Hey there. San Diego is going well so far, we’re currently kicking it on a patio and having a beer after a long day of walking around. Fun times. I bought a Phil Bond original for 125 DOLLARS, which is amazing… Page one of Kill your boyfriend… Life is good! I’ve posted tons of photos to the flickr, hope you’re enjoying them. More posts l8r.


Hey there! I can now blog and photograph… on the go! So expect lots of little updates, and photos at Flickr.

http://flickr.com/photos/comics212/

Alright! I’m off tomorrow. Perhaps I’ll see you in San Diego.

- Chris


seth-concierge.jpgSAN DIEGO, CA: Thanks to their friends at Drawn + Quarterly, The Beguiling Books & Art will be exhibiting at booth #1529 at this week’s Comic Con International: San Diego, in its role as a sales representative for original art. D+Q’s generous donation of exhibition space will allow The Beguiling to present original art from dozens of talented cartoonists including brand-new, never-before offered-for-sale originals from SETH (Wimbledon Green), JASON (I Killed Adolf Hitler), PAUL POPE (Batman Year 100), and FAREL DALRYMPLE (Omega The Unknown).

The Beguiling represents original art sales for more than 40 cartoonists at its online store at Beguiling.com, but this small exhibition at San Diego will allow an unprecedented opportunity for art collectors and fans of these artists to see the original works up close. In addition to brand new works from Seth, Jason, Pope, and Dalrymple, The Beguiling will have work on hand from Drawn + Quarterly cartoonists including Miriam Katin (We Are On Our Own), Sammy Harkham (Crickets), Kevin Huizenga (Or Else, Curses), Jason Lutes (Berlin), Anders Nilsen (Big Questions), Michel Rabagliati (Paul Goes Fishing), Maurice Vellekoop (Vellevision) and dozens of other talented cartoonists.

For fans and collectors who will be in San Diego for the con and would like to save themselves the shipping charges on a piece of original art or two, drop a line to mail@beguiling.com with the title and artist of one of the thousands of pages from our online art store at Beguiling.com and we’ll bring it to the show for you!

Remember, that’s The Beguiling at the Drawn + Quarterly booth, #1529, near Comic Relief, Fantagraphics, Last Gasp, and Artists Alley on the “right” side of the exhibition hall.

ABOUT

The Beguiling is Canada’s premiere retailer of comics, graphic novels, and original comics art. Almost all of the original art that The Beguiling represents is consigned by the artists, ensuring we are able to offer the widest possible selection of material and that the artists get the largest possible chunk of the proceeds. Visit The Beguiling online at http://www.beguiling.com.

Artists with original art represented by The Beguiling include: Jessica Abel, Ho Che Anderson, Jeffrey Brown, Eddie Campbell, Geneviève Castrée, Scott Chantler, Becky Cloonan, Dave Cooper, Jordan Crane, Farel Dalrymple, Kim Deitch, Phoebe Gloeckner, Tomer Hanuka, Sammy Harkham, David Heatley, Paul Hornschemeier, Kevin Huizenga, Jason, Miriam Katin, Jeff Lemire, Jason Lutes, Matt Madden, Kagan McLeod, Anders Nilsen, Bryan Lee O’Malley, Paul Pope, Michel Rabagilati, Brian Ralph, Ron Rege, Graham Roumiey, Sean Scoffield, Seth, Jay Stephens, James Sturm, Maurice Vellekoop, and Steve Weissman.

The Beguiling is a sponsor of The Toronto Comic Arts Festival, May 9-10 2009. For more information visit http://www.torontocomics.com.


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I was happy to read that Kazu Kibuishi really enjoyed Taiyo Matsumoto’s Tekkon Kinkreet, particularly since he says it was the interview I published that pushed him to finally pick the book up off his to-read pile. The piece he wrote on approaching Matsumoto’s work, and the book itself, is also really interesting. I’m aware that when you push a creator or a work really hard, people (particularly hardcore comics readers) tend to bristle. The number of comments in my feed reader in a given week that are some variation on living or not living up to the “hype” is kind of ridiculous… Anyway, Kazu lays his thought-processes on engaging the work bare, and like I said, it’s worth reading.

So this means that yes Jim, you have to read it again.

- Christopher


I’m terribly sorry to morally or ethically inconvenience anyone about this. But. 

There are probably 20,000 service industry workers in San Diego that all appreciate your tip-dollars more-or-less equally.

There are two or three properties in San Diego where your drinking money goes into the pockets of a homophobe who is working against human rights, and using the money he is given from those properties to do so.

It’s a simple decision to make, but it is a decision. Anything else is honestly just rationalizing. I’m not going to be holding a placard outside your hotel room or anything, but there are probably 200 establishments for drinking and congregating within 15 minutes walk of the convention centre. Drinking at any of those probably won’t fund jackholes, and drinking or eating (or, unfortunately, staying) at The Hyatt will.

And you know, when the money goes into his account, I’d wager that the bank doesn’t keep a column next to it for whether it was spent by folks in favour of his actions, or critical of them. It’s all money.

So, your decision. This is the last I have to say on the matter.

