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Love More Comics [May. 21st, 2006|12:22 am]
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I started reading Loveless because I got it for free at the ALA meet waaaaay back in January. And I just . . . I just can't. It's the cat ears. It could be a really good story, and the art is very pretty, but a bunch of people walking around with ears on their heads totally weirds me out, making the story feel surreal and difficult to believe. I really, really tried because I keep hearing girls rant and rave about it, but . . . no. Just . . . no. I'm just way too far outside of it's target audience.

In fact, I can't seem to get into any new manga lately, for that matter. Except for Nana and Tramps Like Us, and I'm still trying to finish collecting Buddha and Eagle. My money is spent entirely on the new OEL TP produces (I've yet to get attached to any Seven Seas titles, unfortunately, though they're perfectly well written and illustrated) and works from mostly American artists and writers I admire. And it not's because I'm one of them. Far from it, because there are plenty I don't like as well! It's just . . . the stories have had a lot more appeal to me lately. When I was a teen, I was infatuated with Japan as well as manga; it was distant, dreamy, and easy to idealize. But I think as I grow up I find myself becoming more interested in things I feel I can relate to. I've been through more experiences now at 24, than I did at 16. The kind of stuff I love now, I probably would have hated as a teen because I never knew what was reality and what wasn't. I was into Sailor Moon and Magic Knights Rayearth where I could dream and envision myself in a world and circumstances far, far away. Now I prefer books like Boys of Summer, Carnet de Voyage, and Peach Fuzz, all graphic novels that have a certain harsh reality to them beneath the pretty surface.

But I digress. As to the real reason I pick up so many OEL lately (and no, this is not an advertisement ^_~ ) is because I like the uniquely Western perspective, and I like the style of writing, especially from many of the female creators. Lindsay Cibos, Queenie Chan, Svetlana Chmakova, Amy Reeder Hadley, Joanna Estep, and Ashly Raiti (who wouldn't be complete without Irene Flores) aren't just friends, they're also some of my favorite writers in the comics industry. They write with a sensitivity and perspective that's so difficult to find. There's a certain . . . preference . . . for the harsher realities in the graphic novel trade, and these women bring forth a much more subtle voice that I personally love and appreciate. I love the works of Will Eisner, Terry Moore, and some of Frank Miller, but I can't relate to their stories like I can to these female writers and artists.

And it's not a sexist thing. It's just the simple fact that girls know girls and boys know boys, but we'll never entirely know each other. That's why it's so important that the female voice continue to grow in comics, graphic novels, and all forms of sequential art. Not just for more female creators, but more female readers as well--a demographic that is honestly, still greatly lacking. But I don't want to segregate, but rather to grow and integrate. To bring in a more diverse audience as well as diverse creators! What's out there now is certainly good, and at times divine, but it really could be even better, bigger, and heck of a lot broader. (haha. I made a pun.)

ANYway, I don't know why I'm ranting except that it's been heartening to see similiar sentiments lately echoed by Heidi over at "The Beat" and Johanna at "Comics Worth Reading" who've been, by far, some of the most supportive and vocal about the female creators they love and appreciate. The girls don't want to take over the boy's club. We just want our OWN damn club with secret handshakes, passcodes, meetings . . . the works. ^_~

If you're a girl out there, reading this, who has her own stories to say: create! If you have books and people you appreciate: speak up! If you feel like you have an opinion: don't be afraid to talk about it to others. Not only do I want to create my own stories, but I hell as sure want to read more of your stories as well.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: chubbychee
2006-05-20 11:37 pm (UTC)

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it's no rant.
you're speaking the truth.
I wish there was more variety in american comics.
[User Picture]From: argentsoma
2006-05-20 11:43 pm (UTC)

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Heh, and here I thought you were talking about this Loveless, which just so happens to be quite the intense Western with amazing artwork to rival the writing.

Anyways, personally I wasn't so much into Carnet De Voyage, and not that it didn't display a great story, it just fell flat with me. Eagle on the other hand is, to me, one of the most amazing reads I've ever had the pleasure to partake. I've purchased all five GNs, and picked up his Secret Service series as well. Amazing work indeed.

I may not be a female, and I can't say I identify on the same level as y'all do with female writers/artists. I can definitely say that though those artists/writers have more than helped to open up many a perspective. I take a look at Colleen Doran, Chynna Clugston & Hope Larson as some of my all time favorite female writers in the comics industry. I've learned a lot from them, and I've also learned that my girlfriend loves their work too :)


If I may, I have two reccomendations, and maybe you've already hit these up. But they're well worth the $$. Spiral Bound and True Story, Swear to God Those two are without a doubt, Comics Worth Reading.
[User Picture]From: pinkchan
2006-05-21 12:02 am (UTC)

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Yeah...it's like there's a hole right inbetween magical girls and drug dealing. And bored apathetic postgrad indy comics and high school romance quadrangles. TIME FOR A NEW NICHE GUYS!

PERFECT SOLUTION: make Felipe Smith a shoujo story hero. It'll have the gritty taste of real life on LA streets.....WITH SHOUJO BUBBLES.



