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The Pulp Faction • View topic - Can't we all just get along?

Can't we all just get along?

The Melbourne Anime Festival notes and news http://www.manifest.org.au

Can't we all just get along?

Postby alexpav on Mon Oct 20, 2008 4:16 pm

Wow, Manifest really does seem to be a bad word. One post in its section on one of the most active comic forums in Australia. Why?

Over the last couple of years as a trader and local comic-maker I've noticed the divide between the anime and the non-anime crowd of artists and fans -- with a few exceptions -- has only grown wider and more intimidating. At conventions (here I must admit a bias, I've only had tables at the Anime-oriented cons so far) I keep meeting fans who admit participating in both fandoms, always shyly, as if choosing one invariably upsets the other. At the melbourne creator meet I found a similar, divisive, attitude. The local guys, largely non-anime artists, don't openly condemn anime and its various fandoms, but react to it with a touch of distrust.

You may already disagree, which would be great, 'cause I'd love to be wrong. I've only been to one creator meet here in Melb, so my sample is not exactly final. Yet the fact that I'm about to post the second thread in the section dedicated to one of the biggest cons in Australia is telling.

The gap between anime and non-anime is best illustrated in the observations of fans who dedicate themselves exclusively to one "pure" form: 100% anime or 100% western. On the non-anime side fans seem look at anime with the disdainful manner elitism. Sure, it has some cool stuff, but the real "thinking man's" comics are our comics. We've seen what they can do, and as exciting as they may have been at the start they've never delivered on their promise. Now, they dominate large sections of 'our' comic book shop space. The anime style comics (manga) are 99% immature, infinitely revised, shallow and action-packed commodities. Most people don't come out with this statement outright, but a few prompts later the preference for particular titles tell the veiled truth -- "manga has a few good ones, but you want great? have I got a list for you!"

On the Manga side of things you'll get the same attitude, but more defensive. Perhaps because purist anime/manga fans are, generally, younger or perhaps because they are, generally, made up of a more evenly divided gender demographic, or just because manga hasn't been subculture here for as long, their reactions to non-anime comics stem largely from stereotypes. Western comics are testosterone-driven, melodramatic, sexist and preachy. These guys are usually more forthcoming with their opinions, more instinctively defensive of their own hobby, keen to launch a preemptive strike against the comic-fans on the other side of the fence.

Thankfully such purism is not common, and yet, the divide persists. I find the whole thing to be really confusing. During the 90's -- after we got over the novelty shock factor that lead distributors to onlt sell gory, sexually explicit material -- when manga was coming into the lime-light comic book fans appeared to be excited by the emerging of a new branch of comics that offered something new to the existing canon. Manga was another voice, another style that, through its popularity, would help legitimate comics as a medium. Decade later we have a divide: two separate cannons. I believe that manga has helped rejuvenate the comic fanbase: more female readers, more market diversity, more storytelling options and styles have helped make comics a less exclusive medium. Similarly, creators in Japan gush about the marvelous influence of western comics on their own, familiar, titles and creators.

Where did this divide come from?
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Re: Can't we all just get along?

Postby Michael The Janitor on Tue Oct 21, 2008 3:30 pm

Taste, perhaps a strange form of comic patriotism, maybe even fear of manga becoming too much of a dominant style in the industry. Personally I'd have to go with my tastes towards manga techniques, formats and some manga stereotypes I find off putting etc. I like akira and stuff, but not enough to call myself a fan or go to a convention.

btw http://www.oztaku.com?
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Re: Can't we all just get along?

Postby Tom on Tue Oct 21, 2008 6:11 pm

I agree with Michael. Taste. Anime is a relatively new style to the west, in the scheme of things, and hasn't really had enough time to fully entrench itself.
I, myself, feel there is a divide in the Marvel/DC and topshelf/indie comics which is just as great. In my opinion it all comes down to what you like.
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Re: Can't we all just get along?

