No birds were harmed in the writing of this post

July 17, 2008

Chris Butcher offers some excellent advice on nurturing the next phase of the manga industry:

“If you’ve got a store that believes in the material, and that keeps it in stock, not just makes it available for pre-order, then you can sell the material. In short, we have to invest in the industry we want, not just as retailers, but as journalists and pundits by covering the material we like, and as consumers by supporting the books we like with our dollars.

“That’s my prescription for the manga industry: let’s make the industry we want, do our best to convert fashion into function, and celebrate our successes where we find them rather than complain that we’re not quite successful enough.”

I’m all about combining errands, so here’s a possible way to kill two birds with one stone. (Sorry about the inherent animal cruelty of that phrase, but I haven’t had enough caffeine to recall a more benevolent alternative.) If you’re attending Comic-Con International and find some extra spending money in your pocket because you don’t feel like giving any to the Manchester Grand Hyatt, you could swing by the Fanfare/Ponent Mon booth (C04) and buy some of their lovely, lovely books. As Deb Aoki noted, Fanfare’s distribution system with Atlas isn’t quite 100% yet, so SDCC is probably your best chance to browse the publisher’s catalogue, gape in wonder at books like The Walking Man, Japan as Viewed by 17 Creators, and Kinderbook, and to pick up a copy of Hideo Azuma’s nothing-else-like-it Disappearance Diary (which I reviewed here).

Now, as for “supporting the books we like with our dollars,” Brigid Alverson works in an excellent way to do that in a recent post at MangaBlog: ordering titles via your local bookstore, especially if they’re books that might not otherwise get shelved. This strikes me as a great way to put offbeat titles on a store’s radar, and I’ve heard from various people that many stores will order a couple of shelf copies of a title when they get a special order. Also, you don’t have to worry about potentially climbing shipping costs from online retailers, though you still have to pay for gas to get to the local big box.

At Comics Should Be Good, Danielle Leigh gives a fine example of “covering the material we like” with her latest Manga Before Flowers column on CMX, DC’s stealth manga division:

“But CMX made me a fan for life by bringing over really extraordinary titles that no one else ever has and published them on a very consistent schedule over the past few years (Even though three of four volumes of Eroica a year isn’t a lot, it is enough to make me happy).”