Monthly Archives: January 2010

Underappreciated Manga: Historical Manga

If there’s one thing I love almost as much as manga, it’s history. I gobble history up like a starving dog in front of a huge bowl of food. Some people say they don’t get it or that it’s boring, but history is like reading a good book and I can’t put it down.

Emma by Kaoru Mori

Unsurprisingly I am a HUGE fan of historical manga. It doesn’t have to be based off of actual events, but a good historically-based manga like Emma or Red River? I’m THERE. Even if I barely learn anything new, it just gets my history nerd juices flowing to see someone actually do their research.

Sadly, historical manga doesn’t seem to be a great seller. Ooku is a critical darling and seems to be selling quite well, but it’s Fumi Yoshinaga, for goodness sake.  People will snap her stuff up just because it’s her. (That being said, I REALLY appreciate Yoshinaga’s forays into historical manga.) And despite Emma’s success, I don’t think I’ve EVER seen Shirley on any shelves, even when it was a new release.

My mentor at Tokyopop and I actually had a discussion on this. It largely centered around why Red River wasn’t a big seller. One would think that the hard economic times would push an audience to more fantastical works, but I concluded that stuff like Vampire Knight probably fills that hole better than Red River does. I blame Twilight.

Please do not even get me started on stuff like Haruka: Beyond the Stream of Time. It’s historical in nature, but it’s just a little to loosely-based on the actual period and too flaky for me to enjoy it as a historical shojo. Let alone the fact that it’s based off of an otome game. Ick. It reminds me more of Fushigi Yuugi. (Although Fushigi Yuugi is better in my opinion. It had more depth.) In comparison, Tail of the Moon was MUCH better as a fluffy historical shojo. I actually felt like I learned something about Japanese history!

Otoyometagari by Kaoru Mori

I wish that Otoyometagari, Kaoru Mori’s latest historical manga, would get licensed so I didn’t have to rely on way too infrequent scanlation updates or my terrible Japanese reading skills.

I can’t really name more historical titles off the top of my head, but if someone just kept licensing great manga with historical bases, I would probably buy every last one.

I’m pretty sure I’ll be one of the very very few who will always root for more historical manga to come out, but a girl can dream, right?

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Do Not Want: the Twilight graphic novel

There are a few kinds of manga that I cannot STAND reading, the most prominent being the kind of manga that teaches boys that it’s ok to fool around with the feelings of multiple girls who are willing to put out because they’ve got a crush. Oftentimes I can’t put those manga down because I’m editing it for Tokyopop so I just have to deal.

TwilightThe Twilight novels inspire the same sort of feelings in me. Luckily when I read it, it was of my own free will and I could put it down once I noticed a pattern of awful writing. Then I burnt my copy of the book. For that reason, I’d like to explain to you why I REALLY REALLY wish Yen Press hadn’t created the Twilight graphic novel.

1. The lessons of the books: Yes, Twilight does teach abstinence… sort of.  Bella really DOES want to get it on with Edward, but he won’t let her. That’s not abstinence, that’s cock-blocking. But before we even get to an established relationship between the two lovers, Edward STALKS Bella because the smell of her blood is so powerfully addicting or something along those lines. On top of that, Bella is extremely passive (except when it comes to wanting sex or wanting to die and be turned into a vampire), depressed and angry at her life for no real reason other than the fact that she’s a teenager. So basically Twilight is teaching girls to be moody bitches with suicidal tendencies who should pounce on the first hottie that shows interest in them. EVEN IF THE GUY IS STALKING THEM. And abstinence via cock-blocking.

That’s not even the really bad part in my opinion. I don’t even want to THINK about how the Breaking Dawn movie is going to visually illustrate the sex scene between Edward and Bella or the birth of their child. The ENTIRE WORLD would be too young to see material that graphic on a big silver screen.

2. The lettering: I saw the preview page online (no, I am not buying the magazine just to look at more pages) and cringed. What the HELL was up with that lettering? Those random word balloons and narration boxes? THE FONT CHOICES!?! Why did they go with serif fonts and a fancy, loopy script font? I hope to GOD that the whole book isn’t like that. I’m not THAT familiar with Yen Press, so I hope this is not their  style. Please tell me it isn’t.

In comparison, the art is BEAUTIFUL. Is this botched lettering job supposed to be easier for the droves of Twilight fans who have never seen a comic book before? If so, screw that. Just because you’re GUARANTEED good sales with this title, does not mean you can get away with doing a shitty job on the lettering, Yen Press. If anything you should be doing your best to make sure even the non-Twilight fans pick this up!

3. The fans: This is complete and utter prejudice and I apologize for not being able to help myself, but there are CRAZY Twilight fans out there and I do not want droves of them discovering comic books. I apologize to the fans who only like Twilight for it’s entertainment value. I’ve met numerous fans like this and I accept those kinds of fans because they prove to be nice when you get to know them.  It’s the crazy ones I have problems with.

I’ve been subjected to extreme acts of fan-crazy over the years. I’ve sat next to the girl who was dressed up as Misa Misa and could NOT stop talking about Light Yagami as if he was real. I have been asked to spend the evening with guys who have no idea what living outside their parents’ basement is like JUST BECAUSE I KNEW THE LUCKY STAR DANCE.  I could go on…

But my point is we have enough crazy fans already and I don’t want more Narutard-like fans in this world. I know there are going to be nice Twilight fans getting into comic books and then there are going to be THOSE fans. I’ll be a bitch if I have to be. Just act like a sane person and I won’t punch you in the face.

