Black Butler

I have a blog for reviewing British comics here: http://blog.crystal-knights.co.uk/

But I occasionally read the odd Japanese one, so I’ll use this site to look at those! Let’s start with a series that I’ve seen mentioned around, even on a British comics website – Black Butler.

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Using photos instead of scans again -_-

What do I think of it? Crap! Now “Action Stations!” from Carlton Books, that’s a comic! One of the stories is drawn by…

Oh, why is it crap? Well one of the first things that annoyed me was the utterly insane inconsistences of setting. The kid that the main character buttles for is apparently “Queen Victoria’s Watchdog”. Of course this means it can’t be set much later than 1901, when she died…

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Hmm, motor cars eh? Well I suppose they did exist in 1901…

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Though most transport was still horse powered

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Eb-eb-eb is that a Morgan?

Well it seems that the setting has been relocated to a vague “early 20th century”. That’s just about acceptable I suppose. And the author does vaguely mention this England being “a parallel world” (now there’s a get-out clause if ever I heard one). Just as long as they don’t go stretching credibility any further with people in this hansom-and-tophats world using mobile phones or anything silly like that.

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Like that, in fact.

Oh and there’s the usual screaming tantrum-having girl and ring o mystic power (possibly!) getting shattered.

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Scweam until I’m sick!

Oh also the butler is a/the devil and has done a deal with the kid, who has a “demonic” eye and must give his soul to the butler when he dies. Plus the ring, worn by all of his ancestors on their deathbed, “contains” thier screaming death agonies. Oh yeah all of that was a spoiler by the way.

One of the other annoying things in this comic, which I first noticed in Bakuman, is sound effects for things that don’t actually have sounds. In Bakuman it’s limited to the occasional “loom” to show that a bloke is tall, but here there’s sound effects for things being clean, messy or burnt! I mainly read British adventure comics, which rarely had sound effects at all. Going from that to a story buried in them is a bit much!

More passably silly things in this book include the setting never really moving away from either London, or else “Just outside London”. The author claims to have “buried himself” in hefty reference books about England. Perhaps if he had read them instead of making a fort out of them he would have avoided scenes like this…

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Ah yes, the famous mountains of Essex.

Another bizarre thing, included in the translation notes at the back of the book, is reference to “High Tea”. Apparently this is something “the lower classes” in Britain had in the past. To me “high tea” sounds really posh, but then I suppose the way most people talked in the 1890’s – 1900’s would sound “posh” to modern Britons. I can say that I read a lot of stories and articles from the early 20th century in comics that were aimed at the working classes, and I haven’t seen the phrase “high tea” mentioned in them once!

EDIT on 18/10/2011

Okay, Now I have found a reference to High Tea in a British book that was published in the early 20th century! I was going through my collection of Westermans…

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Such as it is

And began to read this book by Percy F…

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 …which is probably from the late 20’s. It “mentions the war” and features a scientist who has invented an “anti aircraft ray” (a kind of EMP, actually!) which is intended to render aerial warfare a thing of the past, and thus prevent a repeat of the Zeppelin / Gotha raids. Anyway I saw this passage:

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So the phrase “high tea” apparently was once used. However from the number of books/comics of this era that I have read I can safely say it was far from a common phrase. In fact it may even have been only heard in the north, or even just Yorkshire. Most of these books and papers were of course “from” London or Dundee, though, and would have been edited into their “native language”!

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