As Chris Butcher noted, there’s a whole lot of manga shipping every week. (Okay, so The Beguiling isn’t exactly representative of the average comic shop or even chain bookstore. It used to be the only place in North America where you could order books from Fanfare/Ponent Mon online.) Still, it’s a crowded field, and it never hurts to have a reference.
So what a handy coincidence that today marks the arrival of the eagerly anticipated, slightly delayed, wonderfully useful and readable Manga: The Complete Guide by Jason Thompson (Del Rey). Thompson and some colleagues have assembled a staggering number of reviews of basically every Japanese comic available in English at the time of publication. They’re well-written, succinct, and provide a clear sense of what the title has to offer (or what it fails to deliver).
Beyond that, there are informative pieces on different categories and genres, discussion of the history of manga, and profiles of some of its greatest creators. If Paul Gravett’s Manga: Sixty Years of Japanese Comics is the ultimate introduction to the category (and I think it is), The Complete Guide is the ultimate user’s manual. It’s something that every library could use (and stock on its reference shelf), and it would be a great resource for retailers who want to start stocking more manga but may not know where to start.
It’s also terrific for fans. Aside from making me feel shockingly behind in my reading, it’s provided a potentially financially devastating number of additions to my “to read” list, which wasn’t exactly anemic to begin with. And it’s just plain fun to read. (The only thing I might have added is an appendix that listed books by rating, so that all of the four-star books were name-checked in one place.)
I’ve collected links to interviews, reviews and previews of the book after the jump. If I missed yours, just let me know in comments or via e-mail, and I’ll be happy to add it.
Interviews with Jason Thompson:
Reviews of the book: