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Manga / Dramacon

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Dramacon is an original English-language manga by Svetlana Chmakova, which was published by Tokyopop from 2005 to 2007.

The story centers on a perky girl named Christie who falls in love with a Tall, Dark, and Snarky cosplayer over the course of three volumes, each of which involves one annual three-day anime convention. While the love story is the main focus of the book, in telling it the book deftly tackles the oddities of pop culture conventions, and the fans and people of the industry who attend them.

Dramacon contains examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Beth's mother, mixed both with Education Mama and My Beloved Smother, goes straight into abusive territory when she screams at Beth for "keeping tabs" on Beth's Disappeared Dad, and then disowns her the minute Beth refuses to follow her plan. It takes a car accident to get her to stop being such a bitch.
  • Adults Are Useless: Derek's cousin Brett and his girlfriend Opal are only a few years older than Derek and Christie, but are supposed to be acting as chaperones in the first volume. They left out beer where Derek could easily get to it, and come back to the hotel room to discover Derek got drunk and assaulted Christie. A wordless panel shows the two looking horrified as Sandra's implied to be chewing them out for being so careless.
  • All Anime Is Naughty Tentacles: Opal, Brett, and Derek joke about the anime screening they are going to watch, just to freak Christie out, since (granted) they are going to watch a hentai anime featuring girls and tentacles. One doesn't have to think why Christie doesn't join them.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Played with. Christie is dating Derek in the first volume but starts falling for Matt, specifically because Matt is much more considerate and compassionate even if he appears to be a moody loner whereas Derek's an inconsiderate and manipulative asshole who treats Christie horribly.
  • All There in the Manual: Lots of the questions that were raised in the series aren't properly addressed until Chmakova answers them at the end of the third volume, such as why Lida was crying at the beginning of volume 2 an old friend was apparently asserting wrongly that they were co-creator with Lida on an early work of hers, which Lida needed to fight legally.
  • Animesque: It has to be expected from an OEL Manga short series.
  • Amicable Exes: Matt and Emily in the third volume. Emily eventually admits that she was playing this up to a certain extent to troll Christie
  • Ascended Fan: It is implied that Lida is one of them.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: "Hyu-Jeong", while phonetically possible, is NOT a very common name in South Korea. "Hyo-Jeong" would have been far more plausible, and common.
  • Attempted Rape: Derek, drunk, goes a little berserk on Christie after he saw her and Matt being too friendly and tries to have his way with her that night. That is, until Christie knocks him over with an alarm clock.
  • Author Avatar: Despite there is some speculation that perhaps Lida or Christie are Svetlana's avatars (furiously denied by the author in her notes in the third volume)... she appears in the third volume in the background getting Lida's autograph, and she also shows up in the omake chapters of the third book as well, where she usually ends up feuding with her characters over their opinions on the plot. This carries over into the main story at one point, where she inflicts the "Random Tool of Author Retribution" on Monica for criticizing the writing.
  • Author's Retaliation: In the third volume of Dramacon, Monica, Christie, and Hyu-Jeong all discuss the possibility of Beth and Raj dating, and realize that the two are almost absurdly perfect for each other. Monica wonders aloud where the tension and drama is, saying this pair would be too simple and happy together compared to the other couples they know... and then makes the mistake of saying, "I call bad writing." Cue a chibi version of the author in the margins muttering, "Why you little...", and Monica promptly being tackled by a random background character.
  • Badass Longcoat: Matt wears one for his cosplay in volume one.
  • Bastard Boyfriend: Derek to Christie in the first volume. He ignores her, repeatedly hits on other girls in front of her, and is frequently Playing the Victim Card whenever Christie calls him out on his behavior. He finally gets drunk and tries to rape Christie when she decides they're finished, but she thankfully gets him off before he goes further.
  • Beleaguered Assistant: Subverted with Lida and her assistant. Unlike Shigure and Mitsuru, Lida's assistant fights back. At one point, she stresses that the assistants put up with more than the writers, referring to an incident where Lida failed to get a manuscript in on time. Deep down, though, they love each other.
    • Truth in Television: Lida's "assistant" is her editor, and one of the jobs of editors is to ride herd on flaky writers.
  • Beta Couple: Beth and Raj. They develop romantic feelings for each other in the third volume and Rajís subplot focuses on his finally telling Beth how he feels about her. By the end, they have become a couple.