I understand why the Twilight graphic novel is being released and why it has a ginormous print run. The books made a lot of money, the movies made a lot of money, so a comic book will make a lot of money. Yeah, that makes sense. That’s cool. Good for Yen Press. Please do something better with the tons of cash you make. Release some good josei or something. HIRE A BETTER LETTERER. Lock up Stephanie Meyer while you’re on a roll and stick her some place where she can’t write another novel. (Look at it this way, you’ll probably be able to milk the Twilight cash cow for another 10 years.)

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Playing Catch-up!

Things have been so busy in my little world!

I’ve been interning at Tokyopop full-time, trying to find a part-time job and getting settled into my new surroundings… I’ve barely had time to do anything except write short tweets. Thank goodness for 140 character limitations! They’re easy to write at work.

I’ve more or less gotten permission to blog about my experiences at Tokyopop as long as I don’t reveal anything important (obviously!) so let me give you an idea of what I’ve been up to!

-Lots and lots of copy-editing! And quality checking and checking that changes have been made and making sure those changes are REALLY made when the pages go back to be corrected… Expect to see my name in the credits of a few manga in a couple of months! (Yaaay!)
-I wrote a tutorial on making crepes for the weekly Tokyopop newsletter! I actually made the crepes and everything, which was fantastic fun because I LOVE crepes. Yuuumm~~
-I’m also running a cat caption contest that’s featured on the Tokyopop homepage!! It’s super cute and all you need is a cat, a camera, photoshop and some funny to win some new manga like Fruits Basket Ultimate Edition 4 or Petshop of Horrors: Tokyo 6!
-A lot of copy writing, which is great practice for me, honestly. Too bad I won’t really get credited for that work, but in a few months a lot of preview copy (as in, In the next volume of….) you see in Tokyopop manga will have been written by me.
-A video project! Hopefully this will result in some fun videos on the Tokyopop site soon.
-Another cooking-related project I can’t really talk about yet. It’s all about a very popular dish though! I know my title isn’t exactly “cooking intern,” but I do enjoy cooking so I don’t mind.

I’ve been having a lot of fun. There are a lot of interns this time and all of us like to hang out and go to lunch together! It’s honestly been a lot of fun. There weren’t as many interns over the summer and we didn’t really click as well.

Speaking of which, if you’re a college student and you want an internship, I really think Tokyopop’s a great place. Even if you might not have the best opinions of the company (I won’t judge you), the people are great and you really get a feel for what working in this industry is like. If you’re not into editing, there’s also design, marketing, legal internships and one where you can work with Stu Levy, the founder and CEO of Tokyopop. I’ve met a number of other interns who’ve gotten into internships outside their college major too so don’t be discouraged if you love design but your major is physics. Here’s the internship page where you can learn more. Remember that it’s not a paid internship and that you MUST get college credit in order to intern there.

Next post I’ll have some choice words about the upcoming Twilight graphic novel being published by Yen Press because I can be a bit of a pessimist.

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Working at Tokyopop again

Hey everyone,

I’ve kind of sort of been keeping this news secret, but I’m interning at Tokyopop again. I pretty much was worried that I’d have to stop blogging because I didn’t want to break any rules and whatnot, but I’ve figured out a good solution. I’m just NOT going to talk about the specifics of what I’m working on at Tokyopop.

I will, however, try to share the articles I write for their weekly newsletter with you. Tomorrow I’ll be doing one on how to make crepes. I’ve never made them before without my mother’s more experienced hand around, so that’ll be fun.

One thing I do like about working there is that I get to read manga all day and I think it really helps me develop my understanding of the manga world. Hopefully that means I’ll get to serve you better in terms of this blog.

By the way, my apologies for the absence. After getting sick in Colombia, I spent a good part of last week trying not to get pneumonia and then the other part of the week packing, then moving in with my boyfriend and starting work at Tokyopop. The weekend wasn’t much better because I popped over to ALA on Saturday, went to a birthday party and then met my mom in LA to sit shiva (to mourn, basically) with a family friend. I also feel a little bit out of the loop in terms of what’s going on in the comic book world, so I’ll have to catch up with myself there.

I realized a few days ago that this summer will mark my 10th year of being a manga fan. Ten years ago, I would have never dreamed that I’d be trying to become manga editor or a blogger. I didn’t know such an editor position existed, blogging didn’t really exist at all and I hadn’t even discovered that I wanted to write yet. All that changed when I discovered manga and anime and became exposed to that creativity. Amazing, huh?

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Coming home!

Hey everyone who still reads my blog! There are so few of you left, I know.

I’m coming home tonight/tomorrow morning, so I will soon return to blogging. I know this is a blog about comics, but I’ll share my photos with you when I get back to my computer.

Until then, I am not looking forward to the long evening at various Colombian airports and in various airplanes, but at least I have a book of sudoku puzzles and my iPod is charging up for the long night. (I read through 5 books over the course of this trip. Holy moly.)

Happy New Years everyone! I hope 2010 is a great year for all you!!

-Daniella

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