I was bewildered after my wife and I walked into our local BAM this afternoon. Yes, BAM, and therein lies a hint the message on my brand-new T-shirt is painfully accurate. My wife’s new 79th birthday gift to me has “It’s Weird Being the Same Age as Old People” printed boldly across the front.
There must have been several thousand titles in the MANGA section, along with several groups of teenagers chatting and comparing books. I stopped a clerk working several aisles over and asked her to please bring me up to the twenty-first century. She adjusted her face mask and led me back to the FUNKO section.
“Looks like a toy store, doesn’t it?” as she waved her hand along shelves filled with plastic characters and avatars from a distant universe. “They’re supposed to be collectibles,” she said. “They sell pretty well, I guess.” She turned to the two full rows of shelves behind us marked MANGA. “At least these are books, sort of.”
“What genre are they?” I asked. The teenagers stopped chatting and looked at us as if we were infringing in their domain. One group moved to the end of the row of shelves. I think the clerk smiled behind her COVID mask, at least her eyes sparkled as if she was smiling. It is a young person’s style,” she said as she pulled a book off the shelf and handed it to me. “It isn’t for everybody.”
“Oh,” I said as if I knew what I was talking about, “It’s Y-A, Young Adult!”
“Not really,” she answered. “They’re picture books.”
I thumbed through one book, and then another, stunned by the graphic, pen and ink art panels with minimal or no dialogue printed anywhere. They looked like comic books in 6” x 9” format. The books seemed to be in sets, with one title having fifteen or twenty subsets. There are thousands of them.
“I’m stunned. I had no idea this type of book even existed.” I said
“Well, it is one way to get kids to read,” she said as she walked away. “Look on the wall across from us, there is another type of book in the same style over there.”
The whole back wall behind us was a sectioned labeled “Graphic Novels.” I thumbed through several of those as well. The only quick difference I saw was they were printed in color instead of black and white.
I thought the birthday T-shirt was cute, but now it reminds me of an old sweatshirt my mom wore that said “My Go-Go got up and Went-Went.” I have a feeling my go-go got up and went-went just about the time they renamed he store to BAM.