One of the opening panels of Blacktip artist Jackie Wrasse’s just-released, island-themed manga, Manga, B.I. (image courtesy of Niabot)
A Blacktip Island artist this week announced the publication of a scuba-themed manga graphic novel set on the Caribbean island and its reefs.
“I wanted to take the manga concept somewhere it had never been,” resident Jackie Wrasse said. “It’s styled on the classic Japanese graphic novels, but set largely underwater in the tropics. Think Magnum, P.I. meets a cynical seinen storyline. I’m calling it ‘Manga, B.I.’
“It riffs a little on Lone Wolf and Cub—it’s about an older divemaster and her young protégé seeking revenge on the resort owners who unfairly fired them,” Wrasse said. “They’re basically divemaster-ronins running around attacking dive staffs, frightening tourists and sabotaging dive boats in an effort to get at their enemies.”
Criticism has been largely positive.
“It’s a fresh take on the manga genre, with great narrative and artwork, and some Hawaiian shirts thrown in,” Tiperon University-Blacktip literature professor Christina Tome said. “Most of the action’s either underwater or on dive boats and docks. Like any seinen, it has some pretty graphic violence, with underwater knife fights and speargun shootouts and flying machetes.
“It’s also a big-time revenge drama, with the person seeking revenge getting harmed far more than the people they’re seeking revenge on,” Tome said. “The tension builds with the pair hiding out, trying to get close to the owners, the owners hiring security to keep them at bay, and so on. It’s a great addition to Blacktip’s literary tradition. That’s not saying much, but still.”
Local retailers are eagerly awaiting the book’s release.
“I’ve got people lined up asking about when they can get a copy,” island store owner Peachy Bottoms said. “And Doris Blenny at the Heritage House says the same thing’s happening over there. You wouldn’t think folks on this island would be so excited about a book. This one is mostly pictures, though.”
Wrasse said she is working on the book’s next edition.
“Mangas can go on for 70, 80 volumes, so I have plenty of room to expand the story,” she said. “I may even have the plot branch out to other islands as the divemaster duo hunts down all the members of the owner’s family. I have plans for a scratch-and-sniff version, too.”