Welcome to the latest installment of Show Us Your Stuff, in which manga lovers share pictures of their libraries and discuss their comic-collecting habits. Today’s featured otaku is Jade, a manga buff who describes himself as an “auteur of geeky media.” He’s also one of my toughest critics — and I mean that affectionately, as Jade has often challenged my reviews with thoughtful comments that forced me to re-examine what I’d said. Take it away, Jade!
Hi, I’m Jade. I consider myself an otaku in the sense of an auteur of geeky media: comics, genre movies and books, video games, table-top RPGs, etc. If it’s dorky, I probably have some over-bearing critical opinion about it. I feel that all these stories are a pretty earnest window into the soul of a culture, so I like to give them a deeper look than the entertainment value and find a lot of value even in some stuff that’s pretty terrible. As a result, I have a ridiculously large and eclectic manga collection.
What was the first manga you bought? How long have you been collecting manga?
The first manga I ever bought were some Battle Angel Alita floppies way back when I was about fifteen and Ranma and Alita were the only manga you were likely to find anywhere.
I slowed down a lot on comics when I became a ‘responsible’ adult, but around 21, I got back into superhero books a bit. A few years ago when I was 28, I kicked a really heavy drinking habit and suddenly I had a ton of extra money to waste on the manga collection that’s been building since.
How big is your collection?
Big. Over 1000, maybe. There’s still some books I didn’t get pictures of because I misplaced a box and just got exhausted re-arranging and shooting them all. I got rid of almost 200 books this August and that didn’t even put a dent in the collection.
What is the rarest item in your collection?
I don’t have anything worth much besides Maka Maka (for some reason) but I do have some fun stuff in there. There’s a hardcover B&N edition of Akira (vol. 1) that I love, some favorite uncommon series like 2×2 shinobuden, Dokkaida!?, Steel Fist Riku, Zombie Fairy, and Ichigeki Sacchu Hoihoi-san. I also have some Tezuka stuff friends brought me from Japan, including a short story anthology and a volume of Ninja Hattori which is one of my favorite comics though I can’t read it. The storytelling in the art is so good that you don’t even need the words.
How has your taste in manga evolved since you started your collection?
My tastes have always been an insane mixed bag like they are now. My tastes in quality terms have definitely improved, although the motorball arc in Alita is still damn good, the rest of the series doesn’t have enough cohesion to hold me now. It’s so whimsical it’s like reading Dragonball with gore and metal splattered all over it.
Otherwise, I’m definitely more aware of sexism, racism and all than when I was a kid. I used to think, it’s just a story, whatever, but now I won’t support something malicious and try to be aware of any innocent instances. I enjoy some series like Battle Athletes, it’s fun, but I’m not going to claim there’s no sexism going on in there.
What other types of comics do you read/collect?
I used to collect superhero and indie books from the US, but it’s just too expensive now and I long ago got sick of superhero franchises changing creative teams and going through that phase where the new team has to **** everything up to shock up some sales. Guys like Brian Michael Bendis and Joe Quesada base their entire career on that.
Who are your favorite comic artists?
In the west, Kurt Busiek and John Byrne make up about 3/4 of the comics I still own. Some other favs are Jim Shooter, Jim Starlin, John Romita Jr., Alan Davis, Jack Kirby (natch), Warren Ellis, Walt Simonson, and J. Michael Straczynski. For manga, it’s all the usual suspects that everybody else likes; if I get any more specific, I’ll list everyone in my collection..
What series are you actively collecting right now?
Right now, money and mental state has been pretty tight for a while, so the new Yotsuba&! will be the first manga I’ve bought in months. I was keeping up with so many that it’s hard to choose what to pair down to, so it’s been nothing for a while. Off the top of my head, Toradora and Bunny Drop are two I’d like to catch up with again. I wish there were still more crazy books like Dokkaida and Shinobuden around, not to mention Ratman, my favorite new series.