A gazillion things in my head
NPR covered Shonen Jump and wrote a little about manga in the US, audio of the report is included on the page.
On manga, yesterday ˇJournalista! covered some discussion of digest format and manga and how they're affecting comics. Dirk is so right on what's really going on there. But I just have to refute a comment made by, hang on, Steven Grant, who says the success of Tokyopop and Viz doesn't help American creators. Because, if you'll look in the new issue of Previews, Tokyopop has begun publishing work by American creators, and it may be an experiment, but they are doing it. There are a lot of American creators who can very easily pick up manga fans eventually (Chynna Clugston, for one), in my opinion. Just because manga readers will never want to read the latest revamp of Superman doesn't mean it can't have the potential for good for US writers and artists too.
Added later that day: And, dopey me, as Evan pointed out, several US creators, including Jamie Rich and myself, are already employed by Tokyopop, albeit in a minor way. (And I know people who have talked to Viz about work, although I don't know anything about who may or may not be working for them.)
Because of an article I read in Business 2.0, I've become fascinated with the whole idea of category management and what it could mean to comics and to books in general. (In super-brief: all books are assigned to categories, like "Food and Cooking" and a "captain" of that category is chosen from the publishers of that category; the captain is then responsible for the research that decides what books get carried in that category. Scary, no?) The publisher's viewpoint is pretty negative. Ralph Nader's viewpoint is (go figure) decidedly negative. But interestingly, writer George Loper's viewpoint is wary but slightly positive. Whatever your viewpoint, if you read or write material that is sold in bookstores, this will affect you sooner or later. Borders will eventually apply this system to their entire inventory, and you can bet that since it apparently is working for them really well, that everyone will be doing it sooner or later. My questions (this may not make complete sense to you if you haven't read any of the articles): will graphic novels be their own category, or get lumped into a category headed by some publisher who couldn't care less? If they are their own category, will they be a "destination" (i.e. important) category, or dismissed as a "fill-in"? If they are a category, who on earth will be offered the captaincy? If certain publishers who are already known for filling up rackspace with garbage to shut out other publishers got chosen, we'd all be doomed…although I think chances are good it would be offered to a manga publisher. The possible goodside to this is that market research into what is actually selling, and what people are really coming in for, could really help keep graphic novels in the stores, rather than going through the whole flameout everyone's expecting (assuming market research doesn't tell them to kick all graphic novels to the crub). And really, you know they'll lump superheros together—will I cry when they say only 12 superhero "novels" can be in each store? I'm thinking…no.
On a lighter note, my friend Paul sent me this site the other day—it's the C.Y.B.O.R.G.E.R. from Brunching Shuttlecocks. I am, yes, "S.A.R.A.H.: Synthetic Artificial Repair and Assassination Humanoid".
He also has finally started this site, The Impending Singularity, which talks about, oh, little things, like the inevitable downfall of all systems and the world we live in. Is he kidding? Who knows! Go read the evidence for yourself, and submit your own proof (for or against)!
Last weekend I had opportunity to see the new Eloise book, over at Evan's sister's house. She got it for Evan's niece, and she handed it to me and said (in front of the niece) "take a look at this and tell me if you agree…I think this S-U-C-K-S." I took a look, and all I could say was "rawther…". You just can't fake Kay Thompson, is all I'm sayin'. And you know, it's more proof that: A. When someone doesn't want a work of theirs published, maybe their wishes should be respected; and B. since no-one respects your wishes after you die when there's money to be made, if you don't want something published you better just burn it right now.
Oh, and we finally saw Far From Heaven. What a fabulous movie. If you haven't seen it yet, please go and see it while it's still in theaters—I'm sure it'll look great on DVD (and I'm sure I'll own it) but that over-the-top technicolor lushness will just not look the same in your living room no matter what.
Whew! Okay, my brain's not entirely emptied out, but that's much better!!