Bat-Manga Ignores Author

Bat-Manga!: The Secret History of Batman in Japan cover
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Laura Hudson collects some disturbing thoughts on the recent book Bat-Manga!: The Secret History of Batman in Japan.

In short, the book is credited to the designer, with the actual artist of the manga, Jiro Kuwata, mentioned only inside the book. So does this make Chip Kidd the modern-day equivalent of Roy Lichtenstein, co-opting comics he thought were cool under his own name?

Update: Chip Kidd responds in pissy fashion:

I am heartened that you all have such concern for Mr. Kuwata’s welfare. So here’s a question: where were YOU for the last thirty years, while he was languishing in obscurity both here and in his own country? I won’t bother waiting for an answer.

How DC of him, to suggest that there’s a time limit on accurate creator credit.

19 Responses to “Bat-Manga Ignores Author”

  1. Boycotting Chip Kidd? » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] called Hipster Dad has perhaps the final word on Chip Kidd’s ego and the lack of true author credit on Bat-Manga! After collecting links on the topic and summing up […]

  2. Tim O'Shea Says:

    So once anyone can explain to me how Kuwata could have scored a deal with Pantheon and garnered this project as much as attention as Kidd did, then I might regard this as a matter of any true consequence.

    Nice to portray him as “pissy”, Johanna. I think Kidd was rightfully annoyed that some bloggers failed to even try to contact him and gather any facts before knocking him. Kudos to Mautner and Butcher for actually seeking out Kidd for comment.

    I prefer to consider your “pissy” comment in the light of Kidd’s later line:

    “So that’s what I have to say. In this culture of blogger-snark I’m sure this is just the equivalent of painting an even larger target on my forehead, but I can’t just say nothing.”

    Kidd put this book together, and I stand by my belief there would not be the mainstream attention to and praise for this book without his involvement.

  3. Johanna Says:

    Tim, you’re ignoring that the creator of the work is not even credited on the front cover. Regardless of how polite or not anyone was in pointing that out, it’s the key fact. You’re saying commercial success (“scoring a deal”) is more important than accurate creative credit. Which is a very up-to-date and modern attitude, I suppose, but it surprises me to see you take it.

  4. Kevin Says:

    Good job posting all of Mr. Kidd’s eloquent response.

    This is why the Internet is a cesspool.

  5. Johanna Says:

    And you thought a drive-by would contribute to cleaning it up?

  6. Tim O'Shea Says:

    Johanna, there’s plenty you’re ignoring yourself in this topic. Kuwata’s name is not the name selling this book, and to try to convince anyone otherwise borders on delusional. Folks have seemingly ignored that Kuwata is inteviewed in the book. There is no effort on Kidd’s part to take credit for Kuwata’s work.

    Consider this clip on Kidd’s recent presentation. He’s informing people about the work of Kuwata, he’s not saying “hey gang look what I did”:

    It strikes me that many of the bloggers weighing in on this matter have chosen to ignore many details that would weaken their misplaced indignation, such as that it took Kidd 10 years to put this book together.
    Kidd is not a creator who makes his living exploiting other creators, as this cry to boycott and other reactions seem to want to intimate.

    Kuwata’s work is getting into more people’s hands because of Kidd’s efforts. Kuwata never could or would have had this occur without Kidd’s efforts. His name is not on the cover, yet it is on the inside flap and other places in the book (and Kidd’s marketing of it).

    The new response in this manufactured outrage is to dismiss Kuwata’s lack of indignation as some sort of cultural handicap
    “A Japanese man showing humility, deference, and putting the interests of the group above his own? Why is anyone surpised by this? This could be taking advantage of what might be a cultural difference when it comes credit and recognition. To the Japanese Kuwata, it might be part of working in a team and acknowledging that others may have more expertise and knowledge in the field. But to the American audience, it appears that his contribution is far less important than the people listed on the cover.” So, even though Kuwata is not offended, we’re supposed to be offended for him. Christ on a crutch, this is absurd to me. And yet, to you Johanna, looking for a wronged party in this situation, clearly do not. So be it. I see the facts in a different way, clearly.

  7. Tim O'Shea Says:

    I had too many links on my other post, so hopefully that gets greenlit by you, Johanna (please and thanks).

    I neglected to respond to one aspect of your response. If I thought Kidd was exploiting Kuwata, I would understand the cover dispute. But I think a case can be made that in fact Kidd is an advocate for Kuwata, bringing a greater awareness to his work that might otherwise have never occurred.

