Twenty Years Ago: my first book (that wasn’t)

Anime: A Beginner's Guide to Japanese Animation

Anime: A Beginner’s Guide to Japanese Animation

Twenty years can go by so fast. Twenty years ago today one of my dearest friends married the person who was absolutely right for him, and started on an adventure that’s still unfolding. Through all the changes that have come since then, for them and for all of us, the fact of that day, when all their loved ones saw them begin their journey, endures.

Twenty years ago this month, my first book was published by Titan Books. Except that, in strict terms, it wasn’t – wasn’t my first book, that is. It was very definitely published. The fact of that day endures, too. It was fresh off the presses just before the wedding, but I didn’t take a copy with me. That would have been crass. So would have giving the happy couple a copy as a wedding gift, though I blush now to admit that I seriously considered doing so: it was flat, easy to wrap, easy to carry…

It all depends how you define “book”. I’m not going to hint and tease about my pseudonymous publications prior to this – there are quite enough pseuds in the world already. But I already had an ISBN, an international Serial Book Number, to my name. It was attached to Manga! Manga! Manga!, an introductory brochure I wrote for a festival of Japanese animation at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, sponsored by Manga Entertainment.

Is that a book? It has text and images, it has covers, it has an ISBN. But to me, it isn’t the same thing. It was tailored to a very specific promotional purpose, a piece of copy advertising the whole idea of anime to an audience that, way back then, didn’t know anime from Adam.

As far as I’m concerned, Anime: A Beginner’s Guide to Japanese Animation was my first book. And the carefully apostrophised “beginner” of the title was, very definitely, me.

3 thoughts on “Twenty Years Ago: my first book (that wasn’t)

  1. I bought it about one year later and still got it. It was my first “serious” book about anime, and it’s still a reference. Thank you!

  2. Either way, your first book had an exclamation point in the title.

    On a wholly unrelated subject, have you seen the JASFIC manga convention reports? I picked up two volumes at the San Antonio Worldcon (the Japan Again in 2017 bid table being right next to my Luna Project table, which I was hard-pressed to get away from). The red one is dated 2004-08-15, and covers Anime Expo Tokyo & the “Nippon in 2007″ bid ; the blue one is dated 2005-12-30 and covers HamaCon2, Interaction (the 2005 Worldcon in Glasgow, which the author seems to have trouble understanding is NOT in England), CascadiaCon in Seattle, & the Portland SMOFCon. They’re done mostly in a 4-koma style, brush art or felt-tip pen I think, with typeset text.

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