Quickie personal note – I haven’t had a lot of free reading time in the last few weeks, so my apologies for the slowdown in reviews. Next couple of months ought to speed up as I spend less time with actual people. ^_^.
In 2011, I was approached by Charles Brownstein, Exec. Director of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, which was handling more and more legal challenges to manga in schools and libraries, to edit a book for them on the topic of manga. I was working with JManga at the time and had my hands full, so I regretfully said no, but suggested the amazing Melinda Beasi, Editor-in-chief of Manga Bookshelf instead. Thankfully, Melinda said yes, and as the next few months played out, she and Charles pulled together an amazing team of manga journalists and reviewers to create CBLDF Presents Manga: Introduction, Challenges , and Best Practices. I’m immensely honored to have been a part of this project and I wanted to take a moment to talk about it with you.
The book begins with a solid, short overview of Manga, Anime, OEL/Global Manga, Manwha and Manhua by “Manga Critic,” Kate Dacey. This is followed by an extremely informative discussion on Shounen Manga written very entertainingly by Shaenon Garrity. I’ve been steeped in manga history, but both these chapters had something to teach me – a strong opening from this book.
Sean Gaffney of A Case Suitable for Treatment, also on Manga Bookshelf, handles the chapter on Shoujo manga with solid scholarship and his usual sense of the big picture, while Ed Chavez of Vertical Press brings his encyclopedic knowledge to the incredibly broad topic of Seinen Manga. Shaenon then deals with the least-familiar genre here in the West, Josei and later Boy’s Love. I was able to contribute chapters on Yuri and Doujinshi/Scanlations. The book wraps up with a detailed discussion of challenges both librarians and teachers might face in regards to manga, penned by Robin Brenner of No Flying, No Tights and Shaenon Garrity, as well as a comprehensive list of resources for defending against challenges to manga in classroom or library.
The stand-out quality of this book is that it is clearly and simply written. Anyone without the slightest background with comics or manga will be able to understand the admittedly foreign concepts presented. For readers with a familiarity with manga, there is a tremendous amount of information you may not have seen or heard before. As well-read as I am about manga, I learned quite a bit reading this book – and I really enjoyed myself reading each chapter. The slight differences in tone and handling of the material felt more like a panel at a con, than being lectured to. It’s all very approachable and personable, as are the people who contributed.
Overall – 8
This book is an important defensive weapon in the toolbelt of educators and free speech advocates. In addition, it’s a good read and solid source of history and info about manga for fans everywhere. We did good. ^_^ Purchase of this book does raise money for CBLDF to assist them with free-speech issues and defense of comics and manga, so get two copies – one for you and one for your local library!