Bizenghast is a first gothic graphic novel series [nb 1] written and illustrated by M. Alice LeGrow . The first seven volumes were published by Tokyopop , with the final volume released in late April 2012.  After placing in Tokyo’s Rising Stars of Manga competition with her short story “Nikolai”, LeGrow successfully pitched the series to Tokyopop’s editors. She worked on the series from 2004 to 2011. Set in the haunted New England town of Bizenghast, the story follows Dinah, an orphaned teenager who is tasked with returning to an ancient mausoleum to free the ghosts within the building.
Several adaptations of Bizenghast have been released, including a novel by Shawn Thorgersen, animated episodes, and a tabletop roleplaying game . Critics praised Bizenghastfor the Gothic atmosphere and art, but noted the traditional elements and varying quality of the series.
Set in the fictional New England town of the same name, Bizenghast focuses on fifteen-year-old Dinah Wherever. Her parents’ car crash leaves her orphaned at a young age, and as a result, she moves in with her aunt. Dinah can see the ghosts which haunt her aunt’s house, which was a hospital and later a boarding school ; however, her aunt and doctor believe that she suffers from schizophrenia . One day, she and her only friend, Vincent Monroe, sneak out of her aunt’s house to search for materials for his garden. They stumble across an ancient mausoleum, and after Dinah reads aloud from a plate, she discovers that her name is written on a mausoleum every day to the ghosts. If she succeeds, she will win her freedom and a reward. If she fails, she will die and stay in the mausoleum as a corpse.
For every ten ghosts, Dinah and Vincent get a tower with their task. Over the race of the series, they meet two of the guards: Edaniel, a grinning cat-like creature, and his brother Edrear, who secretly likes Dinah. Vincent dies while in one of the vaults, causing Dinah to become depressed . Later, the hooded angel, which normally guards the entrance to the mausoleum, appears as two stones that talk to Dinah and help her overcome the depression which resulted from Vincent’s death.
Dinah continues to research and discuss Edaniel and Edrear’s sister, Eniri, and the mausoleum-link to the host in the afterlife-has been stolen. Additionally, Edaniel and Edrear’s other sister, Elala, is found dead. After Edaniel and Edrear lock down the mausoleum, they send Dinah home and she discovers that Maphohetka, has a girlfriend and is a manipulator in the real world, is manipulating Eniri and the townspeople. Unsuccessful in her attempt to stop her, Dinah flees to the mausoleum and receives a special outfit and paid to gain access to the mausoleum. Returning, she confronts Maphohetka, who then orders Edaniel to kill her.
In the ensuing battle, Dinah faces off against her boyfriend, accidentally decapitating Edaniel in the process. An enraged Edrear attempts to kill her, but eventually halts when Dinah points out that he’s crying for his brother, something that he’s usually unable to do and that’s being caused by Maphohetka’s influence. Knowing that he’s been compromised, Edrear stabs himself with his own sword, leaving Dinah to mourn him and share one kiss. Maphohetka, taking the opportunity, destroys Dinah’s scythe, and ends up mutating into a large monster. After Dinah is captured in Maphohetka’s body, it is on the entity’s core, which is Maphohetka’s decayed corpse. Using Eniri’s bracelet to see the monster, She finds that a piece of the cross Maphohetka is allowed to stay in her chest, allowing Dinah to conclude that the piece is what keeps the evil spirit anchored in the living world. Dinah removes the shard cross, causing Maphohetka to fade away.
Wanting to seek help, Dinah stabs herself with the cruifix piece, allowing her to rise to the afterlife. There, she encounters her mother, who gives her another mausoleum that Dinah takes back to the living world. Dinah uses the seed to revive everyone killed in the incident and her armor melts into corners that flow out of the fountain. But in the end, Dinah opts to remove the crucifix piece, killing her.
