Lyn Jensen's Blog: Manga, Music, and Politics

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Location: Anaheim, California, United States

Regular contributor ("Carson City Limits" and other content) for Random Lengths (circulation 56,000) in San Pedro, CA, 2001-present. Manga reviewer: LA Alternative (circulation 150,000), 2005-2006. Some manga reviews also ran in NY Press around this time. Entertainment reporting: Music Connection (circulation 75,000), 1983-1906. Travel writing: Oakland Tribune (1998) and Life After 50 (2006). Other bylines: Goldmine, Star Hits, Los Angeles Reader, Los Angeles Times, Long Beach Press Telegram, Blade, BAM, Daily Breeze, LA Weekly. Specializations include community news reporting, writing reviews (book, theater, concert, film, music), copywriting, resumes, editing, travel writing, publicity, screenwriting, lecturing, and content development. Education: B. A. Theater Arts, UCLA. Post-grad work, Education, Chapman University.

Friday, November 9, 2012


Manga reviews!

Thank Netcomics for making an extensive variety of gay-themed Korean comics available to American fans. The Korean-American publisher markets English editions of about a dozen examples of the genre known as “Boys Love” or “yaoi” in both online and paperback formats.

Fans of international comics know Japanese graphic novels as manga, but the Korean equivalent is often called manwha. Newcomers to the scene may be surprised to find that Japanese graphic novels are printed to read back to front and right to left—printing them any other way requires compromising the art. Korean graphic novels, however, read the same way their American counterparts do—front to back and left to right—perhaps sparing a little confusion about which end of the book is which.

With yaoi being almost entirely created by women, Netcomics’ Boys Love offerings provide fans with a sampling of top Korean female comic artists irrespective of sexual orientation. Most titles are aimed for late teen to adult readers, including:

  • Totally Captivated by Hajin Yoo, a six-volume series that’s by turns funny, hip, romantic, charming, and grotesque. Thanks to a little mix-up with his male ex, economics student Ewon is forced to work for the handsome, young, charming, and vicious loan shark Mook Yul—who’s got the hots for Ewon. Combining romantic comedy, gangster elements, and yaoi makes an uneven tone, including the dubious development that rape is romantic. The final resolution, however, remains totally captivating.

  • Sooyeon Won’s Let Dai is one of Netcomics’ best-sellers in any genre. The publisher calls it a “tragic tale of forbidden love and unforgivable betrayal.” Set in “a soulless” Seoul, it’s a grim fifteen-volume saga of troubled youth drawn into an underworld of crime and socially unacceptable lifestyles for which there can be no satisfactory resolution. Even when the story becomes almost impossibly far-fetched and convoluted, its emotional impact lingers until the very end.

  •   Do Whatever You Want by Yeri Na, a romantic view of high school life and love that runs at least seven volumes. Netcomics describes it as a drama about high school boys faced with a “very strange and worrisome dilemma … love, pain, and youthful angst will break readers’ hearts and leave them totally infatuated with Yeri Na and her characters.”

  • For readers who may want to sample a shorter, lighter story, there’s Not So Bad by E. Hae, a two-volume series about a famous actor and the gigolo he compares to a cat.