Role-playing exercise

March 25, 2010

One theme that’s come up a lot in recent discussion of scanlations is that publishers need to do something to concoct a widespread alternative that provides similar access to the material but with the consent of creators and, one assumes, the potential to turn the portion of the scanlation audience that aren’t currently paying customers into buyers, at least to some degree. One potential obstacle to that that particularly interests me are the creators themselves. I’ve heard that there’s a fair amount of resistance to digital distribution among manga-ka, either because they conceived their comics to be read on paper or because they’re concerned about unlimited reproduction of digital versions of their work. (Who left this barn door open?)

Now, I’ve only heard about this reluctance from a few people, but they strike me as people who are in a position to know. Still, it’s anecdotal, and I recognize that. But, running with the premise that this resistance exists to varying degrees, I’d like to ask you to engage in a little role playing. What argument (preferably diplomatic) would you make to a manga-ka to convince them of the benefits of more timely, less immediately profitable, digital delivery of their work? The obvious one is that it’s already happening without their participation or consent, and they might as well control it to whatever degree possible, but I’d like to hear your thoughts on the subject.

Updated: Simon Jones of the possibly not-safe-for-work Icarus Publishing blog cuts to the chase and asks “Why should publishers pay for digital rights?”

Updated: Jake Forbes, manga author, adapter and aficionado, stops by MangaBlog and takes everybody to the woodshed.

From the stack: Bokurano: Ours

March 25, 2010

Mohiro Kitoh’s Bokurano: Ours (Viz) is one of those comics that apply grimly serious coats of paint to popular fantasy architecture. In this case, it’s about a group of kids climbing into a giant robot to save the world. The twist is that the kids are realistic, or “realistic,” in that some of them are understandably frightened or emotionally disturbed or just plain awful instead of sunny and dedicated. There’s also some play with what would actually happen if giant robots battled in a populated area.

It’s a competent comic, but it isn’t particularly interesting to me. I’m not a fan of un-deconstructed giant-robot stories in the first place, and I’ve never yearned to see anyone expose their seedy underbellies. And it isn’t as though there’s a shortage of bleak versions of kid-friendly concepts, so I can pick and choose from the best of them. (Naoki Urasawa’s Pluto, also from Viz, is a great example. Come to think of it, there’s some great giant-robot nonsense in Urasawa’s 20th Century Boys which treats the concept with the degree of seriousness I feel like it deserves, which is just about none at all.)

I’d read the first few chapters of Bokurano on Viz’s SigIKKI site, but it didn’t hold my attention in the way that site’s weirder, more imaginative series have. I thought it might read better in a larger chunk, but I found myself even less attentive. You can’t win them all.

(This review is based on a complimentary copy provided by the publisher. You can read a bunch of free chapters of Bokurano: Ours here.)