Postby alexpav on Tue Oct 21, 2008 10:02 pm

Mmmm, taste is important, but isn't it a bit of a gloss? I mean, manga is at least as varied as comics in terms of creator input and creative exploration. Sure, we only see a fraction of this experimentation and the manga market is largely formulaic, standard stuff... but the very same could be said for western comics. This considered taste, as a reason, becomes a way of generalising the whole cannon. Aren't there enough similarities between the two to make the differences irrelevant? Art styles are blending together with increasing frequency, the visual vocab of the two styles is being mixed as they borrow from each other more and more. Even conventions in writing are slowly becoming universal. Patriotism seems like a good description, or loyalty.

Thanks for responding, guys. I don't mean to come off as confrontational. Just bugs the bejeezuz out of me that the comic community has such a big and unnecessary internal divide. I'm not promoting one over the other, I love both, and it seems strange to me that I see a different crowd depending on what and where I'm selling.
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Re: Can't we all just get along?

Postby H PoP on Tue Oct 21, 2008 10:06 pm

I don’t think there is a distinctly hostile divide. I'm with everyone else saying that it's a matter of taste. It's only natural that you'ld have different crowds depending on where you're selling. Conventions are typically better for all concerned if the market is focused.

“Manga” does not appeal to everyone, simple as that.
“Western” comics are not exotic enough for everyone, simple as that.
Also, let’s be clear here. By “manga” you mean Japanese comics, and not manwah and manhua, or eastern/Asian comics, just Japanese comics. By “western comics”, you mean USA comic publishers Marvel and DC, not even other US comic publishers like Drawn and Quarterly, Oni, Image, Dark Horse etc., let alone other western countries like the UK, Spain, Italy, Germany, France, Brazil, Argentina etc.

Locally, in Australia the comic audience are exposed to Marvel and DC comics and Japanese manga. There is a divide, but only insofar as interest. People fond of Japanese manga are typically disillusioned by Marvel and DC, which admittedly is the core exposure most people receive in Australia for comics. If the titles within those 2 publishing houses sag, as it does in recurring trends, it will have a negative impact. Those people will then look for other stimulus from something more offbeat and exotic, and that would be Japanese Manga.
Those who are fond of Marvel and DC have stuck with it and they’ve seen the sag, but stayed around long enough to see it rise every so often too. They typically find manga to be less serious and a little to Japanese centric to adopt it into their reading. In other words, Japanese manga for this kind of reader is something they don’t get because it’s very particular to Japanese culture and Japanese manga inherently is made not to be shared on a fundamental level with other cultures.

The divide comes from most people’s limited exposure to comics, and Japanese manga and Marvel and DC are essentially polar opposites, which for a lot of readers does not have any common ground or cross over appeal.
The appeal of Japanese manga in western culture comes from manga and anime which has cross over appeal. People like Hayao Miyazaki because he’s heavily influenced by Moebius (it’s mutual; they are friends) and his stories are universal of all cultures. Dragon ball is rendered similar to a lot of European comic styles (cross between Astro boy and 101 Dalmatians), so it was easy to export to Europe and Japanese manga/anime was adopted by them significantly early (Dragon Ball (not Z) was airing in Europe a season off to Japan or something). South America because of its links to Europe also caught on then finally came USA and then Australia because of our links to them. This was also predated by other anime that slowly penetrated western culture allowing exposure and gradual acceptance of Japanese manga/anime.
What is being marketed at the moment are the exotic types of Japanese manga. Generic as they are, they’re offbeat to a typical Marvel/DC reader as the culture shock is not always understandable, and in some cases acceptable. The very language of the sequentials, structurally are the same but the layouts and use of pacing, words and approach to story are very different.

On this forum I’d think you find that people have much broader tastes which aren’t limited to the narrow mainstream palate. Most opinions here are backed by a broad and varied experience of other cultures and their comics.

Honestly, you’ll find lines drawn outside of comics. It’s just human nature to have different tastes.
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Re: Can't we all just get along?

Postby practicecactus on Tue Oct 21, 2008 10:22 pm

If you mean there aren't manga kids here, like Michael pointed out, it's probly cause they have the OzTaku forum to be herded up and quote lines and talk 'Chibi' and 'futa' whatever that is..
In general, there probly is a bit of a feeling of superiority on both sides.
It's probly that feeling of wanting to be different, and being drawn to one way, and you keep walking back saying you're different and alternative, until you hit the crowd of people that like the same shit as you. And then you're on a 'side'.
A bunch of white kids desperately trying to be japanese, or a bunch of gen 'X/Y'ers with olive drab shirts that reek of pot smoke... *shrugs*
Then there's that grey area inbetween of people that don't fit into my broad sweeping generalizations.
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Re: Can't we all just get along?

