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Going to the Hollywood Gantz Premiere

Hi everyone!

Is anyone going to see Gantz in theaters tonight? (One night only!)

I’ll be at the Mann Chinese 6 premiere in Hollywood, the one where the actors will actually be there, since it’s in walking distance from my place. I’ll be sure to take pictures!!

But also, if you’re going to be there too, come over and say hi!

I have no idea what to expect of the movie, since I’ve never read the manga or seen the anime, but I expect be thoroughly icked out by all the violence and I’ll probably squeak in terror at any surprises because I get jump easily.

Hope to see you there!

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Anime Los Angeles 2011

Anime Los Angeles is a sleepy little convention held in the LAX Marriott every year, right after all the hustle and bustle of the holidays has died down. I usually attend Anime Los Angeles for only one day, mostly to visit friends who come down from various parts of the state. This year, however, I attended a second day on behalf of TOKYOPOP in order to give away a few volumes of Hetalia to fans attending a panel.

I’ve found that Anime Los Angeles is mostly for two kinds of people: cosplayers and people who want to gawk at or take photos of cosplayers. My cosplay days being far behind me, there wasn’t much else to do at Anime Los Angeles other than hang out or attempt to peruse the tiny and very cramped dealer’s hall.

The live programming also consists of mostly cosplay workshops and a number of panels I will collectively title “Being An Old School Anime Fan”. The rest consisted of scattered how-to panels, martial arts demos and a few specific fandom panels like the Hetalia History one I attended. Bandai Entertainment did hold a panel, but after a bit of searching around on the internet, I’ve surmised that nothing big or exciting came of it. While I was there for two days, I wound up just going home at around 2 p.m. each day because there wasn’t anything of interest to do.

The only purchases I made at the con consisted of a Princess Jellyfish button commissioned from a friend in the Artist’s Alley, a mini-comic from Gina Bigg’s Red String and a cellphone charm also from Red String.  This was in part due to the fact that I spent a fair amount of money on comics during the preceding week, but also because the dealer’s room was just too damn packed. This happens to be one of my biggest issues with the convention right now.

Anime Los Angeles has clearly grown in attendance, but over the past three years, it hasn’t upgraded to a larger facility. Now, it’s clearly time to change that because it’s much too hard to move down a hallway in a timely manner, in part due to all the cosplayers/photographers. Another thing that could stand to fixed is the shoddy reception inside the hotel’s convention floors. It’s affected groups of my friends and myself at this year’s con and at previous cons, so I’ve no doubt it is happening to a lot of other attendees. I realize this is the responsibility of the hotel, not the convention, but someone should start lodging complaints and a complaint will be better received by an entity that generates so much business for them instead of just one or two convention goers. Otherwise, Anime Los Angeles is kind of a great convention. They provide free snacks and beverages for attendees, put up pretty pictures of cosplayers from previous years on their walls and include fun participatory stuff like badge ribbon scavenger hunts. The con could be really great if there was a little extra breathing room and better cell phone service.

But enough complaining, it’s not like I didn’t enjoy myself at all, here are some of my con highlights:

Making Ed Sizemore Jealous –Uhhh, I mean, meeting Helen McCarthy:


Helen McCartney, anime scholar and, most recently, author of The Art of Osamu Tezuka: God of Manga, was the Fan Guest of Honor. She came out all the way from London to be at Anime Los Angeles and was on a large number of panels. I wished I could have caught a few more, but some were either on Friday (a day I didn’t attend) and others were on topics like one’s first trip to Japan (I’ve had my first trip already, and a second).  Still, I got a few minutes to chat with her about old school cosplay in the autograph room and I would have stayed and chatted longer if I wasn’t keeping someone waiting elsewhere. I hope she comes back to my part of the States again soon because she was also a delight on the How Technology has changed the Anime Industry and Anime Fandom Before the Internet panels I did attend.

Hetalia History:

Can you spot all the Hungary-chans?

