January 4, 2011

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A Year of Rumiko Takahashi Week 1: Intro Post

Welcome to what I hope will be a yearly feature here at Panel Patter, where I pick a particularly prolific creator that's important to me and and give them a spotlight for the whole year.

It's not easy because you have to have someone who can sustain fifty posts, and while not all of them need to be about individual books, it's pretty helpful if you have a large library to choose from. (Translation: We aren't going to see "A Year of Bryan Lee O'Malley" anytime soon.) Still, it's fun to try and is a great excuse to read and re-read things from someone who's a big part of why I read comics.

I'm starting this feature with Rumiko Takahashi, pictured at left. (Picture taken from Library Thing's author gallery. I am unsure of attribution.) Ms. Takahashi has written several long-running manga series, which makes her perfect for a feature such as this. She also happens to be one of the first manga-ka I followed from series to series and is one of the creators directly responsible for my love of manga.

I don't know which Takahashi manga I read first, but I think it was probably Ranma 1/2. The series featured such zany characters and insane situations that I instantly fell in love. Her characters are about as close as you can get to animation on the printed page, being one part sitcom situational, one part Looney Tunes action, and one part Marx Brothers verbal wordplay. Needless to say, that hooked me.

Takahashi's manga tend to have similar themes to them, such as an odd romantic pairing and characters who interfere with the lives of the main characters. However, the jokes are almost always fresh and the situational comedy changes based on the setting. Reading a Takahashi manga is like greeting an old friend--you know what to expect, but that's okay.

Since I was such a big fan of Takahashi early on, I am curious to see if my taste has changed a bit or if my love of her characters and their farcical frolicking continues almost 10 years after I first gave her work a try.

At any given time, I've read parts of her Rumic World, Mermaid Saga, Ranma 1/2, Inuyasha, and Maison Ikkoku. However, I've sadly never actually finished any of her works, as I tend to get distracted a bit. In this year of Takahashi, I am going to do my best to get completely caught up, which means an awful lot of reading great manga. The things I do for my art!

I hope you enjoy this Year of Takahashi! This feature will run Mondays here on Panel Patter for the rest of the year. We'll be starting off with Ranma 1/2, where it all began for me. Enjoy!