  8. Johanna Says:

    Tim, no one’s saying that the name of the author of the work should replace Kidd’s — but the person who drew the comics that make up the vast majority of the book should have been credited on the cover. It’s that simple.

    I recently bought a graphic novel written by one person and drawn by another solely because I love the artist’s work. That name may be selling the book, but that doesn’t mean that the writer should be omitted entirely from the cover credits.

    Claim it’s an oversight or not negatively intended, fine, but I don’t understand why you would argue it’s ok to omit the major creator’s name.

  9. Garth Says:

    Chip Kidd is the creator/editor of the book.

    The book is not simply a compilation of the comics.

    Why would one of the creators who works on the manga be credited with writing the book that is ABOUT the manga?

    Should the subject of a biography be credited as the author of the book?

    What a ridiculous, petty complaint, nevermind the fact that your complaint (“ignores author”) is complete bullshit. Mr Kuwata is not the author of the book.

  10. Tim O'Shea Says:

    Show me where I said it’s OK for the name to be omitted? And show me how it’s truly been omitted by Kidd. This is truly a case of folks judging Kidd and his book by the cover.

  11. Johanna Says:

    Tim, in this comment, you just said that being left off the cover isn’t really an omission, thus you think it’s OK. Which I still don’t understand, why people who fight for creator rights are jumping to defend Kidd’s mistake (both originally and in his response). This whole thing would have died out if he’d have said “I disagree with the premise” instead of going on the attack.

  12. Garth Says:

    I think it’s because he didn’t make a mistake. I haven’t read the book, but fromwhat I’ve read about it (that there is extensive talk about AND with Mr Kuwata) it seems that he is, in fact, giving Mr Kuwata a LOT of credit.

    Why is his name not on the cover, when the book is NOT just about his comics?

    Gee…I wonder…

    It almost makes…SENSE…

  13. Tim O'Shea Says:

    Johanna, you genuinely think people stirring up this manufactured outrage would have been satisfied if Kidd had been more diplomatic? Afraid not. Slot this in the agree to disagree column for me.

  14. Johanna Says:

    I think just about everyone went off the cliff because he phrased his response so aggressively, yes. I think a more measured response would have prevented much of it.

  15. RadioactiveGiantRobots Says:

    Mr. Kuwata’s name should be on the cover. That said, it’s not like Mr. Kidd is taking credit for the work in the least. In fact he takes most of the preface of the book to talk about Mr. Kuwata and his creation of a Japanese Batman comic.
    I would like to say that the unique packaging iswhat caught my eye at the Bookstar, but what ultimately sold the book was the contents, true Japanese manga. Thank you Mr. Kuwata and thak you Mr. Kidd, et al.

  16. Johanna Says:

    You win for most balanced summary!

  17. Grant Goggans Says:

    Tim, while it was not my intention to stir the outrage so much as it was to report it for my circle of LJ friends and readers who don’t follow the funnybook gossip, it was, in genuine, honest, hand-on-heart truth, Kidd’s response which was the third strike for me.

    Perhaps lost in the signal-to-noise ratio of this brouhaha is the issue that the reproduction of the comics is just genuinely horrible, that Kidd took beautiful comics and made them ugly. There was nothing that Kidd could have said to make me, as a reader and consumer, satisfied with the sight-unseen purchase of the book, but yes, I might have been satisfied with a measured and rational response to the points raised by Andrew, Jog, Johanna, Leigh and Laura, rather than the reply he elected.

    But hey, he’s the “artist,” and he’s entitled to act childish and aggressive, just as I’m entitled to dispose of his crappy books. I spend too much money on books that I actually like as it is.

  18. Tim O'Shea Says:

    Grant, thanks for chiming in with your strike count on Kidd. I respect your perspective on it and did not mean paint everyone with concerns about the cover credit as manufacturers of “outrage”. Upon further reflection, I myself got rather bombastically indignant on Kidd’s behalf in a situation where honestly I have no genuine “dog” in the said hunt. So, I’m gonna stay out of the discussion from here on out, I think. But again, thanks for your perspective. And Johanna, as always thanks for allowing me the ability to blather in your comments section. :)

  19. My Dangerous Headlines! » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] “I think internet controversies would be cut in half if Johanna never used headlines on her blog.” — Leigh Walton, while summing up the Chip Kidd controversy […]




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