Smut Peddler 2 Kickstarter Launched Today; Meets Goal in 6 Hours

Smut Peddler 2014

The Kickstarter for Smut Peddler 2014 launched this morning, and now, about six hours later, it’s met its $20,000 goal with over 500 backers.

But that doesn’t mean you should ignore it. If you’re interested in comics for adults, Smut Peddler is an anthology of woman-centric (created and content-focused) comic book porn/erotica. The book is affordable ($15 for PDF; $30 for print) for hundreds of pages of diverse content. (I helped with submissions, so I know — we aimed to cover all kinds of people and interests.)

More importantly, as the organizer C. Spike Trotman put it,

The concept of the crowdfunded contributor bonus was invented for (and popularized by) the original Smut Peddler Kickstarter. And it went over so well, we’re doing it again.

This pre-order event will determine the bonuses of SP’s authors. They’ve already earned a page rate for their contributions, but the more money this Kickstarter makes, the more money they get.

If the Kickstarter reaches $20,000, each contributor/team gets an extra $50.00.
If the Kickstarter reaches $25,000, each contributor/team gets an extra $100.00.
If the Kickstarter reaches $30,000, each contributor/team gets an extra $150.00.
If the Kickstarter reaches $35,000, each contributor/team gets an extra $200.00.
If the Kickstarter reaches $40,000, each contributor/team gets an extra $250.00.

And so on INTO INFINITY. Pre-ordering Smut Peddler directly benefits the creators and the work you love! So support artists! Support the arts! Buy porn!

So more orders means more money for the people that matter, the creators. There are plenty of samples at the Kickstarter page, so check it out!

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Insufficient Direction

I’m amazed that Insufficient Direction made it into the translated English market, because it is SO geeky. Sure, lots of readers will identify with the idea of a nerd couple sharing their passions, but the specific references will be unknown to all but the most devout anime fans. Although I was quite surprised by an early mention of Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp — that 1970 TV show for kids featuring dubbed monkeys indicates the level of obscurity prized here.

There are plenty of endnotes, though, explaining the references. At times, I was overwhelmed; I found it difficult to focus on the universalities, like arguing over how much space to dedicate to statues of cartoon characters, because of all the specifics I’d never heard of. An argument can be made that the details are unnecessary, but I got the impression that they were such fans that the references were carefully chosen, so I did feel a bit left out, not understanding the subtleties of their enthusiasms. The lesson, I suppose, is that there are always people geekier than you are. And that plays into the specific relationship on display here.

The chapters are short, six-page episodes in which Rompers (the woman, a 30-year-old manga artist, drawn as a baby, an odd choice) shows how she and her husband, an anime director (drawn as an adult man), conduct their activities, which range from shopping for wedding attire to taking care of each other when they’re sick. They go outside to get some needed fresh air and try to lose weight and debate how often one should bathe (a particularly nerdy stereotype). Their couple-dom is the attractive part of the book, as most people in relationships can relate to the everyday squabbles and concerns.

I was a little put off by how throughout Rompers is insecure about whether she’s enough of a nerd to be a good otaku wife. She clearly knows a ton about this stuff, so his early statement that he wants “to spend the rest of my life educating you as an otaku” plays into all those horrible stereotypes of how geek girls aren’t really geeky enough. It seems to me that this series may have been sold on his fame, as director of Neon Genesis Evangelion, so perhaps that’s why he’s treated as the star and she’s portrayed as more of an acolyte or apprentice to his geekiness. She also, at one point, talks about trying to pretend to be “normal”, while he seems to have embraced his otaku-ness more wholeheartedly.

The art is simpler than in Anno’s other books, Happy Mania and Sakuran, as suits what’s more of a gag manga. The characters, particularly Rompers, who has line spirals instead of eyes, are caricatures, which helps emphasize that this is an exaggeration of their lives played for comedy and fan entertainment. The book also includes a bio for Hideaki Anno, as well as 30 (!) pages of annotations and a charming essay by him on his thoughts on his wife’s manga.

You can read the first chapter and the second chapter at the publisher’s Tumblr. Sean Gaffney points out that this is a celebrity example of a common manga genre that we’re unlikely to see more of over here, an interesting insight. (The publisher provided a review copy.)

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How Much Tezuka Is Too Much?

I’m late covering this news, which Publishers Weekly wrote about over a month ago, but I had some thoughts about the news that Digital Manga will be publishing previously untranslated works by Osamu Tekuza via their Digital Manga Guild. Specifically, their deal with Tezuka Productions Co. Ltd. aims to “bring Tezuka’s backlist of manga titles, which have not yet been adapted and published beyond the shores of Japan, to the English language market, utilizing Digital Manga’s localizing production strong-arm, the Digital Manga Guild to publish and distribute in digital editions.” (I’m not sure “strong-arm” means what they think it means there.)

Digital Manga Guild Osamu Tezuka logo

There are reportedly over 250 works included. Those named are The Three-Eyed One, Vampires, Metamorphosis, Big X, and Rainbow Parakeet, none of which I know anything about. That “not previously available in English” clause is the problem, since the best-known books have already been published here. Viz is digitally releasing the classic Phoenix, which has been out of print for a long while. Vertical put out nice oversized print editions of Message to Adolf as well as paperbacks of the classic shojo Princess Knight and the lengthy Black Jack pulp adventure. Even some of the lesser-known science fiction books were put out by Dark Horse a decade ago, following their release of Tezuka’s Astro Boy, although they’re now out of print. Using these familiar properties in the promotional image, shown here, may thus be misleading, unless Tezuka Productions plans to give digital rights to DMG when other publishers have print rights.

