Dramacon Vol. 2, created by Svetlana Chmakova. Copy donated by TokyoPop, in support of the Cybils.
The Plot: During an anime convention, Christie, a teenage writer of online comics and manga, meets up with her crush (Matt) from last year's convention and has assorted con adventures.
The Good: LOVED IT. I cannot wait to read the entire series. And I'm adding it to my Best Books of 2006 list.
This is Volume 2; Volume 1 takes place at the previous year's con, where Christie was there with her abusive artist boyfriend, Matt helped her out of a bad situation, and Christie met one of her favorite writers/artists. All that backstory is nicely recapped in this volume; which means, you do not have to read Volume 1 to enjoy Volume 2, but having read Volume 2 you most certainly want to read Volume 1. I cannot wait to read the whole series, and thank goodness, some of Volume 1 is online. I'm assuming that Volume 3, due out next year, takes place a year from Volume 2.
It's a clever storytelling device; a window into Christie's life every year, following her for a few short days.
Do you need to know a lot about manga and anime and anime conventions to enjoy this story? Hell, no! I loved it and have never been to an anime convention (but have been to other conventions) and have no real experience with manga fandom (beyond being a librarian who is aware of manga, read a handful of titles, and have had anime nights with cosplay and DDR and the like). Dramacon is funny, Christie is great (she is constantly getting lost at the convention center); and I also liked that two teenage girls are not just creating a comic, they are out there promoting it.
I loved the convention storyline; the arguments about what is manga (which is being discussed over at A Year of Reading); fans, fanart, and fandom (which is rather universal); being a professional comics artist and writer.
But what really rocked my world was the semi-romance between Christie and Matt. Christie likes Matt, Matt likes Christie, but after last year they each went their separate ways. Meaning, while Christie is single she dated other guys; and Matt is now dating Emily. Oh, the deliciousness of it all, as they exchange looks, and we, like Christie, first hate Emily (just because!) and then find things to like in Emily, and then ---
OK, I refuse to spoil the entire storyline. Both Christie and Matt try to deal with their feelings about each other contrasted with the realities of their lives. And I loved, loved, loved every second of it.
This series is labelled Romance and Teen Age 13 Plus. Tho, honestly? In this volume, at least, I didn't see anything (i.e., sexual content, language, violence) to warrant a 13 Plus rating; I do think it's going to be mainly of interest to those 13 and over, so it's correct in that way. It's also possible that it's a rating for the entire series.
Links: Reading YA: Readers Rants review.