This was the panel I attended for TOKYOPOP, not knowing what to expect from it. What I got was a witty evaluation of the in-jokes of Hetalia complete with clips from old British period dramas. Some people brush off Hetalia as a flaky introduction to history, but the truth is that there’s a lot more fact in the manga than people can easily see, something that panelist Walter Amos specializes in illuminating. Himaruya really does know his stuff and sometimes it’s not so easy to see amongst all footnotes and adorable personified countries. This panel is definitely for the history buffs in the fandom, that’s for sure, so it instantly appealed to me.

I wish I had more highlights to share, but I didn’t do much at Anime Los Angeles! It’s a very laid back convention about 99% of the time as it is.

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Happy 1st Blogoversary, All About Manga!

Woohoo! One year! :D

Last summer I decided to take a blogging class. I figured that since most of my journalism professors were crying over the upcoming death of print media, I should become more familiar with this blogging stuff that was going to pretty much take over print media. When the class started, the professor told us to make a blog. I made this one.

In one year I’ve managed to write over 100 posts, get over 700 comments (OK, half of those are probably mine, but still not too shabby!), been on more than a few podcasts, people who know me and my blog when we meet  and more hits that I could have ever dreamed of when I first started this blog.

Here are some highlights of the past year…

The top 20 posts:

  1. Ten REALLY GOOD Ways to Buy and Not Steal Manga (It’s fitting that this is the top post. ^_^)
  2. Why is Manhwa not as popular as Manga? (I really wish this post wasn’t so popular…I’ve since changed my views on manhwa A LOT)
  3. Comics & Girls: We want to kick ass (One of two posts with the most comments for this blog! Also my first troll!)
  4. Interning in the Manga Industry: My Advice (So happy this one is in the top five! I’m so proud of this post.)
  5. The Great Manga Gift Guide: SHOJO STYLE! (One of the posts that started getting me recognized by others.)
  6. Anime Expo: Day One (Admittedly, this post is probably only popular because it was posted on the AX forums…)
  7. Causing the Death of an Industry (Yes, this post is alarmist, but it’s a good way to imagine the what ifs.)
  8. Jews in Anime and Manga (What happened when I answered one of my own questions…)
  9. Layoffs for Viz; Death Rattle for Go!Comi (One of the saddest posts I’ve written after the one on CMX’s demise.)
  10. Scott Pilgrim/Mighty Fine T-Shirt Contest (My first contest! It was so much fun and I can’t wait to do more!)
  11. The Manga Cliche Review: Musical Talent Part 2 (An old review concept… I’m not sure why this one is so popular. o_0)
  12. Gakuen Alice on the Fast Track (Thank you to Marco for giving me this inside tip.)
  13. Osaka Considering the Regulation of Female-Oriented Manga (I still don’t fully understand why Osaka didn’t target ecchi manga too, a real headshaker.)
  14. Hetalia: You Should Read This Manga Even If You Don’t Want To (Yes, I am not above shameless self-promotion. I worked hard on that manga!)
  15. Fandom Hierarchy: Should We Be Allowed to Hate? (Sparked by an intense Twitter discussion.)
  16. 10 Years of Lovin’ Manga (My 10th anniversary as a manga fan, followed by everyone sharing their own manga stories.)
  17. Prostitution in Manga (Probably one of the hardest posts I’ve had to write. I wish I could develop this into a real research project.)
  18. Discussion: Why Do Readers Shun Shoujo? (I was beginning to realize how I could create more discussion on the blog. It worked!)
  19. Comic Book Movies: Astro Boy (Another old post that’s popular for reasons I don’t understand. I guess it’s not a bad post, but I wish this post was more popular. I never saw the movie in the end.)
  20. Manhwa Controversy (My response to the outrage at my first post on manhwa… Yeah, I was totally wrong.)

I’ve pretty much figured out that opinion, not reviews, is my strong point, but maybe in the future I can work on that a little more or bring someone on with me to do reviews. (Anyone interested?)  I’d also like to make a little money off of ads or book referrals, but I haven’t figured out the best way to do that yet. There’s still so much I don’t know about blogging!  (There’s still so much I don’t know about other stuff either…)

After I finished my first internship at TOKYOPOP and started this blog, I realized something that had been stirring in the back of my mind– I really did not want to be a journalist. At the time, it was an enormous problem for me. If I didn’t want to do journalism and if this whole manga editing thing didn’t work out, what was I going to do for a living? And while this blog doesn’t make me any money, it’s certainly helped me build my reputation up more and allowed me to make so many friends. This blog kept my head above water when I was drowning in uncertainty and lead me to a island that I might be able to call paradise.