  • Bland-Name Product: And in spades. There are brands and products as "McBurger Queen", "Daylodge", "Taco Hut", "Pawky", "Photoo-Shoop", "Mangapop", and series titles as such "Sailing Moon" "Wolf's Reign", "Fruity Basket", "Half Metal Alchemist", "Yo-Gi-U", and "Minitokyo".
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Beth deals with one who comes to her table and mocks her works. She handles it pretty amicably since he's just a kid, until he starts getting a little worked up culminating with him yelling that she can't be a manga artist because she isn't Japanese. His mother overhears this and punishes him by buying one of Beth's books with intent to force him to read it and leaving the convention early.
  • Brick Joke: Sexy Joe, a one-off joke in volume one, briefly returns in volume three. And yes, it is hilarious.
  • Brooding Boy, Gentle Girl: Matt and Christie.
  • Cat Girl: Opal appears cosplaying as such in volume 1, and Hyu-Jeong and Monica too in the other two volumes.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Emily, but she eventually backs off.
  • Cool Aunt: Jasmine is far more kinder and supportive to Beth than Beth's own mother, and is willing to go Mama Bear even after Mary's almost killed in a car crash; Jasmine was that pissed off at her sister trying to disown her only child.
  • Cool Big Sis: Sandra, Matt's sister, who not only cares for her brother, but also for Chrsitie.
  • Cool Shades: Matt uses a pair, in the Sunglasses at Night variant.
  • Constructive Criticism: Lida Zeff separately gave this to Derek and Christie about their work on "Wary City."
    • Derek was told his art was promising, and Lida even referred to him as "a head above the rest," but wasn't near professional level due to several inconsistencies and weak spots he needed to work on. She suggested he go to art school to refine his talent. Derek took this very poorly and gave Christie an "abridged" version claiming Lida told them to go back to school.
    • Christie is told she has a knack for creating strong, believable characters and engaging dialog but her storytelling flow needs work. According to Lida, "Wary City" starts strong but has a weak ending, although the repeatedly mentioned "coffee scene" is frequently described as "brilliant." Christie makes an effort to write down Lida's suggestions, which moves Lida to tears.
  • Cosplay Otaku Girl: Monica and Hyu-Jeong
  • Crash-Into Hello: Christie first meets Matt while running away from her (ex)boyfriend's flirting with other female attendants and his negligences on her feelings.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Derek turns into this in the first volume. His jealousy and his drunken rage almost leads him to rape Christie.
    • Matt sometimes acts like this, but he's not as bad as Derek.
  • Cue the Flying Pigs: In the third volume, Beth's aunt Jaz comments that "somewhere, a herd of pigs is taking off in flight" in response to Beth's mother apologizing for the way she treated her.
  • Date Peepers: Hyu-Jeong and Monica.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Matt, though it backfires him so coldly.
    • Emily is just as blunt and snarky as Matt is, which seems to be why they get on so well.
    • Christie's shoulder devil is like this in response to the shoulder angel sometimes.
      (after a girl answered when Christie called Matt)
      Angel: I—I'm sure it's just a roommate or something. It's always a roommate or something!
      Devil: Or, he got a sex-change operation. In which case we're supportive but still straight as a ruler and suddenly uninterested.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Brett.
  • Education Mama: Beth's. Her sister pretty accurately calls her out on it.
  • Elegant Gothic Lolita:
    • Sandra and Greta run a shop dedicated to Gothic Lolita's clothes and accesories called "D'elusion".
    • Monica and Hyu-Jeong prefer to cosplay as such, and Christie and Beth both wear it as well in the third volume.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Lida was willing to put up with the bratty manga purist to a point until he started screaming about how Beth being Black means she can't make manga. Likewise, the other artists sitting near Beth look absolutely appalled by what the kid just said.
  • Eye Scream: Matt has a horrible scar over one of his eyes, implying he lost it in an incident (Word of God confirms it was because of a fireworks' accident he had as a kid). He was also bullied because of it.
  • Fan Convention: The story revolves around Yatta!Con, a fictional anime convention. Each volume takes place during the three days the convention runs for.
  • Gaslighting: Christie's ignored and belittled by Derek throughout the first volume, and whenever she tries to call him on this he flips it around acting like she's either imagining things or is acting worse by not trusting him.