- Chris


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280redcoloredelegy.jpgI haven’t linked to Adam Stephanides site Completely Futile for a while, but his recent post on D+Q’s manga initiative made me think, so I wanted to respond. Here, I’ll let Adam explain his problems with D+Q’s manga releases in his own words:

Drawn & Quarterly’s edition of Red Colored Elegy, a Japanese-language edition of which I reviewed here, is finally out. (Note that the D&Q book contains only the title story from the edition I reviewed, not the shorter stories that were also collected there.) Unfortunately, I can’t greet this occaion with unalloyed joy, because Drawn & Quarterly did the same thing that they did with their Yoshihiro Tatsumi collections: rearranging the panels on each page so that the page (and the book) reads left-to-right, but not flipping the original panels.* Why do they do this? If they aren’t going to publish it unflipped, which they should, I’d much prefer that they just flipped everything. That way the relationships between the panels, and the overall design of each double-page spread, would be preserved. I really don’t understand. Drawn & Quarterly is clearly publishing this as a labor of love, so why do they deliberately mutilate it? - Adam Stephanides, Completely Futile blog

I really enjoyed reading Red Colored Elegy in the D+Q edition, and if you enjoy a work that challenges you as a reader I’d recommended it. That said, I am bothered by the ideology of the D+Q release, of selectively flipping panels or cut-and-pasting pages. I even advocated against such back in the day, back when I heard the first Tatsumi Yoshihiro book The Push Man and other stories was on its way. But despite my problems with this method of formatting manga for North American release, as onerious as this production method is, a) it has the approval of the actual author of the work, and b) every other method for translating manga into English is potentially worse.

I don’t like flipped manga because mirror-imaging original art tends to reveal imperfections in drawing, that’s just the way it goes. It also makes manga-ka practically die of embarassment, seeing work with all of its flaws revealed to the world. I also think that, should someone like D+Q release a manga unflipped, the commercial possibilities of the work are practically halved. Any time a prominent blogger talks about a new manga release, Ed Brubaker (love ya Ed!) pops up in the comments to mention that he can’t read unflipped [backwards] manga. Just can’t read it. And he’s not alone… it’s one of the things that makes unflipped manga so attractive to younger readers by the way… it’s like visual pig-latin. So yeah, I mean, we get the Tatsumi books rearranged (“translated”) for Western audiences and the sales are great because the older, not-necessarily-manga-reading crowd that the books are aimed at can actually read them, and most importantly the original creator of the work is happy with it. Or, at the worst, he is at least happy enough (though having met Mr. Tatsumi, I can in fact confirm he is extremely proud of the D+Q editions of his work).

So, yeah, Adam, I really empathize with you on this one, because I’d love to read the work in a format as close to the original as possible. But I can’t, because I don’t read Japanese, and I’d rather the books come out and find a measure of success to ensure that more come down the pipe as well. And it’s not like D+Q doesn’t do a good job–they just don’t do the job we’d like them to do… a crucial difference.

On that note, Tom Devlin dropped in on Completely Futile to explain D+Q’s position:

Officially, we do this to reach as wide an audience as possible. We don’t view these books as specialty fiction but as stories that everyone should read. We realize that many people will view this as “mutilation” but we always run the English version past the artist before publication. In fact, Tatsumi actually rearranges the panels himself. I personally think of this approach to editing as somewhat similar to putting subtitles on a foreign film–it clearly alters the experience but it’s often the only way for many of us to experience the storytelling art of different cultures. - Tom Devlin, D+Q, on the Completely Futile blog

I think it’s just a matter of fingers crossed, waiting for the industry to change at this point. But it’ll be… shit, 10 years minimum before the readership base comfortable with reading unflipped manga is large enough to support niche or artcomix releases. Keep hope alive, Adam!

- Christopher


http://www.nbcsandiego.com/politics/16846195/detail.html

A $125,000 donation in support of an anti-gay marriage initiative by a San Diego hotelier has drawn the ire of gay and lesbian activists and local labor unions who are now calling for a boycott.

Organizers held a news conference in front of the Manchester Grand Hyatt, near Seaport Village, on Thursday. A coalition of LGBT community leaders and the labor movement spoke out against Doug Manchester, who contributed a donation in support of Proposition 8, which would allow only men and women to marry in the state of California. The group opposes the ballot measure because it threatens the recent state Supreme Court decision that allows marriage between men and women.

I know it’s unlikely that anyone is canceling a hotel reservation for Comic Con at this late date, but if you wanted to take the time to tell the owner what an asshole he is on those handy comment cards they provide you, or perhaps in other more creative ways, well, I would support your decision.

For my part, the Hyatt can go fuck itself. I’ll be drinking elsewhere. I’d invite you to do the same.
- Christopher, via [JoeMyGod]


0721.jpgSo just what do we want the manga industry to look like, anyway? I mentioned at the end of that last post that I let my own hopes and fears inform any predictions I might make… Prescribing the future of the industry, any industry is something of a sucker bet, something could happen tomorrow to send that industry wildly off course. Besides, predicting the future is best left to the people managing your retirement portfolio, I’d much rather describe what I would like to see, rather than what I think will happen.

