Apologies for the late posting — yesterday was very hectic! This week’s featured collector is Morgan, a.k.a. ZepysGirl, a manga lover whose tastes run the gamut from CLAMP to Akira Toriyama. She attributes the size of her impressive library to her nose for deals; as she explains below, she rarely spends more than $5.40 on a volume of manga, even though she usually buys her books new or slightly used. Read on for her excellent shopping and organizational tips! – Katherine Dacey
Hi! I’m Morgan, aka ZepysGirl, and this is my manga collection. I’m a senior in college, planning to graduate soon and enter the industry. I’m kind of “in it” already: I work as a typesetter for the Digital Manga Guild group Purple Prose Killers. I would really love to spend all of my days surrounded by manga, and that’s reflected in my room. When we moved into this house, I declared that I would have a “Manga Wall” — and now I have two! My favorite genres are definitely fantasy and comedy, and I tend to skew more toward shojo than anything else.
How long have you been collecting manga?
I’ve been collecting since near the end of my freshman year in high school, so that would make it spring of 2005. So, about seven years! And everyone thought I would grow out of it…
What was the first manga you bought?
I was somewhere online when I came across a picture of the main characters from DN Angel. I couldn’t get the picture or the name out of my head, so I went on the hunt. At that point in time, I had no idea what manga or even anime was (I knew I liked Digimon, but had no idea it came from Japan. The search for DN Angel led me to a Waldenbooks, where I found a whole wall of manga! I bought up everything of DN Angel that was out at the time, then started moving through other series. I was so cute in those days; for a while, I honestly believed the only place you could buy manga was Waldenbooks!
There’s something ironic about the first series I ever started being one of the ones least likely to actually finish here any time soon…
How big is your collection?
I’m over 2,000 volumes; I’m edging into the territory where I just say “a lot” whenever people ask me.
What is the rarest item in your collection?
I tend to avoid looking up my out-of-print series on Amazon, but it’s probably a volume from one of those. I’d rather not know how expensive a book is on the secondary market, because I have no intention of selling any of them. The ones I like, I want to keep. Oh, and it’s not manga, but the “rarest” item is probably an art book I have for RG Veda. It’s a really nice hardcover book — complete with obi! — and it’s all in Japanese. I looked it up on Amazon once and it was going for $80. I bought it at a Half Price Books for $20!
What is the weirdest item in your collection?
Probably my German edition of Wild Rock. I honestly didn’t know it was German when I ordered it (you have to watch out for that with The Book Depository), and so the first time I opened it was quite a shock. A hilarious shock. I can’t even be annoyed with myself, it’s so entertaining.
How has your taste in manga evolved since you started your collection?
Not much. The series that I loved when I was younger are still some of my favorites now. One thing I have noticed, though, is that I tend to be more discriminating when deciding whether or not to continue/pick up a series (I know it might not seem like it, but it’s true!). A big factor of this is that I know my own tastes better now, and I’ve broken myself of the “But I already have the first volume… maybe it gets better!” mindset. Back in the beginning, I was buying almost at random because I was in love with the medium. Nowadays, I know the difference between “I like it” and “it’s okay” and adjust my buying habits accordingly.
Who are your favorite comic artists?
So many! So first, the people with their own shelves: Fumi Yoshinaga (love her stories!), You Higuri (love her art!), and CLAMP (love the stories AND art!).
There’s also Matsuri Hino, Yoshihiro Togashi, Sakura Tsukuba, Julietta Suzuki, Mizuho Kusanagi, Kaori Yuki (who really should have her own shelf), Karakara Kemuri, Matsuri Akino, Natsuki Takaya, Nari Kusakawa, Bisco Hatori, Yun Koga, Kyousuke Motomi, Svetlana Chmakova, Wann, Arina Tanemura, Usamaru Furuya, and Kazuya Minekura!
Okay! I… I think that’s all of them? You can see why I end up with so much manga, when I have so many manga-ka that I like…
What series are you actively collecting right now?
Ah heck, this is going to be even longer than the last list. Get ready, y’all: 13th Boy, Air Gear, Alice in the Country of Hearts/Clover, Arata: The Legend, Arisa, Black Butler, Blue Exorcist, Bride of the Water God, Countdown 7 Days, D.Gray-man, Dawn of the Arcana, Dengeki Daisy, The Drops of God, Fairy Tail, Fushigi Yugi: Genbu Kaiden, Gate 7, Goong, Hunter x Hunter, the InuYasha VIZBIGs, Itsuwaribito, Jack Frost, Kamisama Kiss, Kekkaishi, Kimi ni Todoke, La Corda d’Oro, Loveless, Maoh: Juvenile Remix, Mardock Scramble, the Maximum Ride manga, Naruto, Natsume’s Book of Friends, Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, Oresama Teacher, Ouran High School Host Club, Pandora Hearts, Psyren, Replica, Sailor Moon, Sakura Hime, Shugo Chara Chan, Skip Beat!, Soul Eater, Tegami Bachi, Tenjo Tenge, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, The Story of Saiunkoku, Vampire Knight, and The Wallflower.
