My Day 2 at New York Comic Con 2015 began with a panel Gay Manga, Yaoi and Yuri: LGBTQ Fantasy vs. Reality in Manga. Moderated by manga journalist Deb Aoki, it was my honor to be included as a panelist along with Christopher Butcher (founder of TCAF, book retailer and publisher), Ed Chavez, Marketing Director of Vertical Comics, and Anne Ishii of Massive.
Anne began the panel with a look at specific artists and their various forms of realism. She included a few Yuri manga artists in this, and we had a short chat on Nakamura Ching’s series GUNJO. Christopher made some amazing points about American gay comics having specifically come out of activism and how that was not true for Japanese comics, so the issue of accurate representation was not a priority in the way it was in American gay comix. Ed spoke about the complexities of finding manga that is LGBTQ and is also sellable in the west, (about which I posted a little in my Day 1 report.) He mentioned the importance of What Did You Eat Yesterday, and Christopher discussed Yoshinaga Fumi’s art and her evolution from “BL artist” to “gay manga” artist. I spoke about the popularity of moe romance in commercial Yuri, vs more realistic depictions mostly being published in media for adult women, like DaVinci magazine’s serializing Takeuchi Sachiko‘s work or Nishi UKO‘s work in Rakuen Le Paradis. And I made a point of the new surge in realistic representation in LGBTQ Comic Essays, which Anne had also mentioned.
Questions from the audience were all really good! That makes a panel great, honestly. And thanks to everyone who turned out to represent for Yuri. You folks rock. ^_^
Overall, a fantastic panel and one that really needed a two-hour discussion. Thanks to Deb, Anne, Ed and Christopher for a fabulous conversation.
This also brings me to a point I wanted to make – the one thing in which NYCC was still not fully diverse was panel moderation. They were so much better with guests than they’ve ever been, but moderation was still almost all white men. We were lucky to have Deb.
From there I headed over to IDW booth to see a friend Jennifer Hayden, whose new book The Story of My Tits is getting tremendously good press. You may remember how much I loved her previous book, Underwire. She is writing American josei work and it’s terrific, you should read it. Jennifer and I discussed her process and she said something I have heard from so *many* pro artists that I wanted to share it with you – it’s not “cheating” to figure out an easier, less time-consuming way to draw. In fact, it’s an acknowledgement that you are a pro, with deadlines to hit, rather than an amateur who needs to hand shade every line of every panel.
As I headed across the floor to Kadokawa, I encountered two of the most *amazing* things I have ever seen in my life. This is not hyperbole. I stressed yesterday that NYCC was inclusive of fandom in ways I had never seen before. Not in a uncomfortable, forced way, but in a completely organic “It’s great to be alive!” kind of way. The first thing that really put the period on this sentence was a booth for Bernina sewing machines. You know I don’t cosplay, but these programmable machines were extremely impressive. But what blew me away,was the advertising flyer for them, which is a comic about a girl who wants to take her cosplay to the next level. It was charming….and, the dealer explained, it’s a serial. Each successive flyer will tell the rest of the story. My heart grew three sizes at that. I mean, really, how lovely is that?
Then I found the Einhorn’s Epic Cookies, which are cookies that come packaged with comics about space unicorns and I thought, for a second, I loved everyone in the world. ^_^ Cookies and comics pretty much sums up my life, and the founder, Heather Einhorn, told me that that was the idea, two great things in one package.
Finally I had a chance to speak with Kadokawa about their re-launch of Book Walker Global. I’ll write up the interview separately, but for those of you not familiar with Book Walker, it’s one of the largest online bookstores in Japan, and is the largest in sales of light novels. I’ve used Book Walker a number of times, and the relaunch of Global Book Walker is going to be a very good thing. This is not a new company, they have already been doing this for some time, and they are a book store like Amazon, not a service like JManga. I encourage you to for sign up for their site and take a look around. It’s free to register, there’s no monthly fees – because it’s a bookstore, not a service – and they are doing all sorts of giveaways in this launch period. There are also free sample chapters for most of the content. Give it a try.
As I headed out of the building, I passed the Viz booth. I didn’t much care for their Sailor Moon R t-shirt design, so hadn’t picked one up on Thursday, but this time I came across Sailor Mars handing out cute two-sided posters for the series. I told her she looked great and she said she loves Sailor Mars. A few feet away, I chatted for a bit with Sailor Moon, who was adorable and enthusiastic and waxed poetic about how much she loved Usagi. Sailor Mercury looked less happy, so I just complimented her costume, then came around the other side and encountered Sailor Jupiter. I said that Makoto was my fave and she got all excited and said hers too, so I had to take a picture. We talked for a bit and I learned the most amazing thing – to be part of the voice acting tryouts for the dub, actors had to be a fan of the series. Damn, Viz, you killed this, really. So now I went around the last side to find Sailor Venus and sure enough, she was super enthusiastic and fun and we fangirled about the series and by god was that an awesome way to end my time at NYCC 2015.
I saw everyone I hoped to see, spoke to everyone I needed to speak with, had some meaningful conversations and came away with the feeling that the future of comics and manga (and Yuri!) in America is looking very bright.