After a lengthy (and unintentional) hiatus, I’m pleased to report that Show Us Your Stuff is back with our first-ever international guest. Please help me welcome Gemini, who hails from the French city of Lyon. Though American readers may own many of the same manga as Gemini, they’ll also spot a few titles that have yet to be licensed for English-speaking audiences such as Ashita no Joe and Saint Young Men. His advice to frustrated otaku like me? Learn French! — Katherine Dacey
My name is Gemini, and I’m a French guy living in Lyon. When I was little, there was a lot of anime broadcast in France on a TV show named Le Club Dorothée; I think that the popularity of manga in my country is due to Dorothée, and I discovered manga thanks to that show. I read a lot of manga, but I’m also into French and American comic books, and I spend most of my remaining spare time watching movies. In fact, I couldn’t focus on only one of these activities; I need to read and to see different things.
How long have you been collecting manga? What was the first manga you bought?
I’ve read comic books since the age of 4. Only French ones at the beginning, but I started reading American ones when I was 10. Somebody offered me a manga in the nineties, but I can’t remember who or when exactly; I do remember that it was a volume of Dragon Ball, however. I really started collecting manga in 2001, when I bought my first volume of Saint Seiya, which was my favorite anime in Le Club Dorothée.
How big is your collection?
Today, I have 1,891 volumes of manga, including my art books. I buy only the series I like, and I always want to read my volumes again, so I rarely sell my manga. As a result, it’s very complicated to store all my books…
What is the rarest item in your collection?
Since I’ve been buying manga for a long time, I have a lot of volumes that are out-of-print. Some of them were second-hand when I bought them, so they were already a little bit rare. (I don’t buy used books if I can find the same ones new.)
The rarest items in my collection? I’d have to say Tsukasa Hojo‘s series, which are quite rare in France because they were published by different companies. Ten years ago, the rights to his manga were purchased by a new company. Though the company released such well-known series like Angel Heart and Cat’s Eye, they haven’t released shorter titles such as Rash!! or Komorebi no Moto de. Tsukasa Hojo has a lot of fans in France, so the few titles that were published are now very rare, and are quite expensive. But I managed to find them all, so I think that they’re the rarest manga I own. Editor’s note: Tsukasa Hojo is best known to English-speaking readers as the author of City Hunter, which was licensed by Gutsoon Entertainment but never completed.
What is the weirdest item in your collection?
I bought Tokyo Mew Mew a La Mode. I’m a boy, so that’s obviously weird!
How has your taste in manga evolved since you started your collection?
I don’t think that it’s evolved, it’s just that I know my own taste better every day. For example, I really like manga from the seventies or the eighties; that was just natural when I started reading manga, because they were readily available, but now they don’t sell well and become rarer and rarer. It wasn’t until I had difficulty finding older titles that I realized just how important they were to me.
Who are your favorite comic artists?
My favorite one is Osamu Tezuka. He was a true genius. But I have a lot of “favorite” artists: Leiji Matsumoto, Wataru Yoshizumi, Go Nagai, Riyoko Ikeda, and Tsukasa Hojo. As you can see, I’m really into “old” manga.
What series are you actively collecting right now?
You know, France is the country — just after Japan, of course — where manga sells the most. In 2011, 1,520 new volumes of manga were published. So there are a lot of series available, and I collect many of them, including Afterschool Charisma, Ame nochi Hare, Ashita no Joe, Bleach, Break Blade, Captain Tsubasa, Dr. Slump, Drifters, Highschool of the Dead, Hikari no Densetsu, Hokuto no Ken, Hunter x Hunter, K-On!, Ouran High School Host Club, Sabu to Ichi, Saint Seiya G, Saint Seiya The Lost Canvas, Saint Young Men, Shi Ki, The Legend of Kamui, Vinland Saga, and Yotsuba&!.
Do you have any tips for fellow collectors (e.g. how to organize a collection, where to find rare books, where to score the best deals on new manga)?
You should learn French, it’s easier than Japanese and we have a lot of different manga!
Show Us Your Stuff is a regular column in which readers share pictures of their manga collections and discuss their favorite series. If you’d like to see your manga library featured here, please send me an email.