I’m guessing that at least a few of you readers are fans of manga. For those of you not in the know, â€œmangaâ€ is the Japanese term for comics, so manga is…comics…from Japan.
Okay, that explanation didn’t take as long as I thought. I’d better talk a little about what makes manga different from the comics we get in America. For starters, they read backwards; you go right-to-left instead of left-to-right. For another, they’re much more quickly produced: the usual schedule for American comics is 22-24 pages every month, but manga artists might draw twice as many pages, or even more. (Generally, though, manga pages are simpler than American comics pages, and manga artists have a staff of several assistants helping them.)
But the biggest, and probably most important difference, is that manga has a lot more genres. (If you weren’t paying attention in English class, â€œgenreâ€ is what kind of story it is: romance, sci-fi, comedy, tragedy, etc.) Walk into any comic store in the United States and you’re going to see one genre above all others: superheroes. You know, the guys in ridiculous tights (and the women in more ridiculous tights) fighting for truth, justice, and all that stuff. But in manga, you can find all sorts of genres. You want romance? Easy. You want fantasy? Also easy. You want action-drama-comedy with giant robots exploding out of a dude’s forehead and a space alien on a flying scooter? No problem. There’s all kinds of stories in all kinds of genres in manga.
Like I said, manga with genres like romance and fantasy are easy to find. So in this post, I’m going to look at three lesser-known genres and the manga within them that you might enjoy.
The human-demon political-relationship action-comedy genre
Suzuhito Yasuda’s series Yozakura Quartet takes place in the town of Sakurashin, where humans and demons (â€œyokaiâ€) live side by side, thanks to the Seven Pillars that exist in both the human world and the yokai world and can act as a conduit between them. Four teenagers, each with special powers (some of them from their yokai heritage, some of them from other sources), one of whom is also the mayor, help protect the city and keep human-yokai relationships from deteriorating. Continue reading The Many Genres of Manga
I love zombies & I’m proud to be an Undeadhead. Some of my favorite films are Night of the Living Dead (1968), 28 Days Later and Zombieland. Why are zombies to popular right now?
Maybe it’s a backlash against vamps. I’m a fan of vampires too but zombies are more accessible somehow. Ordinary people can be extras as zombies in movies, but professional actors always get the vampire roles. Many great characters from comics and graphic novels have been adapted for films and TV and zombies are no exception. Robert Kirkman’s excellent zombie comic series The Walking Dead has been developed into a fantastic series on AMC. I’m psyched that the series has been so good and gotten such good ratings. I’m only sorry that the series was only 6 episodes and now that they’re over I have to wait until next year for season two. Entertainment Weekly (12.3.10) said The Walking Dead is the Best New Show on TV. I agree. EW (12.3.10) quotes Frank Darabont, the filmmaker who developed the series, saying, â€œWe’re not in a rush for the Walking Dead to die anytime soonâ€ and I’m not either.
If you’re a teen’s who’s watched and liked the series and want something to read to tide you over until it’s on again, there are quite a few good zombie books out right now. Continue reading Zombies: The New Vamps?
I present to you one reader’s best contemporary YA titles for 2010. These are books teens are actually reading by the way. I see these titles check out regularly at my library. I hate to say it, but Will Grayson, Will Grayson? It has barely circulated three times. These titles are a little girl heavy but several of them will work just as well for guy readers. And if anything this list will encourage me to seek out more guy-centric contemporary YA reads.
Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson. This is my favorite book of 2010 hands down. It is a road trip story with a little romance, a lot of heartache and a great trip throughout the country. Teens will easily relate to Roger’s girl troubles while they will be pulled into Amy’s story of sadness over her father’s death. Postcards, receipts, and definitely the most amazing road trip play lists ever created grace the pages of this story along with the main narrative. This one is for music fans, teens who love a romance with drama, and who need a grand adventure. I guarantee this is going to be a hit.
Not That Kind of Girl by Siobhan Vivian. This book actually made Kirkus’s 2010 Best Books for Teens and with great reason. This story is intelligent, sad, and above all, plays so well into the drama that encompasses high school life. Natalie has always felt a bit different from her classmates and it shows on the pages. Here is a teen dedicated to her education, to getting ahead. Most librarians know teens like this and they will immediately empathize with her. She may be book smart but has a lot to learn about human emotions. Natalie is an amazing protagonist for female teen readers. She is strong, vulnerable, smart as hell, but yet manages to be the every girl. There is a lot to discuss and appreciate.
A Blue so Dark by Holly Schindler. Mental illness. More teens than I can name deal with this topic with their families, and even themselves, on a daily basis. Holly Schindler delicately balances the harsh realities of schizophrenia with everyday tasks. Aura must go to school. She loves art but yet fears it. She has a crush on a boy but that does not fit into a world of schizophrenia. Her isolation leaps off the pages, as does her care of her mother. Teens today are unfortunately put in that caretaker position too often and this book definitely showcases how difficult that role can be for teenagers. Heart wrenching certainly but this book will do well with teens who need to see themselves in someone else, know they aren’t alone. It is a powerful book, short enough to hold attention and pull you into Aura’s life. Continue reading Contemporary Fiction of 2010: A Reader’s List
On 11/24/10, Gayle Forman posted on the NPR web site a short list of what she considers â€œthe year’s best teen reads.â€ Her list stayed away from fantasy or popular â€œdark romanceâ€ books and focused on â€œjust real people in real situations with real emotions that we all can relate to.â€ Seeing her list, of course, compelled me to think back on my year of reading. What were my favorite discoveries in 2010? What trends did I see in my own choices? And what have others noted as their recent favorites and/or â€œbest ofâ€ picks from 2010?
Just a small sampling of some interesting recommendations/lists you may want to check out in addition to Gayle Forman’s list (as noted above):
â€œYALSA’s Teens’ Top Ten (2010)â€ (Following this link will also lead you to a wealth of other lists recommended by YALSA â€“ just look to the left of the page for the other available menu options/listsâ€¦)
What were some of MY favorite reads/discoveries from 2010 (and some not-so favorites)?