Charles Brownstein on CBLDF Presents Manga

Manga-is-not-a-crime-300x300Brigid Alverson with MTV Geek recently sat down with CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein to discuss CBLDF Presents Manga: Introduction, Challenges, and Best Practices, a definitive handbook about manga for teachers, parents, librarians, and anyone who has an interest in the category.

Alverson started the interview with a query about why CBLDF chose to focus on manga:

The book came about in response to requests we’ve received from librarians and educators over the years to provide more information about manga. It’s a huge field, and there’s such a vast diversity of content that it’s hard to know where to start, especially if your job is to safely curate a collection in response to your community’s demands. With this guide, we strived to provide that starting point while making an essential reference with value for a wide range of readers and concerns.

CBLDFPM-CVRBrownstein goes on to explain that the intent of the book is to demystify manga, a category of comics that has seen increasing popularity, especially among teens and younger readers. It has become a more frequent target of censors, and CBLDF sought to create a practical guide, a handbook that people can use as a launching point for venturing into this diverse category.

When Alverson asked Brownstein to share what he personally learned from the book, Brownstein described how the CBLDF Presents Manga helped him identify the type of manga that he prefers and the other types that he should explore:

The perspective each expert brought to their section was a treat. The book opens with a really fascinating historical section that encapsulates how manga developed, starting as kamishibai, which is sort of like the offspring of Japan’s visual and theater cultures, and then how manga evolved to become the phenomenon it is today. As a manga reader, I tend to prefer work in the seinen genre, which is aimed at adult men, so I was pleased that this book provided me with a fuller understanding of the other categories of manga. I definitely have a much stronger understanding of manga as a whole because of this book, and I think others will have that same experience.

Banned Books Week starts on Sunday. The focus of this week-long annual celebration of banned books is education, and Brownstein closed the interview with a statement about how education can prevent censorship:

This is an important project in the context of our education mission. The more informed people are about comics, the lower the likelihood of censorship efforts succeeding. Manga is a frequently challenged and often misunderstood category, and this book will help clear up some misunderstandings. Ultimately, preventive education tools are the best way to fight censorship.

CBLDF Presents Manga: Introduction, Challenges, and Best Practices was made possible by the Gaiman Foundation and was published by Dark Horse Comics. The book won’t be in stores until December, but you can get copies from CBLDF here or by visiting the CBLDF booth during convention appearances.

CBLDF is a sponsor of Banned Books Week. Please help support CBLDF’s important First Amendment work by making a donation or becoming a member of the CBLDF!