  • The Glomp: Given that the series focus mostly on anime conventions in the Turn of the Millennium, this is expected to happen.
    • At one point, in the third book, Matt wears a shirt saying "Glomp me and DIE", which was much more better than using a tee saying "Your village called, their cosplayer is missing".
    • Lida Zeff gets the "Fan Club Glomp", twice in the second book. And Matt gets glomped by a random fan, causing a scuffle.
  • Good Angel, Bad Angel: Christie's Good Angel is quite the drama queen.
  • Half-Truth: Bethany convinces her mother to let her go to the convention by describing it as an international culture exhibit knowing her mother, being a stringent Education Mama, wouldn't approve if she told her what it really is. Beth isn't wrong, it does celebrate Asian culture, the geek side of it but still.
  • He's Okay: Brett assures Christie that the raccoon currently plastered to his front bumper at the start of the first book is "just resting."
  • Headbutt of Love: Quite literally in book 3.
  • Hide Your Lesbians: It is ambiguously implied that Sandra and Greta are lesbians, since they can be seen holding hands and even sharing a bed in the background, but nothing is ever explicitly stated. While sharing beds during conventions at least, is a pretty standard procedure, Greta also quietly calls Sandra "love" at one point.
  • Hypocrite: Derek calls out Christie for hanging around Matt, even though he was seen flirting with other girls at the con.
  • Ironic Echo: "If he loves you, he shouldn't do things that hurt you."
  • I Wished You Were Dead: Bethany to her mom (not to her face, though) in the third volume, and it leads to a close Be Careful What You Wish For moment.
  • Jerkass: The snooty "table neighbor" in the second volume. Spurns Christie's friendly greeting, rudely interrupts when Christie and her friends are talking about their favorite author, and calls Bethany "a kiss up" when she saw said author offering her a job. It nearly gets her slapped but Beth takes the high road and leaves her be. Christie and Beth's friends, on the other hand, aren't so lenient. She isn't back the next year.
    Monica: (steepling her fingers as she and her friends glare at the girl) That was our friend you were harassing just now. Welcome to the rest of your day at the Artist's Alley with us.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Matt, who turns out to be more of a social inept guy rather than an actual Jerkass.
    • Also Emily, who is essentially a more blunt and less broody female version of Matt, but who proves to be deep down (very deep down) a nice person, even to Christie and even after it becomes clear that Christie is interested in dating her ex-boyfriend
  • Lack of Empathy:
    • Derek completely and unashamedly hits on every hot girl he sees at the convention, even or especially when Christie is right next to him. Christie is incredibly hurt by this but Derek constantly tries to downplay her anger, and even has the gall to get pissed when she shows more attention to Matt to the point he says "Guess I can't trust you after all" when Christie decides she wants to break up. Eventually Christie points out it doesn't matter if Derek doesn't kiss or make out with the other girls, his hitting on them is still incredibly gross because it's a basic lack of respect in Christie.
    Christie: You flirt with girls left and right, even though you know I hate it!
    Derek: I didn't make out with any of them!
    Christie: It still HURTS, you unbelievable ass!
    • Beth's mom is legitimately tactless and condescending to pretty much everyone around her. She spends all her time at the convention looking pissed off and manages to insult Monica and Raj right to their faces. Beth and her aunt Jasmine are both appalled at her behavior.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Emily complains that people keep on glomping her because apparently, she looks like some manga character.
  • Leave the Two Lovebirds Alone: The group does this to Matt and Christie in volume 3. Christie is pissed off at them for this, at least at first.
  • Love at First Punch: That's how Matt and Emily met in the second book.
  • Love Triangle: The second book focuses in this in between Christie, Matt and Emily.
  • Manga Effects: Many, many effects. Lampshaded in the third book.
    • The first time manages to draw a lot of attention.
      Cosplayer 1: Now THAT'S cosplay. Where'd she get the special effects?
      Cosplayer 2: Hmpf, Japan, probably. Needs more color.
    • The second time makes it onto the local news.
  • Moment Killer:
    • Mostly involving Monica and Hyu-Jeong when they are around with Chistie and Matt.
      (Matt and Christie are talking)
      Christie: Why? Afraid you'll lose?
      Matt: want to play? What happened to the shy girl I met two years ago?
      Christie: She's not here right now... (they lean in) Would you like to leave a message...?
