In this opening volume of the 3-volume Dramacon series, teen manga writer Christie attends her first manga convention, along with her boyfriend Derek, who illustrates her books. From the opening scenes we see that Christie is a peacemaker, smoothing the waters when Derek loses his temper at the hotel's check-in desk. Once at their table in the writers' room, Derek blatantly flirts with all the pretty girls, while Christie sits there stewing and eventually having a hysterical (in both senses) meltdown.
That's when she runs into tall, dark and handsome Matt, who seems to understand her in a way that Derek just doesn't. The storyline may seem stale and overworked, but trust me, the way it's presented is definitely not. The inevitable complications that arise are funny and sweet, as well as surprising, and the artwork compliments the pacing and characterization perfectly.
As far as I'm concerned the fact that there are only three volumes in this series is a plus - the story is clearly headed in a specific direction. The convention setting is a highly effective backdrop for the romance and action, as in the absence of adult family members, it seems that anything can happen. This atmosphere of independence and excitement allows for Christie to re-evaluate her choices she's made in her life so far, and it was a pleasant surprise to watch the characters develop so completely in this charming coming-of-age story. I look forward reading (and watching) the further adventures of Christie and her friends.
Books in the Dramacon series:
Dramacon, Volume 1 by Svetlana Chmakova (Tokyopop, 2005)
Also reviewed at:
The Fickle Hand of Fate: "The art is great, switching styles just a little bit to suit the tone of each scene. It's subtle, funny, and it works."