Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Guest Post: GLBT Manga

Today we welcome Ninefly from Story on a Page to the GLBT Reading blog! She's here to talk about GLBT Manga, as a resource for this month's mini-challenge. Thanks Ninefly!

I'm sure many people have by now heard of the term "manga" or Japanese "comics". Series like Naruto, Bleach, and One Piece are the most popular, both in Japan and overseas. What many people may not be familiar with is the GIGANTIC (and flaunted) market for GLBTQ manga, made up of a combination of original series and pastiche/fan comics drawn for a particular pairing in an otherwise non-GLBTQ series (ex. Sasuke/Naruto). As a seasoned fan (lol) of such works, I would like to take the chance to introduce a variety of artists I've personally loved reading from. I will link to online reading sites for those who want to try things out first, as well as purchasing links so you can support the artists.

Manga are a little different from American comics in a few ways: they are mostly grayscale, feature rather intricate art, and are read from right to left. Manga are usually written and drawn by the same person, such that collaborations like Death Note are somewhat rare occurrences. Manga also feature a crapload more dialogue than the comics I've read before, maybe because Japanese characters are smaller/ more compact.
Now, a few terms to define; I won't elaborate on these terms much, but feel free to wiki them for details:
- manga = comic
- mangaka = comic artist
- doujinshi = fan comic
- yaoi / shonen-ai = boys love/gay romance
- yuri / shojo-ai = girls love/lesbian romance
Of course, I should also point out that manga feature prominently Japanese characters with Japanese customs, formalities, and complexions. Most good scanlators (fan scan-translators) offer "translator notes" for those less knowledgeable in the culture, but I'm not sure how official English publishers deal with the cultural differences.

Original GLBTQ works have their own publishers in magazines like ZeroSum (for younger audiences) and Biblio (for a more adult audience). In North America, noticeable GLBTQ manga publishers include DMP (Digital Manga Publishing), DramaQueen, and TokyoPop's BLU imprint (more here).
There are conventions every year in Japan where "doujinshi" (or fan comics) gather to sell their self-published works, and these fan comics are so overwhelmingly full of GLBTQ content, that the two have become semi-synonymous. I'm not familiar with doujinshi redistribution in North America since the doujinshi artists are technically working with copyrighted material, but members-only forums like AarinFantasy have a wide collection of "free" English fan-translated doujinshi (careful not to sell or redistribute on public forums though since it's not entirely legit).

And finally, recommendations! I will list them with the proper warnings whenever possible, as a lot of them can be a bit smutty lol

I would like to point out that the majority of GLBTQ material is made up of gay themes, and written mostly by women. That may lend to the fact that a lot of the men in these series are rather feminine, but I've tried to include a few series with androgynous and masculine men as well.

mangaka: Sumomo Yumeka
specialty: gorgeous art, slice-of-life, fluffy, young adult

♥ Same Cell Organism - the love story between two high school friends, Nakagawa and Yokota, who try to sort out their feelings as graduation draws near. Also includes: The Letter in the Attic, To Make an Angel and We Selfish Two. (warnings: just kissing)
read online or buy at Amazon
♥ The Day I Became a Butterfly - the fluffy romance between two isolated teens, Uka who is suffering from disease, and Mimi a boy who claims to hear people's deaths. Also contains: You at the End, Tokyo Alien Ulala and Planet Yours. Blue Cat is an arguably lesbian story, and there are some hetero couples too. (warnings: mild sexual themes)
read online or buy at Amazon

mangaka: Shiho Sugiura
specialty: humor, fantasy, ensemble characters, intricate plot, young adult

♥ Silver Diamond - Rakan, an orphan with great affinity with plants, meets Chigusa, a mysterious warrior who falls wounded and unconscious in his garden; with shamelessness and borderline stalker-puppy behaviour, the man convinces Rakan to come with him to save his dying world (warnings: just kissing)
read online or buy at Amazon (vol1)
♥ The Ice-Cold Demon's Tale - an orphan boy with a fatal disease, Ishuca, meets the fearsome demon Blood in the cave where he had gone to die; Blood, waiting centuries for the person who can weep the purest tear, slowly falls in love with the fearless and gentle Ishuca (warnings: mild sexual themes)
read online (no English publisher yet)

