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Monday, February 15, 2021 

South African lady architect's life becomes focus of manga biography

DeZeen's reporting that Denise Scott Brown, a notable veteran architect from Zambia, is getting her life's story translated into a manga book:
The non-profit Vilcek Foundation has created a manga comic starring Zambia-born South African architect Denise Scott Brown as part of its mission to raise awareness of immigrants' contribution to the US.
Let me just note that I hope this means legal immigrants, since it'd be ill-advised to turn this into a political issue. Of course, Scott Brown herself later moved to Pennsylvania when her career was taking off, so maybe this is a most fortunate case of a subject that isn't being exploited for political propaganda.
Scott Brown is the subject of the first in a series of manga comics that will be made about the lives of the non-profit organisation's Vilcek Prize winners.

The pioneer of postmodern architecture was one of the first winners of the prize in 2007.
And why did the foundation choose a manga approach to her biography?
"We chose to engage manga for its fresh and accessible approach to storytelling," said Vilcek Foundation president Rick Kinsel.

"Manga, at its best, has an ability to convey subtle, nuanced, and abstract story lines," he told Dezeen. "The visual format allows us to share complex and notional ideas in a concise manner."
I'm guessing another reason is because they trust a foreign mangaka to do a more dedicated job than a US artist could ever prove capable of doing. And then:
The series was made together with artist and illustrator Hiroki Otsuka, who had created short biographies before but said it is always a challenge.

"Real life is not a comic book!" he told Dezeen. "I learn to listen to the parts of a person's story that are more fantastical and imaginative. That's the seed of a good manga."
He could be right. While manga obviously has its downsides, this could be the greatest upside: the ability of a mangaka to focus on how to make the finished product impressive, without being ideologically driven like the US has become obsessed with. And if that's the path Vilcek is taking, they're setting a good example.

Here's some more about this story on The Architect's Newspaper.

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