So… around 50 series? And that’s not counting the new series I’m most likely going to start (A Devil & Her Love Song, Durarara!!, etc…) or the older ones I’m finishing up (The Antique Gift Shop, Gimmick!). See, this is the main reason why I have this many manga: I like too many series!
Out of all that I’m collecting at the moment, my favorites are Skip Beat, Dengeki Daisy, and Oresama Teacher! I read new volumes of those as soon as I get them, which is unusual for me; normally I wait until I have a big chunk before diving back in. My favorite “new” series (well, new to ME) is Gimmick! — and no, that’s not Hot Gimmick. Gimmick! is the type of series that I want to throw at anyone and everyone! It’s rare that I get this in love with a series, but I am definitely in the honeymoon stage with Gimmick! I can’t even think about it critically because my brain just keeps stuttering “WOW. I did not even KNOW I wanted this!” Yes, boys and girls, read Gimmick!: it will reduce you to a blathering fangirl/fanboy in the best possible way. I dare you not to squee.
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)?
Oh gosh, I could talk forever about how to find the cheap stuff!
Finding good deals on manga is what I live for. It’s almost to the point where I’ve been thinking about asking to guest-blog somewhere about how to shop for manga. More people should know the tricks to getting $2 manga, I say! Seriously, though: I only have so many manga because I’m very good at shopping for them. My average price per volume is $4.50, so it’s no joke when I say I’d only have half of what I do if I’d paid full price. Sales and coupons are very important, young Manga Padawan.
This is entirely too abbreviated, but:
- General Organization & Deals: Amazon.com
- Used Manga: GoHastings.com (sometimes Amazon as well)
- New Manga: Right Stuf & Midtown Comics (and GoHastings, but only if there’s a book I have to have RIGHT THIS SECOND!)
- Yaoi: Akadot Retail
- Honorable Mentions: PaperbackSwap.com, The Book Depository
As far as rare books go, I’ve actually had some success finding them in physical stores, so check out your local half-price bookstore or comic shop. The comic shops ESPECIALLY because those guys never seem to realize what they have! As far as online shops go, I’ve had some luck finding OOP books at both The Book Depository and Midtown Comics.
And for organizing… there are many ways to organize, so just choose what works best for you. My manga are currently alpha-by-title, with a few exceptions. CLAMP is separate to ease lending those books out to other people. I’ve met a lot of people who have only read the popular CLAMP series and haven’t even heard of some of the shorter stuff. The yaoi is off by itself because most of them are one-shots and would get lost in the library otherwise. Oversized books get their own shelf because they simply don’t fit on half of the shelves (the wall-shelves are custom designed for normal manga size). And Fumi Yoshinaga and You Higuri only got their own space because I am severely lacking room in the over-sized bookshelf. I kind of have a shelf of what I need to read next, but that gets oft neglected and I end up reading something completely different. Also: rainbow-order looks really awesome, but you can’t find anything that way. It was short-lived.
To view Morgan’s entire album of pictures, click here.
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 follow the directions on this page.
CJ saysApril 6, 2012 at 2:41 pm
Sweet stuff! I can’t imagine where I’d keep 2000 manga, I’m in the 800 range (+a bunch of anime) and can barely find room, I’ve had to spill over to two short boxes.
I always love to see people collecting Kekkaishi, I think that’s the series I’ve been collecting the longest, it looks like a history of Viz Shonen spines right now. And they might finally finish releasing it this year, yay! I haven’t read something like the last 5 volumes, I plan to wait til I have all 35 and just re-read the whole thing (or maybe just from 13 on, I’ve read the first 12 way too many times)
I read Gimmick! recently myself (used bookstore had most of it, rest were easy to get online) and I was quite surprised by how overlooked it is, it’s an interesting subject presented in a perfectly shonen way. I shelve it with Firefighter Daigo and Planetes since all three series involve surprisingly interesting jobs.
