Picture It!

If you follow our blog, you know that we love to read and have a great staff book club that meets monthly.  Our book picks are very diverse and several months back we read a fantastic book from the manga genre – Japanese comics and print cartoons – Tekkon Kinkreet: Black & White.

So we are excited to celebrate this year’s Teen Read Week theme Picture It @ your library.  The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) sponsors Teen Read Week each year and they describe this theme as encouraging “teens to read graphic novels and other illustrated materials, seek out creative books, or imagine the world through literature just for the fun of it.” Check out the post below to find out some tips from a pro on how to read manga and find some inspiration to stop by your local library to Picture It!

A Manga Primer

We each take turns writing our blog posts for the book club. This entry was from Abel Martin.

I really enjoy reading manga and I wanted to bring my joy to the book club members who hadn’t experienced it firsthand.  If you’re like me and you want to introduce friends who aren’t familiar with manga, Tekkon Kinkreet: Black & White might be a worth checking out.  However, you should make sure to give novices to the genre more pointers than I gave my fellow book-clubbers.  In retrospect, I think the most important part of reading manga is to understand how the panels (individual squares on each page) add to the story.  Reading a good manga is like watching a good movie.  The story is told through both dialogue and visuals.  Here are some handy tips on panels for the freshman

Right to Left vs. Left to Right:
Before you start reading a manga you’ll need to know how to read the book.  The panels in Tekkon Kinkreet: Black & White have been Americanized.  This means that the panels read in the same direction as an American comic book (read from left to right) as opposed to traditional manga (read from right to left).  This removes a hurdle for people who are new to the genre, but keep it in mind as you read other manga.  Usually there will be a page in what Americans would consider the start of the book that’ll warn you if the panels are laid out in a traditional manner and you’ll start reading from the rear.

Look for themes that repeat:
In Tekkon Kinkreet: Black & White, like most manga, there are themes that repeat not only in dialogue, but also visually in the panels.  Take note of Black and White’s companion animals.  Ask yourself why each character gets a particular animal and what feeling each one creates for you as you read.  Also ask yourself why there are so many duos in Treasure Town and how each duo compares to the rest.

If something in a panel looks weird, ask yourself why before you move to the next panel:
In a good manga, everything in a panel is important and deliberate.  The choice of fonts, the background shadows, the lack of shadows, the graffiti, everything.  The talking turtles, the “HYUUU” that roars through the town at certain moments, and the constantly changing proportions of the characters all have purpose.    If after some reflection something still doesn’t make sense, talk about it with someone else who read the book. There’s a good bit of depth in the panels, especially the ending!

Tekkon Kinkreet: Black & White is a good introduction to manga.  I’m happy that I had a chance to introduce a new genre to my fellow book club members and I look forward to having conversations about new manga that they discover on their own.

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