Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Shojo Manga!

"Shojo Manga! Girl Power! East and West" is a landmark exhibition that illuminates and celebrates the evolution of Japanese comics for girls from the postwar era to the present....

The Shojo Manga show at the school is fantastic and has been really inspiring for me. It's a touring show so look for it.

I've been trying to immerse myself in this genre of manga lately, especially for the duration of a book I'm drawing at the moment. I'm fascinated in manga, particularly shojo, like nothing else right now. It's all I want and I don't care for anything else. Which is nice because I rarely read superhero comics and I don't think I've read a capes and tights comic, in a serious way, for a decade, except for maybe New Frontier (which still hinges a little on the requirement that you love the Flash and Green Lantern and stuff). I basically ignored Manga for the entirety of the 90's, foolishly dismissing it as a generational thing and a fad. That was dumb.

Once more, I'm teaching a Summer Comic class for kids of the age 11-14. It's an education for me more than anything because every semester I get a clue as to what these kids are reading. There's an equal portion of girls and boys in the class. I find out that they're reading books called Fruits Basket, Naruto, Godchild, Deathnotee and One Piece but even really mature stuff, sometimes. Traditionally, the non-mangaa they like is always Johnny The Homicidal Maniac, HellBoy and maybe Bone and Neil Gaimen..

Apparantly, kids just want to have fun and not get caught up in gigantic epic events and cross-overs featuring characters who can't crack a smile for only a minute!

I have about 20 students in this class. I ask them, "How many of you buy your books from the comic book store?", and 6 raised their hands. I ask, "And how many buy their books from the book store chains like Barnes and Noble?", roughly 14 students raise their hand.

Ok, I ask, "How many sit there in Barnes and Noble and read the book in its entirety instead of buying it?" Pretty much all participating Barnes and Noble patrons raise their hands.

Hmm. And those are the answers I've been getting for some time!

What do you read? Can anyone recommend anything to me. i typically don't care for the Fighting comics unless it's well written and creative.


Blogger Loris Z. said...

Quick things that come to mind:

The Death Note manga is a wonderful piece of work. probably the best work of fiction that came out of Japan in the latest 15 years...

My girlfriend gave me the first two volumes of Paradise Kiss. There was something about Ai Yazawa's style that I didn't like at first, but while I was reading it I was totally hooked. Can't wait to read more of it.

11:58 AM  
Blogger Vlado said...

i'd recommend 'bokura ga ita'. no idea hot it is translated in english

12:31 PM  
Blogger RKelly said...

Cool. Brian Wood got me reading Yazawa's Nana and it's a big influence on me at the moment. I agree, the art style doesn't work until you actually start reading, then it totally works.

1:18 PM  
Blogger Randy said...

From a retail perspective, it seems like some of the manga that are popular with younger readers for us are Naruto (which is by some accounts surprisingly good and addictive, although I haven't dived in myself), Death Note (which I keep meaning to get into), Bleach and a few others.

From my point of view, if you're looking for some cool manga to read, I recommend anything Tezuka (especially Buddha and Phoenix, which you can read only one volume or many), Battle Royale (ultra-violent, yes, but it's got more than just a Tarantino vibe to recommend it), Naoki Urusawa's Monster (some of the best suspense manga I've ever read, imagine The Fugitive meets X-Files and Silence of the Lambs) and Planetes (a great, character-centric short manga about garbage collectors in space).

Oh, and anything Junji Ito, who has created fantastic horror manga like Uzumaki, Gyo and Museum of Terror (at Dark Horse).

9:10 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

Finally!! Someone else recognizes the power of shoujo! I know some of the stories are kinda "girly" but the art on Shoujo manga is beyond awesome in the way that they use the screen tones, the patterns, flowers, bubbles, and design of the panels and page layouts...I'm totally obsessed in manipulating those concepts and and incorporating in my style them for my stupid webcomic :3 cause the content is kinda Shoujo-ie

I really must go see that show now...:3 Wow, I'm excited.

But the books that influenced my shoujo love, Naoko Takeuchi 's Sailor Moon, PEACH GIRL <3, Clamp's Card Captor Sakura, Shoujo Beat (like an anthology), even harlequin despite the bad writing the art is killer cool, but really if you sit down in a bookstore and page through any of them they're all good! I'm not guaranteeing the quality of the stories but I do love the art.

3:09 AM  
Blogger Michelle said...

Sorry. Shojo*** I'm an R-tard.

3:19 AM  

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