If I had huge shelves, rainbowbetical order would be my ideal way to shelve stuff. As is, I can only do it in small segments (like the Parasyte or Phoenix spines, or part of my shojo shelves section). As is, I move stuff around so much that I have to use sticky notes to figure out what’s on the back row of my shelves. But I have this thing about how rainbowbetical stuff looks, I just love it!
I’m a bit confused on some pictures though, like, I see Fruits Basket in three pictures but in three totally different places, but I can’t imagine having 3 sets of Fruits Basket and two sets of Tower of the Future no matter how good they are.
ZepysGirl saysApril 6, 2012 at 4:14 pm
You find room for them, I guess. ^_^; I have this thing where I hate not being able to see my manga (I spend time and money on these things, I WILL display them!), so I’ve never double-stacked my shelves.
Kekkaishi is wonderful! And yes, it should finish up in December, if Viz keeps up their current pace. Sadly, I’ve only read the first 10 books or so. ^_^; I too am waiting for the end of the series before I sit down for a reread. That actually happens a lot with me—- I decide that I like a series, then get too busy to keep up with it… It makes the times when I finally get to sit down and read great, though, since it means I get big chunks of awesome all at once.
I was really surprised to find that I liked Gimmick! so much. I have the feeling that if it had been published a few years later, bloggers would have been all over it. There’s just… so much that’s RIGHT about this series, it warms my heart. xD As soon as I get the last volume I’m missing, I plan to forcefully lend it out to all of my friends.
Rainbowbetical is more trouble than it’s worth, seriously. xD It’s probably just the way I conceptualize, but I would never be able to find books like that. That picture up there is from the one time my roommate and I got bored and decided to see how it looked. It stayed like that for about a day before I had to change it back. ^_^;
Hm, I think I know what’s going on with Furuba! The first bunch of books in the first picture actually belong to one of my roommates—- she doesn’t have room in her bedroom to keep her manga, so they ended up on my “normal bookshelves” in the living room. The next two pictures are my normal set-up, and the rainbowbetical picture was a one-off thing (“Hey, this might look cool! Let’s turn part of the normal bookshelf into rainbow!”), so we still used my normal books for that. We needed to use every completed series with a solid color spine to put that together, so that picture will by necessity have doubles with my normal set-up pictures.
CJ saysApril 6, 2012 at 6:57 pm
Hmm, know what one series I don’t see on your “collecting” list or anywhere on your shelves? Twin Spica! You should really get on that with the recent news from Vertical about it. I know you mostly collect shojo and this is seinen, but I also think it’s the sort of seinen that most shojo fans would still enjoy. In case you can’t tell, I am literally using every opportunity I can to plug this series all over the internet, it’s a series everyone needs on their shelves, but once it officially goes OOP, few actually will. Once you go Vertical, you just can’t stop! Twin Spica is a series bloggers are all over and with damn good reason! Hop to it! (yay, Easter pun!)
Hope you find that Flower of Life vol 4 eventually! Another friend of mine is missing it too. I was lucky enough to discover the series where I had barely a month’s window of opportunity to order it online without hassle. One of the only times I’ve ever not ordered enough stuff on Right Stuf for free shipping (I thought it evened out since I got 1-3 for $5 each), and it was oh so worth it!
I find it easy to go “oh yeah, Firefighter Daigo has a bright yellow spine”, so putting it in a sea of yellow spines would work just fine for me. But if you tell me it’s in with the “F”s, I’d have to start from A to find them. I’m not especially good at alphabetizing. As is, my shelves are neither, I either know where it is, or I read the sticky note, one of those odd forms of organization that only works to me ad me alone. I would love to be able to display all my stuff, but there’s simply not enough room to do so, I can’t fit any more shelves down here as is, sadly. Seeing how I determined that no shelf except the one currently occupied by all the GTO would be able to hold a 35 volume series, I might be putting Kekkaishi in a short box too.
ZepysGirl saysApril 7, 2012 at 12:05 pm
I’ve watched the first episode of Twin Spica, but the thing is… I don’t like depressing stuff. ^_^; And I’ve heard from friends that it’s pretty depressing. I don’t have many Vertical titles, really. Just Drops of God and… No Longer Human? =_=; It’s only recently that they’ve started publishing stuff I want to buy.
Yeah, I didn’t get into Fumi Yoshinaga until *after* Flower of Life #4 was already really hard to find. I managed to get the first three from Akadot for about $12? So that should help when I eventually end up getting around to the 4th book… though I’m kind of hoping DMP will do a Kickstarter eventually. >_> At least that way I can get eManga points along with the book.