mangaka: Saika Kunieda
specialty: humor, slice of life, social angst, adult

♥ Future Lovers - science teacher Kenta has just been dumped by his wife-to-be when he gets into a drunken one-night-stand with a beautiful man; the next morning, he finds out the man is Akira, the new art teacher at his school; smut, angst, and a heartwarming romance ensue (warnings: sexual themes)
⇒ vol 1: read online or buy at Amazon
⇒ vol 2: read online or buy at Amazon

mangaka: Kaori Yuki
specialty: gothic art, dark/craziness, tragedy, adult

♥ Boys Next Door - Adrian is a hallucinating serial killer, Lawrence is a prostitute for his brother's club, their love is twisted and heartwrenching (warnings: violence and sex)
read online or buy at Amazon
♥ Cain Saga+Godchild - the young Earl Cain is looking for answers to his family's dark past, and aided by his most trusted butler Riff, he takes on solving the most brutal and twisted crimes of London; Cain and Riff never kiss or have sex, but their love for each other is never questioned, even to the bittersweet end (warnings: violence and sexual themes)
⇒ Cain Saga: read online or buy at Amazon (vol1)
⇒ Godchild: read online or buy at Amazon (vol1)

For more yaoi series to read online, check out this link.

As I've said before, there's a very small market for lesbian themes compared to the gay themes, but I've found a few series here.

mangaka: Miyabi Fujieda

♥ The Caged Miko and the Whimsical Witch - Letty the witch casually frees Tsumugi the miko/priestess from a spell binding her to her temple, but she doesn't expect Tsumugi to want her to "take responsibility" (warnings: just kissing)
read online (no English publisher yet)

mangaka: Milk Morinaga

♥ Girl Friends - after the shy and bookish Mari is approached by popular Akko, they become best friends; but as they grow closer, Mari's feelings are becoming less than platonic (warnings: mild sexual themes)
read online (no English publisher yet)

For more yuri series to read online, check out this link.

There are quite a few gender-bending doujinshi (where one male character from an official series is turned into a girl, or vice versa), but less original series. These are the ones I've tried before:

mangaka: Mikiyo Tsuda

♥ The Day of Revolution - when Kei finds out that he is actually a girl, she "restarts" her life with a new identity as Megumi; but when her male friends find out, despite her trying to hide it, they all decide to start hitting on her! (warnings: just kissing)
read online or buy at Amazon (vol1)

mangaka: Setona Mizushiro

♥ After School Nightmare - Mashiro has been keeping a secret: he's neither fully male nor fully female; when his school enforces a new policy that mandates students to participate in "shared nightmare" therapy, Mashiro's secret is in danger of getting out, even as two classmates, a boy and a girl, start to show interest in him (warnings: sexual themes, craziness)
read online or buy at Amazon (vol1)

A note of warning for those who want to search for their own series: a lot of adult GLBTQ manga/doujinshi is rather smutty and borders on pr0n, so please heed any warnings you see. Usually you can judge the smut level by the covers though lol. Fell free to email me at ninefly(at)gmail(dot)com if you would like more specific recommendations =)

Friday, March 12, 2010

News: Prom cancelled because of a lesbian couple

I want to take a quick break from our scheduled posts to put up a news article that is completely outrageous. In Mississippi, a school district has cancelled their junior/senior prom because one girl wanted to bring her girlfriend with her. The district says they hope private citizens will hold a prom for the juniors and seniors instead - who wants to bet that private citizen will ban the two lesbians from attending? The district is now, of course, facing a lawsuit.

The worst thing about this, to me, is that the school actually issued a memorandum that said all prom dates must be of the opposite sex. They also told the girl that she was not allowed to wear a tuxedo to prom - only boys are allowed to wear tuxedoes.

This is completely unacceptable, and it shows just how prevalent prejudice towards the GLBT community still is. I'm not sure exactly what we call can do about this case in specific - though you might take an example from JT at Bibliofreakblog's response to the matter - but I know I'm outraged and I encourage you guys to take a firm stance against prejudice of this kind. This shows me once again just how important is what we do here at this blog.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Guest Post: LGBTQ Graphic Novels

Today's guest post is from Nymeth at Things Mean a Lot. Welcome, Nymeth, and thank you so much for your thoughts!

I'm a fan of comics and graphic novels, and I also have an interest in LGBTQ literature. But when Amanda asked me to write a guest post with suggestions of books that fit both categories, I drew a blank. The reason is probably the same reasons why the average reader will have trouble coming up with a list of LGBTQ titles when asked: in a heteranormative world, these books just aren't as visible.

