I mentioned Novel Lynx before, when I reviewed the first (and only, it turned out) issue of Pulp Detective. More recently, my sea-mailed package of goodies from Japan actually arrived, and a google search lead me to a big manga database site with a tiny bit of extra information on it (well, the name of the publisher and a tiny cover scan).
No less messy than any other Japanese comic cover
Novel Lynx is a “Light Novel”, or “Raito Noberu”. This is a recently-invented Japanese term, used to describe what we would call a Story Paper. Though after the stories have appeared in weekly or monthly papers, they are then reprinted as complete books, which are also called Light Novels. Here we would just call them books XD.
Novel Lynx is a monthly story paper, with a few comic strips, of about 500 pages, and roughly A5 sized. It costs ¥760, which is pretty steep, actually (a ‘full size’ monthly called Boy’s Monthly Magazine is only ¥450, as is Nekopanchi). But then again Novel Lynx has quite an, ahem, “niche” interest.
Presented by Hello Kitty
It’s a “Boy’s Love”, or BL, story paper. Boy’s Love is a genre of gay romance stories, generally with pretty boys, which are mainly read by teenage girls. It’s also known as Shonen-Ai, and the more pornographic end of the genre is called Yaoi. In English-speaking countries, the term “Yaoi” is a catch-all which can also be applied to purely romantic stories. There’s an American company called June Manga which publishes completely harmless romantic stories as “Yaoi”, which I found a bit disappointing XD. Still, at least it was safe to read them at work.
Though BL may be considered a niche genre, it’s an incredibly popular one. A lot of totally ordinary bookshops (like Japanese equivalents of Waterstones) have at least one whole row of shelves dedicated to BL novels and comics, as well as several of the monthlies on sale near the tills. In addition, one of the two Comic Toranoana shops in Akihabara (a pilgrimage there is the geek’s version of Hajj) is “for girls”, which these days means it’s crammed with BL comics. There’s also a mini-Akihabara in the Ikebukuro district, which has several 8-storey BL “superstores”.
As usual, the first few pages are on glossier paper and in colour. The writing is still vertical, and in three “columns”, just like King was 70-odd years ago. This is one of a few short, complete stories, with the colour used for a cute illustration. It reminds me a little of The People’s Friend… though I doubt they’d run stories on this theme XD.
After that, the first of the main stories gets a big splashy full-colour introduction page. All of the (text) stories in this issue appear to be complete, though they may be in series, like the regulars in The Champion were back in the 40’s. The main stories are around 40-50 pages long
Each of the other main stories is introduced with a full-page title illustration, with the main characters in romantic poses and credits for the writer and illustrator. These sorts of stories seem to nearly all follow the cliche of one character being unsure of his sexual orientation, and the other trying to attract him. Most of the stories in this issue seem to be divided up between real-world high school or business relationships, and fantasy worlds. There’s also numerous adverts for books from the same publisher (Gentosha). Presumably those stories once appeared in Novel Lynx themselves.
Itsoshisa no …something
Most of the rest of the pages look like this, 3 blocks of text with a mini title illustration in the top corner (just like The Boys’ Friend in the mid 1900’s… ahem).
The text story illustrations are all full pages, well it is A5 sized. Some are more explicit than others, I’ve stuck to the clean ones for a “family” blog XD. These pictures also show the changing ink colour. While Shonen Jump uses different coloured paper, and black ink, many other Japanese comics use white paper throughout, but different coloured ink. Here including slightly red and slightly brown tones. I Wonder if it’s to help readers find the page they were on more easily, or something…
As well as the long, “main” stories, there’s a few short ones of roughly a page and a half. These ones all seem to have a fancy border.
The three comic strips are in sections of around 20-30 pages. Unlike the text stories, at least one of the strips is a serial! Well, with Japanese comic techniques, 20-30 pages is about average for a “chapter”, not a whole story. As with the text stories, this one is set in a fantasy world, while another one is set in a modern school.
As I mentioned, many of the adverts are for other Gentosha books, probably reprints of stories that originally appeared in Novel Lynx (or at least, some of them are part of “The Lynx Collection”). Here’s a whole list of “back numbers” for sale.
There’s not many feature pages in Novel Lynx, but towards the end there’s a short “Comments” section with text message style notes about the stories, illustrations or comics.
There’s also a double-page advert for “Comic Magazine Lynx”. No doubt a similar publication dedicated to comic strips. I’ll be keeping an eye out for it on my next visit to Ikebukuro! Now that I look, it says it costs ¥680, cheaper than it’s text-based cousin! I can only assume it sells more copies. That or ¥680 is the pre-tax price, and you actually pay more.
In keeping with Shonen Jump and Nekopanchi (and most other modern Japanese comics, it seems), the contents section is at the “back” of the issue. Though western readers might turn to that page first, as Japanese books are read “backwards” XD. As well as the contents, there’s credits for the cover illustration (presented without loads of clutter all over it) and a message from the editors.
Mind you, I don’t see how that postage-stamp-sized black and white picture is a “pin up”
On the back cover, there’s an advert for something called BL Diary, which appears to be a book where BL fans can record and rate their favourite couples. No doubt it also gets used for rating the chances of straight guys who the owners think ought to be couples XD.
And finally, here’s a look at one of the many (many, many…) Light Novels on sale. It’s also a BL one, which I bought just because it had a “funny” title that jumped off the shelf at me. Unfortunately I had to censor the title before posting it on here! As you can see, they’re slightly smaller than manga reprint volumes, and usually have a ‘loop’ of paper with adverts and blurbs wrapped around the covers (very common on Japanese books). The text inside is no longer in columns, and the images are still full-page. No doubt stories from this issue of Novel Lynx now exist in book form, with new coloured covers.