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.