Aug 6, 2009

Dramacon by Svetlana Chmakova

Dramacon by Svetlana Chmakova

Christie Leroux, high-school student and manga creator, is going to her very first anime and manga convention with her artist boyfriend and some of their friends. Her boyfriend’s a bit of a jerk, and after walking away from their table because he’s being so insensitive, she runs into a stranger in sunglasses and a trench coat and ends up telling him things she hasn't told anyone before. During the three days of the convention, Christie and her boyfriend Derek grow apart, while at the same time her feelings for her new friend Matt become harder and harder to deny.

The three volumes of Dramacon follow Christie, Matt, and their friends as they return to the convention three years in a row. But this summary probably doesn't give you the slightest idea of how absolutely awesome this series is. It’s so funny! And warm! And full of lovely characters! But it’s serious, too: Derek’s behaviour crosses the line between jerk-y and abusive; Christie’s friend Bethany has to find a way to reconcile her dream of being an artist with her mother’s expectations Lida Zeff, a famous manga creator they meet at the con, tells them about the joys and sorrows of an artist’s life. It’s serious without taking itself too seriously and without becoming issue-y; it has emotional depth; it made me laugh and get all teary-eyed. Ah, I just want to hug this book.

Dramacon made me want to go to a convention and completely geek out. It could be a Discworld convention, or a Harry Potter one, or one devoted to comics or to fantasy in general. I know next to nothing about anime and manga, but I could still really relate to the general dorkiness of Dramacon. I love it, and I so want to be a part of it. I wish I had experienced a convention when I was the characters’ age, but one of the good things about being a geek is that there’s no age limit, right?

Also, the romance between Christie and Matt was so fun and adorable and satisfying. It had enough misunderstandings and delays to keep the tension going, but it never became too dramatic. And unlike what the immediate-connection-between-strangers summary might make you think, it's not silly, it's fully believable, and it doesn't happen too fast. Seriously, why don’t I read books like this more often? Clearly I should, as they make me all warm and squishy inside.

The art in Dramacon wasn’t as immediately impressive as the art in Emma, but it really grew on me as I read on. Take a look:

Dramacon 1


Dramacon 2

Dramacon 3

I read the one volume edition of Dramacon (which I recommend you all get, as it has one extra chapter!) in a single sitting, and even though the conclusion was satisfying, I was left aching for more. I wanted to spend more time with these characters—and don’t you love it when that happens?

They read it too:
Books & Other Thoughts: Vol 1, 2, 3
The Shady Glade: Vol 2
A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cosy: Vol 2
Stella Matutina

(Did I miss yours?)

22 comments:

  1. Where do you find all these fantastic graphic novels from? I have just read my first one this week and I am now thirsty for more.

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  2. This was recommended to me by Kailana at The Written World. She messaged me on Twitter saying I should read it, and well, that's all it took :P I can't wait to hear all about your first graphic novel :D

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  3. It has an extra chapter?! I didn't know that, and I'm the one who mentioned it. lol. Looks like I'll have to get this one, too, as I purchased them when they were released in their single editions. Anyway...I'm so glad you loved Dramacon. :) I very much had the same reaction to it. It was my first manga and thoroughly eased me into the format. Chmakova has just started a new series, too, if you want to check it out. It's called Nightschool: The Weirn Books.

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  4. This looks like a must read. Definitely ;))

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  5. "...they make me all warm and squishy inside."...That's all the recommendation I need! This really does sound fun! And how cool is this--last night I was down in Annie's room and we were looking through her bookshelves and I saw she has the first volume of this. I asked her about it because I didn't remember it, and with a huge smile on her face, she pulled it out and said, "Yeah, remember I met her at the Teen Book Festival and she signed it for me."

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  6. I haven't read many graphic novels, but it's interesting how totally different they are from the other [regular?] kind. I liked the line that it made you want to go to a convention and geek out!

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  7. Do you think that you have to be into manga to enjoy this? I am into a lot of nerdy things, but don't know much about manga. Still though, it looks good!

