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YALSA’s 2007 Great Graphic Novels For Teens List Has Manga!

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I was checking out MangaBlog and they had a post about the Young Adult Library Services Association’s list of recommended graphic novels for teens. MangaBlog filtered out all of the non-manga, and here’s what they got:

Dramacon, by Svetlana Chmakova
Inverloch, vol. 1, by Sarah Ellerton
Sorcerers and Secretaries, vol. 1, by Amy Kim Ganter
Psy-Comm, vol. 1, by Jason Henderson and Tony Salvaggio
Death Note, vols. 1-3, by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata
Off*Beat, vol. 1, by Jen Lee Quick
Chocolat, vols. 1-3, by Ji-Sang Shin and Geo
Monster, vol. 1, by Naoki Urasawa
Nana, vols. 1-2, by Ai Yazawa
Antique Bakery, vols. 2-4, by Fumi Yoshinaga
Cantarella, vol. 1, by You Higuri

I immediately noticed the ratio of non-Japanese manga to Japanese manga was strangely high. 6 of the 11 picks are either American made “manga” or Korean manhwa. The Japanese manga that were picked included Death Note, Nana, and Monster, which are totally popular in Japan.

I suppose that in the context of this being a list from the American Library Association, more American titles would be picked. After all, DC Comics had 9 titles on the list. It’s a step in the right direction to even include some manga, but it seems like the list is definitely catering to the American writers; the ratio of American to Japanese manga released in the United States is very low.

I suppose that I can’t really comment on the quality of American manga since I haven’t read any before. I have seen a few of the previews in Tokyopop’s free Manga sampler. What I saw seemed derivative at best. But maybe I’m just being a manga snob…

Also, I think it’s funny that Antique Bakery had volumes 2-4 on the list. What the heck happened in volume 1 that made it unsuitable for the list? Apparently this manga is very BL, so I can take a few guesses…

11 Comments

  1. Wow! Thanks for parsing out the list like that! I think part of the reason there are so many American creators is that this list is aimed at teens, and a lot of Japanese manga (Air Gear!) may not seem teen-friendly to librarians. And also it’s a huge field and most of them are still getting to know it.

    As for Antique Bakery, volume 1 is pretty tame. I think it was eliminated because it didn’t fit the time criteria.

  2. Antique Bakery is not that BL-focused. If you read it for that, you’ll be disappointed! It’s more about the owner of the bakery… and the cakes!

  3. Hmmm. I didn’t actually read Antique Bakery. I just checked out the official page and the Wikipedia thing. It seemed to be the main plot point to me, but I guess I’ll just have to take your word for it!

  4. I read Bizenghast, that gothic horror one. I should probably read some more American manga…

  5. Hm. NANA reigns supreme everywhere. surprise surprise.

  6. If you feel like checking out something American, Inverloch is also an ongoing webcomic.

  7. Tokyopop was expending a ton of effort for years in order to create American manga market (where they would reign supreme, naturally). They hoover just about anything, to the point that people created projects specifically with the exit strategy of selling to Tokyopop. Sometimes the quality would immediatelly plummet thereafter… cough cough Van Von Hunter. This is a veritable whirlwind. If you are remote from it, count yourself fortunate.

  8. For God’s sake, READ DRAMACON! It’s definitely the best “Global manga” or Amerimanga, or whatever the hell you want to call it. It definitely deserves a place on that list.

    That said, DN, Monster, and Nana are all really good too. Can’t say I’ve read the others.

  9. Hello! Just saw your post, linked from Anime News Network, and as a member of the Great Graphic Novels for Teens Committee, I just wanted to clarify a few things

    As other’s guessed — the reason Antique Bakery volume 1 wasn’t eligible is that it was published before September 2005 — we could only consider titles between September 2005 and December 2006. Some of the hardest decisions about the list came from not having the complete story because we could only consider volume from within that time frame.

    Also, just to say — if you’d like to see more manga considered for the list, please remember anyone can nominate titles for consideration! The current year’s committee will be acccepting nominations starting March 1st, so let us know what you think deserves to be on there (manga or otherwise!). We all work hard to try to keep track of what’s out there, but we can always use the help from fans.

    Speaking for myself, I tend to consider manga-style comics, or American manga, or whatever you want to call them, on their own terms. I try to ignore the “manga” label for these and concentrate on whether it’s good story. The manga-style comics I’ve seen marketed that way always feel a bit more like independent comics with manga influence rather than really fitting neatly in with what manga is. That’s my take on it — so, for example, I didn’t really think of Inverloch or even Sorcerers and Secretaries as manga — more of a manga-inspired hybrid.

  10. @RobinB: Thanks for the feedback! I’ll definitely remind people to put in nominations. This is actually the first time I’d even heard of the YALSA, so I never did any nominations before.

  11. I’m glad the list is receiving attention, and we’re always happy to hear discussion about it. It’ll help us make even better lists in the years to come.

    FYI, here’s the site for the list — when the nominations open, this is where you’ll nominate titles for consideration:
    http://www.ala.org/ala/yalsa/booklistsawards/greatgraphicnovelsforteens/gn.htm

    Also, on Antique Bakery, I forgot to say this yesterday, but AB is not BL or yaoi. I heard this through the grapevine from the creator herself — she does not consider it BL, and I also can see why: it’s not a romance, but more a comedy about creating a family from friends.

    Of course, I think it appeals to BL readers, but I think she’s correct in not categorizing it as BL, as I think it might disappoint someone looking more for romance.

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