§ Jeet Heer interviews Seetha Srinivasan about The University Press of Mississippi’s excellent comics scholarship publishing program, and reveals that some people don’t just roll over and play dead when you say comics are an artform, yo.
Jeet: In your article for the International Journal of Comic Art, you mentioned that there has been some resistance to comics scholarship. Do you want to expand on that and talk about some of the difficulties the press and its authors have faced in this area? One area that might be worth exploring here is the issue of copyright and the difficulty of reprinting certain art and articles.
Seetha: One of our authors told me that when his dissertation topic was announced at graduation there was derisive laughter in the audience, and this after he had struggled to get his topic approved. Once when discussing a manuscript, I asked an author why his analysis of an aspect of comics was laced with theoretical considerations that were not integral to the subject. He assured me that the book manuscript would be stripped of these; they were in the dissertation to address concerns that his subject was not worthy of scholarship. I believe, however, that these barriers are disappearing as witnessed by the increasing number of comics scholars. Also, as I mentioned there was resistance from some of members of our editorial board who questioned whether UPM wanted to be known as a publisher of books on the comics. Were these worthy of consideration of attention from a scholarly press? It is to the credit of these members that they were willing to be persuaded of the central role comics played in a culture and to take a risk on the first titles. It is also to their credit that they subsequently acknowledged that they were mistaken about the value of this area of scholarship. So far we have not had trouble clearing permissions for use in our books. Even Disney gives permission, though it takes a long time to answer and charges a modest fee. We are particular in advising authors to limit images to those that are essential to the argument and not let them be eye candy. This helps us make our case to rights holders.
§ Benjamin Ong Pang Kean interviews Humanoids’ Fabrice Giger:
NRAMA: How has the European market grown over the years? As I understand it, manga has taken the European continent by tsunami-level storm as well…
FG: The European market is still strong but is definitely overcrowded with too many titles (almost 5,000 this year…). The manga output represents an important portion of this figure, but this has been the case for a number of years now. It is interesting to note that LHA is the first and sole European publisher to produce on a large scale its own manga line with European authors and also some Japanese ones. We do not buy rights from Japanese publishers, which allow us to retain control of all the rights to our catalog.
§ Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie starring in…the Sardinian Connection!
Well, at the moment, among the things I have in the pipeline there is some comics work. That is largely restricted to Book 3 of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which Kevin O’Neill is well into the first chapter of it, the first issue, because it will be told in three 73-page volumes, set in 1910, 1968 and 2008, respectively. And he’s getting around halfway through the first volume: that would be most of my comics work. I am doing the Bumper Book of Magic with Steve Moore and a galaxy of wonderful artists. That includes a little bit of comics work but not very much: it includes text, stories, articles and games, puzzles, but very little comics script material. There is a sort of running Kevin O’Neill one-page humorous comic strip that recurs throughout the book, but I think that’s about the only comic strip material in it.
§ Sean T. Collins calls the whiny press on their shit:
I heard plenty of press complaints about press passes not doing much and noted this in my show report; even then, fresh from the show, I was chalking up at least 50% of this to press narcissism. Now I’m leaning even further in that direction, because it seems to me that many of the complaints we’re hearing and seeing stem from people wanting to do what is no more or less than a job on more or less entirely their own terms, which strikes me as unreasonable.
This was the first show I’ve “worked,” and in order to do that properly I voluntarily made sacrifices. I did less socializing, both during and after show hours. I went to fewer “wish-list” panels, things I wanted but didn’t need to attend. I did less eating–regrettable, and I don’t recommend it, but I managed. I saved time that could have been spent schlepping to the press room or back to the hotel boat by simly popping a squat on the floor next to an outlet someplace in the Convention Center and filing half a dozen stories that way. I got to my assigned panels and events in advance, and had at least three other people scope out my main wish-list panel (Watchmen) so that I could combine working and waiting in the most efficient way possible. (I even filed a story while sitting in Hall H waiting for the presentation to start.)
§ David Rothman follows up the Wowio saga: Ad-phobes? Could major publishers be villains in the Wowio saga?
§ Today’s bonus headline: DON HECK TAKES ON LOVECRAFT