Postby alexpav on Wed Oct 22, 2008 7:13 pm

I think I may not have made myself clear, gotta get more specific. By western comics I mean the great historical development in juxtaposed visual communication that happened somewhere in Europe around the protestant reformation and was then later adopted -- and adjusted to national testes and contexts -- by much of the western-European colonial block as well as their major colonies; all western comics. Naturally, what is available here in Australia is a major restriction on a broad definition. The mainstream is most obvious, but I’m not talking about Marvel and DC, I’m talking about all the non-manga stuff available at your local comic shop.

By manga I mean the stylistic offshoot that happened after the introduction of the comic strip to Japan back during WW2 and the style that arose out of decades of relatively isolated development and particular historical and cultural influences. I would draw a clear distinction between the various hybrids and national variants that have borrowed from ether style but, in today’s globalised world, I can’t, and that’s a part of my point. Hell, even if we were to pick two centres that represent the core of each style and offer them as ‘pure’ examples of ‘manga’/’comics’ we would quickly fall on our faces, things are already that mixed – they’ve been influencing each other for too long.

Before I go any further I want to make it clear that insofar as people liking what they like, there’s no problem here. I’m not here to tell you what to read or what to draw. Go for it, good luck and god bless. The point I’m trying to make is that much of the reaction from ether the manga or the comics ‘kids’ appears to me to be a matter of loyalty and expectations. Practicecactus (sorry, don’t know your real name) mentions feelings of superiority, somebody else mentioned patriotism -- can’t find the remark anymore so I can’t say who – these are the kinds of reactions that I see most often: a dismissal of content on the basis of presumption. THAT sucks.

Topshelf/indie titles exist in manga. Those guys have been, and are, experimenting as much as anyone in the west. Looking at manga as a single categorical type is a bit like saying that X-men is all western comics. What I find confusing is how anyone who loves comics, as a medium of expression, is able to dismiss a huge range of stuff because of preconceptions.

Cultural differences? Taste? General responses to a specific question. Seems like a cop-out. An ‘us’ versus ‘them’ attitude would tread more water if it was universal. Lots of ‘us’ like and relate to ‘their’ work… some of ‘us’ seem to be more adverse to the idea of relating.

I know people on this forum have broad interests; I’ve met a few of them and read their work. With this in mind my message is all the more succinct. Breadth of experience is exactly what I am purporting.

P.S. Practicecactus, love your generalisations, they strike me as generally true. I often feel out of place at manifest as the gen X guy with the olive drab shirt, smelling of pot smoke, surrounded by kids who want to be Japanese.
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Re: Can't we all just get along?

Postby Michael The Janitor on Wed Oct 22, 2008 8:59 pm

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Re: Can't we all just get along?

Postby Egofreaky on Thu Nov 06, 2008 6:51 am

I've found that whilst it's all well and good to cite the stop-shelf/indie manga, the fact of the matter is that the stuff is simply not accessible, unless you specifically know what you're looking for.
It's not like with Western comics, where you can walk into a store and are likely to find a specific section for European, art house or independent comics. The manga variant is simply lumped in as more Manga, and quickly gets washed out behind other stuff.
There's some great stuff out there. Junko Mizuno is a particular favourite of mine. Most anime fans have NEVER heard of her because between Naruto, Bleach and Deathnote, her works don't exactly stand out.
And that's the other problem. Things like Naruto, Deathnote and Bleach... They're all children's works. What wwe get here is either Shonen or Shoujo stuff, and it's bloody hard to find anything that's a mature Seinen work (by mature I mean something that doesn't have ultra-violence or hardcore sex) such as First President of Japan, or Reidisu content such as Dance Til Tomorrow... And even then, stuff like that is generally only available through Darkhorse.

Fact of that matter is that the divide exists because the vast majority of content available in English is aimed at an immature audience.
People can say "Oh but manga is also read by adults". Yes, yes it is. Not denying it. But the manga that we get is generally not.
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