Dinah walks through her own funeral, bidding her mourning aunt goodbye before wandering outside. On the way, she encounters Vincent, but the two do not recognize each other until they find the hidden graveyard. Dinah and Vincent become two mausoleum guards alongside a revived Edaniel and Edrear (two young women who have arrived on the graveyard having been contracted to the mausoleum). The series closes with Dinah on top of one of the towers beside Vincent, commenting how “she’s starting to like this town.”
As a young girl, Mary Alice LeGrow was not interested in comics when she grew up in Weisbaden, Germany  where comics were not readily available.  In her freshman year of high school, she discovered comics and anime.  She heard about, Tokyopop’s Rising Stars of Manga competition from a friend at the 2003 Otakon , an anime convention in Baltimore, Maryland ;  the stort story LeGrow submitted a runner-up in the competition and was published in the 2003 Rising Stars of Manga anthology.  She successfully pitched Bizenghastto the Tokyopop editors, and became the second Rising Stars of Manga, winner of an original series published by Tokyopop. 
LeGrow worked on the series from 2004 to 2011.   She began Bizenghast when, for an art class assignment, she drew an open door and added the hooded angel statue in another class. In her initial designs, Dinah had simple features, and Vincent was one of Dinah’s friends. LeGrow later removed the other friends from the story.  Dinah’s hair and depicted her dressed in Lolita fashion -clothing influenced by the Rococo and Victorian eras .  Other changes included Dinah’s hair being altered from straight to curly and the addition of an exoskeleton- like armor to Edrear. Tired of thin female characters in comics, LeGrow designed Edaniel’s girlfriend, Nareesha as “super full-figured”. 
Deciding When you names for her protagonist , LeGrow regarded Molly, Charlotte, Moira, Sally, and Diana before choosing Dinah  -a reference to the pet cat of the protagonist of Lewis Carroll ‘s novel Alice in Wonderland ; the 1984 comedy movie Johnny Dangerously inspired her last name, Wherever.  Vincent Monroe takes his name from Vincent Price and the actress Marilyn Monroe .  Jane, Dinah’s aunt, shares her name with LeGrow’s sister.  Edaniel takes place in the middle of a school year. LeGrow picked at random; she noted that the editors let her keep him in the story.  Edrear was initially named Mordred after the character from Arthurian myths .  The name of his sister Elala comes from the character Lala Orange of Rainbow Brite , an animated television series.  The minor character Prince Ironbound takes His Name from the city Ironbound, NJ , while Lalibela , a holy town in northern Ethiopia, inspired Bali Lali’s.  Another minor character, Dr. Morstan, takes his name from Mary Morstan , Dr. Watsonwife.  “марионетка”, the Russian word for marionette, inspired the name of the Maphohetka antagonist . 
LeGrow comments that the series “is about life, death and fabulous outfits (not in that order)” and notes that there is “a lot of religious themes” present.  The town of Bizenghast “represents a world of constant access [of technology].”  The series was originally written on fourteen volumes and would be divided into three seasons: the first seven volumes would make up the first story arc ; the second season, volumes eight through eleven, would be on the mausoleum’s relationship with the other guilds; and season three would focus on the afterlife and consist of the last three volumes.with a guest artist, after she finished the first story arc of Bizenghast . The spin-off would be complete, it would continue Bizenghast .  LeGrow concluded Bizenghast at eight volumes. 
A minor controversy, published in the July 2007 issue of the Tokyopop publication Takuhai and in the back of the first Bizenghast volume written by a former Tokyopop editor and not authorized by LeGrow.  It read:
Meet Mr. Alice LeGrow, and please call her Marty. And while you’re at it, call your best friend and tell her That if she’s going to cosplay ‘any of Marty’s characters with you, both, of you better do your research, or Marty’s going to be pissed. Because that’s Marty. She does not like sloppiness. Especially when it comes to anime and cosplay. Dinah from Bizenghast , because Dinah is her first big market character. Not only that, Dinah’s fabulous. Do Dinah right, or do not Dinah at all. Understand? 
