Not one hour into her first convention and the excitement has already started to wear off for Christie. An aspiring manga writer, Christie hoped a weekend vacation at the local anime and manga convention would prove to be a lot of fun and help to bring her and her artist boyfriend Derek closer as they sell the comic they made together. But running an Artist Alley booth proves to require a lot more work than Christie thought! And she winds up doing most of it as their friends disappear to explore the convention and Derek flirts shamelessly with every girl with big boobs in a cosplay costume.
The one bright side to the first day is Matt – a sensitive cosplayer at the booth next to theirs, who wears sunglasses all the time and proves to be the shoulder to lean on that the shy Christie needs to survive. Can Christie find the confidence to pursue her dreams of Manga stardom? Can she separate herself from the artist/boyfriend she never saw herself apart from? And is it possible to love someone who you might never see again after tomorrow?
The premiere manga of Nightschool creator Svetlana Chmakova, the first volume of Dramacon lends itself well to recommendation on several levels. On the surface, the book is a simple romantic comedy, yet it shifts suddenly and naturally into a more serious romantic story later on. And more than anything else I’ve ever read on the subject, Dramacon perfectly captures the essence of what attending a convention is like. Indeed, I believe the book can serve as something of an educational guide for those who would like to attend an anime and manga convention, but want to know a little more about what it is like first. It also shows the reality of many a professional artist and what their lives at conventions are like.
Despite this educational angle, what truly makes Dramacon stand out is its sympathetic characters. You really feel for Christie as she begins to realize just how much of a jerk her boyfriend is, but also understand her desire to try and put up with his lecherous ways for the sake of the book they created together. Matt too, is an interesting character that male readers may find themselves connecting with as we learn more about his troubled past.
Svetlana Chmakova is a skilled artist, who has a unique, dynamic style that shatters the more static conventions of traditional Japanese manga. Chmakova switches between the standard manga look and chibi style with ease, offering up several moments of humor where miniaturized versions of the main characters scream their thoughts over the conversations held by the more traditionally drawn characters. In the later sections of the book, the art becomes more thoughtful and looks like a more traditional shojo manga as the drama becomes more centralized.
Dramacon is a must have for any library’s young adult graphic novel collection. The series is rated T for Teen and rightly so, as the series contains a good bit of fan-service, a frank explanation as to just what Hentai anime entails, and various other adult situations as dealt with by teenagers.