Saturday, December 08, 2007

Manga Conquers America

Thursday night the Cartoon Art Museum sponsored a talk by Jason Thompson on the publishing history of manga in the U.S. It was a promotional event for his book Manga: The Complete Guide.

The talk got started a half-hour late, & the museum staff was unable to get the speaker's laptop to work with their projector, so Mr. Thompson resorted to flashing his slides at us from this laptop. This technical snafu made the event a bit lame.

Mr. Thompson had quite a long, fact-filled talk. It ran to almost an hour & a half. I'm not a manga reader myself, so this was really too much information for me. However, Mr. Thompson clearly has complete command of his subject area. If the book parallels this talk, then it has some interesting commentary on the manga publishing industry.

This is not to imply that the talk was boring. The history of manga publishing is apparently filled with characters at the margins of social trends. We heard about furries, new age hippies, & adult-movie stars who also draw. I learned that Barefoot Gen, which I've read & admired, was the 1st manga translated into English. It was put out by an anti-war group, not by a comic or manga publisher.

In Thompson's view, the practice of printing manga unflopped, in the right-to-left reading order of Japanese, is more a matter of reducing production costs than preserving artistic integrity.

There was a small group of about 20 who showed up for this event. Many of them seemed to be associates of the speaker. There were also a lot of touchy-feely couples, so maybe this was also your classic cheap date.

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