Manga’s version of the “Sub vs Dub” debate

Found this on Twitter via aicnanime: Helen McCarthy weighs in on the OEL manga label debate, and she puts into words something I’ve always thought but don’t think I’ve ever expressed properly:

And that’s the reason. Semantics is the study of meanings, and to writers and historians, meanings matter. Fans and businesses exploiting the power of the word ‘manga’ are tapping in to one of the oldest magics known to man – the belief that real names have real power, and that attaching a name to a thought or act can give it weight, can bring it into being. But to me, attaching the word ‘manga’ to non-Japanese comics doesn’t change anything important about those comics, and  may well dilute and weaken the power of the word in its original form.

Now, I’ve waffled on this subject several times, understanding both sides of the agrument.  But I’ve now come to believe, that in order for the domestic market for “OEL” titles to grow, it will need to move away from the word manga and it’s Japanese origin.  When it comes to differentiating “OEL” from comics, form seems to have a greater weight than name.  Comics are thought of as floppies or large trades.  OEL is associated with paperback size and little to no collect-ability.  These things make OEL closer to novels anyway, so why not just call them Graphic Novels?  Or better yet, just OEL?

OEL Industry Panel Exposed!

Deb Aoki of the manga.about blog posted her complete coverage of the AX panel about OEL manga.  A lot of the quotes are now in context of the conversation.  It’s broken down into problems the industy faces, and includes quotes from other people following Deb’s original twitter feed.  After reading the article, read the comments.  There is a lot of good discussion and information there.  I just wanted to comment on a few things.

First, I didn’t care for C.B. Celbuski’s comment about manga creators not being artists, but “manga fans who like to draw”.  Even though he clarified his comments in the comments section, it sounded elitest and rubbed me the wrong way, something males in comics have been doing a lot of lately.

Second, in the comments, Maximo Lorenzo makes some comments that are just great, and brings up something I’ve been thinking lately.  One of Tokyopop’s mistakes was to take creators and make them go from a short 15-20 page story and jump to a 3 volume title.  This is just way too big a jump for someone new to the industry or genre.  Creators in Japan don’t make those leaps.  They start are with short stories and gradually work their way up.  While I don’t know if a full magazine anthology would have been the answer, but maybe a quartly or bi-annual release of short stories like the Rising Stars of Manga books, that could feature didn’t creators and stories, with the more popular ones coming back, and then working up to a one volume title, and eventually a full series.  Take this with a grain of salt, since I don’t know the publishing business, but it seems to me to be a workable alternative to anthologies, and has worked in prose novels for years.  Why not manga?

Yen Press’ New License Revealed

Well, that didn’t take long.  Less than a week after hinting at a new license, Yen Plus came out and the cat was out of the bag.  The new license is Black Butler, another Square Enix title.  It’s a period title, set in Victorian London about a boy, Ciel Phantomhive.  Despite his young age, he has taken over the family business with the help of his loyal butler, Sebastian.  It has a supernatural bent, and maybe some shonen-ai.  Superficially, it  seems a lot like Cain Saga/Godchild, and has me intrigued.  I’m hoping Yen Press will have this issue at their booth at SDCC, like they did with the 1st issue last year.

It’s Not the End of the World

Yen Press announced on Twitter that they will be releasing graphic novels based on the Twilight novels as revealed by EW.com.  This was immediately followed by cries of horror.  While I’m not a Twilight fan, I don’t see this as the end of the world.  I think creating graphic novels based on popular novel series’ is a fantastic idea and should happen more often.  Tokyopop has profited quite well from their partnership with Harper Collins, and brought Warriors and Vampire Kisses to the graphic and manga world.  No one whined over that.  If you don’t like it, don’t buy it, but don’t decry Yen Press for doing exactly what domestic graphic novel market needs.

Go Out Not with a Bang, but a Whisper

Found via manga_critic on Twitter.  Shojo Beat‘s demise is still on a lot of people’s minds.  Livejournal blogger Kethylia explains what she believes happened and why.  American magazines rely on subscription number to attract advertisers, and Shojo Beat just couldn’t keep the sub numbers to remain profitable.  I’d throw in that there also isn’t a lot of merchandise for shojo titles, like games or anime, so there was no cross promotion available as in Shonen Jump, which makes even less incentive for advertisers.  I guess what the girls need is a magazine that has manga in it, and not a manga magazine.

Fair and Balanced?

