October 10, 2012 by shepla
For my first Girls+Comics interview, I hit up one of the nicest editors I know, Amy Yu, who is someone I used to work with at VIZ Media. For those who don’t know, VIZ is the country’s largest publisher of manga–Japanese comics. Manga is commonly categorized into shonen (boys comics), shojo (girls comics), seinen (men’s comics), and josei (women’s comics), and Amy primarily works on girls’ titles sold under VIZ’s Shojo Beat imprint.
Girls+Comics: I know you love manga, but I didn’t realize you were a childhood X-Men fan! What other comics did you like as a kid?
Amy Yu: I read Peanuts, Calvin and Hobbes, and Archie comics as a kid. Then I started collecting X-Men comics in high school, and I’d pick up other superhero series like Gen 13, Witchblade, and Rising Stars along the way. (It helped that I worked at a comic book store for a while.) I loved Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series too.
G+C: How about now? Do you read any American comics?
AY: I haven’t gotten into any American comics series recently, which is unfortunate. If someone whose tastes mirror mine told me that I absolutely had to read a certain series (and placed it in my hands), I’d definitely give it a shot.
G+C: What drew you to manga?
AY: A high school classmate lent me a copy of Rumiko Takahashi’s Ranma 1/2, and I was hooked. It was finals time during my freshman year–I should’ve been studying (or crying over the stress) but the comedy of that series kept me going, and I couldn’t put it down. In addition to making me laugh, that series was really charming and pretty creative.
G+C: So I know you’re a manga editor now, but what was your background before that?
AY: Right out of college, I lived in Japan teaching English for a year. When I came back to San Francisco, I was lucky enough to get a couple of publishing internships and stayed in editorial for a while. I was working at a science textbook publishing company in their Health & Kinesiology department before becoming a manga editor.
G+C: What are your favorite titles? Do you have a favorite type? (Personally, I really like humor above anything else! If it’s a romance with humor like Love*Com, I LOVE it.)
AY: I love anything that’s funny too! I do have to say I’m extremely fond of shojo manga that has a good mix of comedy and romance in it. That’s why Skip Beat, Tail of the Moon, and High School Debut are some of my favorite series. I also enjoy heart-wrenching drama like the kind Nana gives us. Once something moves you, you can’t help but love it for the rest of your life.
G+C: When I was editing manga, I found it hard to find time to read stuff that I wasn’t working on myself. Do you have that problem?
AY: Oh, definitely! When you spend all day editing and proofing series with tight deadlines, you can’t help but feel physically exhausted. My eyeballs need a break! ;p That said, I will drop everything to read the latest volume of Skip Beat when it comes in, just because I know it’s going to be awesome and will make my day better.
G+C: Do you ever connect with other comic/manga-lovers at cons or anything? I know you look great in cosplay…
AY: Haha, that costume was only for Halloween! 😉 I usually check out Wonder Con when it’s local. Comic Con is always fun but kind of overwhelming, personally. I actually would love to go to more cons to connect with fans, but it’s hard for me to take the time off when I’ve got a pile of manga to edit. (I have this guilty complex about deadlines, so I pretty much chain myself to my desk.) Luckily, I get to talk to some fans through our Shojo Beat Facebook page. I love hearing how much they love the series we put out.
G+C: What resources do you use to keep up with the industry?
AY: I always start the day off reading ANN (Anime News Network) and MangaBlog. That’s how I get my manga news, and I like to read reviews of series I’m working on. I also subscribe to Publisher’s Weekly’s Comic World newsletter.
G+C: What are you working on now?
AY: All shojo, all the time! Here’s a list of the current series I’m editing:
Otomen, Dengeki Daisy, A Devil and Her Love Song, Dawn of the Arcana, Stepping on Roses, Strobe Edge.
I’m also working on Winx Club graphic novels for our VizKids line.
G+C: What comics would you recommend to women who don’t read comics? Or even for those who do?
AY: It really depends on your tastes. If you tend to like Harlequin Romance stories, Stepping on Roses is a great, entertaining read–beautiful art and lots of drama. If you like rock ‘n’ roll and angst, Nana will not disappoint. And like I said, Skip Beat is a favorite of mine if you dig comedy and romance. This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what type of stories our Shojo Beat line offers. And if you don’t like romance at all, I recommend checking out our Viz Signature line for books like Natsume Ono’s La Quinta Camera. That book is so charming that it’s definitely accessible to anyone whether they read comics or not.
G+C: Regarding the industry as a whole, what trends do you see, and where do you see “comics for girls” going specifically?
AY: Right now, I’m really curious to see how digital sales are for the industry as a whole. I personally love physical books and holding one in my hands, but there’s something to be said for saving bookshelf space and trees. I also wonder if our shojo readers will continue to want to read shojo storylines as they grow older or if they would rather read more mature stuff like josei. I don’t think the love for supernatural themes is ever going to go away, so I’ll bet vampires are always going to be welcome on some level–especially if romance is involved.
Thanks, Amy! Does anyone have any additional questions for Amy or about manga in general? Would you like to be a manga editor, or would it take all the fun out of reading comics? We’d love to hear from you, so hit the Comment button!