Hello, Manga Bookshelf readers!
There’s been a lot of discussion recently regarding various comics sites and what they do, actually, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to talk about that, plus a bit about what’s going on right now and where the hell I’ve been lately.
I’ll begin with the latter. I’m sure you’ve all noticed that I’ve been posting very seldom over the past two months. The reason is that my work life is in the midst of a monumental upheaval, which has left me little time for writing of any kind. Fortunately, though this will certainly persist through the end of the year, come 2014, things will be different. Very different. This difference is new (and a bit scary), but it will also open up my schedule somewhat, and ultimately should put me in a better position to run this site than I’ve been in for quite some time. So while the main site may appear scant at the moment, you can expect this to change over the course of the next couple of months.
Now for a bit of station identification. Despite my recent absence, the Manga Bookshelf network has been humming merrily along, thanks to the ongoing efforts of Sean, Anna, Brigid, and our newest blogger, Ash. One of the major advantages to being not so much a group blog, but rather a group of blogs, is that while I may exercise editorial authority over what appears on the main site, our bloggers have complete autonomy over their own, and their personal approaches vary greatly. I won’t presume to define any of them, but I know what I’m looking for when I browse each of their blogs.
From Sean, I expect frequent reviews and news about current manga, in a deceptively casual style from a man who has already read more manga than I’m likely to consume in my entire lifetime (mixed in with occasional discussion of Frank Zappa and Doctor Who). Anna‘s librarian instincts are always at work in her clear, straightforward (often funny) reviews and her dabbling in things like otome games… as is her unabashed addiction to romance manga. Also a librarian, Ash puts his organized, deeply eloquent mind to work on regular reviews, weekly roundups, and “random musings” ranging from things such as Mahjong Manga to Queer Theory. And, of course, Brigid can be counted on to provide links to whatever is going on in the manga blogosphere.
As for me, I will admit to being less interested in writing straight-out reviews or news posts, and more likely to indulge myself in other types of discussion, like long-winded roundtables on favorite manga series (Basara, Tokyo Babylon, Wild Adapter, Banana Fish, and so on), essays on female-aimed fanservice, feminism, and women’s manga, personal musings of many kinds, and of course my most beloved Off the Shelf column co-written with Michelle Smith. Michelle’s blog has been quiet lately, too, but the two of us will always be back with our mix of short reviews, themed columns, and leisurely looks at longer series ranging from classic shoujo (Moon Child) to recent girls’ manhwa (Chocolat), from long-running shounen (Fullmetal Alchemist) to beloved josei (Paradise Kiss), to titles that push the boundaries of several categories at once (Loveless).
Add a group of regular columnists in North America and across the globe, and it becomes pretty difficult to define us. Sometimes we’re critics. Occasionally we’re journalists. We’re always fans. Demographically, we’re a lot like you. So, though our writing may not fit neatly into popular definitions of any of the above, we hope this means that we’re doing right by you.
Thanks to everyone who has followed Manga Bookshelf over the past six years, for your loyal readership and your thoughtful comments. I look forward to seeing more of you in 2014!