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More Rantings and Ravings

August 28th, 2008

There’s something fundamentally wrong with webcomics about furry, Bishoun-whatchamacallits, high school students with God-like powers, high school student shape shifters, high school students with superpowers, aliens, or just generally any genre-specific webcomic labeling itself as a “slice-of-life” comic. I don’t think those people know what “slice-of life” means. I mean, just because it involves high school doesn’t make it “slice-of-life”.

School started Tuesday, so what little time I had in my life to work on comics just got slimmer. … I also seem to find myself in the same God-damned cycle I’ve been in for the past year and a half. It takes all my strength and energy to break free from it, but the second I’m out of it, I fall right back into it. What the fuck is my problem?

Oh my God, this comic is actually half-way dec(ad)ent! Too bad it’s not updated often. 🙁

OK, after a good conversation I had with my Sister-In-Arms Jen (of Mystic Revolution fame) I’ve been prompted to sort of refine my position on Westerners using the Japanese manga/anime style.

BASICALLY there is nothing really wrong with Westerners using the manga art style. It’s an art style like any other, with its own unique artistic merits and unique weaknesses. BUT! I would say there’s a big difference between legitimate use of the style based on those unique qualities versus use of the style because it’s popular, exotic, trendy, or some other illegitimate reason. The best analogy that I can think of for this is thus:

Have you ever seen anyone with those “Asian character” tattoos right above their buttcrack (from some “Asian” language, but they’re not exactly sure which one), or a zen garden on their desk, or buying a case full of Pocky or Yan-Yan, or some other trendy piece “Oriental yin-yang Wu Tang” paraphernalia, but have absolutely no fucking clue what any of it means? THAT, in my eyes, is what your typical manga-art poseur is to me. They get into all that “Oriental” business ’cause it’s trendy and hip, or maybe they think it’s still “fresh” enough to net them a book deal from TokyoPop or Viz, but really aren’t in it for any other, more legitimate reasons.

Now consider the flip side: there are plenty of people who take Asian culture seriously and integrate themselves within it based solely on its cultural or philosophical merits. Sure, maybe they got interested in it because it was trendy and hip and all, but they suddenly realized that many parts of it actually fit their lives and began to vigorously study it. The most perfect example of these kinds of people are white American/European Buddhists. I watched this one show on PBS with my mom about this–I think–Connecticut dude (his name escapes me at the moment) who converted to Buddhism, moved to South Korea, hung out at various Korean Buddhist temples, and even learned the Korean language in order to chat with monks and get around comfortably. This guy, by no means, was into Buddhism because it was the in-thing to do. He actually dedicated his life to follow the way of Buddah. Now I have no doubt in my mind that there are some Western manga artists who aren’t in it for the fame or merely sake of being a “manga artist”, but use the style based on its unique artistic merits and follow the–if you will–“Manga-do” (the Way of Manga).

The trouble is trying to separate the shaft from the wheat in the vast sea of bullshit webcomics that are out there. I’ll admit that I was wrong for trying to lump ALL Western artists using the manga style in the same “trendy” basket. But that being said, there are still plenty of manga artists who’ll claim they’re actually following the Manga-do but are really the trendiest of trendy manga artists. I would say that the ones who are truly following the Manga-do are humble about their choice of style and make no attempt to draw attention to that choice. Frankly they would even go as far as saying their work is simply “sequential art” versus “my manga”; if they choose to call it “my manga”, then they obviously want the attention and fame of having a manga and thus are in it for the trendy reasons.

TL;DR: any artist using the manga style for reasons other than the Manga-do is an illegitimate artist. Yes, this would include some Japanese artists as well. However, to be considered as a legitimate manga artist, you would need to follow in the steps of Manga-do. WHAT those steps are… well, seeing as this is something of a new idea for me, it’s gonna take some time for me to refine it further.

I will add one comic to my list of Manga-do artists though: Flipside by Brion Foulke… and not because Jen’s dating him. :3 From what I gather Brion’s not the kind of artist who’s using the manga style because it’s trendy or anything. In fact, he comes off as the type who would have been using his style back in the 80’s when no one in the West knew what a “mag-na” was, kinda like one Adam Warren.

One comic that I refuse to add to the list is AppleGeeks. They have trendy written all over their face, and no one can convince me otherwise. Of course I won’t argue that they’re pretty damned successful at being trendy, but that’s all they’ll ever be in the grand scheme of things.

Times like this I like being able to play the Asian/Korean card. (^_^)

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Moose River
by Philippe Van Lieu
—Fully Charged - June 27th, 2019—

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