Alphabetizing works best for me. I don’t have to start at A each time, I just have a general feel for “The G’s are over here” and zero in. I still pretty much know where everything is without having to search it out, but this system works well for finding one-shots or other series I don’t read as much. It’s easy to find Skip Beat on the shelf, but it’d be kind of hard to find Replica. Rainbowbetical order also wouldn’t work very well for series like Wild Adapter—- there could be a thousand books in between volumes 2 & 3. xD
I saw one collection that was double stacked in a really smart way. The way she made it work was that half of a series was in front and the other half was behind, so like Red River 1-14 would be in front and then 15-28 were the “hidden” books in the back. I think that’s a really great idea, since it means that you’re never covering up entire series. There’s never a danger of you forgetting what’s back there. ^_^; If I ever need to double stack my shelves, I’ll use this method.
CJ saysApril 7, 2012 at 3:44 pm
I would only rainbowbetize by series. If a series like, say, Parasyte, has multicolored spines, I’d only rainbowbetize them by themselves and put them in a different section, I wouldn’t put the red book in with the reds and the green book in with the greens. That’s just too much hassle and impractical. I’d have another section for spines like Twin Spica’s which aren’t rainbow or all one color either (each book has one big picture for the cover which wraps around the spine), probably next to the few series I have that can raibowbetize themselves (actually, I think it’s only Parasyte as Phoenix stays with my Tezuka shrine).
Twin Spica is a sad series, but part of it is how strangely nostalgic it makes you feel. I mean, the series is about characters trying to achieve their dream about going into space, it’s more the storytelling that makes it sad rather than the subject matter (most of the time). I still think you outta check it out of the library, it’s just a series not to be missed. Then you’ll probably end up buying it anyway, and with it going OOP, best to get a head start on it.
My problem with hiding half the books is that I don’t like to split series up, I want them all in a nice neat row looking pretty. If half of them aren’t there, I’m displeased. So I simply put my favorite series in the front so that I can always see Banana Fish (because I must always see that series as it’s my favorite)
ZepysGirl saysApril 9, 2012 at 6:47 pm
Twin Spica just isn’t for me. ^_^; Especially since they came out saying it’s going out of print. The way I buy manga is pretty slow—- I wait for sales and then buy lots at once. I’m not set up to start hunting down specific volumes quickly. And I’m really not one for the slice-of-life stuff, so that’s another turnoff. Nostalgia doesn’t really hold me, unless it’s 90’s cartoons. ^_^; As great as the story could be, it’s just not a series I want to try out.
geri_chan saysApril 7, 2012 at 5:01 am
What an awesome collection—it’s great that you have an entire shelf devoted to CLAMP! ^_^ And I just had to comment to say that I love Gimmick!—it doesn’t seem to be well known, and I wish it got more love. I have a fondness for manga about showbiz, which usually focus on the performers, so it was interesting to see a series about someone who works behind the scenes instead of in front of the cameras. (I also enjoyed the humor and detective parts of the story too, of course.)
ZepysGirl saysApril 7, 2012 at 12:13 pm
I’m glad to see so many of the people in this feature love CLAMP as much as I do! ^_^ I get worried, sometimes, because it seems like it’s fashionable to hate on CLAMP now…
Gimmick! is awesome and I’m glad other people recognize it! xD I was worried I would be squee-ing into an empty room on that one. I also really love showbiz stories (I wish we got more of them), but seeing the behind-the-scenes work is just as interesting as the acting. And I really like reading manga set in America, so Kohei’s flashbacks to his apprenticeship are always fun to see. I think I just really love the *passion* clearly evident in series like these.
Aaron saysApril 7, 2012 at 1:00 pm
Wow nice Saiyuki posters and the collection get out that’s just crazy.
ZepysGirl saysApril 7, 2012 at 3:16 pm
I love the Saiyuki posters! ^_^ It’s one of my favorite series.
Well, the manga is. I don’t want to watch the anime. xD
Benny B saysApril 8, 2012 at 11:39 pm
Nice collection. Really big.
ZepysGirl saysApril 9, 2012 at 8:35 pm
Thank you. ^_^
lovelyduckie saysApril 9, 2012 at 1:11 pm
I REALLY love your setup! I have a whole room dedicated to my collection but I can’t seem to organize everything in a way that keeps manga piles off the ground!
“Out of all that I’m collecting at the moment, my favorites are Skip Beat, Dengeki Daisy, and Oresama Teacher! ”
Same, although on Dengeki I decided to wait until the end of the series and then sit down and re-read. I got to a point where I was having a hard time remembering certain details and found myself re-reading too often. From Oresama Teacher I LOOOOVE Banchou from her school best! He’s such a great character! And Skip Beat…well I could go on for days and days about that series.
