Girls Comics Today (I’m So Jealous…)

I think I’ve always been a comic reader. I read Archie comics sporadically, and each Sunday it was of vital importance that I read every single strip in the funny pages — yes, even Doonesbury. I bought Garfield collections and started filling up a shoe box with issues of Sonic the Hedgehog and Knuckles the Echidna.

But one thing was obvious, as I started moving into more story-based things: there weren’t a lot of comics, or graphic novels, meant for girls. There were some things, like Betty and Veronica, but nothing that appealed to the other stories I loved, fantasy and adventure, or even stories that just focused so deeply on characters and their problems. No, those were in “boy” stories, in super hero comics that didn’t usually appeal to me.

20151208_101015.jpgMaybe that’s why I fell so hard into manga. The first volume of manga I ever bought was Cardcaptor Sakura, where a girl gains magical powers and fights monsters in outfits designed by her best friend. On the cover she’s decked out in pink and is surrounded by swirling ribbons. This was a story made for girls, and I was so hooked.

Fushigi Yuugi, Mars, Kodocha, Magic Knight Rayearth — manga was an embarrassment of riches when it came to girls comics, even with the limited choice available when I first started reading. And I read plenty of “boy” manga, too, Inu Yasha and Rurouni Kenshin, but even a lot of those stories seemed to have a sense of their large female audience, so saying it was a shonen (“boy”) comic really more of a category than a directive.

Flash forward to nowadays. Now there are loads of lady comic artists/writers who were reading funny pages and Archie around the same time as me, and they are making their own comics for girls. There’s Smile and Sisters by Reina Telgemeier, Cece Bell’s El Deafo, Faith Erin Hicks and Friends with Boys, and Lumberjanes, oh my goodness Lumberjanes. A bunch of girls solving ciphers and fighting monster and preventing petulant gods from taking over the world and falling in love! Even some of those super hero comics that had never appealed to me would have been amazing when I was twelve, with Unbeatable Squirrel Girl and the new Ms. Marvel. And of course, there’s more shojo manga around than I would have ever been able to read.


I’m jealous of these girls today, finding comics made for them, sitting in easy reach in the front of book stores, waiting to be checked out from their school libraries. There are so many wonderful, special things being down with comics that I didn’t even know I craved when I was a kid. So many different stories for them to devour and grow up with and remember fondly as a part of their childhoods.


Readers! Did you read comics as a kid? What did you love and collect? Are you as jealous of kids comics today as I am?

My Favorite Graphic Novels (As a Kid and Teen)

As I finished off my list of favorite graphic novels last week, I realized something: I was listing my favorite comics now, books that have meant something to me as an adult, or at least into adulthood. Even some of the ones that I think would have been important to middle school me, like Smile, did not exist then, and if there were manga series being sold in bookstores before I hit high school, I never saw them. Comics have branched into my specific tastes more and more over the years, but I always knew it was a medium for me, and I managed to find some graphic novel stories to cling to.Read More »

Graphic Novels: This One Summer, Say I Love You, and Seeing Red

I’ve been slack in my comic reading lately, which is weird for me. So, between the library and a couple of comic store trips, I’ve been trying to remedy that. Here are my thoughts on a few of the books I’ve been reading lately: This One Summer, Say I Love You, and Seeing Red.

This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki, art by Jillian Tamaki

Rose and her family are traveling to the lake this summer, like they do every year, and she’s excited to see her friend Windy, another girl a couple years younger than her. But this year things are different: her mother is depressed after failing to have another baby, her parents won’t stop fighting, and a local scandal involving a teenage girl wends it’s way through Rose’s life. All through that, she’s starting the horrible transition out of childhood.

Emotions run strong in This One Summer; Rose is bitter that her mother is so upset about not having another baby, as if she’s not enough, and this causes her to blame her mother, and all women, for the messes they get themselves and others into. As an objective adult I can see how bratty and selfish Rose is being, but I also understand that while it may be skewed this is the only way she can see to make sense of the problems around her. Her friendship with Windy get’s rocky, too, as Rose seems to force her way through growing up — taking out the scary movies to impress the boys at the general store — while Windy feels uncomfortable around the teenage boys and wants to keep making goofy jokes, even as it starts to annoy Rose. With constant tension between Rose and everyone else, and the intrigue of the local story, it’s a fast read even for a graphic novel, but Jillian’s illustrations made me pause again and again with the detail in things like the water or the trash at the teenagers’ firepit, or how she gets across whole scenes with their varying emotions often without the help of dialogue. A subtle, resonant character story that’s really everything I want out of comic. (This was a library book, but I may buy a copy for myself.)

Say I Love You Volumes 1 and 2 by Kanae Hazuki

Mei is a friendless loner, but then the handsome popular boy Yamato starts paying attention to her and things change. She gains friends, even rivals, and she starts to come out of her shell as she realizes that sometimes she can trust people and ask for help.

