Monday, October 03, 2005

Review: Dramacon, vol. 1

Dramacon, vol. 1
by Svetlana Chmakova
TokyoPop, $9.99

At her first anime convention, young writer Christie is sharing a booth in artist alley with her artist/boyfriend Derek, but Derek seems to be more interested in flirting with the other girls who come by the table than in paying any attention at all to Christie. Christie is upset, but then she runs into Matt, a cool sunglasses-indoors type who pushes her to confront the reality of her situation.

Dramacon certainly lives up to its name, presenting the kinds of intense, compressed emotional experiences that these events can foster. In Christie, Chmakova has created a flawed but likable character, with emotions that can spin on a dime and the inner life of a teenager that is both simple and complex in a way that only teenagers can be. There are also some witty moments, and Chmakova takes the opportunity to poke fun at her characters when they start taking themselves too seriously. Her art is dynamic and tells the story well, although she employs that shifting SB-type representation that, while common to this sort of manga, I personally find annoying; but it's such a genre convention that I suppose its a given that it will be employed. Most everything works well here, although there's an event near the end that moves the story in a dark direction where it is not prepared to go. It is certainly dramatic, but is ultimately not necessary and the story would have worked just fine without it.

Still, absent that one misstep, this is a highly enjoyable story; it's complete in this one volume, although the next volume will catch up with the same characters a year later at the next convention, hopefully with them all a little older and a little wiser.

Rating: 3 (of 5)

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