My First Comic: It All Began With Manga

Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon Original Picture Collection Vol. III

I’ve had three first “comics,” including the first sequential art I recall reading, my first American graphic novels, and the first floppy issues I collected as part of a weekly dedication to a local comics shop. Each inaugurated a new type of “comic” into my life and a new awareness of the comics community.

In my heart, my first sequential art was either Sailor Moon, Cardcaptor Sakura, or Inuyasha, although I don’t remember the true “first.” I was in the 9-to-11-year-old range and loved to read even though I had a hard time finishing books. Manga/sequential art/comics didn’t have the slog of dense prose, and with the introduction of anime to my Saturday morning cartoons, I could find stories with characters I already liked and get “reading credit” in school. In those days, it was just me and the stories, and I pursued my interests without the support or burden of a greater “comics” community.

My next first was my first American graphic novel. It was either The Crow, Meridian, or Alias, which I read on the same weekend-long trip. This was near the end of high school, and my friend and her stepdad introduced me to the wider American comics industry, publishers beyond the big two, and stories that didn’t feature traditional shiny superheroes. This was great, but had the unintended effect of introducing me to the fact that such non-traditional characters were fringe rather than mainstream. I learned that I was unlikely to find stories that featured characters similar to me and there was a comics community interested in arguing and yelling at each other where I was unlikely to fit in.

My last first were the floppies I chose from my local shop. I was in my early 20s, and in my mind, the accessibility of comics was on the rise. I finally had my own money to spend, there was a cool local comics shop within walking distance from my new home, and I had a partner in crime with which to enter said shop and pick out what I wanted to read. After carefully watching Comic List, I selected My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (relying on my old standard of selecting a title filled with characters that I already liked), Chin Music (which sounded cool and never made it past two issues), and Lazarus (which has survived three different shops’ pull-lists). These introduced me to creator-owned comics and reignited my fascination with sequential art enough to be here writing about them.

While it would be cool to remember the exact moment lightning struck and my love of comics was established, for me sequential art and comics are a relationship that I hope will have more firsts in the future.

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Paulina Przystupa

Paulina Przystupa

Paulina (aka @punuckish) is a Filipine-Polish archaeologist and anthropology graduate student who grew up in the Pacific Northwest and loves comics and pop culture. Her academic work focuses on how buildings and landscapes aid or impede the learning of culture by children. In general, she is an over-educated fan of things; primarily comics, comics-related properties, cartoons, science-fiction, and fantasy. This means she takes what she knows and uses it to critique what she loves. Recently, she has brought such discussions to the public by organizing and moderating panels at comic cons centered on anthropology/culture related topics.