In response to my last message, and probably to Kai-Ming Cha’s blog post from the floor of Anime Expo, David Welsh put up a really lovely, reasonable little essay about a mature manga industry, and the schedule upon which it will arrive. David makes the very salient point that manga, up until the Gekiga movement in the late 60s, really was considered a medium entirely for children. In that regard, Gekiga (as practiced by folks like Yoshihiro Tatsumi and Seiichi Hayashi) acted a lot like underground comics in did in the North American comics industry, giving both longtime readers and brand new folks a way into the medium that showed that it wasn’t all stories for children and teenagers… Granted we’re in the midst of a classic comics revival, with dozens of comic books, strips, and cartoons from the past being repackaged in such a way as to be reevaluated by an adult audience, but… yeah. It was nice having someone come along and shout “Hey, look what I can do with this medium! We don’t have to read adventure stories forever!”

Another thing I think that’s important to note is how many of what we consider mature or prestigious manga releases in a given year actually had their origins in work for children. The most shocking one to anyone who’s read it is probably The Drifting Classroom, by Kazuo Umezu. This story of a school full of 5-10 year old children that go on a “lord of the flies” themed adventure through time and space was actually intended for (and enjoyed by) children right around 10 years old. For a book that features shrink-wrapping, warning labels, and an 18+ rating, and that all of my friends and coworkers love, there’s a real disconnect there between the intended audience and the actual audience. Similarly, the high-end releases by Vertical of select bits of the Osamu Tezuka library take pains to remind us that there were readers of all ages coming into those stories, and they probably weren’t doing so because the books were $25 each in hardcover. You can see the early-adult and mature audiences for works by the D+Q and PictureBox crowd, not to mention the ultra-contemporary adult readership for works by PULP and Fanfare/Ponent-Mon alumni, but I don’t think it’s breaking any confidences to note that Tezuka’s Buddha is the most popular “mature” manga release in English in the last 10 years at least… and perhaps its intent as appealing to readers of all ages is at least partially responsible for that.

dscf3941.jpgSo what do I want the manga industry to look like then? I think that Drawn + Quarterly has a good idea, with one prestige-format (meaning a format with actual prestige, like a hardcover book with lovely thick paper and a beautiful design, and not those flimsy little 48 page superhero comics with a spine) release of “mature manga” per year. If there were 3 or 4 publishers doing that, each with a nicely designed manga release per season (spring/fall), that’d be maybe 8-10 wonderful books per year, which I think that the market could bear, and that’d be lovely. Currently the number of high-end manga releases in a given year is about half of that, which accounts for the loud noises I make when they manage to drop. Add in the serialization of older seinen and adult books from publishers like Vertical, Viz, and Tokyopop? I think I’d be okay with that.

Heidi MacDonald seems to think that someone is missing the point (I’m not sure who since she hasn’t linked me on this subject…), and that there’s a fundamental disconnect between the current generation of shojo and shonen manga fandom and a literary manga readership; it’s her contention that manga is more fashion than hardcore readers. Sort of how Harry Potter didn’t magic-up overwhelming book sales for the rest of the industry. I don’t entirely disagree, but reading her post on the subject I couldn’t help but think that she was selling the current generation of readers a little short. I don’t think it’s likely that fans of Bleach are going to turn into fans of Red Colored Elegy, but I do think there are middle-steps, a natural progression from Bleach to Vagabond, from Slam Dunk to Real, from Naruto to… well, grown-up Naruto I guess.

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I think that… well I think that if we build it, they will come. If we build an industry with a proportionate diversity of material, of target audience, and we advertise the whole thing intelligently, we can build a market for older material, even for the literary stuff. Even if that number is 1%, or half a percentage point, of readers of shonen and shojo that go on to normal material, that’s great! That’s a hell of a lot more than we had last year, or the year before, or the year before. Anecdotally at the least, I can tell you about three amazing young customers at The Beguiling. All of them are 12-14 years old and have been shopping at the store (with their parents) for 3 or 4 years now. Over that time I’ve seen their tastes broaden considerably, and it’s kind of amazing to see someone go from Naruto to Naruto + Ruroni Kenshin to Naruto + Ruroni Kenshin + Buddha, to asking me about Dororo, Vagabond, Black Jack. But also work by creators like Seth and Chester Brown, Darwyn Cooke, Bryan O’Malley. They like what they like, but they see there’s other work out there that we at the store like, and wanna try it out. So we talk to parents and explain what they’re going to find in them and let them decide together if they’re cool with boobs or swears or bloody disembowelment. If you’ve got a store that believes in the material, and that keeps it in stock, not just makes it available for pre-order, then you can sell the material. In short, we have to invest in the industry we want, not just as retailers, but as journalists and pundits by covering the material we like, and as consumers by supporting the books we like with our dollars.

That’s my prescription for the manga industry: let’s make the industry we want, do our best to convert fashion into function, and celebrate our successes where we find them rather than complain that we’re not quite successful enough.

Next time: Tokyopop for reals.

- Christopher