If you haven't already stumbled across this in the 456,997 blogs and websites where it has been extensively discussed, you may commence rejoicing now! The fantastic manga scholar and translator, Matt Thorn
, will be working with the publisher Fantagraphics on an as-yet unnamed manga line.
We even have two titles! The first is A Drunken Dream
, which is a collection of Moto Hagio short stories that will offer a sampling of her amazing body of work over the years for English-language readers. One of the stories, "Hanshin," was previously published in the 2005 shoujo issue of The Comics Journal* (Issue 269, from July 2005). At the time, it was one of only two or three translations of a Hagio work ever officially published in English, and as far as I know, none of the other stories have been formally translated or published in English.
Dirk Deppey, who writes the TCJ's blog, Journalista (for my money, still one of the best comics resources around), and who is partly responsible for getting this arrangement with Thorn and Fantagraphics in place, says this will not be the last Moto Hagio title that Fantagraphics publishes. That's really thrilling news--Hagio is a major figure in manga history and a great artist, and she deserves to be as well known over here as Osamu Tezuka and Will Eisner. Fantagraphics is a classics-for-the-ages kinda publisher, so I think this is a good match. They put out really, really nice books, and they are not slaves to the sales figures. (Although I think they'd like it if you bought their books, anyway.)
The second title is the multi-volume Wandering Son
, by Shimura Takako. I've read a little bit of that in scanlation already, and I am utterly thrilled to hear it'll be published in English; it's a gentle-and-sweet-and-sometimes-bitterswe
et story about two transgendered kids growing up in modern Japan. Takako is also the author of Sweet Blue Flowers
, which is a lovely shoujo-ai staple (and another title I'd love to see published in English, someday...). (Deppey says that Fantagraphics is committed to publishing all the volumes of Wandering Son
, more good news, although I don't happen to know whether it's still an ongoing title. I know enough about the vagaries of publishing not to take it too
personally when a publisher drops an ongoing title, but as a reader, I must say that it's one of the most god-awfully frustrating experiences imaginable.)Wandering Son
a much more recent work than the Hagio stories, suggesting that Thorn and Fantagraphics will not be limiting themselves to older works. While publishers like Vertical and Dark Horse and VIZ (with its Signature line) have done good work in bringing over a variety of smart, sophisticated titles that break the Shonen Jump mold, and there's work from a wider variety of manga genres in English now than I ever dreamed five years ago, I thrill at the thought of getting to see what Matt Thorn picks out as worthy of our attention.
All in all, this is one of the most exciting developments in US-based manga publishing in ages, and a joy right up there for me with the piles of Naoki Urasawa and Osamu Tezuka manga we've been seeing from VIZ and Vertical. I pretty much had to wipe the froth off my mouth before I sat down to write this out.
More information (including a complete listing of the Hagio short stories) is available at those two links, and probably any comics site or blog out there that doesn't like to pretend manga doesn't exist.
*By the by, the shoujo issue is absolutely worth reading, if you can get your hands on a copy--I believe you can order it directly from Fantagraphics, which is where I got mine. Very informative, very pretty, and I'd recommend it for Thorn's interview with Hagio alone, or for the translation of "Hanshin." Dirk Deppey's editorial, "She's Got Her Own Thing Now," on the success of shoujo manga with female comics fans in the US, is also kind of a highlight, and deliciously vicious towards the sexist, exclusionary, and short-sighted comics culture that's flourished for so long in the US.