By Svetlana Chmakova (Tokyopop)
ISBN 1598161296

Lots of people have been to fantasy collector shows and events. Some have even been spotted at that utter zenith of localised naffness and insanity that is the comic-convention. Seldom have the bizarre passions and obsessively tunnel-visioned peccadilloes of such a very peculiar band of people been better captured than in this oddly charming tale from Canada-based Russian émigré Svetlana Chmakova.

With a deceptively light touch and a killer reservoir of sharp one-liners and come-backs, she tells the tale of Christie, a young girl at her first anime/comic convention with her boyfriend, and the manga comic they have created together. Take it from an old lag at these things, the combination of wonder, fascination, disappointment and vertiginous bewilderment portrayed here is spot on – if a trifle toned down. No one who has never actually attended a con would believe what can really happen.

Among the personal heroes, old friends and total weirdoes running wild like a self-contained goblin-horde let loose for a whole weekend in a localised Halloween, is a young man who Christie thinks is obnoxious, brash, rude, cool, good-looking and an increasingly better-seeming prospect than the boyfriend she brought with her, whose feet of clay are becoming more obvious as the hours and minutes unfold. Christie’s dilemmas compound as she meets her all-time manga hero and has to face some unpleasant facets of her own character.

Can this week-end change her life? Should she compromise long-time relationships for people that will be thousands of miles away again in mere hours, or should she put it all on the line and let the cards fall where they may? Whatever happens, it’s a whole year until the next convention, but since this a charmingly addictive slice of fun, I’m hoping the next volume will be available a good deal sooner than that.

© 2005 Svetlana Chmakova and Tokyopop Inc. All Rights Reserved.