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.
CJ saysJanuary 12, 2012 at 2:07 pm
And I thought I had trouble storing abut 800 manga (well I do)! Yeah, I took German in college, but once I saw season 1 of Wakfu, I knew I should’ve taken French, then I learned that you guys have What’s Michael and Rose of Versailles over there and I knew for sure I should’ve taken French. Maybe I could try out the Rosetta Stone program, see if it actually works! I see so much more Tezuka (though I suspect Vertical is on a rampage to eventually get all of the Tezuka) and other older series that I’d love to try out! And I happen to know that Akimi Yoshida’s Yasha (and whatever its sequel is called, I forget) came out in France in their entirety, which, naturally, makes me extremely jealous as Banana Fish is my favorite series of all time. And of course Banana Fish came out over there too, it’s just win after win!
Gemini saysJanuary 12, 2012 at 4:18 pm
We have Versailles no Bara and What’s Michael, but you have Andromeda Stories, To Terra, and A Drunken Dream. I had to buy my volumes in English ; French companies don’t want to publish Moto Hagio and Keiko Takemiya in France…
Banana Fish is now quite rare in France. It was published ten years ago, and didn’t sell well. It was very difficult for me to find all the volumes.
Katherine Dacey saysJanuary 12, 2012 at 2:26 pm
Hi, Geminin! I share your fondness for seventies and eighties manga, of which there’s even less in English than there is in French. I’ve been investigating Spanish-language editions (I read Spanish better than I do German or Russian, the other languages I studied), but haven’t turned up as much as I’d hoped. I may just have to follow your advice and learn French; given my knowledge of other European languages, that seems like a more manageable project than Japanese.
Thanks again for contributing!
Sara saysJanuary 12, 2012 at 3:41 pm
In Spain, we have some good eighties manga, but just really few. Compared to France, in Spain there is very few manga published, not only ancient one’s. Furthermore, old mangas aren’t very popular here. It’s a pity.
I’m giving you a useful link were there are listed (nearly) all published mangas in Spain (just Spain, the other countries with Spanish language are not included): http://listadomanga.es/lista.php Do you know something similar for English language?
Katherine Dacey saysJanuary 12, 2012 at 3:49 pm
Good question, Sara! Let me do a little searching to see if I can find a similar list in English. If anyone reading this thread knows of such a resource, please share the link — I know there are many people who would find it useful!
Gemini saysJanuary 12, 2012 at 4:22 pm
If you want manga from the seventies, you should learn italian instead. They have a lot of old series, but it’s quite difficult to find them, because most of them are only available a short time ; when a new volume is available, the previous one disappears…
Benny B saysJanuary 12, 2012 at 2:42 pm
Great collection. I have the same taste in manga as you do: Seinen from the 70’s, 80’s & 90’s… I am jealous of all the great titles that are available in French but not in English….
Sara saysJanuary 12, 2012 at 3:06 pm
Wow… Gemini’s collection is really amazing.
Ashita no Joe, Ayako, Fruits Basket, Kamui-den, Shin Shunkaden… *-* I simply love them.
I’m also into ancient manga titles, the good ones have some kind of magic which makes them quite special.
You know? In Spain, we envy France and English countries. Even if I’ve got some volumes in English and French in my shelf, I would like to have more (but for a student and second-hand fanatic like me prices are so high U_U)… But well, I’ll think in positive: in Spain we have some marvelous mangas that haven’t been published in that languages, such as Orpheus no Mado (by Riyoko Ikeda) and Jyunanasai (by Youji Kamata & Seijii Fujii).
Katherine Dacey saysJanuary 12, 2012 at 3:38 pm
Hi, Sara! I had no idea The Windows of Orpheus is available in Spanish. I spent many years in graduate school studying Russian/Soviet culture, so I’ve always been especially curious about Orpheus. My impression is that the Russian Revolution is more window dressing than fundamental plot point in Orpheus, but it at least gives Ikeda a nifty excuse to draw gorgeous costumes and palaces.
Now to track down some volumes on amazon.es!
Daniella Orihuela-Gruber saysJanuary 12, 2012 at 4:49 pm
Really glad to see Show Us Your Stuff return as a column! And what different perspective. If only America could support a large manga market like France. If only I hadn’t forgotten all my French after kindergarten…
Katherine Dacey saysJanuary 13, 2012 at 1:37 am
Glad to hear it, Daniella! Show Us Your Stuff was a casualty of my crazy fall schedule. Now that things have calmed down again, I’m hoping to make this a weekly or bi-weekly feature at the site, as it always sparks interesting conversation!
Derek Bown saysJanuary 12, 2012 at 7:56 pm
Hmmm…I speak French, it really is a useful language for fans of comics. Because not only does France get some great manga, but their BD are pretty amazing too. There’s some really unappreciated classics out there. Especially Asterix.
So do they still have the inlet flaps on French volumes? I’ve been debating whether I want to buy series like Beelzebub in German or French. My German is considerably better, but German manga tends to be on lousy paper with lousy binding, while French manga has really nice covers.
Gemini saysJanuary 13, 2012 at 3:11 am
I don’t buy Beelzebub so I can’t really tell. But I have several manga published by the same french company, and they have the inlet flaps ; it should be the same for Beelzebub.
starsamaria saysJanuary 13, 2012 at 2:13 pm
I took French for eight years, but I’m not confident enough in my language skills to try to read manga in any language besides English. And I’m not really sure where to actually purchase French manga without paying ridiculous shipping fees. Great collection by the way – glad to see some love for Wataru Yoshizumi! I especially love Marmalade Boy, which is a really fun series.
forest_fairy_801 saysJanuary 15, 2012 at 8:11 pm
Why not give manga in French a shot if you’ve had French classes for 8 years? I only took 3 years of French in high school and then realized it’s not so hard to read French manga, even after ten years of virtually no exposure to the language. True, amazon.fr is sort of expensive, but their selection is not bad (though for some reason it takes a long time for some popular series to have a volume back in stock if you haven’t grabbed in it the first few days). Some of the used manga sellers will even ship to the States. Now if only Gemini hadn’t reminded me that I wanted to try Cat’s Eye…
Katherine Dacey saysJanuary 15, 2012 at 8:19 pm
I’d second that advice! I studied Spanish for six years, then didn’t use it for the next ten. With just a few weeks of concentrated review, I was able to recover a surprising amount of my reading ability — enough, in fact, to pass one of my graduate language exams. What I discovered is that if you can recognize parts of speech without the aid of a dictionary, you can read/translate quickly enough to enjoy the experience. Even if you read just 2-4 pages of manga a day in French, your command of the language would improve rapidly, and you’d be amazed at how quickly your practical vocabulary grew.
Estara saysJanuary 13, 2012 at 2:37 pm
Gemini, I totally agree with your suggestion of learning French. Much more likely to work for Western speakers than trying to also learn new letters with Japanese. I still get annoyed for not paying enough attention with regard to my French in school – however I didn’t know manga at the time or I would certainly have kept it up (my school days being in the 80s ^^).
Hamster428 saysJanuary 14, 2012 at 5:34 pm
I did learn French! Except my reading ability now is nearly non existent. Ah well, mark me up as another envious American.
Aaron saysJanuary 15, 2012 at 3:37 pm
Good to see this colum back finally screwed up my courage and submited an email to participate in it. (fingers crossed)