Sunday, September 14, 2014

MISC. MANGA, *Dramacon

Probably the most successful of Tokyo Pop's American manga lineup was this 3-volume series of graphic novels by Svetlana Chmakova, most might remember her from her work in Cosmopolitan, her webcomic Chasing Rainbows, and her series of Nightschool from Yen Press. Recently, she's been doing the "manga" adaptations of the Witch And Wizard novels. This sold well in the States and overseas, mostly because it focused on the otaku culture in general, but also how it affects the lives of its fans inside and outside of conventions.

The series is broken up into one year for each volume, all at the same convention, and using most of the same characters. The first year has webcomic writer Christie going to her first anime con with Derek, her comic artist and boyfriend. Throughout the convention, she meets Matt, a cosplayer who constantly wears sunglasses, although she learns that he has them on to cover his missing eye. Christie and Matt end up falling for each other while she has a falling out with Derek after he sexually assaults her, which admittedly seems a little forced onto the reader to accept. The second year sees Christie returning to the convention with her new artist Bethany, and reuniting with Matt after not having the courage to speak to him since the last con. Matt has found a new girlfriend since then named Emily that he brings with him and his trendy sister. Bethany meets with some of the officials from the "Mangapop" publishing company who want to hire her on as an artist, but she declines until she gets some more schooling done. Matt eventually breaks up with Emily, and he Christie promise to meet up again at the next con. The third year has Bethany having to confront her overbearing mother showing up at the con demanding she look for a real career and not as a comic artist, plus having her artist alley neighbor Raj finally build up the courage to ask her out. Christie meanwhile makes her first failed attempt at her own cosplay while hooking up with Matt after three cons.

This is a pretty essential reading for any hardcore American otaku who regularly go to conventions at least on an annual basis. Svetlana's art style and writing is deeply appealing, and worth looking into not only here but in her other works. Dramacon has been released as three separate paperbacks, plus in a hardcover "ultimate edition" that collects the entire series along with a bonus ending that totally makes it worth getting.

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