On being a slow-reader (and slow-drinker)

latteMy husband jokes that I’m a slow-drinker, and that’s true. A coffee or a beer that takes others 20-30 minutes to drink can take me 2-3 hours. I love this about myself, as I can extend my enjoyment of something I love out, savoring it and not letting anyone rush me. That’s not to say that I can’t chug a beer, or quickly drink a cup of espresso, but it’s not my first inclination to do so.

The final volume of Kyousuke Motomi’s shojo manga series Dengeki Daisy is being released through Viz Media next month, and that got me thinking back to my post on binge-reading manga. Binge-reading, like chugging, can be satisfying, but there’s something about the slow accumulation of volumes over months or years that makes the reading of manga and comics stick with me.

Dengeki Daisy was one of the few shojo manga titles that I started reading when the first volume was released in the US. I’ve read it slowly, one release at a time, and it’s made me realize some things about the slow-reading of a series:

1. I absorb more when reading slowly

Reading comics and manga is all about paying attention to details, and allowing your imagination time to work with the artwork. I realized when I was going from one volume of Ouran High School Host Club to the next, I was paying more attention to the main story line as opposed to any details of theme, subplots, or artistry. When I know that I won’t get my hands on another volume of a series for months, if ever, I become more present with the details in front of me. I can allow myself to be present with the book, considering one panel at a time, with no feeling that I must get to the next volume.

2. Loyalty pays off

In all series, whether it be comics, manga, or even television, there are going to be low points. I’ve never read a series that didn’t have one or two sluggish volumes, or a volume or two that seemed out of context. This seems especially true when series evolve, as in the case of Dengeki Daisy. The series starts out as a fluffy shojo, one that you might expect, but slowly evolves into something slightly more adult and action oriented. There were a few volumes (7-10 in particular) that seemed at times excruciatingly clunky, and one (volume 10 I think) that seemed to run purely on exposition. The pacing seemed off, and I admit, I considered stopping the series not once, but a few times.

But I held on, and you know what? After volume 10, it founds its footing again. The author figured out where she was going, the characters seemed to embrace their new stage, and I found myself looking for the release date online immediately after reading a new volume.

3. “What’s next?” is a creative space

dd16For centuries, the ploy of ending a volume of a serialized work with a cliffhanger has been a popular (and profitable) marketing tactic. And of course, the serialized format
garners more money from the consumer, as they wait with what the publisher must imagine to be baited breath to get their hands on a new volume.

But in the time between volumes, your mind has to go somewhere with the story. This can be creating scenarios of what is going to happen next in your own imagination, or through fanfiction or fan art. It can also the contemplation of themes.

The space between volumes is a gift to the reader – it serves as a giant blank space between panels, and forces you to work even harder. This hard work means that, when you’re staring down the final volume of a work, you will appreciate and understand it all the more.

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