17Chris Anderson/Pixable

6. Ginyu Force girl

15Keith Estiler/Pixable

7. Headhunter Caitlyn and Sejuani

14Keith Estiler/Pixable

8. I-No from Guilty Gear

2Chris Anderson/Pixable

9. Mortal Kombat’s Jade

20Chris Anderson/Pixable

10. Black Cat

19Keith Estiler/Pixable

11. Ratchet and Clank!

aHR0cDovL2Rrd2sydmh4dG55MjcuY2xvdWRmcm9udC5uZXQvd3AtY29udGVudC91cGxvYWRzLzIwMTUvMTAvTllDQ0EyLmpwZw==Chris Anderson/Pixable

12. Super Mario

13Keith Estiler/Pixable

13. Borderlands’ Mad Moxxi

9Chris Anderson/Pixable

14. Spider-Man?

10Keith Estiler/Pixable

15. Boba Fett

1Keith Estiler/Pixable

16. The hero of Hyrule!

8Keith Estiler/Pixable

17. Edward Scissorhands

7Keith Estiler/Pixable

18. ???

6Keith Estiler/Pixable

19. Marty McFly

5Keith Estiler/Pixable

20. Darth M!

5Keith Estiler/Pixable

New “Death Note” film announced for 2016

Otaku USA Magazine (by Matt Schley):

Anime/manga/tv series Death Note will be back with another live-action film in 2016.

The film, which will serve as a sequel to the two 2006 Death Note films, will star characters who “inherited the DNA of Light and L” who are set to battle over the six Death Notes in the world. The plot will also involve cyber-terrorism.

Death Note 2016 will be directed by Shinsuke Sato, who previously directed the live-action Gantz and Library Wars films.

The teaser was first revealed after the final episode of the Death Note TV series Sunday. It’s unclear if any of the cast or crew from that series will be involved in the new film.

Lone Wolf and Cub creator Kazuo Koike says being an otaku for life is his key to happiness in old age

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RocketNews 24:

Although he’s one of the most respected figures of all time in the manga industry, Kazuo Koike isn’t typically associated with the otaku subculture. When his most popular creation, Lone Wolf and Cub, was translated into English it attracted as many international fans from among Western comic readers as from those who favored Japanese manga, and in general his works have a gritty, somber tone to them, unlike the brightly colored daydreams and self-insert power fantasies that are often associated with otaku-pandering fare.

There’s also the fact that Koike was born in 1936, and being old enough and of the corresponding gender to fill two-thirds of a “grumpy old man” bingo card, you might expect him to have harsh words for Japan’s legions of hobby-obsessed individuals, like those that often sputter forth from Studio Ghibli founder Hayao Miyazaki.

But it turns out that not only is Koike accepting of the otaku life, but he thinks that being an otaku from the cradle to the grave makes for a beautiful life.

In another twist, it turns out Koike is quite the social media master, with a massive Twitter following of over 140,000 fans. Recently he shared his thoughts on the otaku condition, and whether or not it’s something that people ever really grow out of.

“I’m 80 years old, so I’m just going to come out and tell you guys. People who are born as otaku are otaku for life. You can’t quit it! Natural Born OTAKU!!!” (Kazuo Koike)

“I’m always saying ‘I am the greatest otaku,’ but when you take a look around,senior citizens who are enjoying their lives are generally some sort of otaku. Truly, being an otaku until the end of your days is a wonderful thing. Live as an otaku, die as an otaku. It’s the greatest.” (Kazuo Koike)