Ai Yazawa DJ Milky stole my idea. :(

No this isn't an excuse to use that picture again.
[User Picture]From: goldfishhead
2006-05-21 11:57 am (UTC)

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well thats....just eerie.
[User Picture]From: teh_uglykitten
2006-05-21 12:23 am (UTC)

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I shall do my best, Ms. Rivkah, to make the stories that you will want to read, too. As if my stories will ever get there. ^^; Oh, well, I can dream.
From: (Anonymous)
2006-05-21 01:23 am (UTC)

Aya & Jalila

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This is a great analysis - well done!

Can I bring to your attention AK Comics of Egypt who produce 'Middle East Heroes' which has just started being distributed through Diamond.

AK Comics is the only comic book company that has a written equal opportunities policy for its heroes and villains (it's true!)

www.akcomics.com
www.ak-comics.blogspot.com

Win a year's subscription by designing a new team of Middle East Heroes and sending your entry to akcomicsuk@aol.com

Remember that half the team must be female.
[User Picture]From: emmav
2006-05-21 04:44 am (UTC)

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lol - yup - trying hard ^_^ *salute*
It's totally true. I'm reading more and more OEL because true 'manga' is not gripping me any more....there are a few titles I still love, but on the whole, it's hard to get my teeth into something new.
Most of Sweatdrop are female actually...have you checked any of our catalogue out?
[User Picture]From: trecomics
2006-05-21 05:05 am (UTC)

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Back when I was a teen, it was so easy to collect "OEL" stuff because all I really had was a book of Previews and the direct market. I still have boxes of small press comics, graphic novels and the like in storage.

Nowadays, there's just SO much of it that I feel I have to/can be choosy now. I can't get every single one, though I'd like to. But that's what makes it great, I think, it's becoming more mainstream, there's something for everyone, it's harder to pinpoint if it's "OEL" or not.
From: ex_homestar577
2006-05-21 06:50 am (UTC)

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I have all of Eagle, that I bought from bigbigtruck a while ago. Perhaps we can arrange a trade of some sort? ^_^
[User Picture]From: ali_wildgoose
2006-05-21 07:15 am (UTC)

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I'm not sure what you have/haven't looked at so far, but one comic I've really been enjoying lately is Genshiken, released by Del Rey. It's not as....hmm, significant?....as Eagle or Buddha, but it's well-written, down-to-earth, and very funny. Less frenetic than many manga titles can be.
[User Picture]From: ali_wildgoose
2006-05-21 07:22 am (UTC)

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Also, as my icon reminds me, <href="http://www.viz.com/products/products.php?series_id=79">Hikaru no Go</a> is an old favorite of mine. After watching the anime series (which is insanely long, but fantastically addictive) I started reading the original manga series, and I adore it. The art is gorgeous, but more importantly the characters are very real and relate-able, and though their struggles may seem trivial to some (my boss, for instance, can't get over the fact that the series is essentially about a board game) it's quite gripping in it's own way. It also drove my friends and I to learn how to play go, though very very badly. ;}

And come to think of it, if you don't mind a sometimes violent edge your work reading, Monster is excellent. Well-researched, surprisingly soft-spoken, thoroughly engrossing.
[User Picture]From: ali_wildgoose
2006-05-21 07:23 am (UTC)

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Arg...apologies for messing up the link code..-_-
[User Picture]From: bigbigtruck
2006-05-21 03:48 pm (UTC)

oops, not logged in

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Genshiken is awesome.

A lot of folks are recommending Loveless to me, but I can't get over the idea that it looks like Gravitation (ugh) with cat ears.

I can get past cat ears, but not animal heads. (Couldn't read Hepcats for that reason, even though it had a fine story.)
[User Picture]From: violetjimjams
2006-05-21 08:03 am (UTC)

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I know what you mean about the "harsh reality" etc, etc in manga. I only recently started really getting into manga (about a year ago), and my first real exposure was Dramacon (Svet is god). I can't stand manga OR animes that are pure fluff or have no point, especially ones with no realism. Oh, sure, I like my never-gonna-happen titles like Wallflower by Tomoko Hayakawa, but I prefer Confidential Confessions stories with realistic situations. Dramacon really impressed me in that the threat of rape was included without turning the story into a complete drama. I have yet to find a copy of Steady Beat (*grumblegrumble*) which bugs me beacuse that's right up my alley.
[User Picture]From: goldfishhead
2006-05-21 11:56 am (UTC)

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Hello!

So, I found you through the other OEL mangaka ljs, and I've just been quietly reading it for a bit now. Uhm, anyways, I'm in the procces of interveiwing as many of you OEL mangaka as I can, for intended academic publication. Anyways, you were schedualed for round two of invitations to participate. So far Felipe, Bettina, the boys at Psudome, and Len Lee have signed up. I couldn't help but notice that this post touches on alot of the questions I was planning on asking. I'm not asking you to join up yet (I dont want to dump the whole explanation shpeil onto your lj), but for now, would you mind if I saved this post, as a refereance if I ever do get to interveiw you?