I liked Gimmick! a lot, but I can’t help but immediately think of how much more I love Kindaichi Case Files!! Gimmick really was wonderful and one of the better series I own, but my heart is all for Kindaichi’s murder mysteries.
For Kekkaishi I bought the first few omnibus series they release and really liked them! So I waited around for more omnibus volumes for a while…but I don’t believe I’ll be getting anymore in Omnibus form Viz :(
ZepysGirl saysApril 9, 2012 at 8:34 pm
Organization is a constant issue for me too. @_@ It was really only just last year when I moved to this setup that I didn’t have to constantly worry about where I was going to stick new volumes. When I moved in, I estimated I had an extra 200-or-so spaces of room before I started needing to expand somewhere else—- but I’m even starting to push against that now. =_=
Dengeki always gets me with those CLIFFHANGERS! It is ridiculous! Probably the worst cliffhangers of any series I’ve read so far. xD So there’s no way I can’t run out and get the new volume as soon as possible. xD Though I can see how reading it all at once will be nice, since you won’t have to worry about those. Though I have no idea when it will be ending, so you might have to wait awhile. ^_^;
I basically love everyone in Oresama! And it’s really rare that I honestly have no idea who she’ll end up with. By now, I’m normally pretty good at picking out the love interest, but it could go any way at this point. o_o But I haven’t read volumes 6 or 7 yet, so there might be more developments I don’t know about one way or the other. I was really glad I found Oresama at the time that I did, though, since that was just about when Ouran started getting more serious in its love-plot. I need my wacky high school hijinks. :D
I’ve thought about starting Kindaichi Case Files, but isn’t it out of print? That’s the only thing stopping me now, since I’ve loved Gimmick! so much. =_= He does suspense really well. Are the books episodic? If so, I may not mind as much that it’s not finished, since I have a feeling that I’d really like that series.
I heard somewhere that most of the 3-in-1’s are just “samplers,” easy ways for new readers to get into older, long-running series. While that seems like a good idea, I really don’t think they should stop there. Maybe if sales turn out good for those, they might consider releasing more of the series that way? You should try contacting VIZ and letting them know you’d be interested in buying more omnibuses. I know a lot of people don’t like it when their collection is a mixture of regular- and omnibus-format books (looking at you, Air Gear…). Either that, or wait to see if they release a box-set when the series finishes up this winter. (Though then you’d still have doubles of the first 9 volumes… x_x)
lovelyduckie saysApril 10, 2012 at 4:17 pm
If I get impatient in Dengeki I’ll just sit down and re-read it, and wait a while again. Kindaichi Case Files is very episodic, pretty much you can buy a random volume. At the start you have a set of characters and it’s a “whodunit” storyline. There are a few re-ocurring characters, but not many besides the main two. I’d also recommend the Secret Notes of Lady Kanoko, that series has lots of fun hijinks and the heroine’s obliviousness to love reminds me of Haruhi’s (from Ouran). One warning though, only the first few volumes are available officially because it was a series Tokyopop picked up before it went out. Until it’s re-licensed I’ve been reading it online.
I’d rather own a series where all the volumes match in size, but if the volumes don’t match I can deal as long as they all read Right to Left. So I can deal with buying the rest of Kekkaishi in the normal sized manga form. Unfortunately I have one series where I’ve given up trying to find reasonably priced volumes of the 2nd edition to replace my L to R ones (Banana Fish)
ZepysGirl saysApril 11, 2012 at 12:55 am
Cool, then I think I might start trying to track down what’s out of Kindaichi. ^_^
I already have Lady Kanoko! I absolutely loved the first volume, and I bought the second even though I knew Tokyopop wasn’t finishing it. I really, really hope someone brings it back some day. I don’t read scanlations, so until I get better at Japanese, that’ll be the only way I can enjoy the story. xD
lovelyduckie saysApril 13, 2012 at 8:36 am
I buy Lady Kanoko in Japanese and try and use web sites to decipher it, if a scanlation is available I have no issues using it to help. I’m closer to learning the Japanese language than I am to being able to read it, that said I have a ways to go before I understand spoken Japanese too. I actually just bought volume 4 of her high school years yesterday :)
wacko saysAugust 7, 2012 at 4:10 pm
It is really sad there are so few options for us who lives outside the U.S. Otherwise Go hastings would probably be my home page… So cheap…