Panel Borders has a 32mb podcast interview recorded at the Japanese Embassy in London. It talks to the winners of the recent Manga Jiman (‘Pride in Manga’) competition to find new British Manga creators for 2008 — and I’m pleased to hear that Birmingham’s Asia Alfasi took second prize with her autobiographical strip “Beginnings”.

Due later in 2008 is Asia Alfasi’s graphic novel Native Narratives, an autobiography likely to be at least partly set in Birmingham (ooh, it might include me, since I supervised her BIAD dissertation!) and which was subject of a bidding battle among major publishers. It’s set for publication by Bloomsbury later in 2008, the first of two books (one in Libya featuring her early childhood to age 8, and the second mostly in Scotland). Sadly it’s not yet listed on Amazon or even on the Bloomsbury web site.

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Asia was the first woman on Birmingham’s StripSearch (beating, by a year, my other dissertation student Giuseppa), which led to inclusion in anthologies including a 5-page preview of Native Narratives in Birmingham’s MC2 book. Asia won the the $5,000 Kids Character Design at the International Manga and Anime Festival; she was interviewed on Woman’s Hour in 2006 (listen again); she featured in Channel 4’s 4Talent magazine; she made a 22-page giant comic strip that was displayed in Thin Cities: 100 years of the Piccadilly Line in 2007…

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…she had a ComicBloc interview in early 2007; a Forbidden Planet profile in summer 2007; and was featured in a BBC documentary in Sept 2007.