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.