    P.S. maybe we should start a graphic novel challenge to get people reading more of them? They are so much fun, though I've not read much.

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  8. Horray, my library has this! I'll definitely be adding it to my Tiny TBR list.

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  9. Chelle: It does! *spoilers alert* It's Matt and Christie's first date, so it really is a must read :D Thanks again for telling me about this edition! And I'll be sure to check out her new series.

    Christina: It's tons of fun :)

    Debi: You know, I was going to ask you if Annie had read these, and if not, recommend them to her. How cool that she got to meet the author :D

    rhapsodyinbooks: I think that something that is sometimes misunderstood about them is that they're a medium, not a genre, and so they include as much diversity of genres as "regular" novels do. There's something for every taste out there!

    J.T. Oldfield: Not at all! Before this, all the manga I'd read was Emma, five volumes of Death Note, and one of Yotsuba&. But regardless of the details of manga culture, anyway who is a nerd at heart will be able to relate to some aspect of it or other. As for a graphic novels challenge, there is one! Details here.

    Memory: Hooray indeed! I hope you enjoy them.

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  10. I really need to find something for the manga challenge, so this may work! Though I could count Scott Pilgrim I guess since it's written like a manga. I had heard of this one but didn't know what it was about..it seems so good!! I went to A-Kon, the biggest Anime convention in the US when I was 21 and it was so much fun!! Tons of people dressed up, great dealer rooms, and an awesome JRock band. I think I'd like this one ;)

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  11. Oooh this is interesting, Ana. I have yet to get started on my Manga challenge hosted by Rhinoa. I really should start soon...

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  12. That manga does look pretty good. Just the art alone is gorgeous, I think. I read Emma while I was on vacation and I loooooooved it. I was actually very sad when it ended. :(

    I also wanted to tell you I gave you an award on my blog: http://heidenkind.blogspot.com/2009/08/awards-spreading-love.html

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  13. Chris: How cool that you went to A-Kon! I bet this will bring you lots of nice memories back :D There's a really cool scene at a J-Pop dance...you'll enjoy it for sure!

    Alice: I read this for the challenge, actually...it fits perfectly!

    heidenkind: I was sad too! Did you know there are 3 additional volumes with stories about some of the secondary characters? I've read 8 and 9, and 10 will only be out in English in December. And aww, thank you :D

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  14. Regarding the art, Emma spoiled us, didn't it? This one looks and sounds cute though.

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  15. You know what I hate? When you read this series from the library and they don't have book three! I am going to buy the three-in-one book very soon. :)

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  16. Save your nickels and dimes (or the Portugese equivalent) and come to Comic-Con next year!!!!!

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  17. tanabata: I really suspect it did, yes :P

    Kailana: At least you'll get to read the extra chapter, which you wouldn't if the library had it. Got to look on the bright side :P

    Amy: That would be awesome! Over the next year all my savings will have to go towards library school (which also makes the next BEA next to impossible, sadly), but one day!

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  18. I generally stay away from graphic novels but I am thinking that I may give this one a go.

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  19. ibeeeg: Aw, how come? There's lots of great stuff out there! I hope you do give it a try, and that you enjoy it :)

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  20. I do like the sound of this one and have been reading Darla's reviews. I will keep an eye out for this edition as it has an extra chapter. I have been to a couple of sci-fi and fantasy conventions with some manga bits and pieces for good measure as well as the big manga/anime one in London. If you come over to Manchester there is one up there Collectormania which is supposed to be good. The London version is a lot of fun. I would love to come with you and geek it up book blogger stylee!!!

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  21. Aaah... I need to read more graphic novels!! Looks fantastic.

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  22. Oh, I'm so glad you enjoyed this! I love the artwork you picked to show - it gives such a perfect idea of the tone and style of the series. And now I'm feeling distressed about missing out on that extra chapter you mention, since I read the three separate volumes. I have to hear about their first date!

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