Fit to print

November 13, 2006

Heidi MacDonald and Tom Spurgeon have both already linked to the latest chapter in the materials selection policy development process going on in Marshall, MO, but I did want to extend my compliments to Zach Sims and the Marshall Democrat-News for their continuing coverage.

Having worked at weekly and daily papers that serve smaller communities, I know that it’s hard to commit limited resources to ongoing coverage of a public policy issue. The process involved isn’t always riveting, certainly less so than the controversies that act as the trigger. But it’s tremendously valuable to lend transparency to those processes, and I think it speaks very highly of Sims and the Democrat-News that they’re in the story for the long haul.

Here are the Democrat-News articles that have run so far that either cover the story or comment on it:


Playing catch-up

November 13, 2006

There won’t be a new Flipped this week, as we had company over the weekend (and I’m generally lazy). I’m still catching up on the slew of interesting links Brigid has found over the last couple of days.

The one that immediately caught my eye was the announcement of the American Anime Awards, summarized at ICv2 and printed in full at The Beat. I have to say, if I had been inclined to guess what the first New York Comic-Con awards program would look like, I wouldn’t have picked anime. It’s obviously a driver for manga sales, but given how expansive the NYCC seems to want to be, it seems awfully specific.

I don’t think I really have a problem with it. Anime is a significant subsidiary or companion industry for manga publishers, so it makes sense to me that manga-friendly comics conventions factor it into their programming. And maybe the folks at NYCC didn’t want to compete with existing comics awards programs like the Eisners and the Harveys. But it does strike me as narrow in focus and not entirely in keeping with the general vibe the event projects.

And launching any kind of awards program is tricky in much the same way as assembling a “best of the year” list. A focus on a specific category might be a more sensible approach than the kind of awards programs that lead to frankly bizarre co-nominees in some categories. As the graphic novel market expands, it might be easier to pick a sector when you’re looking to pass out accolades.

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Also eye-catching was the New York Times piece on Dark Horse Comics (found via Comics Worth Reading). As NYT pieces on graphic novels go, it’s something of a relief. Going just from memory, the paper’s comics coverage often involves the reporter swallowing whole some bit of malarkey from either Marvel or DC on how deep and meaningful their spandex themes are.

And while this piece is seriously flattering to Dark Horse, it also successfully makes the argument that, regardless of how varied their product is and how varied its origins are, their business plan manages to cohere. And with a mixture of creator-owned comics made specifically for Dark Horse, licensed manga and manhwa, and property adaptations, that coherence strikes me a significant accomplishment.

It’s not at all unusual for comics companies to convey the impression that their left and right hands barely have a passing acquaintance with one another, much less a full understanding of their respective agendas. Dark Horse seems to have evaded that problem.