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Comics artist Arcadia Page gives plenty of good reading suggestions...

READERSVOICE.COM: How did you find out about Shojo manga and classic manga?

ARCADIA PAGE: I was introduced to manga at school when I was around 13 years old. Gundam Wing was popular at the time and some girls I liked to eat lunch with were devoted fans. One day they had the manga Gundam Wing Episode Zero, and they were passing it around, so I got a chance to start reading it. When I did, I was hooked. I’ve always enjoyed reading comics, but I had never read anything with artwork like that. Later in my first year of high school, I met a boy who liked reading a lot of shoujo manga, and he introduced me to that specific manga genre. From there I started going to the library to look for more. At the time the library carried older, classic manga titles like Kare Kano and Hana Yori Dango. After reading those I knew I would love to create comics like that, but I didn’t have the skill at the time, so I stuck to writing stories.

RV: What is is that hooks you into manga like Paradise Kiss, Hana Yori Dango, Mars, and The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya?

AP: I find two things very attractive in stories: drama and dreams. Hana Yori Dango and Mars are full of drama. And they both have antagonists that are so evil, sometimes I find myself saying out-loud as I read, “I can’t stand them!!!” I really like villains that get me emotionally involved.

Paradise Kiss and The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya have more dreams than drama. Both are about things that people dream about doing–starting a successful business or being able to control their environment in ways that are beyond what they think is possible. They’re both stories full of escapism, one into the fashion world and the other into time travel and aliens. When I read stories like that, they allow me to be someone else for awhile, and I like how that feels.

RV:: What are some other favourite books of all time, whether novels, manga, other comics and anything else?

AP:: Any books I have with a very deep crease in the spine are my all time favorites. In the novels category there’s Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin, The Princess Diaries and Teen Idol by Meg Cabot, The Scarlett Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery, A Separate Peace by John Knowles, theUglies series by Scott Westerfeld, Beauty by Robin McKinley, Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli, The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke, and Running Out of Time by Margaret Peterson Haddix. As far as mangas go, my all time favorites are Paradise Kiss, Kare Kano, and Bakuman. It’s like a mix of classics and children/teen novels. There are many more books that I like, but all of these stories have in some way influenced my writing or even the way that I see myself.

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– copyright Simon Sandall