Sesho of podcast fame looks at whether or not reviewers can be fair in their reviews if they are given free copies from publishers.  The FTC is looking to claims of bloggers taking “products” from companies and then giving favorable reviews in return, and possibly coming up with new guidelines.  For the most part, I am in agreement with him.  Reviews from anyone should be taken with a grain of salt until you’ve read or heard enough from that that you feel you can trust them.  Reviews done for the sake of free stuff isn’t going to sound or feel the same as reviews done for love of the product.  As a reviewer, I know when I receive free books from a publisher, I always know in the back of my mind, there is that nagging thought that if I don’t give a good review, I might not get anymore.  But the more important thought that I keep at the forefront and chases the other back, is that I’m not only doing my readers, but the publishers a disservice if I don’t give my honest opinion.  Publishers don’t want to put out books readers don’t want, so they will want to hear the truth, ugly or not.  If any of my reviews sound like I’m really “rah-rahing” the title, it’s because I loved it that much, nothing more.

They Should Just Beat it

Over at Anime Vice, Giapet asks, “Is it too soon for Michael Jackson Manga?”  Yes.  And it always will be.  Next question.

Sparkly Vampire Fangirls Need Not Apply

Apparently, Fanboys of SDCC are worried and upset that fans of Twilight will descend on the con with all their angsty-squealing and ruin it for them.  Um…guess what guys, girls have been invading SDCC for years now, and you’re about 5 years too late to whine about the squealing fangirls invading “your” con.  SDCC is a media con, not a comic con anymore.  You can’t cry foul of attendees coming for the media guests, and the Media companies couldn’t care less about your comic geekery, unless you’re going to see their movies.  GET. OVER. IT.

SDCC On the Move?

Heidi MacDonald at The Beat has an article about other cities wanting to court SDCC away from it’s 40 year home of San Diego.  Anaheim, Los Angeles and Las Vegas have all made advances toward CCI, to try and woo them away, but these cities have to be realistic about the logistics of having CCI on their turf.  Anaheim and Los Angeles just doesn’t have space or hotel rooms to accommodate 140,000+ people.  Las Vegas is as good as CCI can get for both convention space and hotel rooms, all in close proximity.  Even though Anaheim would be awesome for me.  I can crash at my parents house, and wouldn’t need a hotel room!

NYT Top 10

With the last Naruto wave finally winding down, the diversity of the NYT list has gone up.  There are only two volumes on it now, though volume 45 still holds the top spot with Fruits Basket still in second.  Notable newcomers include Dark Hunters Volume 1 from St. Martin’s Griffin, which is based on a popular series of novels coming in at #4 and the introduction of Shonen-ai to mainstream with Junjo Romantica volume 10 from Tokyopop at #6.  I’m reading Dark Hunters right now, and while I know nothing about the series, I’ve really enjoyed it so far, so it’s position on the list is deserved.

No Takebacks!

Found this via Twitter from @johannadc: Amazon deleted and refunded books from Kindle users by an author who’s publisher decided they didn’t want digital copies of the books available.  New York Times has more details here, including quotes from Amazon over this latest fiasco.  Apparently the books 1984 and Animal Farm by George Orwell were made available on the Kindle by the third party seller, and not the publisher.  The publisher asked Amazon to remove the books, which Amazon did, including all copies sold.  Now, don’t take this as an mark against digital media or ebooks.  This is Amazon screwing up pure and simple.  Again.  They came up with such a good idea, but have bungled it time and again with PR nightmare after nightmare.  If they want to be the itunes of ebooks, they need to be more subtle in their dictatorship.

Manga on the Big/Small Screen

Inuyasha: the Final Chapter – Well, the last 21 volumes.  ANN reports that the 34th issue of Shonen Sunday will announce the details of the new project.  It will animate the last story arc(s) told in the final 21 volumes of the title.  I for one am glad they are doing this.  In some ways it was good that the anime ended, so that it didn’t become endless filler like Naruto, but it was frustrating for fans to get that “follow our continuing adventures in manga” at the end of the anime.  Finally we’ll get a true ending.

What I’m Reading:

  • Otomen Volume 3
  • kimi ni todoke Volume 1
  • Black Bird Volume 1
  • Shonen Jump Volume 7, Issue 6
  • Dark Hunters
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3 Comments for this entry

  • This is a great new feature, Lori! It’s nice to get some reflection along with the links.

  • Thanks Kate. It’s been fun just spouting out whatever. I wanted to do a blog just so I could let the rest of the world heard my opinioned views, and now I’ve finally found a format to do it in! :)

  • John Thomas says:

    On reviews, a review is an opinion, and a reviewer should never change a review based on how he or she got access to the book. The access publishers have allowed me their titles have opened worlds of manga to me I never would have looked at before. If we want to take freebies away from manga reviewers, then titles will get even less exposure than they do now. Sending out free copies for reviews is relatively cheap advertising, and even when I give a poor review, the publishers tell me that any exposure is good exposure.

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