When our Creative Writing Program at UBC began offering a course in Graphic Fiction, I decided that it was about time for me to learn something about it. Several colleagues recommended that I begin by reading Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics, and that was excellent advice. Then I read a dozen or so Canadian and American graphic novels—enough to become genuinely excited by sequential art. Japanese comics seemed to be on everybody’s mind, so I thought that I should take a quick look at them too. It’s three years later, and I’m still looking—still deeply immersed in the world of manga. Much of what I’ve been reading is shōjo—that is, comics written for girls. That has struck some of my friends and colleagues as a bit odd, so I want to take some time here to try to explain my fascination.
WHY MANGA? WHY SHŌJO MANGA?