Thursday, May 10, 2007

I Am Still Alive / Harem Manga As I Understand It

Hey all you blog-readin’ people! (Is anyone still out there?) It’s been a while and I’ve left you blogless, and for that, I apologize. God only knows what blogs you’ve been reading in my absence. Probably more interesting ones, so maybe you should THANK me!

Well, Hot Bliggety Blog! I’m back!

Last week I finally completed my book. If you’ve forgotten what that is, here’s a shameless plug: Battle of the Bands is the title of my new harem manga from TOKYOPOP, and it will be on sale this JULY!

What’s a “harem manga?” Good question. It’s kind of a sub-category that is popular in some Japanese comics. Basically, regardless of the genre, the story involves a male character in a situation where he is surrounded by women who alternately love and hate him. Popular harem manga titles include Love Hina by Ken Akamatsu and Girls Bravo by Mario Kaneda.

Just to give an example, Love Hina is about an insecure loser named Keitaro, who has been trying to get into Tokyo University, in order to fulfill a promise to a girl he knew as a small child. Fates conspire to make him the manager of an all-girl dormitory owned by his grandmother, and hilarity ensues. As you might imagine, there are plenty of opportunities for hapless Keitaro to stumble upon the female characters while bathing & such. The plot element that hooks the reader is the mystery of the childhood friend; Keitaro doesn’t remember who she is—could it be one of the girls living at the dorm??? Maybe…

When I set out to create my own harem manga, I studied several different books and Love Hina in particular. I think what makes it work is that beyond the titillating scenarios and “fan service,” are scenes of real tenderness. The interaction between the main characters is believable and they are, therefore, sympathetic. We care what happens to them and hope that the destined couple will get together.

In Battle of the Bands, there were many challenges for me to overcome. At 182 pages of story, plus covers & supplemental pages, the book was a HUGE undertaking. The art style was an important factor, and I did what I thought necessary to give fans of harem manga everything they would want in a book whose back cover claims, “If you like Love Hina or Girls Bravo, you must not miss this harem manga bursting with comedy, romance and fan-serviced-filled fights!” But, the challenge I took most seriously was to try and infuse the book with as much HEART as I could. And, no, I don’t mean the band “Heart.” If I did my job correctly, Battle of the Bands is much more than “fan-service-filled fights,” and contains a moment or two of well as a rollicking good romp! This July…YOU BE THE JUDGE!!!

The overt gratuitous nature of the harem manga, means it isn’t for everyone. In fact, I will readily admit that I did not write this book for ME.* At first, I worried that this meant I was a big sell-out. But, in the end, I think it’s a good thing. Battle of the Bands is not a self-indulgent vanity project, but one that is designed to appeal to a specific audience. Believe it or not, comics is serious business, and I did my homework, so it is my sincere hope that I did, in fact, create something with that appeal, and that readers will embrace it as an “authentic” harem manga.

To see some preview pages of Battle of the Bands, you can follow these links to my page ComicSpace and at TOKYOPOP.COM. In the next few weeks, TOKYOPOP will be revamping their website, and there should be even more good stuff available as the July publishing date approaches.

Now that I’m back blogging, you can expect to hear more from me about various topics. I’ll be writing more about Battle of the Bands, and my experience creating it, and I have some other topics in mind, such as what I learned about self-publishing Comiculture Magazine. Yeah, I’ve a few things to get offa my chest. Hope you’ll stick around and humor me!

* Or Becky Cloonan, whose work I so admire, but who apparently is NOT a fan of Love Hina! Sorry, Becky! Can’t please everyone, I guess…


Sara Kocher said...

Are you sure you're still out there? It's been weeks since you posted.

Oh, and happy birthday, by the way.

Steve Buccellato said...

Just posted. So there.