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ReRead: Dramacon


250px-DramaconWe all have that movie, game or book that we can never get rid of or pick up and read, watch or play all over again as if it was new. For me that is an area for manga for the most part and a certain three volume series in particular. Dramacon, an original English-language manga by the amazing and understated Svetlana Chmakova. Introduced to me through a friend way back in the years of secondary school there was no thought of conventions to attend or cosplay as a recognized hobby bar of course what we read in manga and saw online. Dramacon became my insight into a new geek enriched world. Considered one of Tokyopop’s best OEL manga it ran strong and all three volumes were released between 2005 and 2007.
Since they managed to pack so much fun and details into three volumes there will be no major spoilers here, basically the manga follows teen Christie Leroux a new time writer attending her first ever convention with her artist boyfriend Derek as they attempt to promote their new comic at the artist alley of the convention. Christie encounters men in school girl outfits and finds herself way out of her comfort zone along with having to put up with moronic boyfriend ignoring her and flirting with “sexy” cosplayers in front of her. All is not lost however when she meets her manga writing idol Lida Zeff who gives her vital tips on how to improve her writing skills and she meets a mysterious sunglasses wearing cosplayer named Matt who in his own sarcastic way teaches her to stand up for herself and not let Derek walk all over her. There is blow ups and assaults of violence left right and center from there but Christie leaves her first convention stronger and will full intent to return to the convention the following year, but as a veteran this time.
All that and it was only the first volume, it is however all the summary I can give but rest assured the next two volumes are filled with the same amount of drama but topped off with positive vibes. Picking this manga up again and rereading it is something I am far too used to doing, since I bought that first volume I would say I have reread it at least 50 times. The story is refreshing and although there is drama it is drama you as a reader can relate too. It is set in a real world scene, the convention center where especially now having been to a convention myself can relate to the goings on that take place there. How the weird and the wonderful collide and can maglomp_me1ke magic, Christie enters the convention a newbie, afraid of the big world in front of her not only in terms of the convention but the prospect outside of her own little bubble. Also the art design in this manga is flawless, it seems almost effortless in its simplicity. It can go from being light-hearted comedy to serious intensity without disrupting the reader.
The drama that unfolds in the manga whether it be relationships driven, personal or professional every reader can put themselves in that situation because it is something that could happen in reality, not usually possible with manga. There is a hilarious amount of relationship drama in this manga that on rereading made even more funny because some of things that happens you always know someone this may have happened too and then there is the serious side of things when sexual assault is involved, the difference reading this when now older is knowing the severity of the issue, also Dramacon knew about cosplay is not Consent before it was a thing.
Rereading Dramacon was interesting because being older now I noticed more of the professional drama and implications things like that can have on the person involved and friendships, do you continue on with your career even if it means leaving your partner or friend behind, an issue or drama that does affect youth today. Even though I have listed the heavier of the drama portrayed in Dramacon, the name really does give it away but for the most part the manga keeps the drama to a light-hearted degree with silly antics, good laughs and even a flasher (cosplay is not consent?) which is all taken in jest, rereading the series I also saw them take the serious drama from previous volumes and laugh about it making it seem like they had all moved on and got over it.
mzl.hysfuyctLastly rereading made me realize what excellent character development there was over the three volumes, especially in the case of main protagonist Christie. She goes from being a stereotypical doormat girlfriend who has so little confidence she cannot cope alone to being a positive and full of pride and confident young woman by the end. You can see her change over the three volumes, most significantly in the first to second and then her influence on others who were like her to stand up for what they want in the third volume. Funny how on first reading way back when I thought Christie was an awful boring character that was just there to move the story when in actual fact I see now she is the story and the whole thing is her life moving on with her experiences. Every young woman and even man can see a little piece of themselves in Christie Leroux. Stand up and fight.
Dramacon, nearly a decade old and still grips me and making me laugh with every page, always worth another reread. Try picking up the Dramacon Ultimate Edition with all three volumes included for a good read!