In the mean time, I’m going to continue doing this blog, continue editing manga for a living and maybe some day in the future I hope to open up my own business. Maybe a publishing company, maybe a bookstore, I’m not sure yet.

Thank you, everyone, for what you’ve given me over the past year. You’re the ones who’ve made me and this blog a success.

So much love,

Daniella Orihuela-Gruber

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Welcome to Webcomics Wednesdays

I know this blog focuses mostly on manga, but I figured that it would be fun to do a regular post on something a little different: webcomics.

It’s not big secret that I love webcomics. I’ve been reading them since I was 14, perhaps a little earlier. I’ve tried my own hand at webcomics. (I’m not sharing.) I met my boyfriend reading his old webcomic, Blue Zombie, back when we were in high school and now I edit his current endeavor, Lumia’s Kingdom. We even collaborated once, very briefly, and I still write comics that I would like to become webcomics had I the talent and time to draw them.

I certainly haven’t read every single webcomic out there, like PVP or Penny Arcade for instance. (Both target gamers, which I am not.) Still, it’s a little hard for me to ignore webcomics when popular ones get picked up by larger publishers (Megatokyo and, technically speaking, Hetalia) or when the creators take it to the next level and self-publish.

No webcomic creator will tell you that it’s easy to do, but with more and more successful webcomics going these routes, it’s certainly taking the stigma off of making them. On top of that, webcomics have the potential to be successful in different ways than print media can be. They can target the niche markets and gain a large following with relatively little cost (compared to the risk of starting a completely new title that a large publisher has to take.) Webcomics are thus a lot more diverse and daring in subject matter than the world of publishing because there is no one telling creators that their webcomic won’t sell. Best of all, creators own the rights to their work and fans will come out of the woodwork to directly support them with books and merchandising.

So thus I hope to introduce a new weekly feature on my blog that explores webcomics, starting with a few webcomics that have made the leap to print, and talk about how they contribute to the vast world of comics. If all goes well, I’ll also be able to include interviews and guest posts from creators themselves, as well as exploring webcomics-related issues. I’ll try to post faithfully on Wednesdays in the spirit of alliteration and recommend a lot of good webcomics for you to read.

For starters, some of my long-time favorites:
Questionable Content (Which, I think I have been reading the longest.)
Hark! A Vagrant (I am a total history nerd and I love the sarcastic take.)
Red String (Romantic shojo and also a long-time favorite.)
Johnny Wander (Adorable auto-biographical comics.)

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Update from Columbia

Hey everyone,
I am having a great time in Columbia, it is really a much more exciting country than most would think. Things are pretty safe in terms of going out and doing touristy things, although a governor from one of the Columbian departments (read: states) was kidnapped and assassinated while we’ve been here. It’s hard to feel shaken by it since he was in a department far away from where we are and one that is closer to the FARC-controlled areas. Clearly FARC is only bothering with bigwigs and not tourists like us, although it’s a shame there’s still some drug-related problems here.

Bogota was a lot of fun to be in. I mentioned on Twitter a particular restaurant outside the city called Andres Carnes de Res. It is like Disneyland if Disneyland was about eating, drinking and partying (read: dancing.) It seats over 3000, which boggles the mind in terms of logistics, but they have it organized well enough that the food is still fantastic and the service is not too bad either.

Also in Bogota is a fantastic Gold Museum (Museo de Oro in Spanish) that shows how the pre-columbian (meaning before the times of the conquistadores if you are confused) people worked, revered and wore their gold. In contrast to Peru and the Incan and Pre-Incan cultures I am used to, it was a lot different. The actual gold-working techniques came from Peru, but the pre-columbians in Columbia made amazingly detailed small objects while the Peruvian cultures went for bigger more dramatic pieces embedded with precious stones. Still, the Museo de Oro in Bogota was fascinating. My mother and I expected to go for an hour and wound up spending three whole hours there. We aren’t really museum people, so that is saying a lot.