LeGrow called it “a word that I thought it was offensive to me and to cosplayers” and noted that “none of it reflects my opinions.”  Fan reaction to learning that the statement was inaccurate the relief since “they felt it did not mesh with [her] personality.”  She stated:
I love cosplayers and I’m happy that everyone would cosplay my characters. I certainly would not want to deter anyone from doing so … I’m very open to any kind of cosplay. I’m the person who made it feel like they were doing it and they were doing it on my own, but I knew it would be better than that. 
Written and illustrated by Alice LeGrow, Bizenghast is published in North America by Tokyopop . As of July 2010, seven volumes have been released. The first was released on 9 August 2005; The most recent was published 1 July 2010.  However, Tokyopop North American branch stopped publishing on 31 May, 2011;  because of it, the final volume of the series is being released through a print-on-demand agreement with RightStuf.com.  The series is also distributed in New Zealand and Australia by Madman Entertainment ,  in Hungary by Mangattack,  in Germany by Tokyopop Germany , in Finland by Pauna Media Group,  and in Russia by Comix-art . 
Three books based on Bizenghast have been released. On 13 February 2007, Tokyopop also released a 72-page limited-edition art book, Bizenghast: Falling into Fear ( ISBN 978-1-59816-748-1 ), which included stickers and pinup pages.   Running Press published a coloring book based on the series, Color Me Manga: Bizenghast ( ISBN 978-0762431311 ) on 12 November 2007.  On 13 August 2008, Tokyopop published a novel adaptation, Bizenghast: The Novel ( ISBN 978-1-4278-1030-4), written by Shawn Thorgersen and with illustrations by LeGrow.  
Menfond Electronic Art Adapted Bizenghast into animated short episodes or “iManga”. The iManga episodes featured music by Divine Madness and Violet Kissing,  and premiered on My Space in Summer 2007.  Overall, LeGrow praised the adaptation. She liked the “kooky” background effects and Edaniel’s voice actor, goal disliked Dinah’s “high-pitched” voice qui She Had imagined as “deeper … with a slight edge to it. Sort of like Mandy from The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy , but without the sarcasm. ”  The episodes were also available on Verizon’s V CAST.acquired the seventeen two-to-three-minute-long episodes as part of a “program acquisition deal and strategic ad sales partnership with Tokyopop.” 
A tabletop roleplaying game based on the series was created by Clint Krause.  Other merchandise included posters, scarves, playing cards, plushie , postcards, signed puzzle kit, and T-shirts.  Additionally, a two-and-a-half-hour DVD commentary on the first Bizenghast volume, with Tokyopop editor interviews and bonus material, was planned to be released in mid-August 2010. 
Bizenghast was received by English-language readers. The first volume debuted at the 79th spot on a list of the top 100 best-selling graphic novels of August 2005 with an estimated 1,434 copies sold.  Daily Variety named Bizenghast one of Tokyopop ‘s top ten biggest titles.  In June 2010, the seventh volume sold 425 copies, ranking 294th on the list of the top 300 best-selling graphic novels. 
Bizenghast received positive reviews from critics. The September 2005 Issue of Teen People Listed Bizenghast as Hot Book of the Month.  Sheena McNeil of Sequential Tart praised the first volume as “a highly enjoyable read”.  Coolstreak Cartoons’ Leroy Douresseaux described the series as “belong [ing] to a fantasy subgenre sometimes referred to as’ pop Gothic ‘ ” and relying on atmosphere and looks.  Critics praised the art of Bizenghast as detailed, but did not see it as manga-styled. Anime Jump‘s Chad Clayton called the series “heavily steeped in the gothic tradition” and commented that the series “successfully develops an inventive visual style all its own. It seems to be more classical art, gothic comics, and even artists like Edward Gorey than it does to manga. ”  Johanna Draper Carlson, a longtime reviewer for Publishers Weekly , found the art reminiscent of “classic fantasy indy comics” and noted “stock elements” in the story.  Reviewers found Dinah’s character design “striking” and with the potential to appeal to fans of the Gothic Lolita fashion .   Criticism focused on the writing, flat characters,  and the varying quality of the art.   Anime News Network’s Zac Bertschy criticized Bizenghast for the “slightly modified generic monster-of-the-week cliche” plot, one-dimensional characters, and art.  David Welsh compared Bizenghast to “a cosplay of a horror manga”, and wrote: “It’s got a handle on the cosmetics, but the central elements of the story are vague and underdeveloped.” 