I’d heard great things about the anime, and also the story sounds so similar to Kimi ni Todoke, that I felt I had to check it out. The relationship certainly progresses much more quickly, as they kiss by the first chapter (it takes SO LONG for that to even start to happen in KnT). Mei’s quiet but still kind of standoffish attitude of course makes everyone hate her for being with the popular boy, and it doesn’t take long for a rival, in the form of the only girl Yamato slept with, to show up. I like the characters, and Mei’s ability to get people to understand how to interact with people (based on her experiences of everyone interacting badly with her) makes for a story that reaches beyond her own problems. But, I couldn’t get as invested as I would have hoped, partly because the story moves a little too fast. Also, Yamato, while generally sweet, is a little more forceful with Mei than I’m really comfortable with. I don’t think I’ll be compelled enough to keep up with this series.

Adventure Time: Seeing Red by Kate Leth, art by Zachary Sterling

Marceline forgot her bass at her dad’s house, so she goes back to the Nightosphere with Jake to endure a family reunion and get it back.

So, I love Adventure Time. And I love Marceline. Plus I already own the other books in this series featuring various lady characters, so I had to get this volume. Focusing on one of the bigger problems in Marcy’s life — her dad — she gets back home to find that her bass is gone, and that her dad actually stole it and sold it, sending her and Jake on a trail to get it back. Being in black in white, it’s missing all the bright candy-coated colors from the show, but the scenes are still detailed and full of varied character designs, including awesome frequent costume changes by Marceline. I like Sterling’s panel layouts, too, which are big enough to allow for the aforementioned detail and slow down the story enough to keep it from being too frenetic. The story gets a little cheeseball at the end (though that’s fine with me), with a touching scene between Marceline and her father showing that he may not understand his daughter’s motivations, but he still wants to try to make her happy. I also love the bonus story, in 4-koma style, of Lumpy Space Princess going on a quest for the hottest purse. Nice tough.


These are some of the comics I’ve been reading lately. Have you read any of these? What did you think? What other comics are you into right now?

Writing Updates: Reviews and Shorts

Let’s quit dwelling and whining for a moment and look at what’s going right.

Thanks to a new anime season, I’ve been getting a lot of episode reviews done lately. Even though I told myself I wouldn’t do it, I put my name down for two series, Wake Up, Girls! and Silver Spoon Season 2 (click the links for my most recent review). While Silver Spoon was a given since I reviewed the entire last season, Wake Up, Girls! caught my interest, and even though it’s not as good as the other show it’s been fun to analyze it each week.

Pink by Kyoko Okazaki
Pink by Kyoko Okazaki

I’ve also been getting some manga reviews done, though not as much. My most recent one is Pink by Kyoko Okazaki. This was an odd story, and I had a difficult time with the review. But, I think this might be the best one I’ve written recently, partly because I’ve been trying very hard to practice the art of Not Spoiling Anything when I write up reviews. I think I succeeded?

For writing-writing, I finished rehashing an old manuscript, and I’m letting it ferment for a little while before printing it out and doing some heavy edits (I’m also out of printer ink, so I gotta wait to get more of that, too). Meanwhile, I’ve been working on a few short stories, which range in doneness from fine tuning to a typo-ridden mess. One, a fantasy-ish story, I’ve sent out a couple times, and though it’s been rejected, I got a very encouraging personal rejection from a big fantasy magazine, which made me more happy than disappointed.

Also, my mad querying dash of the other day may have paid off. We’ll find out…

Reading Problems – Ditching My Books

I have a lot of books. I remember I used to keep track of my manga, which was up in the hundreds, and that’s not counting every other kind of book I cling to. I knew the pain of lifting boxes filled with those books when I moved with my parents into their current home, so when I moved out for good I knew I couldn’t take everything; forget that they wouldn’t have fit, I’d have died before I got them all up the stairs. For the first time, instead of ditching a couple books here or there that I wouldn’t read, I was determined to get rid of whole chunks, a significant amount. Some novels, yes, but also manga series I had never finished, would never return to. This went completely against my nerd-tendency to cling onto all the things I’d collected. But I needed a little more space and breathing room to move on with my life, so those things had to go.

Lately I’ve been piling up more books to get rid of. Some of them were review items which I had no real attachment to anyway, or cheap used books that piled up from my stint in a used bookstore. Others were novels or even some books from college days which I knew I would never read again.

Then there was my manga collection again. I’ve mostly confined my collection to one bookshelf, though it’s double stacked, and I’ve got stuff on the top as well. But there’s also stuff that has spilled over to the floor, no place for it to go. Looking through it, I’ve basically whittled it down to things I don’t think I’d get rid of: Emma is too precious, Fullmetal Alchemist still stands as one of my favorite things. If I haven’t finished the series yet, I’m still determined to, like with Hoshin Engi. There are some that I’m reviewing that I’ll likely get rid of once I get to the end, or for whatever reason cease to review, but I’m hanging on to them for now, on the unlikely chance that I need to go back to the beginning to check…something. But there are others that I’ve realized I’m never going to complete, I’m never going to reread…and they had to go.