Another museum in Bogota I would like to mention is the Botero museum. Obviously, Botero is one of the Columbia’s most famous figures after Shakira, Juanes and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. His art style is absolutely fascinating and the famously fat figures he paints are not just his default style, but a commentary on various social figures, events and institutions. One of my favorite paintings is one of a blonde archangel done in the style of Cusqueña art (which is a religious art style based in Cuzco, Peru that supplied all of Latin America with religious art in the colonial times. The Peruvian side of my family used to have a large collection of Cusqueña art, so I became very interested in it via interest in my family’s history.) My mother’s favorite was the fat Mona Lisa. Also housed in the museum is a collection of other surrealist paintings and sculptures by other famous artists, which Botero owned. There were paintings and sculptures by Picasso, Chagall, Toulouse-Lautrec, Degas Dali and many many others, which was a lovely addition to the extensive catalog of Botero’s works.

Now we are in Cartagena and have had a wonderful time so far. We went to a private island hotel in the Caribbean sea and went swimming and snorkeling all day. It was a lot of fun, even though I’m not a beach person at all! The snorkeling was just fantastic. The old city of Cartagena de los Indios is also very beautiful and it reminds me of Havana, Cuba if Havana had been allowed to keep all it’s old architectural glory instead of falling to ruins under Castro’s rule. (Yes, I’ve been to Cuba! It has been awhile though.) There are lots of little side streets and places to explore, it’s like a very exciting labyrinth. The old city is actually a walled city because of Sir Francis Drake, who I’m sure you all remember in your elementary school history books as being one of the great “explorers” of the New World. Well, here he’s regarded as a dirty pirate! Since this used to be a Spanish colony, when Sir Francis Drake, under Spain’s worst enemy, England, attacked the city, looted it and almost burnt it down. Let’s just say history books here probably don’t regard Sir Francis too kindly.

Other than that, I’ve been fighting off stomach problems (yogurt helps if you ever have stomach problems in foreign countries by the way) and a sore throat (somehow, magically, in constant 85 degree weather and 40% humidity of Cartagena, I got a sore throat/cold.)

I’ve also determined that Columbia does have something of a comic book subculture, but that it is something of a rich city kid’s thing. Other than that, the country is in a state where Dragonball and other such anime programs are airing on TV, which has fueled a small interest in the related toys and card games. Beyond that, I don’t think most of the country is aware of anime or manga at all.

We have a few more days in Cartagena and then we move onto Medellin for New Year’s Eve. I am kind of looking forward to the cooler weather and whatnot. Medellin is also Botero’s hometown so I’m sure we will get to see more of his fabulous artwork. Then it will be time to come home! I’ve had a lot of fun, but I would definitely like to go home soonish and be able to share all my great photos with you.

I hope everyone had a great Christmas (btw, Columbian Christmas decorations are way better than the ones in the U.S. They have seriously outclassed us in that aspect.) and will have a happy New Year as well.

Cíao!

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Geek not Greek Project Debuts!

Some of you may remember all the posts I’ve made with various multimedia components called Geek not Greek.

Well, those posts were a part of a larger project I’ve been doing for another class (seperate from the one I created this blog for.)

The project, called Geek not Greek, is about showcasing vibrant geek communities that shatter the still way-too-prevalent stereotype that geeks are anti-social and can’t make friends.

I had initially wanted to cover all the geeky clubs at my university, but I wasn’t able to. Instead, I decided to focus on the one that has meant the most to me: Minna no Anime.

It’s quite small for now since I only had a small about of time to focus on the project, but I would love to add more about other geek communities in the future.

Enjoy!

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Geek not Greek Video: Minna no Anime

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Geek not Greek: Photo Slideshow

A few of you might remember some of these photos from a previous blog post, but this is really just an exercise for my class. My beat is comics and, well, actually taking pictures of comic books does not make for exciting slideshows. I could have done something else, like comic book stores, but there aren’t enough of them in my area to meet the minimum requirements for the assignment.

ANYWAY. These are some of the photos of Minna no Anime from the audio slideshow only without my stupid voice and with sparkly new captions! Minna no Anime’s a great place and we’re probably one of the best anime clubs in the nation. (A shared opinion.) I hope you enjoy learning about my anime club.