In his review of the novel adaptation, Mania Entertainment Greg Hackmann disliked the large amount of description, the “inconsistent” narrative, and felt that the novel was more of a “novelization in the most literal sense of the word, reading much less like adaptation in the spirit of LeGrow’s work than a 1-to-1 copy of the source material. ”  Conversely, Sabrina Fritz wrote that the novel was “well-written, [and] engaging” and called it “one of the best light novels on the market”.  Another reviewer for Mania Entertainment, Danielle Van Gorder, enjoyed “[t] he detail and perspective in the architectural drawings” and “incredibly detailed costumes” of the art book Falling into Fear . 
Notes and references
- Jump up^ LeGrow considersBizenghastto be a graphic novel series,   while reviewers have categorized it as global manga.  
- ^ Jump up to:a b c d e Douresseau, LJ (2 March 2004). “Interview with Marty LeGrow”. Coolstreak Cartoons . Retrieved 3 February 2010 .
- Jump up^ “About the Books” . Mr. Alice LeGrow . Retrieved 22 August 2012 .
- ^ Jump up to:Welsh a b , David (3 February 2010). “Quick and the Dead” . Comic World News. Archived from the original on 30 August 2010 . Retrieved 3 February 2010 .
- ^ Jump up to:a b Bertschy, Zac (15 December 2005). “Bizenghast GN1 – Review -” . Anime News Network . Retrieved 30 June 2009 .
- Jump up^ Goodman, David (13 April 2012). “A Q & A with Philly Writer / Artist Mr. Alice LeGrow” . Geekadelphia . Retrieved 15 April 2012 .
- Jump up^ “About the Author” . Mr. Alice LeGrow . Retrieved 23 June 2010 .
- ^ Jump up to:a b “Rising Stars Series Winner to Have Published” . Anime News Network . February 25, 2004 . Retrieved 6 January 2010 .
- Jump up^ “About the Author” . Mr. Alice LeGrow. Archived from the original on 28 August 2011 . Retrieved 23 June 2010 .
- Jump up^ LeGrow, Mr. Alice (12 May 2011). “39 Envelopes” . Eat Cake Frosting. Tumblr . Retrieved 21 November 2011 .
- ^ Jump up to:a b c d LeGrow, Alice M. (2007). Bizenghast . 4 . Los Angeles: Tokyopop. pp. 146-156. ISBN 978-1-4278-0484-6 .
- Jump up^ Aoki, Deb. “Interview with the Editors of the Gothic and Lolita Bible” . About.com . Retrieved 11 July 2010 .
- Jump up^ LeGrow, Mr. Alice. “Nareesha” . Deviantart.com . Retrieved 25 July2009 .
- ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f g LeGrow, Mr. Alice (30 May 2011). “Interesting Facts” . Tumblr . Retrieved 20 July 2011 .
- Jump up^ LeGrow, Mr Alice (17 August 2008). “deviantART: sadwonderland’s journal: BizenCast!” . Deviantart.com . Retrieved 23 January 2010 .
- Jump up^ LeGrow, M. Alice (15 December 2005). “deviantART: sadwonderland’s journal: Comic Book Stoofs” . Deviantart.com . Retrieved 9 March 2010 .
- Jump up^ Ong Kean Pang, Benjamin (6 June 2005). “Checking out Bizenghast With Mr. Alice LeGrow” . Newsarama . Archived from the original on 14 February 2009 . Retrieved 4 July 2009 .
