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July 26, 2015

Go, Read: Essays Of Note From Chris Butcher, Michael Hill

I have two essays saved to read again this week after intriguing first-reads.

image* Chris Butcher writes about the relationship between the sales of manga and the sales of all-ages material. I disagree with most of what I read that first time through. Claiming the success of Raina Telgemeier as manga's, even in oblique fashion, feels to me like a last cry for manga triumphalism. That was a way of looking at comics in the '90s into the '00s that insisted manga was going to be the absolute dominant and defining market force in the US for decades to come, imagined a lot of enemies where they didn't really exist and made suggestions like complete and radical format change for North American publishers or the withdrawal of all money from direct market store support. It seems to me there was a lot of "othering" manga from pro-manga advocates, too, and while imagining it was subconscious resistance to female audiences that kept people from a full and mighty embrace is appealing rhetoric, that's a really specific construction to connect so many people with vastly different backgrounds and approaches to the medium. To me and a lot of writers I know, a lot of industry people I know, manga has always been and continues to be one of the great traditions of comics, and worthy individual efforts have been celebrated as such when encountered. Has that process of acceptance and publication and adoption been slower across the board than a super-enthusiastic fan of manga as its own thing might want? Sure. It's been slow for European comics, too. It's been slow genre to genre within English-language comics. And yes, there are one-true-religion superhero and American comics fans, always have been and always will be, but they're mostly dopes.

* Michael Hill argues Jack Kirby's consistency in terms of claiming credit for the achievements of Marvel Comics in the 1960s, and dissects the idea of the Marvel Method to an extent rarely seen. There's also some fun stuff in there about Kirby re-using past material in a way that makes it look that much more like Kirby was driving the car. I happen to believe Jack Kirby was the primary authorial voice of the 1960s Marvel Comics as a line and the dominant voice on the titles on which he worked. I also think Stan Lee's contributions were considerable in both of those ways and in a few others. I don't feel like arguing either every single time one of them comes up, and I've written about it plenty, so please spare me any contentious e-mails this time around. I just don't have the time this week. I love articles like Hill's. So much injustice has been done I welcome corrective. I am confident that most roads lead to the King, and with 2017 right around the corner I think we as an industry and culture can work to claim, in positive and forthright fashion, a space for Kirby in the firmament of 20th Century imagination.
posted 11:55 pm PST | Permalink

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