Minna no Anime

Click to see the slideshow

On a sad note, this is my last week of classes as a Cal Poly student and that means my last week attending Minna no Anime regularly. I’ve been with this club over four years, ever since my first week as a freshman. I’ve made so many great friends here and I have so many memories of good times. Sure, my world’s not going to end, but it might be a little bit sadder without Minna no Anime in it. I’m going to miss it so much.

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SPECIAL VIDEO REVIEW!

Um, so. I don’t really know how to do videos and I’m a horrible speaker. It is more obvious when I do a recording of myself. You can tell how nervous I sound in this… o_o

But we had to do a video for one of my classes and this is what happened. I didn’t really know it was going to be so poor in quality though, I am kind of disappointed in that. (And in iMovie for not letting me do various things.) My apologies for that… I still have to get the hang of this taking video thing.

Um… Enjoy and remember that I didn’t go into broadcast journalism for VERY GOOD REASONS.

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Webcomics: Making comics a social medium

Webcomics are a wonderful thing.

I’m sure many many people agree with me, but I have my own personal story to share first.

I started reading webcomics around 2001 or 2002. One of the first webcomics I read was Blue Zombie and I started talking to its creators, especially the artist. He and I remained friends throughout the years, even collaborating on a short-lived webcomic named Silent Journey, and helping me publish my own pathetic attempts at webcomics before I realized I much preferred writing them. In 2008, he moved to Los Angeles and started a new webcomic called Lumia’s Kingdom. We started hanging out and, eventually, dating. Now we’ve been together 10 months and I never tire of telling people about how we met through webcomics. (I would swear that I’m not just trying to plug his work here, but I AM his biggest fan.)

Comics in general have been bringing people together for a very long time, when you think about it. Political cartoons have given the people a wide-spread way to voice their opinions on political and social issues. Back in the early days of yellow journalism, Little Nemo and The Katzenjammer Kids were such reader favorites that people still only read the paper for the funnies section. During the Golden Age of Comics (late 1930s to late 1940s,) comic books became a mainstream medium that started the culture of comic books that had kids and geeks obsessed over superheroes of all sorts.

Now, comic books have become cool again and entered the digital age. Webcomics are becoming an industry, one which even my boyfriend is beginning to look into in order to make money. Now, not only do my friends and I talk about our favorite comics, but our favorite webcomics and how much time we “waste” reading them. Webcomics are accesible, entertaining and able to bring people together.

The creators of webcomics use a wide variety of tools to bring in readers and help keep their current readers close to them. A large number of webcomic artists, at least the ones I read, use Twitter or have a blog I can follow. Only a few of them are at the level where they can support themselves with the webcomic’s income alone, but clearly they are able to do it.

Multiplex, a webcomic I’m currently following, recently started a donation drive to cover the printing costs of a book edition. Gordon McAlpin, the creator, navigated the process gracefully by offering some very nice incentives in order to get people to donate. When the project started, he was a little wary that it wouldn’t make his goal in time, but now he’s almost $3,000 over the original goal with 23 days to go. And get this: so far less than 250 people have donated over $10,000.

There are a number of other webcomics that do similar things, although most just have stores hawking t-shirts or advertisements on the site. Girls With Slingshots creator Danielle Corsetto used Twitter to get help from her readers and friends on design decisions for her new book releases. (She’s already onto publishing books 3 and 4 of her webcomic, so she already knows her readers will buy her books, unlike McAlpin.)

More importantly, it’s just fun to see what the artists are doing via Twitter and being there when they post the next day’s webcomic up. It makes them accessible in a way I would have never thought possible when I was 14 and just starting my obsession with comic books in general. Now, it’s like second nature to find and follow my favorite webcomic creators on Twitter. It gets me, the reader, much closer to the comic without the creators making much more content.

Webcomic Overlook’s Top Ten Webcomics of the Decade -A great place to get started reading some great webcomics that I haven’t mentioned here.

xkcd – A witty comics for intelligent nerds, which has a nice L.A. Times blog story written about its first book’s success.

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