      (they are about to kiss when a camera flashes)
      Monica: (totally oblivious to Matt and Christie boiling over with rage)Aw! The flash wasn't supposed to go off!
      Hyu-Jeong: Told you a video would've been better.
      Caption: Privacy at a con = hahahahahaha.
    • Matt does this in the last scene of the last book. Christie is less than amused.
  • Mood Whiplash: In the second book, Christie's reunion with Matt, Sandra and Greta gets a bit awkward when the latter three visibly tense as soon as Christie mentions the artist at her table. Remembering how Derek assaulted Christie everyone's soon relieved when Christie quickly explains she's working with someone else.
  • My Beloved Smother: Beth's mom.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Beth's speech about how controlling her mother has been throughout her life is juxtaposed with a scenes of Mary breaking down in tears, as she seems to have instantly regretted pulling I Have No Son! in a moment of anger.
  • Naked People Are Funny: Sexy Joe, who in the first volume joins in the masquerade just so he can go on stage and drop his pants, and returns in volume three to run around in a Conspicuous Trench Coat and flash the Artist's Alley.
  • Nice Guy: Raj, who's really a great guy, but as is pointed out, doesn't stand out much.
  • No Antagonist: There's no technical villain in any of the volumes, just a few Jerkass characters who make things difficult for Christie and her friends without being evil. The first volume had Derek, the second volume had the snotty anime purist screaming at Beth and Lida as well as the rude neighbors in the artist alley, and the third volume had Beth's mother. The worst things they do are Derek attempting to rape Christie while drunk, the purist fan saying Beth can't draw manga because she's Black, the snotty neighbor accusing Beth of kissing Lida's ass, and Beth's mom disowning her for wanting to have a career in manga. Derek, by the third volume, seems to have become a much better person and is getting married, and Beth's mom finally lets her do what she wants after being injured in a car crash.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • The "coffee scene" in the manga that Christie and Derek later replaced by Beth create.
    • After Christie mentions that Derek claimed Lida said their comic sucked and they should go back to school, Lida and Tamara briefly mention an incident where Lida was accused of throwing someone's art in the trash.
  • Oh, Crap!: This tends to be the standard reaction whenever anyone sees that Matt's sunglasses hide his missing eye.
  • Old Shame:
    • In-Universe, Lida is incredibly ashamed of her earlier work, "Nightbloom".
      Lida: I thought that atrocity was finally out of print.
      Christie: O-oh, I... I thought it was pretty good.
      Lida: It's a crime against the comics artform. Let's burn it.
      Christie: No, no...Just a signature is fine!!
    • Which seems to double as a Take That Me, as the title and cover art are very similar to another title/cover-art of a series drawn by Svetlana herself, who has gone on the record to say her older art/writing embarrasses her.
  • One Head Taller: Matt and Christie, considering he's older.
  • Opposites Attract: Christie and Matt.
  • Playing the Victim Card: Derek gaslights Christie into thinking she's blowing things out of proportion, accusing her of not trusting him to remain faithful despite him hitting on every single hot girl he sees. After he reveals he saw Christie kissing Matt and says "Guess I can't trust you after all," Christie hits her limit and refuses to let Derek keep doing this.
  • Pretty Boy: Matt Green qualifies as such, much more because he is Tall, Dark, and Snarky. It gets lampshaded in the illustration on the back of the Ultimate Edition, which has convention badges for the main characters, with Matt's reading as "Resident Bishonen".
  • Psychological Projection: It's subtly implied that Beth's Disappeared Dad is the real reason her mother wants her to get a "real" job. We're given a hint that he's in the entertainment business when Beth mentions seeing him on the cover of a magazine, which causes Mary to get even angrier when demanding to know if Beth is "following his ass."
  • Put on the Bus: After the first volume, Derek isn't seen for the duration of the second volume. Opal and Brett also disappear and don't return at all. This is a Justified Trope in their case, since Brett was Derek's cousin, there's no reason why he or Opal would appear again if Derek's not relevant to the story anymore.
    • The Bus Came Back: In the third volume, though, he returns, reformed and officially settled down with another girl.
  • Recurring Extra: The raccoon from the He's Okay entry pops up in the background in all three volumes. He even makes a cameo in the first volume of Svetlana's other work, Nightschool.
