I need a break

May 18, 2010

Among manga bloggers, myself included, it’s widely believed that the only times DC executives encounter the letters “CMX” in a row is when they get a particularly crappy tray of tiles during a game of Scrabble. Back in the days when Paul Levitz was in charge, you could make bank that he would barely mention DC’s manga imprint during his nine-part year-end interviews with ICv2. When they launched the Minx imprint, Karen Berger acted over and over again like DC was inventing comics for teen-aged girls, resolutely ignoring the manga market until enough people asked “What the hell is she talking about?” And even when forced to admit that there were all kinds of comics for teen-aged girls, she never noted the fact that her employer published some of them. When Diane Nelson took over for Levitz, it surprised absolutely no one that CMX was not among her talking points, probably because DC didn’t have the right to repackage CMX properties in other media, so who cares? We need a goddamn Green Lantern franchise with legs, and we need one now.

The popular gallows humor was that ignorance was bliss. The imprint may not have gotten any marketing support or recognition from their corporate masters, but perhaps they were so far off the radar that they were immune from scrutiny entirely and that they could just quietly go on publishing interesting, entertaining comics from Japan. Alas, this trend came to an end today. Someone at DC remembered CMX long enough to realize that they could save money by axing it.

Now, if you ask me, this move seems driven at least as much by timely opportunism as by economic realities. There’s that hideous ICv2 white paper that has manga limping towards the care home, along with layoffs at Viz and the uncertain state of other publishers. So DC could just pull the plug and point obliquely at the general state of affairs and pretend to be vaguely regretful. I’m sure economic realities played a part, and possibly a significant part, but it’s easy to interpret the imprint’s history as DC just not giving a shit.

So, yeah, I don’t really think much of DC, but I haven’t for a long time, and CMX was pretty much the last tether of interest the publisher held for me. And it was not an insignificant tether, because Asako Suzuki and Jim Chadwick did terrific work picking titles and presenting them. They did the best they could in the face of what seemed like limited resources and corporate indifference. Hell, they did better than you could possible imagine people would under those conditions.

But seriously, fuck DC. I think I’ll buy a copy of that new Avengers comic just out of spite. I probably won’t read it, but I’ll buy it.

Upcoming 5/19/2010

May 18, 2010

Time for a perfunctory look at this week’s ComicList. Bleak industry tidings aside, there’s still cause for enthusiasm and better inducement than ever to actually buy the stuff.

DMP gets things off to a good start with the second volume of Itazura na Kiss, written and illustrated by Kaoru Tada. I was really charmed by the first volume of this series in spite of the fact that its dumb-girl-loves-prince-type dynamic has taken many a dark, gross turn in subsequent comics. It’s funny and charming, and it reminds me that I don’t really need to endorse the central potential couple to enjoy a romantic comedy.

Beyond shock at the news and sympathy for those affected, I was particularly disappointed to hear that Eric Searleman was among those who lost their jobs in the recent layoffs at Viz. Aside from being an enthusiastic, helpful guy, Eric has worked very hard on Viz’s SigIKKI initiative, which lets readers sample ambitious, diverse comics for free. Two comics from that initiative debut in print this week.

I’ve already written a bit about Hisae Iwaoka’s Saturn Apartments, so I’ll point you to Kate Dacey’s lovely review of the book:

Saturn Apartments is many things — a coming-of-age story, a set of character studies, a meditation on man’s place in the greater universe — but like all good space operas, its real purpose is to affirm the truth of T.S. Eliot’s words, ‘We shall not cease from exploration/And the end of all our exploring/Will be to arrive where we started/And know the place for the first time.’ Highly recommended.”

The other SigIKKI debut is Shunju Aono’s I’ll Give It My All… Tomorrow, which I’ve also covered and also like, though for very different reasons. Sometimes your dreams don’t come true.