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Manga Before Flowers — Two Year Anniversary!

Yes, today marks my two year anniversary writing for Comics Should Be Good.  Instead of highlighting a few of my favorite posts that I’ve written since I started blogging here, I decided to tell the story of how I got here in the first place.

It’s actually quite simple — I pretty much got this gig because MarkAndrew and I live in the same town.  From the summer of 2007 to the summer of 2008 I worked one day a week at our local comic book shop (usually Saturday or Sunday) and MarkAndrew would often come in and somehow we’d end up having long conversations about comics and manga.  Usually manga.  Obviously, Sundays were very, very slow at the shop  and MarkAndrew was kind enough to let me go on and on about how awesome manga is.  I’m pretty sure I recommended Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service and NANA to him but for the life of me I can’t remember what else I told him to read.  Probably lots of things.  Luckily, he seemed to enjoy hearing what I had to say about manga and now whenever we randomly meet up — either at the public library or the mall parking lot (yeah, this actually happens) — he still lets me go on and on about what manga he should be reading.

Eventually, when I was still working at the store, he mentioned that the site needed a regular manga person and I decided to volunteer my services (seriously, I felt like a big weirdo doing so but MarkAndrew seemed enthusiastic about the idea).  He got me in touch with Brian, who was kind enough to invite me on board and make me feel very welcome as part of the team here.  In the beginning I was supposed to write a weekly column but as you all might have noted, I don’t do well with a regular schedule.  So now I write regular manga reviews under Danielle Leigh’s Reading Diary, try to assemble “thinky” stuff for Manga Before Flowers once in awhile, and every other month have more fun than should be legally allowed talking about NANA with Michelle Smith and Melinda Beasi.  (Also going back to glance at my old columns I discovered Michelle was here from day one, already correcting my bone-headed mistakes!  Bless you, Michelle.  I would be lost in the weeds without you).

Obviously, I’m incredibly grateful to Brian and MarkAndrew for taking a chance on a newbie blogger.  I also have to single out Michelle and Melinda for all their support and kindness.  Whenever I’m feeling burnt out or just annoyed with the eternal struggle to find time in the day to discuss the manga I love so much, I know that they will cheer and buck me up.  Seriously, I doubt I’d still be doing this if I hadn’t found such wonderful and inspiring partners in all of this.  Thanks to all the smart, funny and insightful manga and anime folks on twitter with me, including David Welsh, Katherine Dacey, Johanna Draper Carlson, Ed Sizemore, Deb Aoki, Erica Friedman, Brigid Alverson, Lori Henderson, TangognaT, Mizzelle, Ysabet, Lissa Pattillo, Rob, Lorena, and the Manga Recon Crew, including Ken, Sam, Jen and Connie. I now have two great communities to discuss my pure, pure love of manga — here at Comics Should Be Good and now with the twitter crowd.  Thanks also to all the folks on the blog — writers and readers — who have asked me questions or pushed me a little to explain my take on this whole “manga” thing.  Also thanks to the guy who posted a literal “get off my lawn” comment on my very first regular post here (after my introductory post explaining who the hell I was).  I still find that comment HILARIOUS.

Two years later and my love for manga is still going strong.  Hell, just this week I became totally obsessed with One Piece and then tried to be all smart about Monster.  However, the real game changer for me has been the development of the Viz Signature imprint.  Now on a monthly basis am I guaranteed the release of a variety of titles which speak to mature tastes and interests (including some of my favorite manga titles of all time, such as Ooku: The Inner Chambers, 20th Century Boys, Black Lagoon, and not simple).  This allows me to dip back into my old-school favorites — shojo and yaoi titles — with a fresh new perspective.  Manga in the U.S. continues to evolve and even though the economy is in the tank right now, manga still chugs along like that little engine that could.  I have confidence this comic book form won’t be going anywhere anytime soon and neither, hopefully, will I.  Anyway, if you all can stand to put up with me for a little while longer, I know I still have a lot to say about manga.  Thanks for two wonderful years!

27 Comments

I hadn’t realized you’d been here that long. Very cool. Although, as we all learned recently, MarkAndrew is kind of crazy, so maybe you just want to stay away from him!

It’s always interesting reading your recommendations, even if I haven’t dived into manga as much as you have. I mean, the kids have to eat, right? But whenever I’m thinking of gettiing into a new title, I like seeing what you’re reading to get an idea about it. I’m way too daunted by the huge manga bookshelves in the comic book store to go in without a plan!

Greg — heh. I’m still not sure what that was about and even if I asked him I’m sure he’d be coy about it.

I’m so glad my posts have helped you navigate those massive manga shelves a little! (also, what your kids want food? Next they’ll be wanting shoes on their feet!). I would always recommend checking your local library as manga tends to do well in there as a whole (MarkAndrew and I happen to live in a crazy liberal town with a library willing to spend a ton of money on GNs, manga, DVDs and CDs).

And two years goes by so fast! It is almost like i just got here, actually….although I’m no longer the new kid on the block!

I was referencing his Joe the Barbarian review, which apparently convinced several people that he’s off his rocker!

Those kids – always demanding!

