It doesn’t take a lot of industry insider knowledge to note that collaboration and crowdfunding are driving the independent comics industry these days. The number of comics anthologies coming out in the west is staggering. These are all the books that the mainstream publisher don’t have room in the budget to back, but which clearly have a space ready and waiting for them on reader’s shelves. The crowdfunding/collaboration bug hasn’t quite caught on in Japan as much, perhaps because mainstream manga publishing has a lot more room for what we consider “indie” comics and because the comic markets have created an economy that makes it relatively simple for people to self-publish, something we haven’t had in the USA until very recently.
There are some notable changes in the Japanese manga landscape. Digital publishing has taken off through Kindle, Kobo, Renta! and other sites, and online distribution has picked up on Pixiv and Note.mu. So manga artists who were formerly required to dance to the tune of a monolithic publisher’s editorial staff can now just opt out and carve out space on their own. Or fill in the gaps between work with established magazines by keeping the content coming online.
Which brings me to today’s review. The inaugural issue of Galette is a fascinating combination of all of these factors. Folks who work together on magazines, who sell near each other at comic markets got together to create a collaborative “mook.” They crowdfunded it online, and are publishing and selling it online and at shows.
The names associated with Galette are (at least to readers of this blog) legendary. Amano Shuninta, Takemiya Jin, Momono Moto, Hakamada Mera, Yotsuhara Furiko, Otomo Megane, Otsu Hiyori. If these names seem familiar to you, you might remember that they were among the line-up of Tsubomi magazine. And if there is a single criticism I have of Galette it is that it reads like an issue of Tsubomi magazine. Not that Tsubomi was bad. I just hoped that, away from the constricted ideal of “Yuri,” Tsubomi presented, these authors would fly. Some of them do run pretty well, but no one gets lift-off velocity. The issue also includes a number of names I’m not familiar with, urisugata, Yatosaki Haru, Yorita Miyuki, Asube Yui, and Haman Ringo, all of whom present well-constructed and well-drawn shorts. I’m going to take a stab that some of these folks are assistants of better-known artists, just from their familiar, but not identical, styles.
Most of the stories are firmly in the well-worn, comfortable groove of schoolgirl narrative. Not all, but most. And even some of these were a bit unusual and some outright challenging, so the creators must get credit for that.
Momono Moto’s opening salvo gave me some real hope, with a charmingly unrealistic encounter and a great ending that could lead to more…either on or off screen, depending if she continues it or not. Takemiya Jin’s story hit me in my soft spot for yanki girls, and almost all of the other stories were good to very good. A number of the stories really delve into the mindsets of the characters in the way that one doesn’t see too often.
What I’m hoping to see, honestly is, what happens when these excellent artists find themselves unfettered. Will any of them hit heights they only dreamed of, or is tales of young women in love what they really wanted to tell all along? I guess we’ll find out. ^_^
Thanks to Paul on the FB group, we know know that Galette, Volume 1 is available on US Kindle as well! It’s still in Japanese, but you can get the digital version on non-JP Kindle. That’s all kind of awesome.
Art – 9 This is some of the best work I’ve seen from everyone in this book
Story- 8 Variable, but good.
Characters – 7 Variable, some of whom are really weird. ^_^
Service – 2 Surprisingly little, now that I think about it.
Yuri – 10
Overall – 8
Volume 2 is already available and sitting on my to-read pile. I hope this mook series is industry-changing. I really do.
Last year at MoCCA, creators who contributed to Power & Magic put together a map of where they’d all be at the event, so you could get as many signatures as possible. At TCAF, there was a secret – I have no idea why it was secret, and how secret could it have been, really? – map of people selling Yuri on Ice! doujinshi. I think it would be really cool for the folks who contributed to Galette to post a map of their locations at Comitia or Comiket so you could stamp rally the signatures.
Today’s review is for Jin, who has been patiently waiting for me to get around to it. ^_^