Fans of graphic novels make new friends

Cumming Library hosts teen manga day, inspired costume contest

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CUMMING, Ga. — Manga fans have found each other as the Cumming Library hosted a teen manga day Jan. 3 asking participants to dress as their favorite character, create their own comics and make inspired crafts.

About 25 area teens from grades six and up showed up, some wearing costumes, others there to show their appreciation for the Japanese art form that continues to grow in popularity.

Manga, (pronounced maNG-ga) are graphic comics, some told in panels like a science-fiction or fantasy theme soap opera over many volumes, but in general are just stories using sequential art. True Japanese ones are read from right page to left page and back of the book to front, and although they are translated to English, they retain the story’s original format.

Some are in color, some are in black-and-white, some gory and adult and indie, others are infatuated with caped superheroes.

The manga-themed event is one of several last week held for teens at Forsyth County Libraries, that included a snow globe making class and another event where participants played board games, said Denise Leeson, a youth services supervisor.

“We try to do programs for all ages,” Leeson said. “When school is out we try to hold teen events. We decided we’d have a dress-up day.”

The manga event attracted some regular book club members, but it also brought in a lot of new faces, said Leeson. All 25 who’d registered showed up and many wore costumes of their favorite manga characters and participated in a Facebook contest.

“We are thrilled they are here,” Leeson said.

The library recently added an adult graphic novel collection and the teens at the manga event were excited about that, too.

Some of the participants in the event said they often feel like they don’t fit in at school, so knowing there are others in their community who share their interests is fantastic and they hope to remain friends.

Kathryn Raynor, 15, a student at Lambert High, came dressed up as a demon butler known as Sebastian Michealis in the Black Butler manga series. Erin Doyle 14, of North Forsyth High, dressed as Ciel Phantomhive, also of the Black Butler series.

As the Black Butler manga series goes, Sebastian is bound by a supernatural contract to serve Ciel, the 13-year-old head of the Phantomhive noble family.

It was a surprise to Doyle and Raynor they had come dressed as characters in the same series. They became instant friends.

Doyle said manga has inspired her to become a Japanese translator. For Raynor, artwork is where she’s headed.

“From practicing drawing, I’ve developed a passion for art and I want to continue that,” Raynor said. “I want to put that into a career.”