Friday, May 11, 2007

Amy Reads the Week (of May 11th, 2007)

What a week it’s been, Gentle Reader! Or should I say, two weeks, since I was unable to read the week fully Friday Last? A trip home, a visit with Parents Reads and the Reads-in-Laws, and now, Mr. Reads and I have A Houseful of the Canine Persuasion, as we are Dog-Sitting for Some Dear Friends while they are out of town. Four dogs, finals, and summer school prep (oh my!) and is there any wonder that I’ve been rather neglectful of you, Friends? For that, I Do Apologize, and humbly Ask Your Forgiveness.

During this madness, however, was the Marvelous Thing known as Free Comic Book Day. I adore Free Comic Book Day, Gentle Reader, and not only because This Humble Author receives Free Comic Books. Also, it is the Idea that Literature Should Be Free, given away to people who may not otherwise give Certain Literature Its Due. A Justice League book here, an Umbrella Academy book there, and, for This Humble Author, an Interesting Introduction to the Wide World of Manga.

Yes, Friends, you heard right. Manga.

I am Not A Manga Fan by trade, by profession, or by blogging, but that is not to say that I pooh-pooh the Idea of Manga. Rather, much of the Manga I had seen was of the open-mouthed wide-eyed screaming variety, and while I enjoy big eyes and screaming as much as the next person—having some rather large eyes and a rather big mouth myself—all of the Manga I had encountered was a bit manic for my tastes. A little too flashy, a little too loud, and frankly, I’m rather anti-black-and-white pen medium. I like my books colorful. I like my comics a bit brooding.

Also, I like superhero books, and I’m Rather Fond of the Flights and Tights crowd. Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Black Canary (known to scream herself On Occasion!), these are my heroes, and while Sandmans and Deaths and Homicidal Maniac Johnnies and Vampire Slayers and Hellboys grace my shelves, all are rather lacking in the Flights and Tights department. Manga just wasn’t superheroic enough for This Humble Author, it seemed.

That is to say, until Free Comic Book Day, 2006.

Tokyopop released a book full of previews, and among these gems was a chapter from Kat & Mouse by Alex de Campi and Federica Manfredi, and an advertisement for Dramacon by Svetlana Chmakova. And thus began my introduction to the Wide World of Manga, which was, I am rather happy to say, Much Wider than I had given it credit for, originally.

Suddenly, I saw something in Manga that I hadn’t seen before: its graphic novel potential. Here were entire stories in one solid medium, in novel form, not serialized, not colored, just *told*. And moreover, the stories were *fun*. Reading Kat & Mouse made me pick up Queenie Chan’s The Dreaming which made me recently pick up Chmakova’s Dramacon which made me pick up Kaoru Mori’s Emma. And the loudness that I always had associated with Manga was suddenly quieted, and I could read, and read, and just enjoy.

Of all of these, Dramacon is my favorite, and here’s why: it works so very well as a metafictional tale. In short, Chmakova’s books function as manuals for the act of writing itself, as guidebooks for the budding author, for the fan existing *and* producing in fandom, and most importantly, for the young woman trying to navigate the Tricky Waters of Life. For, as I am certain we all know, there is Nothing Trickier than Life, no? And for This Humble Author, at least, Life was never As Tricky as it was when I was a teenager.

Yes, it’s true, Gentle Reader, this post is Much Ado About Manga. But as a Fan existing within Comic Fandom, as a Writer with the Burning Desire to Write A Comic Book Of My (Very) Own, and as a Reader of All Things, Comic Book, Victorian, Mystery, or Otherwise, I want to express my Gratitude, and Appreciation, for the Wonderful Day known simply as Free Comic Book Day. Well done, DC, Marvel, Dark Horse, Tokyopop, and the Other Publishers who gave away books this past May 5th. I’m a reader, certainly, but now, you’ve made me more of a buyer.

Better yet, you’ve made me more of a Fan.

4 comments:

Fanboy said...

Welcome back.

Amy Reads said...

Hi Mr. Fanboy,
Welcome back.

Thanks, Friend! I am thinking Happy Thoughts for you as you begin the moving process.
Ciao,
Amy

Scott said...

Hmm, you may need to add a manga section to your Pop Culture list. I've read Emma too, btw, and I've fallen in love with it. I've heard good things about Dramacon and have been curious about The Dreaming. And I know that Joss Whedon adores My Dead Girlfriend, so I need to check that one out too.

Amy Reads said...

Hi Scott,
Hmm, you may need to add a manga section to your Pop Culture list. I've read Emma too, btw, and I've fallen in love with it. I've heard good things about Dramacon and have been curious about The Dreaming. And I know that Joss Whedon adores My Dead Girlfriend, so I need to check that one out too.

I think I will add a Manga section. Thanks for the suggestion!

I've only read the first Emma collection, and am waiting for Extra Money (aren't we all?) before I get the next two. Our Local Library doesn't carry those, but I have read recently, through the library, Absolute Boyfriend 1-3 and Once in a Blue Moon, both of which I enjoyed.

Also waiting on Extra Money for My Dead Girlfriend (if Joss recommends something, who am I to argue?). I highly recommend Dramacon. It's really my favorite of all of the Manga that I've read recently. Dreaming 1 is fantastic; I haven't read #2 yet.

Also, do you like Nancy Drew? I'm A Huge Fangirl for All Things Drew, and the graphic novels by Petrucha are wonderful!
Ciao,
Amy