Saturday, June 6, 2009
Goodbye, Shojo Beat
I received my last issue of Shojo Beat magazine in the mail earlier this week. I've been a faithful subscriber for exactly two years and eagerly awaited its arrival each month. I've been lucky to discover quite a few great (and not-so-great) manga through this publication. And I've had the opportunity to enjoy classics -- like Honey and Clover -- but also revel in my guilty pleasures, like Vampire Knight.
While reading Shojo Beat was always for fun, it was also a part of my almost-too-covert mission to make reading comics in public acceptable. Much like the "knitting in public" movement of Stitch n' Bitch fame, I read manga and graphic novels in public -- while eating lunch at work, or waiting for the train each day -- to not only pass the time, but to also show that "normal" people read comics, too. And, for 24 issues, Shojo Beat was a part of that slightly defiant act.
But, now, I find myself saying goodbye to a great publication. It's hard to not understand where Viz is coming from -- heck, if this saves them from going under altogether or drastically reducing output or licenses, then, it's a fond farewell to Shojo Beat. At least the imprint will live on and, for fans of the series that ran each month, they might see more frequent releases of new volumes.
As far as this last issue was concerned, I was pretty saddened to see that there was little mention of the magazine folding. Then again, there's anywhere from a two- to four-month lead for magazines, so the announcement may have been made after the issue had closed. The only indications of impending closure in the July 2009 issue were the "favorite Shojo Beat moments" question posed in the front end, and, instead of the end-of-volume and chapter-ending previews, readers were pointed in the direction of the series' latest volume. Otherwise, there was seemingly no indication that the magazine was calling it quits.
Thankfully, I found a good home for my two years' worth of issues -- my co-worker's daughter was a reluctant reader until I lent her some shojo manga. Now, she's hooked! So, my loss is her daughter's gain. I'm just glad they found a good home -- it was either that or donating them to my local library.
Regardless, thanks for the good times, Shojo Beat. You made girls (and women like me) an important part of the comic book industry, regaling us with something more than big-busted girls being saved by various male superheroes. Here's to hoping it made a lasting imprint on a troubled industry, despite its lack of long-term success.