You can’t please everyone… EVER

April 30, 2007

It seems that not everybody’s happy with the proposed resolution to the complaints over graphic novels in the Davis Library in the Wanganui, New Zealand (which was to move the teen section away from the holdings for children). Guess who?

Yup, concerned mother and part-time teacher Julie Gordon has expressed her discontent to the Wanganui Chronicle:

“‘I’m not happy with this outcome. If library staff want to supply that sort of book for their children then let them go and it buy it at a book store. But I don’t see why we have to have it in our library,’ she said.”

Quotes from local officials suggest that Mrs. Gordon isn’t much for process. After being told the appropriate method for questioning library holdings, she… went to the newspaper instead. As one does.

Head count

April 30, 2007

In this week’s Flipped, I take a look at one new series I liked primarily because of the art, and one that I liked kind of in spite of the art. Both series are from Del Rey, both have titles that start with the letter “p”, and both feature a strangely satisfyingly high body count.

Because a day just isn’t long enough

April 30, 2007

Dave Carter has kicked off his third annual Free Comic Book Month at Yet Another Comics Blog:

“That’s right, free comics! Each day of May I’ll pick someone to receive a free comic, taken from my personal collection: duplicates, things I have in trades, and other stuff. My goal is to match up people with a comic that they haven’t read but that they may like. My tastes are wide and varied, so chances are I’ve got a comic for you.”

It’s easy to enter and fun to read Dave’s announcements of who’s receiving what and why.

Shelf shift

April 29, 2007

The Davis Library in Wanganui, New Zealand, is putting some daylight between its holdings for children and teens, according to this article in the Chronicle.

“In a report to the [Wanganui District Council] [Cultural and Community Manager Sally] Patrick said she had made a request to the Davis library to relocate its teenage area and the graphic novel collection to an place which was clearly separated from the children’s area in order to ‘eliminate’ future confusion.

“In her recommendation to council she said that councillors should agree that the matter would be resolved once the teen area and graphic novels were moved.”

Does anyone else detect a whiff of impatience in the second part of that recommendation? I couldn’t blame her if there was.

Mayor Michael Laws seems satisfied with the resolution:

“‘In essence, this is to ensure that contentious material, available to teenagers, is located further away from the children’s section…my pick is that Council will not want to play censor but alert library management that a heightened sensitivity is in order,’ he said.”

It seems as though the books that sparked the dust-up are going to be kept in the restricted-access dungeon, and that some other similar books might join them after a second look from library staff.

Background and links to earlier articles can be found here.

And just because I can’t resist, readers can get another look at Mayor Laws’ leadership style in this article about a request from Amnesty International:

“‘They are a bunch of idiots, and I don’t respond to idiots.’”

Suddenly next fall

April 29, 2007

When I do these trawls through Diamond’s Previews catalog, I generally try and limit my focus to new series and graphic novels. Sometimes, that’s just impossible.

After over a year and a half in limbo, ADV will release a new volume of Kiyohiko Azuma’s delightful Yotsuba&! I could stop right there and be perfectly happy. (Page 217.) I won’t, obviously.

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Recommended shôjo reading

April 28, 2007

Thanks to everyone who offered some shôjo recommendations in response to a previous post. For my own convenience and future reference, I thought I would put together a list of titles mentioned in the comments thread. I’ve listed them alphabetically by number of recommendations they received.

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It’s not all ecotourism and organic lamb

April 27, 2007

The Wanganui Chronicle has a follow-up to yesterday’s piece on potentially age-inappropriate graphic novels, talking to librarian Sally Patrick. It sounds like the library is doing everything applicable regulations and good sense require and that the staff is willing to go a bit further, if necessary:

“[Patrick] said the items that [concerned parent who used a child’s library card to check out nipple-baring manga] Mrs [Julie] Gordon submitted for a ruling came back with a classification that was age-appropriate for a teenage collection if that collection is developed for 13 to 18-year-olds.

“‘What the library must then do is ensure the item is classified and access is restricted to the age groups that have been defined.’

“She said the library needed to look at the proximity of the teenage area to the children’s area and ensure that any ‘potential confusion is eliminated’.

“Books with a classification were not publicly accessible in the library and anyone wanting a book carrying an age classification would have to ask staff for it.”

Wanganui Mayor Michael Laws has also become involved:

“‘It is not a question of censoring and removing the books, so much as indicating their appropriateness for which age group,’ he said.

“Mr Laws stressed that councils should not censor reading material but that freedom needed to be counter-balanced against the right of parents to restrict reading choices for their children.

“‘Adolescent fiction has become increasingly edgy over recent years, but that should not necessarily be an excuse for younger children having access to inappropriate material. This is a good chance to debate the issue and invite further public and parental comment.’”