I have qualms about the method used to bring those works here. Since Tezuka is consider the “god of manga”, with his works widely reprinted (even when they should be left in the time period they were created, in my opinion — see Swallowing the Earth or Apollo’s Song), don’t those works deserve professional, paid translation? The DMG relies on fans working for the potential of some reward, maybe, in the future, if the works sell well. I know that method, with no upfront costs, makes it cheap to put out books that may not have much market here (see previous comment, about the difficulty of selling older works), but I am still concerned about the amount (or lack) of oversight given to these translations.

Then again, how much more Tezuka are English readers interested in? It’s as though everything Jack Kirby ever drew was being offered. There’s a small group of dedicated fans who would love the idea, but most modern readers, even while acknowledging the master’s importance, wouldn’t want to read it all. Although perhaps this plan will include some more enjoyable works than the ones that are historically important but hard to enjoy. Will the market support 10 new releases a month, as planned?

How much of this is Hollywood bait? They’re promising a dedicated section of Digital Manga’s online store, to be called “Tezuka World”, “where Hollywood movie and television directors, script writers, and producers will be able to browse through the Tezuka properties and propose treatments for potential Hollywood projects.” Gotta chase that media money!

The project will begin this spring with digital versions of Tezuka books Digital Manga has already published in print. They also intend to release in additional languages once the English versions are available. The rest of the message sounds like they’re recruiting for a cult:

…it’s the Digital Manga Guild’s privilege, pride, and joy to be able to undertake this huge localization task and to help fulfill every manga translator, editor, and typesetter’s dream to work on such high profile projects. Digital Manga welcomes all localizers, especially Tezuka fans, to join the Digital Manga Guild and participate in the localization efforts to bring these great works to the rest of the world….

All facets of this partnership, from the licensing, production, promotion, distribution, and development of Tezuka’s works, are based on a community driven effort, to not only to bring Osamu Tezuka’s high literary and award winning works to hungry fans, but to bring his message of world fellowship to all borders of the globe. So come and be part of the Digital Manga Guild and Tezuka’s world community!

I’m likely too cynical. If the project doesn’t attract a lot of readers, all anyone is out is time, from the translators and editors who worked for free. If it turns out to be widely successful, hey, great! More classic, well-drawn manga to enjoy.

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Find Out How to Submit to Comic Publishers as an Artist

Comics Vanguard has done the great service of assembling in one place links to submission guidelines from a ton of major comic publishers. This is a companion piece to their earlier writer submission guidelines, which are much more discouraging. There’s also some great general advice on submissions at the start of the post.

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The Career of Manga Editing by Those Who Do It

Organization Anti-Social Geniuses conducted a group interview with eight manga editors that’s worth reading. Participants include:

  • John Bae, Viz
  • Rachelle Donatos Lipp, the fan-volunteer Digital Manga Guild
  • Hope Donovan, Tokyopop, Viz
  • Ben Applegate, Digital Manga, Kodansha
  • Carl Horn, Viz, Dark Horse
  • Pancha Diaz, Viz
  • Lindley Warmington, Digital Manga Guild
  • Daniella Orihuela-Gruber, Tokyopop

There is a lot of really good, professional advice here. With such great talents working in such a small field, though, it makes it even more obvious how difficult a job it is to break into.

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KC’s Previews for June 2014

KC’s latest Westfield column is his monthly look at what’s in the current Previews catalog for purchase of upcoming items, due in June or later, through comic shops. He explains:

The books on the list this month are scheduled to ship beginning in June, but a great many will be hitting in August, just before comics’ biggest phenomenon — Comic Con International: San Diego — or just COMIC-CON! as most people hysterically refer to it. Traditionally, publishers save their best book projects to release right around Comic Con. That unfortunately causes an overall glut, and often fans miss something important.

Recommendations this month include a super-deluxe Marvel Masterworks set, one of which is a collection of the parody comic Not Brand Ecch, which KC explains the history of. KC also recommends some super-sized collections and even some books from this decade!

Update: And here’s part two of the column, covering paperbacks, books about comics, and collections of classic comic books and strips.

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Pearls Before Swine Creator Stephan Pastis Appearing in Madison Tonight

Stephan Pastis Falling Down tour

Stephan Pastis has launched a Falling Down Tour to promote his latest Pearls Before Swine collection, Pearls Falls Fast, out this month. It’s a treasury collection of two years’ worth of comic strips.

Pastis has never been to Madison before, but he considers it “one of those cool towns with a lot of smart people”. He’ll be at A Room of One’s Own at 6 PM tonight.

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Figment Comic Brings Back Memories

Figment #1 cover

When I first went to Walt Disney World and EPCOT (before there were two more parks included in that Orlando destination), one of my favorite memories was seeing Dreamfinder and Figment, his little purple dragon. (This MousePlanet article has some of the history of the attraction where they appeared, Journey Into Imagination.)

So I’m oddly excited to see the newest Disney Marvel comic announced, Figment, a five-issue miniseries starting in June at $3.99 an issue. It’s written by Jim Zub (Skullkickers) and drawn by Filipe Andrade (Captain Marvel); the cover shown here is by John Tyler Christopher. Like Seekers of the Weird, it’s a “Disney Kingdoms” series created in “collaboration between Marvel and Walt Disney Imagineering”.

It’s billed as a “steampunk fantasy adventure that reveals the never-before-told origin of the inventor known as Dreamfinder and his trusty dragon companion!” Steampunk is both trendy and a good match for the characters. The MousePlanet article wants to hope that, based on this, Disney will finally treat the Journey Into Imagination park area better, but that seems optimistic, since a comic book is a lot cheaper than redoing architecture.

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