"Girls don't like comics." It was one of the hoariest clichés of the last 15 years in the American comics industry, but in the last three years, Japanese manga has exposed it for the lie it always was. Shoujo manga — women's comics — have become the engine driving the Asian comics invasion, and have amassed a large and enthusiastic female following. The Comics Journal #269 is devoted to exploring and explaining the phenomenon. Our cover interview spotlights pioneering shoujo cartoonist Moto Hagio, often called "the Osamu Tezuka of women's manga," who is renowned both for her psychologically challenging stories and as the originator of the "shonen-ai" (boy love) subgenre. Hagio was one of the ringleaders of the Magnificent 24-Year Group, a loose confederation of female manga creators who challenged the then-male-dominated shoujo industry in the early 1970s and left it utterly transformed. Scholar and translator Matt Thorn sits down for a long and fascinating conversation with Hagio in her first full-length interview ever, and also contributes an essay explaining who the 24-Year Group were and why their influence is still felt today. As if that weren't enough, we also present the first-ever English translation of Hagio's seminal short story "Hanshin," which has been studied by Japanese scholars and even adapted into a Japanese theater production! Also: Journalist Kai-Ming Cha traces the rise of shoujo as a market force in Asia and the United States; cartoonist Lea Hernandez explains how shoujo shaped her view of comics as an art form; cartoonist and historian Trina Robbins examines all-ages manga for girls; TCJ Managing Editor Dirk Deppey offers a theory as to why such boys' manga titles as Chobits, Love Hina and Negima have developed such strong followings among female readers; Kristy Valenti looks at the growing popularity of yaoi and shonen-ai comics; and our critics review a wide array of shoujo titles for your edification. If you're a Marvel executive trying to figure out how to break into the market, a retailer trying to make sense of the new paradigm in comics, or a reader wondering what all the fuss is about, you dare not miss this issue of the Journal.
2006 Harvey Award Winner, Best Biographical, Historical, or Journalistic Presentation