- ^ Jump up to:a b c d e Brice, Jason. “Bizenghast’s Mr. Alice LeGrow” . Manga Life . Archived from the original on 10 February 2006 . Retrieved 30 November2011 .
- Jump up^ LeGrow, Mr. Alice (11 July 2009). “deviantART: sadwonderland’s journal: EDIT: An update on the current poll! Also Tegaki!” . Deviantart.com . Retrieved 21 February 2010 .
- Jump up^ LeGrow, M. Alice (10 November 2009). “deviantART: sadwonderland’s journal: Future Project Stuff!” . Deviantart.com . Retrieved 20 November2009 .
- Jump up^ LeGrow, Mr. Alice (12 March 2010). “deviantART: sadwonderland’s journal: Shocking Updates !!” . Deviantart.com . Retrieved 14 March2010 .
- Jump up^ LeGrow, M. Alice (2005). Bizenghast . 1 . Los Angeles: Tokyopop . ISBN 978-1-59532-743-7 .
- ^ Jump up to:a b c “Manga + Comics: Book Catalog” . Tokyopop . Retrieved 16 June2009 . [ dead link ]
- Jump up^ “News: Tokyopop to Close North American Publishing Division (Update 3)” . Anime News Network . Retrieved 18 April 2011 .
- Jump up^ LeGrow, Mr. Alice (16 July 2011). “deviantART: sadwonderland’s diary: San Diego Comic Con!” . Deviantart.com . Retrieved 6 September 2011 .
- Jump up^ “Bizenghast (Manga)” . Madman Entertainment . Archived from the original on 4 October 2009 . Retrieved 30 June 2009 .
- Jump up^ “Mangattack” (in Hungarian). Mangattack. Archived from the originalon 12 September 2008 . Retrieved 3 September 2009 .
- Jump up^ “Bücher: Manga: Bizenghast” [Books: Manga: Bizenghast] (in German). Tokyopop . Archived from the original on 7 July 2009 . Retrieved 23 June 2009 .
- Jump up^ “Vanhoja julkaisuja” (in Finnish). Pauna Media Group. Archived fromthe original on 20 July 2011 . Retrieved 8 February 2010 .
- Jump up^ Бизенгаст[Bizenghast] (in Russian). Comix-art . Retrieved 4 August2009 .
- Jump up^ “Bizenghast: Falling into Fear Volume 1” . Tokyopop . Archived fromthe original on 13 January 2010 . Retrieved 4 November 2009 .
- Jump up^ “Running Press Books” . Running Press . Retrieved 2 January 2010 .
- Jump up^ “Bizenghast: The Novel” . Tokyopop . Archived from the original on 24 June 2009 . Retrieved 21 July 2009 .
- ^ Jump up to:a b Aoki Deb (9 January 2008). “Tokyopop, Verizon Announces New Mobile Manga, Anime” . About.com . Retrieved 27 November 2009 .
- Jump up^ “Tokyopop World Posts-Manga-Based Animation on MySpace” . Anime News Network . July 16, 2007 . Retrieved 10 January 2010 .
- ^ Jump up to:a b LeGrow, Mr. Alice (22 February 2008). “deviantART: sadwonderland’s journal: Bizenghast RPG Info!” . Deviantart.com . Retrieved 20 November2009 .
- Jump up^ “IATV and Tokyopop Enter into Multi-Faceted Licensing and Joint Sales Agreement” . Anime News Network . August 19, 2008 . Retrieved 8 February 2010 .
- Jump up^ LeGrow, Mr. Alice (May 2, 2009). “deviantART: sadwonderland’s diary: Bizenghast Posters Now on Sale! Also Goal” . Deviantart.com . Retrieved 13 December 2009 . LeGrow, M. Alice (21 December 2009). “deviantART: sadwonderland’s diary: More Edaniel Scarves For Sale!” . Deviantart.com . Retrieved 31 December 2009 . LeGrow, M. Alice (September 5, 2006). “deviantART: sadwonderland’s journal: Bizenghast playing cards” . Deviantart.com . Retrieved 13 December 2009 . LeGrow, M. Alice (June 29, 2006).
