I’m feeling very fannish these days, with so much going on in the manga blogosphere (and related circles) that pings those particular sensibilities. And when I’m feeling fannish, I want to link. So here’s a little linkblogging with a decidedly fannish hue.
First, I have to make some noise about the recent launch of Sparkler Monthly, a new, online magazine featuring original English-language fiction aimed at “girls and women aged 15-30, or anyone interested in the rough ballpark of Female Gaze.”
There are a number of reasons why this publication should be of interest to manga fans, not the least of which being that its publisher, Chromatic Press, boasts an editorial staff helmed by industry veterans Lillian Diaz-Przybyl, Lianne Sentar, and Rebecca Scoble. It’s no coincidence that one of the magazine’s headlining series is the continuation of Off*Beat, a particularly tragic casualty of TOKYOPOP’s ill-fated OEL manga initiative, originally edited by Diaz-Przybyl (you can read my review of Off*Beat‘s long-awaited 13th chapter here). From format to content, Sparkler Monthly is heavily modeled on Japanese-style popular fiction including manga, light novels, and Drama CDs.
Of even deeper interest to me, however, are these women’s fandom roots, evident everywhere, from their general sensibilities to their submission guidelines, which specifically include fanworks as legitimate elements of an online portfolio. Having come out of fandom myself, I’m keenly aware of both its incredible wealth of talent and its raw passion for fiction, the likes of which I’ve rarely experienced outside fandom circles. On a very basic level, Chromatic Press is My People, and that’s an undeniable draw.
The inaugural issue of Sparkler Monthly is free to read right now. Paid members have access to downloads (in multiple formats) of all new chapters in the magazine and other premium content—including online access to previous chapters of older series like Off*Beat. Though the free online reader is slick and works well, high-quality PDFs have me already feeling grateful that I decided to spring for a paid membership. The newest chapter of Off*Beat looks pretty great on my iPad.
In other fannish news, Khursten Santos is currently hosting the BL Manga Moveable Feast at her blog, Otaku Champloo. Khursten is a truly excellent MMF host, and she’s posted a large number of wonderful articles herself in addition to other Feast contributions. Some of my particular favorites include a look at the BL “New Wave” (From the looks of it, “New Wave” means “BL MJlikes.” Who knew?) and this countdown of 40 artists she deems part of “The Fujoshi Bible.” She also addresses the question of “BL” vs. “yaoi,” which I personally found quite enlightening.
I’ve always struggled a bit to reconcile my roots in slash fandom with my current interest in BL manga, as my early experiences with BL were dramatically opposed to the sensibilities I’d developed over the course of my fandom participation. But I’m glad I stuck with the genre, because it’s so much richer than I originally thought. Khursten’s Feast is particularly compelling, not just because she’s so knowledgable (she is), but also because she thoroughly embraces the genre as a whole. She’s a true fan, and that’s what makes the MMF really work, in my opinion.
Whether you’re a BL fan or not, you should be following Otaku Champloo this week. She’ll undoubtedly have something to teach you about the genre.
Michelle and I will be posting our (somewhat unorthodox) contribution later this week, so keep an eye out for that, too!
Lastly, manga fans everywhere rejoice as Deb Aoki (formerly of About.com) returns to the blogosphere with her own new website Manga Comics Manga. The site launched last month, offering the same deep industry knowledge and journalism chops Deb displayed throughout her years at About.com, but in a much less restrictive format.
Why is this news making me feel fannish? Well, it’s Deb who made me aware of a recent French interview with Hiromu Arakawa, author of Fullmetal Alchemist. And if you’re not aware of my intense love for Fullmetal Alchemist, you’re most likely a newcomer to Manga Bookshelf. Even as I’ve become less and less interested in shounen manga over the years, Fullmetal Alchemist remains an enduring favorite. It made my top ten list just a couple of years ago, and spawned a piece of jewelry that I still wear every day. Fullmetal Alchemist. It’s a thing.
