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?