Pop Culture Gadabout
Friday, July 23, 2010
      ( 7/23/2010 07:12:00 AM ) Bill S.  

TALES FROM THE ANNALS OF REVIEWING: A few years back when I was doing my second stint as a writer for The Comics Journal, my manga neophyte self volunteered to do a review of the popular shojo series, Fruits Basket. When the package of review copies arrived in the mail from Fantagraphics, I was delighted to see that there were several volumes in the series included in the box. One thing chafed, however: several of the books had coffee stains on ‘em.

Now, I’m not the most anal comics fan you’ll meet -- I haven’t bought a comics bag in over a decade – but I’ll admit the sight of those stains was irritating. I pictured some staffer casually reading the books with their cuppa Starbucks by their sides, thoughtlessly plopping a finished volume on top of a coffee ring before gathering ‘em all up to send my way. Not as horrendous an image as the sight of one of our cats knocking a Naruto paperback into the toilet, but still pretty grim.

I finished the review (a positive one), but when it came time for Becky and I to make our big move across country, I wound up giving all the review copies to a pre-teen neighbor girl who pronounced herself the Biggest Fruits Basket Fan in the World. More recently, with Tokyopop’s reissuing of the series in larger deluxe package books, I’ve been rereading the volumes that I covered for TCJ. I’ve read that some fans have issue with the repackaging, but at least the books I own don’t have any coffee stains on ‘em.

I was thinking about this trivial but instructive incident the other day when I picked up a review copy of the latest volume of the shojo series Happy Café. A comic romance set in a coffee shop/bakery, the latest volume plays with its setting by including fake coffee stains on the back cover of the book. First time I saw this, I had to look at the side of the book to make sure that someone at Tokyopop hadn’t sent me their pre-read copy of the volume. They hadn’t, but I still had to check.

Yeah, I’ve still got that neurotic collector thing within me.


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Pop cultural criticism - plus the occasional egocentric socio/political commentary by Bill Sherman (popculturegadabout AT yahoo.com).

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