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Class Notes May 2007: Volume 4, Number 2

Entrepreneur's Corner:
Manga Madness
Jason Thompson, Muir ’95


There’s more to manga than Pokémon, and Jason Thompson is prepared to prove it. For the uninitiated, manga is a Japanese term for comic and Thompson is an expert on the subject, having read every manga translated into English. He is the manga editor of Otaku USA magazine and his Manga: The Complete Guide was published by Del Rey Trade Paperback Original in 2007. His book is considered the encyclopedia of manga and contains more than 900 reviews of manga series, as well as a history of the art form and a survey of the still-growing, $200-million industry.

Thompson first read manga in high school and was drawn to its serious subject matter, emotional storytelling and cute and friendly art style, known as anime. But it was the UC San Diego anime club, Cal-Animage Beta, that exposed him to the industry—and led him to his dream job. “What interests me is the different themes and genres and attitudes, which holds true whether the setting is modern-day Japan or New York or some science-fiction planet,” says Thompson. “One of the great appeals of manga to Americans is that it’s made in Japan for Japanese people; it isn’t created for Americans, and it doesn’t undergo the same kind of focus-group testing and target-marketing that makes our own pop culture, TV and movies so predictable to us.”

Thompson recently wrote a 10-page feature article for WIRED on the history of manga. In the pipeline is a 1,000-page graphic novel, titled The Stiff (a psychological horror story set in a California high school) and a historical fantasy novel inspired by Hellenistic Egypt, titled Aegyptica.

— Neda Oreizy, ’08

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