Teri
From: rawrstezeee
2006-05-21 12:52 pm (UTC)

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XD Gah why do you always have to write the most inspiring comments hahahha. Just for that I'm making a character in your honor ifIeverbloodyfinishmystory. <3 Peace out
[User Picture]From: lynxgriffin
2006-05-21 01:42 pm (UTC)

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She speaks truth yet again!

And...I'm taking it as an excuse to get back to drawing! XD
[User Picture]From: crowhen
2006-05-21 04:40 pm (UTC)

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I found your journal entry through Comics Worth Reading.

I am very surprised to hear these sentiments coming from someone like you. I honestly was under the impression that I was the only manga-esque comicker who felt that way. (Guess I need to get out more, huh?)

I grew up with Sailor Moon, too. I went through the whole Japanese study and idolization phase. I started drawing comics with big sparkly eyes. Only, as I grew older, my obsession with Japan waned and dissipated. But, my artwork kept going. I find it hard to stay interested in Japanese comics anymore. They seem irrelevant to my inherently western life.

I still draw and self-publish comics and my style and methods are markedly influenced by Japan, but the stories aren't about pretty, magical girls with amazing powers. They are no longer flecked with broken Japanese. For about five or seven years I have been making comics from my heart, comics about things I've felt personally not by proxy through another culture. And, you know what? A lot of girls who are the age I was when my eye was first caught by Sailor Moon love them just as much as I loved that series :) I think that bodes well.

Hopefully there will be more good comics from western creators in the future. I hope, I hope hope hope, that there isn't some sort of icky comic/manga bubble that will pop and leave us no better off than we were in the '90s. I really want to see change com from all this. I want to see comics blossom.

There is hope. We must all keep working hard and moving forward, and we must encourage others to stretch their comicking wings as well.

That was a lovely post. Thank you for sharing it. I will share it with others.
[User Picture]From: klawzie
2006-05-22 03:06 pm (UTC)

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Hee. Well, I like kitty ears. :33 Like I said to ActionJackal the other day, as long as the cat-ears make sense, yay! When they don't, I'm all, "bwuh?" (But, granted, my main fandom is "SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron" and a majority of my OCs are kittypeople so....)

Anyway! Yes, I'm plugging along trying to get my uniquely Western-Female voice heard. ;) I'll even be practicing comics more often than I used to. Maybe the 'bug' will bite me more firmly than it has in the past.

I think what's neat about the typical Western Female is, for the most part, we aren't told to put ourselves in neat little labled boxes. (We may be asked to, but there really isn't so much of a culture of really pressuring you to fit into one of a handful of boxes. And if there is - we seem to at least have more boxes to choose from than it seems the Eastern Female gets...)

I think that's why I'm so excited about the OEL lines and when I search for new manga, I lean more towards wanting to start with a new OEL than a new manwhua or manga or ma;f;adlka....

Yay for rambling.
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[User Picture]From: lilrivkah
2006-05-22 08:49 pm (UTC)

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Thanks, Queenie! While I'd like SBT to be a longer series, I have a wrap-up for four volumes in case I get burnt out on it or decide I need to move on to something else. But yeah, it's kinda scary how much story these characters have in my head, Leah especially, who I see as growing up throughout the series. But we'll see . . . I've been feeling a little restricted lately, but that may change once I hit the next volume.
[User Picture]From: sairong
2006-05-23 05:15 am (UTC)

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I've been lurking around, reading your journal, but this is the first time I've felt the need to reply. I've loved reading comics for a long time, and all kinds comics, even super-heros. The enjoyment I got from comics made me want to be a comic book writer when I grew up. Yet all the writers and artists that I admired were male. It made it seem like my dream was impossible, or at least very unlikely and weird. Then I got into manga, where a vast majority of creators were female, which gave me hope at first. But manga comes from a culture where female creators are the norm. The new wave of OEL manga is really heartening for me, as it shows that, yeah, of course girls can make comics.
So thank-you for your post and for Steady Beat. Currently I'm working on two different comics: http://randomplay.smackjeeves.com, a collection of short stories that I write and draw, and http://dreamsanddragons.smackjeeves.com, a fantasy story that I write as part of an artist/writer team. Please check them out!
[User Picture]From: giftofamber
2006-06-21 10:23 pm (UTC)

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9 volumes sounds wonderful to me. :-) Of course, I'm sure I'd like whatever new story you'd decide to write next.....tough choices.

I'm a bit embarrassed to say I was very anti-American-manga until I read Steady Beat. Thank you so much for all the time and effort it takes to make it.
From: (Anonymous)
2007-10-04 02:51 pm (UTC)

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Hey lilrivkah,

Great entry! :D You are right.. we should create our stories.. but we should also make them real..because boys don't make up those things.. they actually live those.. I know this because I have a brother.. and I'm used to these kind of stuff.. Also, I spend most of my time with boys .. I prefer them to girls. That's for sure!

Take care