Greg, oh I knew what you were referencing. I just meant I probably wouldn’t get a straight answer about that review if I asked him.

Oh, you’re right! It did make me cry!

I’m so grateful to have gotten to know you out here in the manga blogosphere! You are a gem!

Awww…I felt silly talking about this in advance but I really wanted to let you and Michelle know how much I appreciate you both! :-) (Heh. I’m totally going to introduce myself as a “gem” from now on. Melinda-approved nickname!)

[…] Congratulations to Danielle Leigh on two years of writing her Manga Before Flowers column at Comics Should Be Good. She celebrates by telling us her origin story. […]

Congrats! I’m not all big into the whole shojo thing, but when you’re writing about anything else it’s almost certain to be entertaining. Keep up the good work.

Thanks, Joe! I do try to cover manga for adults here as much as possible but I’m very fond of shojo and that is a unique part of manga culture that doesn’t quite have a counterpart in U.S. comics (so yeah, I like to blather on about shojo quite a bit as well!).

What a great post! I feel bad that in my first comment I was all correct-y, though. :)

And I certainly appreciate you both very much, too! It is so wrong that we each live so far apart.

Congratulations! Two years blogging is quite an achievement, and you’ve brought a lot of interesting manga to my attention, and doubtless many others.

Congratulations on your two years. I’ve only been reading for a year at the most (I’m not sure when I started) (I’ve only had the internet for less than a year and a half).

I only read your columns occasionally, because I don’t know much about manga and I never buy any. I do get some books from the library occasionally (but there’s only a small selection here), and sometimes I flip through Shojo Beat in the store (I haven’t read anything in it regularly since they cancelled NANA). But I do read what you say if the topic sounds interesting.

I think I probably prefer Shojo, too, though I haven’t really read much else. I keep hoping Marvel will do a blend of super-heroes with Shojo (the closest I’ve seen is dePhillipis’s and Weir’s New Mutants and New X-Men– I do like those).

Michelle — no, I think it is *awesome*. Hee…schooling me from the get go! I just think it is perfect and believe me I wouldn’t bring it up if I felt bad about it! :-)
Also how awesome would it be if we lived near each other? Oh the epic conversations we could have!

Thanks, Nitz! That makes me very happy to hear!

Mary, always glad to have another shojo-lover (or at least *appreciator*!) on board! Thanks for stopping by and commenting, I really appreciate it.

It does fly by, doesn’t it? I don’t say this often enough, but I always read your columns and appreciate what you have to say. It helps me a lot to keep up with my students, who are much more in the know about manga than I am.

Hey, congrats! I look forward to your future post (ahem, catch up on your Pluto review). :P

happy anniversary! It’s great that Cbr has this feature. I love all the manga you mentioned except one piece. I just can’t get into that. Im currently loving Pluto and Blackbird. look forward to more posts by you

I see you’ve read Nana? I LOVE that book! I’ve read all 20 volumes so far, and it’s been consistently awesome!

Also by Ai Yazawa, have you read her book Paradise Kiss? 5 volumes long. It is a masterpiece. For sure, you will not regret reading it. Excellent.

I could go on about Ai Yazawa and how she’s a comics genius. But maybe on your next Nana blog! I’m going to read the previous blogs now, since I’ve never seen them until now.

[…] Moveable Manga Feast with a thoughtful review of Sexy Voice and Robo… Danielle Leigh marks her second anniversary as a manga reviewer for Comics Should Be Good by relating a back story — hers, to be exact…  at Heart of Manga, Laura awards three […]

Congrats on two excellent years of writing and reflecting on manga — here’s to many more, here at CBR and in the academic world!

Thanks everyone for stopping by!

Greg, I’m always glad to hear that you enjoy my posts. I also really enjoy hearing about yours because of how much your love and your students’ love for comics just shines through. You always make me incredibly happy I’ve ventured into comics as an adult and sorry I didn’t get a chance to “know” the medium as a child or teenager.

David, I completely agree with you about Paradise Kiss. I think that it is absolute perfection in five volumes (I can’t believe how much story, emotion, drama, humor, etc Yazawa can fit in just those five volumes!) Hope you enjoy the NANA project discussions!

Thanks, Kate! You are always very kind! :-)

Here’s to two years and hopefully many more! :)

Finding depth in Manga must be extremely challenging…

Dirk,

No harder than trying to find something intelligent to say about Marvel of DC. Might want to check out 20th Century Boys and Pluto. You’ll be surprised by what you find.

Obviously I agree with Ed — he cites two extraordinary titles by Naoki Urasawa but there are quite a few challenging manga titles currently available in the English (including Eden: It’s an Endless World, Ooku: The Inner Chambers, Vagabond or REAL by Takehiko Inoue…I could just list quality manga titles all day but I think you get the point).

Hahaha Dirk Star.

I saw your website. Complain much?

So you really liked Avatar, huh? Talk about depth. Most mangas aren’t as overly preachy or cliched as Avatar, and usually have more subtle (and less laughable) dialogue. But you seem to like what you like, and that’s cool. :)

[…] Manga Before Flowers — Two Year Anniversary! (goodcomics.comicbookresources.com) […]

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