Thank you to everyone who commented – quite intelligently – on yesterday’s post. The incoherent rants are almost never in reaction to posts like that, they tend to be very series-focused. I don’t think I have to explain why. ^_^
Since I ended yesterday’s “discussion” (by which I mean, “genteel rant”) with an admission that what I look for in Yuri is stories of lesbian experience, it seemed logical to me to jump in to today’s review with examples thereof.
As I also mentioned in a comment to one of the comments, the desire I had to read Yuri that reflected lesbian life and love was one of the motivating factors in creating ALC Publishing. And it continues to be one of the reasons that we focus on doujinshi artists who are out there creating really excellent lesbian narratives that are not likely to be found in mainstream manga.
When I started this year’s Yuri Monogatari Project, I thought, initially, that I might do the book with a “West and East” approach – have the English language stories read left to right until halfway in the book, then ask the reader to flip to the back and start reading right to left for the Japanese translations. But. Because we market Yuri Monogatari to a G/L/B/T market, as well as to the manga market, I thought that that might be asking too much of my non-otaku readers. (What do you think? Is it something that you’d like or not? Comments? Thoughts?) So I ended up just going with a left-to-right format. This means we have to flip the Japanese pages. Because we have to do that, I have become quite good at flipping things in a way that does not lose the original flow. It’s a complex process to explain, but it works.
In any case, I’m going to split the next review up into two posts, in recognition of that original idea. Today, I’ll give you a sneak peek at the stories contributed by Western artists, just over one-half the stories in the book. ^_^
To start us off today, we have “Vagrants,” by Jessie B., a wacky look at life on the retail job side. This story never fails to make me laugh. We’ve all had those kinds of jobs, where the job description, “customer relations manager,” and the job “clean the bathroom,” don’t jibe. Jessie’s story takes a look at two admittedly off-kilter people (who I would definitely have over for lunch) and their attempts at finding the right position for themselves. It’s a light-hearted, yet deeply snarky look at the world of non-office job hunting. And yes, love.
Niki Smith’s “Your Hair” is a frank look at the end of a relationship. The chiaroscuro contrast of the art really sets off the contrast between the two characters’ perspectives on what is going on. (Much as the sharp black and whites of June Kim’s 12 Days did.) When I say that Yuri Monogatari tells stories of “lesbian life and love” I am constantly reminded by the artists that this cannot only mean happily-ever-afters. Niki’s story, with its sharp art and sharp message is a unique perspective on this brutal, but not uncommon, fact of life.
Now that I am old, it always makes me happy to see stories about other old ladies. ^_^ That’s not true – I always liked the older couple love stories, even when I was younger. In fact, several of the first “lesbian” novels I can remember reading were stories of older women. Perhaps that’s why I’m terribly excited to be able to include Holly Hume’s “Emmeline’s Cruise” in this volume. This is not just a story about an older woman, but a story about freedom, about creating a new life and about how learning who one truly is, can take a lifetime. This story has a bunch of my personal “hooks,” but the thing I like best about it is Emmeline’s tendency to panic over little things. It makes her seem very real.
Susan Knowles’ “Rapunzel” is notable for several things: her reinterpretation of more than just one old, familiar story; and the fact that her protagonist looks like a real high school student, instead of one of the unrealistically stylish and adult-looking characters we’re used to. In fact, “Rapunzel” probably wouldn’t work at all if the main focus was on an adult character. It’s a story about bringing darkness into the light, and has the kind of ending we can all be happy about…until we think about it twice. ^_^
“Umbrella” continues Althea Keaton’s series of mood pieces. In direct contrast to Niki’s story of a relationship dying, with Althea’s usual focus on body language and tone, rather than action or setting, “Umbrella” feels a bit like watching a phoenix rising from the ashes of the past.
The next story pretty much violated two of my main rules for the “Yuri Monogatari” series – no schoolgirls and no coming out stories. Of *course* we’re going to have both in the series, but I try to avoid them on principle, because both have been done to death. In “Love Won” Sirk Tani puts an interesting spin on both of these tropes and, I think, has come up with a unique angle for the story – and some food for thought, as well.
Last up for the “West” side is returning artist Lilyshield, with her take on fantasy and the supernatural and love between women. Lily’s art has a distinctly Gothic quality and this story just fits it perfectly.
So, there you go – those are the stories that were written originally in English, specifically for this book. For my next post I’ll give you a glimpse of the six Japanese artists we’ve got lined up – and I’m positive you’ll be as excited as I am to see the finished product! ^_^
Pre-orders for Yuri Monogatari 5 are currently available on the Yuricon shop, at your local comic shop through the August Diamond Previews, through you local chain bookstore through Diamond and on Amazon.com!