  • Redeeming Replacement: Beth as Derek's replacement on Wary City, in that her art's much better, Beth and Christie manage to do more together with the concept, and Beth is a million times nicer and more supportive than Derek was.
  • Shipper on Deck: Pretty much everyone for Christie/Matt besides Emily, but even she backs off after a while. Hyu-Jeong and Monica avidly ship Beth/Raj, and eventually get Christie on board, too.
    Monica: Come on! She's your best friend! You owe her a good meddling in her love life!
    Christie: Or lack thereof.
  • Shirtless Scene: Matt gets a brief one in volume three.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Shown Their Work:
    • In volume three, Hyu-Jeong, Monica, and Matt all comment (with varying degrees of politeness) on Christie's use of satin for her first handmade cosplay. Most experienced cosplayers will tell you to avoid using shiny fabrics like satin unless you really know what you're doing, as it tends to show off every wrinkle and flaw, and low quality satin can make a costume look cheap and flimsy.
    • The anime conventions depiction in general from going as a fan to working the tables or staff/security. It's a bit exaggerated but, yes, sometimes cons can get that crazy due to the fact that most are entirely volunteer-run and the staff can only do so much. Especially when the majority of the people that go to them are teenagers and young adults. So for a first-timer as Christine in the first volume (and Beth in the second) were, it can be a little overwhelming especially to those that don't understand the material (Beth's family in the third volume).
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss
  • Take Our Word for It: The "coffee scene" in the first "Wary City" story is so good Lida Zeff and her editor Tamara both openly praise it as brilliant, but we never get to see it for ourselves.
  • Tall, Dark, and Snarky: Matt fits as such, given his personality and mysterious "aura" behind his Cool Shades.
  • Those Two Girls: Monica and Hyu-Jeong in volumes 2 and 3, and Raj to a certain extent in volume 2 (in volume 3 his storyline is more independent from his teammates, and so he fits into the trope less)
  • Take That!: The boy Beth encounters is essentially one to "purist" fans who think all true manga and anime should only come from Japan and anyone who does it outside the nation are just imitators aping the style. A bit of a shallow sentiment that was going around at the time when anime and manga started taking off in the U.S and some shows (like Avatar: The Last Airbender and Teen Titans) adapted the style to their works. The boy being a child basically shows how the artist sees said people.
  • Truth In Manga: Plenty about conventions of this nature (in this case an anime convention), especially for first timers. It's very easy to get overwhelmed by the craziness of the fans and rules.
  • Tsundere: Christie is Type B.
  • The Unapologetic: After Derek tries to guilt trip Christie for kissing Matt, Christie reaches her breaking point and not only states she's not sorry but spells out what a complete and utter shithead Derek has been since the convention started (like how it was Christie's first convention and he did nothing to help calm her anxiety as a first time creator because he was too busy flirting with every girl he saw right in front of her).
  • Unreliable Narrator: Christie at the start of the second book.
  • Warts and All: Dramacon tries to show all sides towards conventions and cosplaying, as well as attempting to write manga in America and the pratfalls that come with professional comic creating, though it tends to lean more towards optimism most of the time.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Beth struggles with how much she sacrifices trying to keep her mom happy. In the third volume she recalls how she pretty much didn't have a childhood because of all the time spent on homework and awards and competitions at Mary's orders.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Incredibly prevalent and infuriating in the third book, even though some of these questions do GET resolved in the "Ultimate Book" compilation. To name the most glaringly obvious: What happened to Bethany and Raj and Derek and his fiance?
    • What happened to Christie and Matt? Well, they had a date at the zoo just before separating to start their new long-distance relationship. What happened to Bethany's new art job? She didn't get to meet the guy from Mangapop, but he left her a message to say that they're still interested, so she'll probably take it when they next meet.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: While there's no dialog involved, in one scene Sandra can be seen laying into Opal and Brett after Derek tried to rape Christie, most likely lecturing them about having left their beer out in the open and not paying better attention to the two since they were chaperoning.
  • Why Couldn't You Be Different?: Bethany's mother, who doesn't approve of Bethany 1) liking anime and 2) not wanting to be a lawyer. They get better
  • Writer on Board: At one point Bethany is confronted by a kid who claims that OEL Manga is not "real" manga. He's 10, has a black headband and a Yo-Gi-U t-shirt, and communicates only by shouting. And swearing. And being racist.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: According to Sandra, Matt would never do it.