Tuesday, March 27, 2012

BL o'clock: Bangin' Behind the Scenes 03

I recently asked my Bang Bang staff to discuss BL o'clock, the time when we set down our translation hats or red pens or wacom tablets to decompress... usually with more BL! Our BL o'clock posts will feature the book(s) we're reading. Editor Kimberly Lammens always has an interesting books in her queue, so she's up to bat first! Dutch style!

Like those annoying people who change subject mid-sentence, I like to change book mid-chapter.

Right now I'm reading Japanese Colour Prints (1966) by J. R. Hillier. Imagine my delight when I realized that the evolution of many of the Japanese comic conventions can be traced to these woodblock ukiyo-e prints!

The middle book is Bread and Wine: an Erotic Tale of New York City (1999). It's a beautiful autobiography: Delany, a university professor, tells the very unusual love story of himself and his partner, a homeless man. Check this book out for an amazing love story told with Mia Wolff's creative and dynamic image-word technique.

The highest book is Erotic Anger (2001) by Gerard Pommier, a French psychoanalyst. He believes Freud's Oedipus complex, Electra complex and castration anxiety theories explain why we like and/or need angry sex. Eventually, after a page or two of this book, I start crying at my sheer stupidity, walk over to the corner of my office, and pick up a kodomo because Pommier and Freud have cock n' balled my brain. Chi always fixes me up right fine.

Next is Anne Whittingham, one of Boys Love Bang Bang's translators.

I'm taking the opportunity to read J no Subete ("All About J") again before I start graduate school next week, as it deals with some very interesting issues and themes surrounding sexuality. Plus, it's by one of my very favorite BL managaka, Asumiko Nakamura! J no Subete follows J's life and how he deals with feelings of gender disparity over three volumes. It's a very dark and psychological manga, and I'd be flabbergasted if it were ever officially localized, but I do hope it is someday!

Next up is Heart of Thomas (Touma no Shinzou). First published in 1974 by acclaimed mangaka Moto Hagio, it's one of the very first shonen-ai/boys' love titles to come out in Japan. I've been really interested in the roots of modern day BL recently, hence why I picked this one up. I'm not very far into it, so I can't comment on the story yet, though! Did you know it's finally getting a localization this year? AND it's going to be translated by localization superstar Matt Thorn?? How exciting! I highly suggest everyone pick up a copy when it comes out. We desperately need more 70's BL and shoujo manga available in English.

Do you have any BL o'clock favorites? Tell us about them! Translator Barbara Vincent and I (letterer Alexandra Gunawan) will make another post later in the month! Let us know if this post was useful for you!


  1. I studied ukiyo-e/sumi when I was in school. I prefer the landscapes over the kabuki-focused works. Hokusai Katsushika's The Great Wave of Kanagawa is one of my favorites. It's really beautiful, but kind of terrifying--impending doom and what not. It's supposed to be focused on Mt Fuji, but with the awesome wave in the foreground, you hardly notice the mountain. I also liked it because if reminds me of the Star Wars sheets my cousin had on his bed when we were younger.

    I started reading Heart of Thomas, a couple months ago, but I was really frustrated with a lot of things and I didn't want to be frustrated and sad, so I stopped after the first 100 pages or so of the 1st volume. It was good, but I need a little distance before I pick it up again.

    I'm always interested in what other people are reading and as a fan it makes me happy to know what you guys are up to.

  2. OH LA! A fellow ukiyo-e fan?! *embraces (in the nonsexual way! unless...)* The Japanese art aesthetic is so elegant and breath-taking; I love the way it captures the essence of things!

    I like the pop art fan pics of the kabuki actors--especially when there's a story attached to the actor! I also like the landscape ones as well. I'm currently scheming to find posters of all 46 views of Mount Fuji.... (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thirty-six_Views_of_Mount_Fuji#Prints)

    LOL (vocally!) at the "what not" part of "It's really beautiful, but kind of terrifying--impending doom and what not."

    1. The Great Wave is one of the 36! There's one kabuki-e that I really liked. It showed two oyama going at it and one was pulling the other's hair off. It was rather hilarious. I tried to find it to give you a link, but I don't remember the artist. It's in one of my text books, so if I still have it (after 3 moves), I'll share it. I liked it because it was a departure from the stage battles--going behind the curtain into the dressing rooms.

    2. Yes! If you do find your old book, please do let me know! I'm intrigued!

      I have another book that has a bunch of shunga prints. I love that subcategory of ukiyo-e the best! This book focuses on the m/m chonin relationships, as well as wakashudo (samurai way of boy love) and the monks with their acolytes. Very pretty, very pretty. It also has a great psychological discussion! I highly recommended it!