Nagging Questions

Bob Greenberger was asked by Marvel to write two pieces about The Eternals for their website. They instead ran on Newsarama as site “features” with no mention of who provided the material. Should Marvel’s involvement have been identified, since they have financial incentive to get people talking about the characters?

Does it matter what Tokyopop calls its original graphic novels? They don’t like OEL, it seems, so they want to call them “global manga”.

Has the statute of limitations run out yet on the phrase “Team Comix”? I’m just funning ya, David Welsh, because I couldn’t figure another way to get your analysis of the Lost Girls promotion kickoff into this rundown. I do believe the “joyful” porn you refer to is the book I help assemble, Smut Peddler.

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9 Responses to “Nagging Questions”

  1. Dorian Says:

    Given how much of Newsarama’s content could be charitably described as “free advertising” for front-of-the-catalog publishers, when those publishers actually start creating the content for Newsarama themselves, then yes, that should be noted. I’m actually really bothered by the relationship Newsarama has with some publishers, Marvel in particular. The weekly “interviews” with Joe Quesada in particular always strike me as a rather blatant form of advertising for Marvel.

    Tokyopop can call their books whatever they like. It’s not going to do much to displace a nomenclature that’s already firmly established amongst their target audience. I also suspect that had someone in Tokyopop’s emply coined the phrase “OEL manga” they’d like the word more.

  2. Rachel Says:

    Regarding “global manga”: is wrong with “graphic novel” I would like to know?

  3. David Oakes Says:

    If Marvel placed a “news” item in a supposedly “news” area, then yes, they are morally and ethically obliged to say who they are. (And if it were in print, legally, even if it were the word “advertisement” in 4 pt type hidden somewhere on the edge.) For that matter, if Greenberger wrote the pieces, he should be given credit. (And while it obviously work for hire, if they hired him to write them for their website, it is at the least polite to say they are publishing it elsewhere.)

    Just to make Dorian itch, yes, it is all Marketing. TokyoPop can call OEL “Throat Warbler Mangrove” if they want, it only matters what the fans want to call it. But if they can define the terms, they can control the ideas. Like copyrighting “Superhero”…

    And finally “Graphic Novel” isn’t hip, isn’t c00l, and simply isn’t Japanese. “Comics” are what your grandparents bought, “Graphic Novels” are what your parents bought, but you are better than all of that, because you know that the True Art is “Manga”. Publish the exact same book but imply it is by a foreign creator, and you will see a noticible sales increase. (By about 30-50%, just to pull numbers out of my gut. Actual sales of existing OEL might be even worse, but I am not so sure they have been “same book” quality just yet.)

  4. Matthew Craig Says:

    If the terms “global manga” and “graphic novel” were applied to all comics, it would be inaccurate and unnecessarily pompous.

    If you want a catch-all term in the English language, then you can’t beat “comics.” Instantly recognisible, and easily qualified with phrases like “Japanese,” “book-length” and “godawful.”

    There’s a sampling bias at Newsarama that can’t quite be avoided – Marvel and DC produce more comics than most other publishers, so they have more things to promote – but I’m not sure it’s the same as an editorial bias. That said, sure: it’s only right and fair that contributors should be named. It’s not like they were talking about anything important (sorry, Eternals fan).

    Joe’s Q’s is a modern Stan’s Soapbox, of course, and little more than that.

    //\Oo/\\

  5. David Welsh Says:

    Now, I remember the Smut Peddler folks talking about more of a diversity of material, though some was in the joyful category. It was just kind of an overwhelming vibe of the whole thing, with even Gary Groth going along. (And I know the SP editor name-checked tentacle porn favorably, so extra points for variety!)

  6. Paul O'Brien Says:

    Even granted that the piece is, in itself, a legitimate history of the Eternals, I think there’s something very troubling about Newsarama – which DOES present itself as a news site, no matter how much they protest otherwise – running articles provided in their entirety by publishers, and presenting them as original research and historical background. That’s crossing a fundamental line of trust.

  7. Rachel Says:

    Tacking the word “manga” on everything with big eyes tends to disgust many readers who expect manga to come from Japan and Japan ONLY. (I don’t really care, but many of the people I know do.) I sometimes wonder if TokyoPop’s “OEL Manga” term is what slashed their new titles’ sales. Perhaps if they had just called them “graphic novels” things would have gone better. The prevailing mood among the Barnes and Noblers that I have met so far has been, “Well, they’re just trying to pass off this Western crap as Japanese. It’s a disgrace. I won’t even look at it. It’s not REAL manga.” Which is sad, because many of these new manga-esque titles have a lot of merit.

    Perhaps they would do better if they weren’t being sold by a company that is already selling many “pure” Japanese titles already, but then again, if Marvel were the one marketing TP’s new OEL titles, these same people would accuse Marvel of trying to cash in on (the undoubtedly popular and lucrative fad that is) manga.

    My feelings are that if you have big eyes, you’ll probably end up publishing with TP (lest another publishing company get labelled “trendy” or “a sell-out”–oh, heaven forbid!), and TP ought to stop with the variations of the “manga” label and just call their non-Japanese comic “graphic novels” (or “comic books” or “sequential art” or “bound stories told with pictures and words laid out in a fashion that pleases the eye”–whatever makes you happy). That way, manga purists (as I’ve heard a few call themselves) will have fewer reasons for not cracking one of these new books. Most of all, manga-lovers need to stop being so critical of anything with large eyes. The Japanese don’t have a patent on the artform, and only people who possess no creativity of their own would expect all American artists to stay firmly on the realistic/cartoony side of the fence for all eternity.

    I’m bloody sick of these terminology wars. I’ll crawl out from under my rock when they’re over.

  8. Johanna Says:

    Marvel’s already cashing in, with titles like Sentinel that only sell worth a darn in their “digest” format.

    I don’t know that Tokyopop would have done any better calling them “graphic novels”, because that wouldn’t address what the various audiences are responding to. The name seems to me to just be cover for that.

  9. Lyle Says:

    In hindsight, it probably would have been a good idea to create an imprint that has all of the stand-alone trappings that BLU has (solo website, different trade dress with no mention of Tokyopop), just to break the OEL titles from the expectation that come with the Tokyopop name (“100% Authentic Manga” and the frequent publishing schedule). It seemed like Seven Seas did okay with their line of OEL Manga, so I wonder if part of the problem was the brand identity.

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