Thanks goodness for google. I did some research, and here's a list of what I came up with. Most of these are books I've yet to read myself, but at least that means I'm doing damage to my own wishlist along with yours.

GLBTQ Comics

  • Fun Home by Alison Bechdel - this one I have read, as have most of you, I'll bet. But I didn't want to leave it out just because it's an obvious choice. Fun Home is a darkly humorous memoir about Bechdel's childhood and young adulthood, and about her conflicted relationship with her father. Like Bechdel herself, her father was gay, but the only way they ever talked about it was indirectly, through the books they both loved.

  • The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For, also by Alison Bechdel - a "best of" of Bechdel's ongoing comic strip about a group of friends, many of whom fit the GLBTQ category.

  • Skim by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki - another well-known title, I know, but I thought I'd get those out of the way first. Skim is the story of a teen who comes to terms with her own sexuality - among, of course, many other things.

  • Tough Love by Abby Denson - a manga-style comic about Brian, a shy gay teen who is beginning to discover love.

  • Stuck Rubber Baby by Howard Cruse - set during the Civil Rights Movement, this is a story about the consequences of racism and homophobia in a Southern community.

  • Death: The Time of Your Life by Neil Gaiman - this is one of my all-time favourite graphic novels. It's a Sandman spin-off, but you certainly don't need to have read the main series to enjoy it. The main characters, Foxglove and Hazel, are a lesbian couple who have to face a difficult choice. And more than that I cannot say.

  • 12 Days by June Kim - This book sounds absolutely beautiful and very touching. I really need to get my hands on it soon. The protagonist, Jackie, is trying to deal with her ex-lover's death, and decides to consume her ashes over a period of twelve-days. That sounds a little odd, I know, but something about it strikes me as so very human. Perhaps it's how well it conveys the irrationality of grief.

  • Pedro and Me by Judd Winnick - Another well-known title in the blogosphere, but I still thought it was worth drawing attention to. It's the true story of the friendship between Judd and Pedro Zamora, a HIV-positive and gay young man who devoted the final years of his life to battling stereotypes about both gay people and people with AIDS.

  • Locas by Jaime Hernandez - I adore Gilbert Hernandez, but have yet to read his brother's work. Both Hernandez brothers have been praised for the depth of their characterization, and I look forward to getting my hands on this book about two young lesbian Latina punk-rockers.

  • Awkward and Definition: The High School Comic Chronicles by Ariel Schrag - A high-school memoir by a lesbian teen, covering the many familiar coming-of-age themes, as well as her struggle with her sexual orientation.

  • Jane's World by Paige Braddock - An ongoing series that sounds a little bit like Bechdel's Dykes to Watch Out For - not that it's not very much its own thing. The world needs more comics about the lives of lesbian women, not fewer. And when more of them exist and get mainstream attention, perhaps we'll stop comparing them.

  • The Runaways by Brian K. Vaughan - a series about six teens who discover their parents are super-villains and decide to run away from home, which includes GLBTQ main characters (which are NOT the aforementioned super-villains, by the way).
That's all I've got - do you have any suggestions to add? If so, I'd love to hear them.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Resource list for GLBT Graphic Novels

Andrea from The Little Bookworm brought this link to my attention and I thought I'd put it up for all of you since our mini-challenge this month deals with GLBT Graphic Novels. I also added this link to our Resources page.

19 GLBT-related Graphic Novels

I hope this helps! Thanks again, Andrea!

Monday, March 1, 2010

March Mini-Challenge

First, I need to announce the winner of the February mini-challenge. Random.org has chosen......

#15 - Karen from Gig Harbor High School Library!

Congratulations, Karen! Take a look at the prize bucket and send me an email (address is in the sidebar) with your choice and address.

The March mini-challenge here at the Challenge That Dare Not Speak Its Name is actually a crossover challenge! We're working with the dear hosts of the Graphic Novel Challenge this month, and this challenge actually counts towards both!

The challenge: Read a graphic novel with GLBT themes or that is written by/adapted from a GLBT author.

Don't know any? You're not alone. Soon, we will have a guest post or two on the subject that will hopefully give you some ideas, so keep an eye on the blog!

So what next?

Once you read one of these graphic novels, leave a link to your post in the Mr. Linky. I will draw two winners (since this counts towards two challenges) of all participants at the beginning of next month. Both winners will be able to pick from the prize bucket.

Mini-challenges are, of course, totally optional. :)

**Note: This particular mini-challenge is open to anyone. You don't need to participate in the GLBT Challenge to participate here.