§ The final part of an interview with Naoki Urasawa!
Q: It’s true that the face of your Astro Boy seems to have a sadness about it. It’s raining in the first scene he appears in…
U: I think that first scene is somewhat symbolic. But still, even I don’t know what’s behind that sad mood. I talk to my assistants a lot about it, wondering “Why is it so sad every time this character shows up?” You know that song from the Beach Boy’s album Pet Sounds called “I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times”? I think I can describe the mood as being something like that. That song sort of alludes to the album “Smile”, which was supposed to be the follow-up to Pet Sound but was never released. Maybe it’s that sadness of something destined never to be born that I hits me every time I draw Astro Boy. It’s like Astro Boy had to bear the contrasting feelings hope and despair for the 50 years it took to pass it’s own birth year…
§ Following the official announcement of Kodansha’s entry into the U.S., and the interview with Yoshio Irie, American commentators are weighing the odds, including Simon Jones who’s a bit dubious on how the Japanese-style business model will fly in the US:
… everything in the interview paints an initial approach typical of large, old Japanese companies… patient, if not dawdling and overly conservative (the lone US operative, Tomoko Suga, seems like a sniper on a scouting mission.) Looking at the format of Kodansha’s first two releases (oversized, $24.99 MSRP), one gets the impression that they’re not quite ready to compete on the same playing field just yet. Their symbiotic relationship with Random House certainly complicates things further. But given all the changes in the book market, a rather timid launch might not be a bad idea after all. If anything, it’ll make that $2 million start-up fund last longer.
§ Johanna Draper Carlson runs her full length interview with Erika Moen
Why am I so open about it? I think those subjects are funny, and I feed on the validation that comes from complete strangers telling me that they relate to my strips. Most of my close friends I’ve met are because of my comics. Shit, I met my husband because first he was a fan of my comics.
Also, I might be kinda an exhibitionist. Maybe.
§ Audio of writers Neil Gaiman, Denise Mina and Ian Rankin at the Edinburgh Book Festival
§ An interview with the Long Beach Comic-Con’s Director Martha Donato following the successful inaugural show. Donato gives an idea of how to put boots to the ground to get feet in the door:
The hard part is getting people to walk through the door. I can get the guest and exhibitors, but I can’t call up 10,000 people in Los Angeles and say ‘hey, would you like to come to a Long Beach show.’ So that’s when I hired a local marketing person and we started with comic shops, Pulp Fiction, Amazing Comics, Golden Apple, we went in and asked if we could hang some posters. ‘We have some post cards, will you hand them out, you wanna sell some tickets for us.’ We ended up with 13 local retailers selling tickets and that is how we started to build the interest. I called all my friends at DC and Marvel and Top Cow and Aspen and Boom! (Studios) and IDW (Publishing) and called everybody, and it just started to happen through word of mouth. And let’s not discount the Internet: Facebook and a MySpace page and Twittering, and took out some ads on (the comic-focused websites) CBR (Comic Book Resources) and Newsarama. We went to San Diego (to the Comic-Con) and handed out flyers. They were gracious enough to let us put our flyers on the freebie table.
§A few BICS Links (all of which seem to mention FMB):
§ Richard Bruton at Forbidden Planet, which contains perhaps the most startling line ever from a con report:
But this year saw the venue changed to Bar Panama, off Birmingham’s Broad Street (later described by special guest Howard Chaykin as having “the sluttiest, trampiest women” he’d ever seen – which, for Mr Chaykin is surely some feat!).
And a big link roundup including the fact that a British MP (member of Parliament, equivalent to our House of Representatives) was at the show and praised a comic about a snot monster.
§ David Welsh interviews Vertical’s marketing director Ed Chavez, who talks about new titles but also harsh realities:
We also wanted to remain financially stable. Now this might come as a surprise to you, but our classic titles have not been bestsellers. While the titles have received great reviews and good publicity among certain communities they have yet to hit large segments of any specific market — not the manga reader or the comic fan. To help us fund those classics we need to find properties that will appeal to more than just our base. Chi’s Sweet Home and Twin Spica will help do that. If they succeed, we will follow them up with a few books from two more of the Fabulous 49ers [Note: >This refers to a group of groundbreaking women cartoonists which includes the aforementioned Takemiya] and another treasure from Tezuka.
I worried a little bit about alienating, but not too much–they’re autobio strips, and to remove all the honesty from them would leave them pretty boring I think. Still, I know some of my least favorite autobio comics ever are pretty much all the muckraking negative ones, so I was more leery of just seeming petty than of alienating women in general. I did hear from a couple of ex-girlfriends, and at best their reaction was, roughly, “hpmh!” At worst, it was much louder.
BTW, if you haven’t seen Harbin’s “What is with the Women?”, you should.