If you read so much manga you need a tracker for it, there’s a new book that has you covered. My Manga Collection: That Time I Read So Much Manga That I Needed This Tracker to Record Everything, from the God-Tier Volumes to Trash Faves and Must-Reads! by Vernieda Vergara is out now, so Otaku USA spoke to Vergara about the book, its setup, and her top 50 manga titles.
How did you first get interested in manga?
Like a lot of manga readers from that time, I actually got into anime first. While companies like VIZ and Dark Horse were releasing manga, it looked nothing like today’s market where you can’t keep up with new monthly releases even if you wanted to. Anyway, I realized some of these anime series were based on manga and began trying to track them down. I didn’t always succeed—because, again, it was a different time and there were no English editions—but I found others. The rest is history.
What was the impetus for writing this book?
In addition to being a manga reader, I’ve always been a stationery addict. Everything from do-it-yourself bullet journals to Japanese planners. So many things are digital these days, but it’s nice to have something physical that you can hold in your hands and flip through. People who collect physical manga volumes probably get this.
How did you decide to do the setup for the tracker?
I worked with the team at Adams Media and we aimed at making the tracker both structured and flexible. It’s meant to have lots of options while also having space for manga readers to customize. What was important to me was having each entry track a manga series as one whole versus each volume being its own separate entry. Many digital options track manga volumes individually, and I personally don’t think that’s the way to go. Most manga tells a serialized story, after all.
What is it about manga that you think makes it so appealing to so many people?
It’s such a diverse medium. There are so many genres. Horror readers, romance readers, fantasy readers—everyone can find something they like. And even within those genres, there’s a big range. There’s sweet high school romances and there are more mature titles that look at adult relationships with adult concerns, for example. I think that variety is what draws people in. Someone might pick up a hugely popular title like Spy x Family because they keep seeing it recommended, but then they discover there’s a slice-of-life manga about a widower moving on with his life by adopting a cat or this title about the queer experience in contemporary Japan. That, I think, is manga’s strength.
How much manga do you think you’ve read, and was it hard narrowing down your top 50 favorites?
At this point, I’m pretty sure I’ve read easily over a thousand. My own manga collection has expanded, shrunk, and expanded again over the years as I’ve moved, culled my personal library, replaced beat up copies with collector’s editions, and switched back and forth between digital versus physical. As for creating my personal top 50, both yes and no? I’ve been curating recommendation lists at various sites for a while now, so I have a good sense of what I like versus what I don’t. What was tricky was ranking them since I’m such a mood reader. What I like one day and then the next can really fluctuate!
Danica Davidson is the author of the bestselling Manga Art for Beginners with artist Melanie Westin, plus its sequel, Manga Art for Everyone, and the first-of-its-kind manga chalk book Chalk Art Manga, both illustrated by professional Japanese mangaka Rena Saiya. Check out her other comics and books at www.danicadavidson.com.