Aside from the fact that the library is already making conscientious efforts to shelve materials in an age-appropriate manner, Laws doesn’t sound nearly so reactionary or opportunist as some of the officials involved in the removal of Paul Gravett’s Manga: 60 Years of Japanese Comics from a California library system last year.

Reading both articles in the Chronicle, it sounds like Gordon’s objections rest more with the criteria of the Office of Film and Literature Classification than the library itself. If some of the books in question are volumes of Chobits, Tokyopop has clearly labeled them “OT: Older Teen Age 16+,” which is consistent with the R16 rating returned by the office.

And we shall rename your land “Narutopia”

April 26, 2007

From a Viz press release:

“VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media)… has announced the launch of NARUTO NATION™, a broad campaign that will bring an unprecedented increase in the frequency of publication of its wildly popular NARUTO™ manga series. In order to catch up to the present Japanese release schedule and to prepare readers for upcoming notable changes in the main character and story arc, VIZ Media will offer three new volumes of NARUTO per-month from September through December 2007 – a first for any U.S. manga publisher.”

Okay, this could mean one of two things:

  • Best-seller lists are going to be very, very boring during the third quarter of 2007, or
  • we’re about to find out just how much people like Naruto.
  • (I’ve posted the full press release at the Flipped Forum, but be warned that it seems to contain some SPOILERS for future volumes. Here’s the link.)

    I’m still considering the possible ramifications of this kind of accelerated publishing schedule, but damn… that’s a lot of Naruto in a very short span. Will audience appetite and disposable income support it?

    From the stack: Escape from “Special”

    April 26, 2007

    Melissa, the protagonist of Escape from “Special” (Fantagraphics), is an odd sort of fusion of Dawn Wiener from Welcome to the Dollhouse and Daria Morgendorffer. If Daria is the acerbic iconoclast one wishes one had been, and Dawn is the needy abuse-magnet one fears one was, Melissa is probably closer to the reality.

    She’s ill-equipped for the average school environment, outspoken and bright but miles behind other students because of time spent at an experimental school too respectful of self-esteem and self-directed learning to actually teach anyone anything. Placed first in her new public school’s remedial group, then pegged as brilliant thanks to the wonders of standardized testing, Melissa has seen the various disadvantages of being “special,” and she’d much rather be normal.

    She’s alternately repulsed by convention and frustrated by her inability to adhere to it; her disapproval isn’t a mask for jealousy so much as its uncomfortable companion. Her contempt for schoolyard social norms is genuine, but so is her sometimes scorching need to adopt them, or at least pass.

    Miss Lasko-Gross tells her story in a string of short vignettes, not all of which dwell on Melissa’s social struggles. We meet Melissa’s permissive, relentlessly positive parents, Jacqui and Tod, who take her to ashrams and on folk-band tours. There encounters with her child therapist, among my favorite scenes in the book, that Melissa views with all of the enthusiasm of a captured member of La Résistance. The diversions give Melissa some very welcome roundness as a character.

    At the same time, it seems like Lasko-Gross is more of an observer than a storyteller. Appealing and effective as the vignettes are, they don’t accumulate into an entirely solid narrative. In a sense, that feels right, as the kind of messy, everyday life Lasko-Gross is portraying doesn’t lend itself to measured narrative momentum. But I still don’t think the book entirely overcomes its casual structure.

    It does leave you with a vivid, indelible, ultimately sympathetic character in Melissa, though. Her blunt observations, rebelliousness and frustrations are presented with frank intelligence and rueful humor, and Lasko-Gross has a real knack for rendering pre-teen miseries (real and perceived) without a trace of condescension.

    Shôjo shortage

    April 25, 2007

    I’m detecting a localized deficiency in my regular manga reading. There’s no want for quasi-supernatural episodic series, ass-kicking heroines, Fumi Yoshinaga, shônen adventures or tense dramas, but I don’t feel like I’ve got sufficient ridiculous shôjo comedies in the rotation. Sure, there’s Penguin Revolution and Beauty Pop, and I love them both, but new volumes only come out so often.

    I had high hopes for Kitchen Princess, but it turned out to be too saccharine even for me. The first volume of Millennium Snow seems promising, and it’s got a talking bat with an absurd accent, but I suspect that the life-and-death stuff will gradually overwhelm the madcap elements. I liked the first volume of Skip Beat!, and Shaenon Garrity’s hilarious review in the Overlooked Manga Festival has placed it firmly on my watch list. My fondness for Meca Tanaka’s Omukae Desu suggests I’ll like Pearl Pink.

    I’m not looking for sensitive meditations on growing up and first love. I want nonsense – extreme personalities in patently ludicrous situations, playing out stories so implausible that they actually cause mild disorientation. Any suggestions?