Original Japanese manga art, artifacts up for viewing at Booth Library

Melissa Jabek, Contributing Writer

The Eastern community can appreciate original Japanese manga art and artifacts at the West Reading Room of Booth Library in honor of Asian Heritage Month until April 25.

Kofi Bazzell-Smith, a junior majoring in studio art, created all of the original manga artwork at the exhibit.

Manga is a Japanese style of comic books whose storytelling structure contains an introduction, development, twist and conclusion, Bazzell-Smith said. The books are read from right to left.

Western comic books have an introduction, conflict and conclusion, he said. Unlike manga, western comic books are read from left to right.

Bazzell-Smith said he started drawing manga when he was eight years old.

“I didn’t know what manga was when I was drawing it,” Bazzell-Smith said. “I saw ‘Dragon Ball Z’ and I was like, ‘Yo. That’s what I want to do with the rest of my life.’”

Bazzell-Smith uses manga to put his beliefs and views in his work.

“This is how I communicate with people (in) ways I can’t express through words, and drawing is fun,” Bazzell-Smith said.

Bazzell-Smith had a solo exhibit showing his manga at Doudna, and Asian studies coordinator Jinhee Lee suggested in an email that he should show it in the library.

In the display cases in the West Reading room there are also artifacts on display that Bailey Young bought that his parents got when he lived in Japan when he was little.

Young is on the Asian studies faculty, and during the monthly meeting he suggested to display artifacts from Asia.

Young’s family lived in Japan from 1953-1958, and during that time his parents acquired most of the items.

On the display there are Kimono dolls.

“My mother volunteered to teach English conversation to Japanese businessmen,” Young said. “(They were) given to her by her students at the end of the course.”

There was piece that was a cross, and in the middle was Buddha. His parents got it in Nagasaki.

In the 16th century they outlawed Christianity in Nagasaki; some families were secretly Christian, and to hide the cross they replaced Jesus with Buddha.

There were also masks on display. One is a gray mask with blue around the eyes.

The story Young remembered as a child was that the mask “has hair around the side of his head but not on the top. That is because he is supposed to have a shallow depression on the top of his head full of water,” Young said. “He goes around playing pranks and being mischievous. If you can make him shake his head, the water falls out; he becomes powerless.”

These were some stories Young heard from his childhood.

Young contacted Andrew Cougill, a librarian at Eastern, to help put up the display.

“It was then we knew we have a fantastic collection from one of our professors, Dr. Young, but we also have an incredibly talented student who is passionate about his work, and it is cool to be able to display both a faculty member’s collection and a student’s work,” Cougill said.

Melissa Jabek can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].