For Julie Andersen, the young adult and school librarian at Vista Grande Public Library, the new manga, anime and comic book group is a chance to learn about manga, a genre that’s new to her.
For David Brown, youth services librarian at the facility that serves Vista Grande High School as well as the general public, it’s a chance to share his lifelong love of comics and comic book history.
The impetus for the club was the demand both librarians saw for the genres from young people.
“I knew that I needed something for our teens because at lunch time, when they come in, the books that they’re returning are the manga graphic novels,” Andersen said.
Brown also noticed more frequent requests for superhero comics.
“I had a lot of kids who were looking for that kind of stuff so I decided to bulk up the collection,” Brown said.
He took the books out of their Dewey Decimal-ordained place in the stacks and gave them their own section.
It’s not that surprising that although the group’s only met once, it looks like it will be popular. About 23 kids showed up for the first meeting, all ready to discuss and share their favorites from the respective genres.
Andersen and Brown split the room in half, with the manga and anime enthusiasts on one side and the comics and graphic novel fans on the other.
Manga and anime are Japanese styles of comics and animated film, often centering on science fiction or fantasy story lines. The drawing style and animation techniques differ drastically from American comics and cartoons.
Manga and anime are particularly popular among the high school students, Andersen said.
Andersen led the manga and anime side of the room and, since she’s not overly familiar with the genre, she let the students take the leadership role.
“They come in and they’re giving me advice on what to add to the collection,” Andersen said.
For the group’s first session, Brown gave a brief history of comic book ages from the Victorian age to the Bronze age, led a trivia contest and discussed topics like what villain they’d like to see in the next “Batman” movie.
“Basically it’s a lot of discussion of what the kids like and what the kids are into,” Brown said.
Both Brown and Andersen enjoy giving young people a positive outlet for an interest that’s been gaining in popularity over the years.
“It’s a positive place for them to talk about something that they have in common with others,” Andersen said. “Because not everybody is going to go out and play sports, maybe they don’t have another club that they belong to.”
Brown said he “hopes that they learn a little something because I’m using this as a way to teach kids something that they’re not aware of about an art form they’re interested in.”
“There’s not a comic book shop in town, so the kids can’t go down there and hang out there and talk to the comic book shop guy about what’s new,” Brown said.
The group meets the second Tuesday of every month from 4 to 4:45 p.m. in the community room of the Vista Grande Library.