Uh… Just, “uh…”
Park Cooper and Barb Lien Cooper: The Park & Barb Show
–Black and white comics. Only the clean, pure lines of manga can still do this. It’s getting increasingly hard for anything that isn’t manga to go into print without color.
From the latest issue of the Park and Barb show.
I’m grumpy and not gonna let this one ride. Manga is not, repeat, is not, the only comic art form that is pure and clean. Nor is it the only form that looks good in black and white. Any good artist can make their black and white work shine. Period. Cameron Stewart comes to mind, but maybe that’s because I have those SEAGUY pages not far out of my eye line.
I will say that there are plenty of artists whose work doesn’t stand up in black and white, but that’s because they’re drawing for the book to be colored.
But to intimate an inherent superiority in a particular expression of comic art does more to reflect writerly biases than it does to speak commandingly on the form. My two cents, y’know.
And why is it that when people talk glowingly about manga and how it’s openly embraced by a new generation of kids that are ignoring western comics, that they always always seem to skip over the fact that this is the culmination of a thirty year process of Japanese pop culture importation? Audiences have been primed to respond to this by way of everything from BATTLE OF THE PLANETS and ULTRAMAN in the 70s to the POKÉMON and POWER RANGERS explosion of the last ten. Putting JUSTICE LEAGUE on for a half hour in an adult timeslot does nothing when compared to large blocs of imported cartoon programming.
Sorry, but this really yanks my chain. Probably because I’m one of those retrograde idiots putting out black and white work these days. Manga succeeds as much on the back of its form and presentation, as well as its content as well as its “familiar yet alien” status as well as being the new thing. There’s plenty of excellent craftmanship in manga that uses linework that’s clean (Junji Ito’s work comes to mind), but there’s plenty that’s rough hewn and just as beatiful (LONE WOLF AND CUB, anyone?).
There’s a few other bones I’ve got to pick with the article, but this one was just glaringly daring me to point it out. There’s also some good points, but I’m afraid they get obscured.
Well, there’s this one:
– How can you say comics are in trouble when creators at imprints such as Ronin (to name just ONE company that’s like this) are PAYING, up front, to get their comics into print?
Oh, that’s easy. That model isn’t sustainable unless the market that they’re selling to responds and snaps up those comics. I realize this, of course, because I’m smack in the middle of it (or at least on the outskirts). The above model is a gamble. On a good day. On a bad day, it’s an invitation to disaster. Moneywise anyways. There’s all the satisfaction of finishing a comic, sure, but that’s not going to get the kids baloney sandwiches and pay for the hot water.
Passion and enthusiasm are one thing, and they’re admirable, but they’re not all that you need to keep a thing going in DM-oriented comics today. Besides, pay-to-play didn’t last forever on the Sunset Strip (remember hair metal, kids?) and it’s not going to be ano option in comics should there be a downtick or three in the market. Image seems to be solid, but there’s plenty of other publishers working that seam who aren’t as steady.
As for his assertion that comics are going to change from where they’ve been in the last five years. Sure, they are. But the majors are going to change as little as possible and still keep their audiences. They’re doing nothing to expand readership. They’ve been circling the wagons since 2003, and before that. Other folks have a real opportunity to succeed, but not on that particular chunk of DM turf. It’s too well-secured, too well-protected.
And please, don’t take this for malice on my part. I’ve met Park and Barb. They’re smart, witty and passionate folks, who I don’t always agree with. But if the world were like that, it’d be deadly dull.