“deviantART: sadwonderland’s Journal: Edaniel Plushie Pics” . Deviantart.com . Retrieved 2 November 2009 . LeGrow, M. Alice (March 18, 2009). “deviantART: sadwonderland’s journal: Bizenghast Tees at Target!” . Deviantart.com . Retrieved 13 December 2009 . LeGrow, M. Alice (September 8, 2010). “deviantART: sadwonderland’s diary: Signed Bizenghast Puzzle Kit on eBay!” . Deviantart.com . Retrieved 11 September 2010 .
- Jump up^ LeGrow, Mr Alice (9 July 2010). “deviantART: sadwonderland’s journal: OMG Commentary” . Deviantart.com . Retrieved 11 July 2010 .
- Jump up^ “Top 100 Graphic Novels Actual-August 2005” . ICv2. September 19, 2005 . Retrieved 6 January 2010 .
- Jump up^ Lewis, David (25 October 2007). “Tokyopop top ten: the biggest titles from the imprint’s first decade” . Daily Variety . Retrieved 11 March 2010.
- Jump up^ “Top 300 Graphic Novels Actual-June 2010” . ICv2. July 13, 2010 . Retrieved 23 August 2010 .
- Jump up^ “Tokyopop Gets More Coverage in Teen Mags” . ICv2. July 28, 2005 . Retrieved 13 December 2009 .
- ^ Jump up to:a b McNeil, Sheena (1 October 2005). “Bizenghast # 1” . Sequential Tart . Retrieved 10 April 2010 .
- Jump up^ Douresseaux, Leroy (8 December 2005). “A New Fantasy and a New Voice” . Cartoon Coolstreak . Retrieved 17 January 2010 .
- ^ Jump up to:a b Clayton, Chad (8 August 2005). “Bizenghast vol.1” . Anime Jump . Archived from the original on 9 November 2007 . Retrieved 20 November2009 .
- Jump up^ Carlson, Johanna Draper (30 August 2009). “Bizenghast Wins! Last OEL Manga Standing” . Comics Worth Reading . Retrieved 30 November 2009 .
- Jump up^ KJB (11 August 2005). “IGN: Bizenghast Vol.1 Review” . IGN . Retrieved 30 June 2009 .
Dinah’s character design is especially striking, but it does not look like it’s easy to do.
- Jump up^ Jenvey, Melissa T. (September 1, 2005). “Legrow, Mr. Alice Bizenghast (Brief Article)” (Young Adult Review) (Book Review) “. School Library Journal : 240.
Dinah is an interesting character with a quirky sense of style that will appeal to followers of the burgeoning ” gothic Lolita ” look
- Jump up^ “Bizenghast, Vol 1. (Brief Article) (Book Review)”. Publishers Weekly . AccessMyLibrary. August 15, 2005
- Jump up^ Brice, Jason. “Bizenghast v1 Review” . Manga Life . Silver Bullet Comics. Archived from the original on 7 January 2006 . Retrieved 7 December 2009 .
- Jump up^ Goodman, Grant (20 August 2009). “Bizenghast, Vol 6” . Popculture Shock . Retrieved 29 November 2009 .
- Jump up^ Hackmann, Greg (3 October 2008). “Bizenghast Novel Vol. # 1” . Mania Entertainment . Retrieved 1 July 2009 .
- Jump up^ Fritz, Sabrina (4 September 2008). “Bizenghast The Novel” . Good Comics for Kids . Retrieved 21 March 2010 .
- Jump up^ Van Gorder, Danielle (1 February 2007). “Bizenghast: Falling into Fear Vol. # 01” . Mania Entertainment . Retrieved 7 January 2010 .