TOP

Send Us Your Shelf Porn!

by  in Comic News Comment

Welcome once again to Send Us Your Shelf Porn. It’s like the old Queen for A Day show, but with comics.

We’ve got a really special, nay, massive tour for today as author, editor, critic, cartoonist and all-around renaissance guy Jason Thompson has pulled back the curtain and allowed us to peek into his extensive manga, comics and rpg collection. I think you’ll agree he’s taken some rather creative steps in organizing and storing his collection in a relatively small space.

Is it time for him to possibly seek out … brrr … a storage center? I’ll leave that to you, dear reader to decide, as I hand the reins of this column over to Mr. Thompson:

I didn’t always own so much manga. Some “Rose of Versailles,” some “Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure,” some Kazuo Umezu, a little “Video Girl Ai” and “Maison Ikkoku”… I lived a simple life. That changed in 2006 when I got the offer to write Manga: The Complete Guide, and set myself the task of reading every manga available in English. One year and approximately 1000 reviews later, I found myself the owner of over 3,000 manga graphic novels, as well as numerous untranslated tankoubon and Japanese manga magazines. What’s it like to live in a studio apartment in San Francisco with this much manga? Step past these hoary gates and behold!


Here’s what you see upon entering my studio apartment. To the right are four bookshelves laden with manga. On the left are two bookshelves laden with a mixture of manga, nonfiction books and RPG supplements. Straight ahead is the streets of San Francisco’s Tenderloin, where I heard a man shot in the thigh one night while I was watching “Rome: The HBO Series” at 1 AM. An ambulance came quickly, but there was a pool of blood outside the front door all night…. a cheerful opening to this manga episode of “Cribs”, huh?




My manga is divided up by publisher. This shelf contains all my Dark Horse and Del Rey manga. In the middle of it all, snugly cradled between “Le Chevalier d’Eon” and “Kitchen Princess,” is George, my koala bear from elementary school. Dude, what can I say. He just ended up there. Sitting above George are photocopies of Tomoyuki Saito’s “Dame Dame Saito Nikki,” an excellent manga about American-Japanese pop culture intersections which ran in “Dengeki Daioh” magazine for about a year before being abruptly canceled. (It was never collected in graphic novel format.)


In addition to reviewing manga for Otaku USA and Manga: The Complete Guide, I also edit manga freelance (checking the scripts, keeping the letterer and translator on schedule, writing back cover copy, writing lengthy emails to my bosses about why things shouldn’t be censored, etc.). These shelves contain manga that I’m working on at the moment, or have worked on, from Zatch Bell! to Drifting Classroom to Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. The weights in the front of the shot are for exercise, although I also once tried duct-taping a few volumes of the “VIZ BIG Dragon Ball” together and lifting those instead. It worked pretty well. On top of the desk are various galleys and ARCs (advance reading copies) from different manga publishers.




These bookshelves contain my Tokyopop, CMX, and DMP manga, with a few stragglers from other publishers. In the top right area are some sketches I finagled while working as editor of Shonen Jump: a sketch of Piccolo by Akira Toriyama, and a sketch of Luffy by Eiichiro Oda. To the right of them is one of the “Pixel Maritan” language instruction books, which teach Japanese readers how to swear in English like a Marine. Literally. It was translated by my friend Anastasia Moreno, who swung me a copy. The Broccoli Books manga is out of sight behind the couch.




These bookshelves contain my manga from VIZ, ADV, Gutsoon!, DrMaster, Media Blasters, Aurora and a bunch of other companies. On the top of the bookshelf is Cosmic Encounter, one of my favorite boardgames. Down below is a copy of the Jerusalem Bible, which I’m reading for research for a Top Secret Project.



Now we go to the non-manga section of my bookshelves. Note the books on H.P. Lovecraft, religion, shamanism, evolution, Japanese language study, and most of all the whole row of RPG books! Tabletop role-playing games have been my passion for the last 25 years or so, manga only for the last 15. I know, I know… it’s shocking. But all the roleplayers on the planet seemed to come out of the closet after Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson’s deaths anyway, so I think I’m in good company. And it’s all research material for my new graphic novel project, King of RPGs, of course!



Here’s another bookshelf laden with manga, books on history, horror and science fiction novels, and more role-playing game books. Love that “Reign” and “Dying Earth.” Also that “Count of Monte Cristo” and “Gilgamesh” and “Nyambe: African Advenures.” I’m running a D&D4e campaign right now and posting the session on the King of RPGs blog.


A small section of my yaoi/Boy’s Love mawnga. My favorite authors include est em, Hinako Takanaga, Fumi Yoshinaga (of course), Ayano Yamane, possibly Saika Kunieda.


Having explored my front room and workspace, we now turn around and venture into the rest of the apartment. What awaits us in the kitchen and foyer…?



The foyer contains an old cabinet full of still more manga. But not only manga; there’s also some original art for my comic “H.P. Lovecraft’s The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath,” sitting in as near to complete darkness as I can get it. Above the cabinet is my snake mask I bought in Bhutan, my ladies’ wig for those late nights clubbing, and a heavy-duty plastic skull my dad picked up in medical school. They rest on a cushion of “Otaku USA” issues and miscellaneous Boy’s Love books.





This is the kitchen. Finally safe from manga here, eh? DON’T COUNT ON IT. As my manga collection expanded, I soon had to requisition space the original builders had foolishly intended for “food.” The area under the microwave contains mostly untranslated tankobon and old, pre-2002 VIZ graphic novels, from the days when manga was printed left to right.



Above the fridge are various curiosities and liquor bottles, and some high-class underground/art manga from publishers like Fanfare/Ponent Mon. And Raijin Magazine. The prize of the collection is the 1968 issue of Garo which Deb Aoki gave me for my 34th birthday.





Shelves originally intended for silverware…FULL OF MANGA! These are issues of “Morning” and “Morning Two” magazine.




What’s this? Another pile of manga! You can’t see it in the shot, but the small cabinet behind the table is also full of manga. This pile also contains a lot of Boy’s Love light novels, minicomics and other things which I’m not sure how I ended up with.



This is my desk. On the left is an uncorrected printout of volume 1 of King of RPGs, drawn by my hard-working collaborator Victor Hao. The other pile of paper is my thumbnail sketches and notes. I find it easier to script if I draw everything out in thumbnail form first; the graphics hold together the flow of the story. Beneath the desk is my small collection of PULP and other really old manga published in pamphlet-comic format.




Okay, now I’m just showing off, but here’s a bunch of my D&D miniatures. The pile also includes a couple of miscellaneous lizards, crocodiles, dinosaurs and sea creatures, and trees, bought at Jeffrey’s Toys in San Francisco. I don’t buy that many miniatures, and I only use them for tactics-heavy games like D&D4e, but if you got ’em, flaunt ’em, right? The Ziploc bags contain little creatures like goblins, orcs, pirates and other random humanoids.

So…this is where I live. I’m still regularly reviewing and editing manga, so my collection continues to increase. My goal is to one day build a stairway of manga to the top of the Transamerica Pyramid, like Uncle Scrooge’s stairway of money in “Walt Disney’s Comics & Stories #157”. In the meantime, please follow my blog for more manga- and RPG-related ramblings, as well as a new comic I’ll be starting at the end of May.