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MangaBlog

www.mangablog.net

If you're reading this then you've probably heard of MangaBlog, one of the most active U.S. manga blogs around. Following in the footsteps of Irresponsible Pictures and Love Manga, MangaBlog has become the morning newspaper for serious manga fans in the U.S.

MangaBlog was created at the same time as Manga4Kids, with the original intention of being a supplement to Manga4Kids. However, as time went on, review posts slowly became news posts, partly due to the easy-to-use WordPress, and partly due to the then dearth of online manga news sources. MangaBlog soon became a place where fans could find all the latest manga news without actually having to look for them.


History

2005 March 4: "Hello world!" - MangaBlog is born.

2005 November 20 - 2006 January 05: Inactivity - The break, during which there was little to no activity within the blog. After the break, more news posts began to appear, instead of review-related posts.

2006 March 4: MangaBlog celebrates its 1st anniversary:

Today marks the one-year anniversary of MangaBlog. In the short time that I've been blogging, I've found a whole new world, "met" some delightful people online, and learned a lot, not just about manga but also about other comics, comics stores, Bookscan and Booklist (Thanks, David!) and Japanese pop culture in general.

I hope I have been able to add to the dialogue in some useful way. Because my kids are the target market for a lot of manga, I have tried to reflect their views as well as my own in this blog. I also see, and sift through, all the marketing that comes at them, which adds some perspective.

Blogging has given me a focus and forced me to write frequently, which is always good for a writer, and it has also given me a secret identity. Since I'm basically a soccer mom and part-time (serious) writer, the people I meet in everyday life are almost always startled to hear that I blog about comics¡ªJapanese comics, at that. It's fun to shake up their preconceptions a bit.

Anyway, it's been a great year. You guys are fun to hang out with, and whether I'm lurking or joining in, it's always interesting to follow your discussions. I'm enjoying myself immensely and looking forward to getting even more involved in the future.

2006 March 10: "Is Viz sexist?" - One of the more controversial posts, in which Brigid questioned whether Viz was sexist, based on the difference in pricing of Shonen Jump and Shojo Beat. The post generated quite a bit of discussion around the blogsphere.

2006 April 13 - May 2: "Library and the Banned Book" - The period of time during which MangaBlog offered extensive coverage of the incident involving the removal of Manga: Sixty Years of Japanese Comics from the San Bernardino County library.

2006 June 15: "MangaBlog goes podcast" - MangaBlogCast launched.

2006 July 9: URL changed from www.manga4kids.com/wordpress to www.mangablog.net.

2007 March 4: MangaBlog celebrates its 2nd anniversary:

Two years ago today, my husband showed me how to use WordPress and turned me loose with a blog of my own.

Nothing has been the same since.

MangaBlog was originally a sideline for what was supposed to be a Serious Project: A site for parents that gave specific information about content in manga, like the little blurbs next to movie ratings. But within a few days people had found MangaBlog and started commenting and linking, and blogging got to be so much more fun than counting curse words and panty shots that soon it took over completely. Anyway, now Tokyopop is doing the parental-information thing, so I don't have to.

I have already had the best blogiversary present of all¡ªmeeting so many of you at NYCC last weekend. I'm lucky to be part of such a great community, and it was wonderful to meet face-to-face with so many of the the people who contribute to this blog in one way or another. The slugline says "an ongoing conversation about manga," after all, and I can't have a conversation all by myself (well, I can but it wouldn't be pretty). So thanks for all your support, and keep on dropping in!

2007 March 7: Soon after celebrating MangaBlog's 2nd anniversary, Brigid Alverson finds herself featured in Digital Strip's comic strip.


Behind the Scene

Backstage: When did MangaBlog officially start? What were your original goals for starting the blog? How has the goal changed over time?

MangaBlog: This changed a lot! I started the blog because it was something easy to do, and I figured I could use it so supplement the main site by keeping parents up to date with new developments, highlighting useful sites, that sort of thing. And in the beginning it was focused on shoujo manga for kids 8-13.

But once I started blogging it took on a life of its own. I realized that there weren't many sites devoted solely to manga, so I figured that was a niche I could fill. Because of family issues, I didn't post much in the fall and winter. So my new year's resolution was to start posting more and really make it into a comprehensive site.

There have been a couple of posts that really attracted attention. One was when I wondered aloud if Viz was sexist because their Shonen Jump manga are a dollar cheaper than their Shoujo Beat imprint. This caught people's interest and led to a lot of discussions on other blogs.

My biggest story so far is the Victorville, California, case, where a politician had Paul Gravett's book Manga: Sixty Years of Japanese Comics pulled from a library because he thought it was "obscene." It got picked up by a lot of sites, not just the bigger comics sites but also media and library sites.

Backstage: Can you talk a little about the relationship between the blog and Manga4Kids, and how do they as a whole provide a better experience to its readers?

MangaBlog: I don't think the blog and the Manga4Kids site work together much at all. The audiences are too different: one is for manga readers, the other is for perplexed parents. I'm really just doing two things at once here.

Backstage: After the recent incidents involving Irresponsible Picture and Love Manga (departures and comebacks), MangaBlog has now become one of the most active blogs reporting U.S. manga news and views. What's your view on internet manga blogs? What is the future for Manga Blog?

MangaBlog: I always felt there was room enough in the internet for the three of us, and in fact we complemented each other very well. Even if we all wrote about the same thing, we'd all do it differently. For one thing, there aren't many bloggers with children. I have two daughters who are right in the middle of the manga demographic, ages 11 and 13, and I get a lot of insight from them.

What I'm hoping to do with MangaBlog is to provide one-stop shopping for manga readers. I try to check a wide variety of news sites and blogs and pull out just the manga-related items, so readers can keep up to date without sifting through a million articles about anime and superheroes and movies. It's mostly link-blogging but I did a bit of original reporting on the Victorville library case, and I'd like to do more.

Naturally, when you're reading that much news, you start to notice patterns and form opinions. So I also do some commentary and analysis. I'd like to do more, but I have such a busy life at the moment that it's hard to sit down and think things through to write a longer piece.

And I do some reviews. Again, I'd like to do more. I write reviews for Manga Life as well, but it's hard to find the time to do it as frequently as I'd like. It seems like the easiest thing in the world to read a book and say what you think of it, but it always takes longer than I think it will.

For the future, I want to keep this model but expand on it a bit with more original reporting and commentary, and more reviews. I'd like to write reviews in which everyone in my family weighs in, so you get four different points of view. And I'd like to do a focus group with my daughters' friends to see what the kids are really reading these days, and what they think of the books the grownups are writing about.


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