200612210237Over at our other day job, this week’s PW Comics Week presented a Critic’s Poll of the year’s best graphic novels. With over 50 titles picked by individual critics, it shows that there was no dearth of riches this year. We also broke out resident manga maven Kai-Ming Cha’s special manga and manhwa lists and that’s where the furore began. We don’t have the time to link to everything, just go here to MangaBlog and start clicking and you’ll figure it out. Basically, most blogomanga maniacs found the list very very …idiosyncratic, shall we say. Much puzzlement was also voiced over Cha’s #1 pick, The Building Opposite by Vanyda. Published by Fanfare/Ponent/Mon, many have never even seen a copy, and some even question its existence. David Welsh investigates:

I’ve seen a couple of reviews of it, but I can’t remember if the reviewers mentioned if the publisher had provided a complimentary copy or if they’d picked it up in a store. Apparently it’s one of the 10 best manga of 2006, and given Fanfare/Ponent Mon’s track record, that’s certainly plausible, but where can I buy it, exactly? The English version isn’t listed at Amazon or Barnes and Noble (though both offer the Spanish version), and there’s no joy at Buy.Com either.

Later the mystery is partially cracked:

Update: At MangaBlog, Brigid tracks down some sightings of this mysterious, reclusive book. In the comments below this post, Patrick provides visual confirmation of the Nessie of nouvelle manga’s presence at The Beguiling in Toronto. Makes sense. I ended up ordering Walking Man and Kinderbook from that fine establishment.

Come to think of it, we’ve never seen a copy of a Ponent Mon book, either. Apparently all the office copies get snatched up. Guess they are THAT good.

Personally speaking, Kai-Ming knows a heck of a lot more about manga than we do, and any list that gets people talking is a good thing.


  1. Heidi, I am positive I have seen copies of The Building Opposite in Rocketship’s little Manga section. I know they’ve had a couple of the other Fanfare/Ponent/Mon books there as well. So you should probably check that out.

  2. Jim Hanley’s Universe has them here and there… but Ponent Mon’s output is definitely worth checking out. They’re pushing a Euro/manga fusion movement called “nouvelle manga”, and the results are really intriguing. I just wish they had better distribution.

  3. does it matter? it’s typical for a critic to pick an obscure and inaccesible book/movie/music/insert your own pop-culture product just to prove they’re smarter than the general public. who cares?

  4. Robin E. is right. It exists in Brooklyn! I went to Rocketship this morning and Alex showed me the shelf where they had 3 copies of THE BUILDING OPPOSITE. Cool. I bought one, so now there are 2 ….

  5. Ku, with me, it’s not really a case of “What are they thinking picking that book?” It’s “Where is the copy that I ordered well over a year ago?” Did it ever actually ship through Diamond?

  6. There is a easy explanation as to why not many people see the books. Fanfare/Ponent Mon books are hard to find at a distributor level. They are always offered initially through Diamond, but almost never available for reorder. Even more indy friendly (Cold Cut, Last Gasp) and bookstore (Baker & Taylor) distributors don’t have them available very often. Since Fanfare is primarily a European publisher, these books are essentially imports. So customers don’t see the books because even the best stores with the widest selection have a hard time getting them for the shelf.

    My store (Comic Swap, State College, PA) carries and does well with many Fanfare books. Both Yukiko’s Spinach and Mariko Parade are 2 of my favorites and sold to the right customer, they go over great. I have one copy of Building Opposite left on my shelf right now!

  7. I have pre-ordered (and received) every Fanfare/Ponent Mon book through Diamond without problem (via my LCS). But I can see that if there’s no ability to re-order how these books could disappear. It’s the 1 publisher I order every book from (not hard – maximum 4 releases per year?).

    Fanfare/Ponent Mon is a Spain-based company, and their books are available through amazon.co.uk, but not (directly) from amazon.com, which suggests to me that the primary market for their English-language books is the UK. This would seem to be confirmed by the Union Jack icon on their webpage. In that case, I’m really greatful that they list their books through Diamond at all.