I brought a couple of series to the library I work at yesterday, to see if the librarian in charge wanted them for the young adult shelf. She did. Which is great: they’ll have a shelf to live on, where people who want to read or reread them can take them out. But as she brought them out back to get put in the system, she passed me and said, “They’re off to get stickered, say goodbye!” And I almost said, no, stop, I changed my mind, give those back. Because even though I haven’t read them in years, they were things that have been around with me for a long time, moving to college, and home, and away again. I was clinging to them, even though I couldn’t remember the last time I’d cracked one open, or the last time I felt like I might want to. My house is too cluttered. I want clean shelves and open floors. And someday soon, we’ll move again, and if I’m going to be lugging something up and down stairs, and taking the time to find it a home on a shelf, I want it to be something I know deep down is worth it to me, not just because I used to love it, but because I love it now.

I Read Comics Too Fast

I’m a relatively fast reader. When I put my mind to it, I can get through an entire novel in a day or two, sometimes one sitting if it’s a shorter kid’s book. Unsurprisingly, I often fly through graphic novels with their low word count (a Shonen Jump volume takes me minutes, max). But sometimes I wonder, am I reading my comics too fast?Read More »

New Reviews: Kamisama Kiss volumes 10 & 11

Kamisama Kiss volume 11 by Julietta SuzukiI fell a bit behind on updating on new reviews — sorry!

Over the past week on Fandom Post two of my reviews went up: Kamisama Kiss volume 10 and Kamisama Kiss volume 11. Though I have some minor recurring issues with this series (plot, what plot?) I think it’s one of the better recent shojo manga and I’m generally filled with no small amount of delight while I read it. Check out my reviews (linked above) to see everything I had to say about them.

A new batch of books should be on its way from The Fandom Post, so I should have more reviews going up in January. New reviews for this blog will come, well, eventually.

New on Manga Bookshelf: Comic Conversion: The Infernal Devices

Infernal DevicesLast week the new installment of my Manga Bookshelf column, Comic Conversion, went up. This time I compared The Infernal Devices: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare with the graphic novel adaptation by HyeKyung Baek. I’ve enjoyed Clare’s novels in the past, so I was excited to finally take a look at this series, which is a prequel to The Mortal Instruments. I had problems with both iterations of the story, but check out the article to see which one I liked the best.

I have a few more ideas for future columns (The Last Unicorn by Peter Beagle and Uglies by Scott Westerfeld) but if you have any other suggestions, please feel free to leave them on this post or on the article itself.

Manga: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Volumes 1 & 2

I’ve heard vague recommendations for Puella Magi Madoka Magica, that really it’s good, that it’s something different, but at first I had a hard time believing it. Looking at the cover, these magical girls have the generic cute appearance, and the plot doesn’t sound too out of the ordinary. Madoka Kaname is a normal girl, nothing special about her, blah blah blah, until one day a mysterious girl named Homura shows up in her class, warning her to never wish to be different. Then a cat-like creature named Kyubey shows up, telling Madoka and her friend Sayaka that he can grant them one wish, anything they desire, in exchange for become magical girls and fighting witches.

For the first two thirds of volume 1 I felt like I was reading a cheap, if interesting, version of Cardcaptor Sakura or Sailor Moon. Then the story turns gruesome as Madoka and Sayaka witness a brutal death at the hands of a witch. The story takes even more twists as the price for the wish turns out to be steeper than Kyubey implied, and the wish itself is a monkey’s paw, sometimes bringing even more grief on the magical girl than she meant to even heal.

Throughout both volumes Madoka struggles to come up with her wish, but as time goes on Homura’s warning seems more and more like the wiser choice. Of course, you know that she’ll become a magical girl — Kyubey seems determined to get a wish from Madoka, and it would be disappointing if, in the end, she didn’t become the heroine of the story. At the end of volume 2 it’s still unclear what the deceptively cute critter’s ultimate goal is, but I’ve tossed out all my misgivings. The candy-cute covers hide a dark story, and I’m anxiously awaiting the last volume.

ISBN: 978-0-316-21387-5

ISBN: 978-0-316-21715-6

Review copies were provided by Yen Press.

New Fandom Post Review: Pokemon The Movie Manga

PokemonI’m a little late bringing this up, but my review for the Pokémon The Movie: White: Victini and Zekrom went up on the Fandom Post last week. This was adapted straight from one of the movies, which I think gives a clue as to its overall quality, but it was still an OK read. Check out my review to see exactly what I thought!