In the interview, Arakawa talks about Fullmetal Alchemist, of course, and also her newest series Silver Spoon, currently running in Shogakukan’s Shonen Sunday, which sits higher on my personal license request list than nearly anything (topped maybe by Yumi Tamura’s 7 SEEDS or Fumi Yoshinaga’s What Did You Eat Yesterday?). Whatever journalistic restraint I may have acquired over the past few years (little though that may be), my feelings for Arakawa’s storytelling are undeniably fannish, as fierce and passionate as anything I ever felt during my active years on LiveJournal and its many successors. I’m a Hiromu Arakawa fangirl, and that’s the simple truth of it.
You can find a link to the full, translated interview at Manga Comics Manga. Thanks, Deb, for the heads up!
One of the things I love most about running Manga Bookshelf, is that it allows me to be both a critic and a fan, without having to draw clear lines between the two. But there’s no denying that, this week, I’ve mostly been a fan.
What’s been making you feel fannish lately?
Aaron saysAugust 6, 2013 at 11:02 am
The stream of the animeFate/kaleid liner PRISMA ILLYA and WATAMOTE ~No Matter How I Look at It, It’s You Guys Fault I’m Not Popular have really been hitting all the right buttons and I’ve been counting down the days to the release of A Centaur’s Life and Monster Musume. Also as a fan even though it’s a little depressing I now know (thanks to Seven Seas Facebook page, thanks for the fast reply:) I’m never going to get Nymphet by Kaworu Watashiya. As far as the whole BL MMF I’m not participating I tried to get into that genre and it’s just not for me.
Lee saysAugust 6, 2013 at 4:29 pm
My biggest fan moment of the week was Paul Schrader — one of the most amazing movie directors OF ALL TIME (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, American Gigolo, Mishima) —answering the question I asked on his reddit AMA yesterday. I love the internet.
Also having feelings about getting a copy of the first Embracing Love omnibus in the mail yesterday. One of the first BL manga I read and bought years ago, available again. :’D
Aaaand looking forward to my ebay guy listing the new Finder volume, coming out Saturday.
Jenn saysAugust 6, 2013 at 6:19 pm
I’ve been watching the Silver Spoon anime, and it only makes me want the manga even more. Because it is adorable! And the BL MMF has given me new titles to add to the list of Things I Want But Will Probably Never Have Unless I Learn Japanese or French.
Estara saysAugust 7, 2013 at 2:49 am
They’ve just released the final Guardians book by Meljean Brook, who thanks her editor at Berkley, Cindy Hwang, again for the fact that she had read some of her online superhero fanfiction (Batman/ Wonder Woman) and asked her to submit something original (although I think that especially her Guardian series has a vibe of superheroes versus supervillains, only with angels and demons).
Also just come out is the collection of non-fiction essays about the impact Anne McCaffrey had on various aspects of sf&f – one of them being fandom, aptly represented by author Wen Spencer, who learned her craft by writing Pern fanfiction and being really active in the fandom when she was young (actually two of the editors/writers of her Pern fanzine were to go on to be recipients of the Joseph Campbell Award at the Hugos, one of them being Wen Spencer) – and Mrs. McCaffrey having a more positive outlook on fanfiction after reading Spencer’s first three original novels.
I know personally (because I’ve followed their LJs for years and have commented there) that Martha Wells and Sherwood Smith welcome fanart and fanfiction of their work – as long as no profit is being made, etc., etc.
I’m a bit sad that the big upset with fanfiction is with all those pulled-to-publish books, the biggest successes of which so far are the Twilight wannabes like 50 Shades of Grey. And of course there has been proveable plagiarism involved in some popular fanfiction works (although I admittedly have read the 80 pages comparison link years ago and only knew the original novel beforehand – Pamela Dean’s Hidden Country Trilogy) .
Personally I love An Archive of Our Own and have enjoyed alternative endings for Little Women or small vignettes into Wren’s World or P.C. Hodgell’s Godstalker Universe a whole lot. I’m happy when we readers get new voices out of this, which we eventually can buy original work from.
The TL,DR version: fanfiction has brought cool new stuff into all kinds of genre fields, not just manga, but yay for that aspect of it, too.