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Weekly Geeks 2010-19: Getting Graphic

I first became aware of the term "graphic novel" a few years ago. I thought it meant novels that are, well, graphic in the sense of violence or sex. (I’m a little slow on the uptake sometimes!) My first introduction to a graphic novel/memoir was Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home. (Some of you may know her as the amazing author of Dykes to Watch Out For in all its iterations.) I was enthralled with Fun Home’s story, the illustrations, the form. Since then I’ve read several more graphic memoirs and some graphic novels. A particular favorite author is Shaun Tan, author of The Arrival, Tales from Outer Suburbia and others.
Do you read graphic novels or memoirs? Who are your favorite authors? Which books do you recommend?
If you haven’t read any, why not?
Some people have the impression that graphic novels are glorified comic books, are unsophisticated or don’t qualify as "serious" literature. What do you think? If you track your book numbers, do you count a graphic novel as a book read?

No, I don’t read graphic novels.

I gave them a try, but found I didn’t like them at all. I tried yaoi; God, that was confusing and so not my thing. I blogged about that here.

My husband reads a lot of graphic novels and told me when the first Anita Blake book “Guilty Pleasures” came out as a graphic novel. Another shot, another failure. I hated the art work, I hated how the images in my head were not like the ones in the book.

I suppose it would be different if it was an original novel and not an adaptation, but as far as I’m concerned the less images in a fiction book, the better.

To see what other weekly Geeks have to say about graphic novels, go here.

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Fake vol.1 by Sanami Matoh

Blurb: Ryo and Dee, two of New York City’s finest, are called in to investigate the activities of some two bit street punk. The operation goes south rather quickly when Dee is kidnapped and Ryo must put all of his skill and training to the test to get his partner back in one piece. Their partnership is on the line as electrified emotions raise questions within them that are hard to ignore.

My thoughts: I think I got it now. Manga is not for me. On amazon I read this: “Hugely popular in Japan, especially among teenage girls, gay manga is making its way to these shores courtesy of TOKYOPOP…”. I’m not a teenage girl, maybe that’s it. But maybe it’s just me.

I chose this manga, because the plot sounded like something I would have read otherwise as well, so I figured it would be a safe read. I was wrong. I’m still in the first third of the book, and I really have no idea what is going on. I’m looking at the pages and read the dialogue without getting a thing. It’s like when you’re reading a book and you’re so tired that you recognize the letters, but don’t understand the sense and you go over the same page five times without being the wiser. Same here, just that I’m not tired at all. People pop up in panels that haven’t been in the last and I have no idea where they came from (or who the heck they are). Emotions are bubbling up in a panel that weren’t there in the last and I have no idea how they built up. Action is being expressed with “bang” and “boom” and what not. I couldn’t connect to it at all. The straw that broke the camel’s back was a panel in which Dee said something to the effect of that they’re going to leave dealing with something to the police. Well, considering that Dee and Ryo ARE the police that plan didn’t really make sense to me. So I quit.

I’m not saying manga is bad, that this manga is bad or anything. It’s just that obviously this genre is not mine. But I can live with that and I’m sure there are enough teenage girls out there for the manga industry to thrive without my financial support.

Available at amazon

Image of Kyoto International Manga Museum by kiyoshi.be at flickr

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Manga: It’s not love at first sight

A few days ago I blogged about my plans to get acquainted with manga. Well, my swap partner is the slowest one ever and “Fake” still hasn’t arrived. I’m pretty pissed off about that, because if I want something I want it now. However, I went and got another one from the same site but another swap partner. “Boys Love” by Kaim Tachibana arrived on Saturday and I finished it yesterday. All in all it took me about two hours or so to go through it. When looking for the book on amazon I just realized that it hasn’t been released in the US yet, which I find incredible. Usually over here we get everything months and years after the US, so this is surprising. I added the link to German amazon so you can have a look at it there.

I understand the manga has been created after the film “Boys Love” which must have been a huge success.

The blurb: Magazine editor Mamiya meets popular high school model Noeru Kisaragi for a story Mamiya’s working on. When Noeru suddenly tries to go down on Mamiya and makes sexual advances at him, Mamiya turns him down flat. But Mamiya’s loneliness starts to get to him and he decides to try starting over with Noeru on equal footing.

I have no idea whether this was a typical manga, since it was my first one. I don’t know whether how it was done is what they usually are like or not. So I can’t judge it and say this was well or not well done. It’s unknown territory for me.

The reading in a different direction was no problem, I got used to it quickly and it felt not strange at all. What I didn’t get was the jumping around between scenes. One second you were at one place, the next you were at another, then a flashback. I found it hard to keep track of what was going on at any given moment. Thank God the three main characters looked different from each other (short hair, long hair, glasses), otherwise I would have been at a total loss.

Before I got it I read some reviews on amazon and they all went on about what deep love story with lots of emotions and in a gentle atmosphere this was. Don’t know about you but if a guy comes on to another guy in a toilet stall and wants to give him a blow job after having met him for ten minutes, I don’t see the deep emotions. The falling in love over the course of the book must have happened so subtly that I didn’t realize it had happened. It seems I need to have it spelled out for me so I recognize it. Sad, happy, in love or full of hate, the characters always looked the same. Just looking at a few black and white drawings doesn’t do it for me, obviously.

The end was frustrating. I heard that in the film they both died and a lot of reviewers of the book said they had cried their hearts out at the end. So I assumed the worst (not that it mattered to me, I hadn’t formed any sort of bond with Mamiya and Noeru), and was pleasantly surprised. I have no idea whether Noeru died or not. One minute he was dying, Mamiya said something about calling an ambulance and the next page had them sitting at a beach. Is this a dream? Is this reality? I can’t tell.

Maybe I’m too inexperienced with manga to realize what was going on. Maybe I’m not in the right target group (I’d have no problem to bet on this). Maybe manga is not for me. I’m willing to give it another try with “Fake” and then I’ll see. It’s by another author and artist, so it should be different – I hope.

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A shot at manga

Picture by Peat Bakke at flick'r So far I’ve never read comics, but my husband does. I always browse around in the manga section of our local comic shop (because they look so cute), but never bought anything. I rather make up pictures in my own head instead of reading a picture story.

My only experience with comics at all in the past was “Guilty Pleasures” and that was a total disappointment. I mean, I hate Anita Blake anyway, so why I bothered in the first place I don’t know. Then the artist did it all wrong, people didn’t look like I imagined them, too many curls, it just didn’t feel right.

Then I heard about Marvel’s Pride & Prejudice coming out. Sounds nice enough, but look at the sisters! Bloody hell! What were they thinking? The all look like they are on drugs. Jane looks like a right bitch. I don’t think so.

Recently I saw on Elisa Rolle’s LJ her reviews of Yaoi and I thought, maybe there is more to manga than I thought, :-). To cut a long story short, I found some Yaoi that sounded interesting enough on a swap site. The first one I’m going to get is Fake (v.1) by Sanami Matoh. It sounds like a story I’d read in novel format, so it might be quite enjoyable – I hope. On the other hand I might be totally wrong and find out that manga isn’t my genre after all. I’ll see.