Comics Rx: Teg’s entry

Here’s Teg’s prescription for the comics industry:

“I’ve had only a small opportunity to relax and use my free time lately, and it seems to me that I’ve spent a great deal too much of it thinking about one thing and only one thing: comics.

“It’s no small coincidence that I am writing this essay as a contest meant as a sort of tribute to the masterwork of Osamu Tezuka. I only recently decided to seriously look into Tezuka’s work when I ordered the first volume of Buddha at my local book store a few months ago (The town I live in used to be populated by miners and then by millworkers. Right now the biggest draw has been an animation studio, and as such it’s been a deal easier to acquire what is seen as “the world’s dorkiest medium”). Upon finishing it, I promptly ordered the second, and so on; I bought up a small stock of Astro Boy from a comic shop while I vacationed in Maine; I began to seek out more and more of his material and learn as much as I could about his life and his work. Before I knew it I came to a steady average of spending about two dollars a day buying Tezuka’s work. I had first broken into comics a few years ago –my first was Serenity Rose, which I still claim to be an unrecognized work of brilliance- and had read all of the books considered staples of the medium -from the intelligent but poorly-aging Watchmen to the aggressively stupid Dark Knight Returns– as well as a steady intake of independent titles -after all, I got my start from an obscure goth comic with virtually no readers- but Tezuka’s work struck a note. Tezuka had been something different to the world. How on Earth can it be, that this man had revolutionized the way that the medium was seen for an entire country, executed such brilliant and simple solutions to comics largest problems, and written such an incomprehensibly massive amount of terrific and diverse works when American comics critics were still writing articles verbally fellating a man whose biggest contribution to the medium was to make Batman think in captions?

“The West needs a Tezuka. That’s the most important step to saving the Western comics market’s collective behind. I don’t think it can be the first step or the last step that needs to be taken, but it’s definitely the key one. I’d say that if we can fix comic’s broken distribution system (as it stands it’s like having only one channel run by a bunch of television executives who’ve all decided that they want to see nothing but westerns for the rest of their lives) and its public perception (There is a reason why comic shops almost universally seem to also stock polyhedronic die and trading card game boosters), the rest will follow. But first and foremost, we need a renaissance man; a person who, like Tezuka, can draw people’s attention with a single work and introduce them to “clicquey”, with each publisher at first glance seeming to carry only one type of book (Marvel and DC cover superheroes, Fantagraphic covers obscure and depressing comics, SLG covers the goth scene, Oni covers the indie scene, etcetera), and creators like making thematically similar work. There’s nothing wrong with that model, but I really appreciate Vertical’s approach: try anything and everything at least once. Vertical’s runs of Tezuka impressed me. What impressed me even more was that all of this manga was being printed by what was otherwise an ordinary book publisher. What impressed the hell out of me was that said book publisher was publishing everything from Ode To Kirihito (violent and sexual medical drama by Osamu Tezuka) to Aranzi Hour (adorable chibi bunnies hang out and do adorable chibi bunny stuff). The public has shown that they’re more than anticipating new levels of genre diversity in comics (the manga boom has been a tremendous boon to comics readership despite almost exclusively bringing us shounen and shoujo titles; virtually ignoring seinen, josei, and kodomo titles). I think that having publishers and creators willing to take hold of that genre diversity and push the boundaries of western comics in all directions available to them will be the most important deciding factor in the future of comics. The west needs a Tezuka. The west needs a creator who is willing to try anything and everything once.”

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