For this month, the LGBTQ Manga Book Club will spend some time with a late September release, Sweet Blue Flowers by Takako Shimura. Published by VIZ, it’s now available in paperback or digital format, as of September 19th. It’s an omnibus, like My Brother’s Husband, combining the first and second volumes of the Japanese edition. The story follows Fumi and Akira, both childhood friends who lost contact after one of them moved away. Ten years later, they reunite as they enter high school. They attend different schools but their friendship reignites as they both navigate the new changes in their lives and grow up. Warning: this volume contains incestuous child abuse and sexual harassment of teenagers.
It’s been a while… and it’s been quite a year. For now, Malia and Karleen are looking back at their favorite fiction from the past year. Not necessarily the best, but the favorites. In a year like 2016, our comforts and catharsis are all the more important.
Upon graduating college, I read more books for fun for the summer than I had in years. No reading guide helped me, it was a mix of ones I had been interested in for a while and ones that I had picked up randomly. I can’t say I was too adventurous but it was so good just to read again for myself. Though usually I stick with YA for pleasure reading, I’m proud to say I expanded out a bit.
So I decided to cobble up a list of what I had read from June to August, all checked out from the library. There’s of course other things I read over the summer, but mainly incomplete online serials. I waffled between including the little bit of manga I read or not but they were legitimate stories as anything else.
I was planning to having star or fraction ratings but then that would put me in a weird position. How I feel about a piece of media is a messy combination of complicated things: How I felt engaging with it in the moment, how much of an impact it left on me, how genuinely well-crafted I think it is, etc. So I just decided to summarize some feelings and thoughts without explicit spoilers and say if I recommend it or not (to a general audience). This is mostly in the order I read everything.
The release of Jughead #9 on September 7th is right around the corner. Before the issue introduces the comic’s new writer Ryan North, let’s look back at the first eight issues written by Chip Zdarsky and mostly illustrated by Erica Henderson. When the new Jughead series started in 2015, I had no idea how important it would end up being to me personally. I wasn’t even aware of its publication at the time. That all changed in February when various sites were reporting on the reveal in #4 that Jughead is asexual.