Christie isn’t sure what to think at her first comic convention in Dramacon Vol. 1 (2005) by Svetlana Chmakova. (Find it on Bookshop.) She’s excited for a chance to exhibit the comic that she writes and her boyfriend illustrates. But when they get to the comic-con, it turns out nothing is what Christie expected.
Her boyfriend is a jerk. He says he’s flirting so that more girls will buy their comic buy Christie isn’t so sure–especially with the way he keeps leaving her alone for long periods at a time. Then there’s the mysterious cosplayer who keeps popping up when Christie needs him and seems to understand her better than her boyfriend ever will. Christie tries to make sense of her mixed feelings about the con and her love life in the foreground of a story that offers a tantalizing behind-the-scenes look at an convention no one is likely to forget!
Manga always gets a bad rap as the the “junk food” of the comic/graphic novel world. Truth be told, the junk food analogy always seems ridiculous when applied to books. Reading is reading and, frankly, I’d rather see someone reading manga or Goosebumps or whatever than not reading at all. Furthermore, I challenge anyone to find a better format for reluctant readers. If I could read Dramacon in a day I’m sure a reluctant reader could motor through it just as easily. And what is more thrilling for a kid who thinks they are a “slow” reader or who doesn’t like reading than to find a title they can plow through?
That said, Dramacon is also a really delightful story that is cute, peppy and will leave you smiling. This crazy sense of optimism and cheer permeates the book that will make it impossible to feel gloomy while reading it–really! (And the artwork is really great and well-plotted besides!)
The first in a three volume series, Chmakova gives readers action, romance and a surprising amount of character development given the relatively short format. Christie and her zany cohorts are really charming characters that I can’t wait to read more about.
The crossover potential is also huge because Dramacon covers so many topics: comic conventions, cosplay, relationships, coming of age, and even rape are all briefly (tactfully) touched upon here. Girls might gravitate to the pink cover, but boys are sure to appreciate Matt’s brooding, macho character. Dramacon is, basically, one of those mangas that can literally appeal to everyone.