There’s a similar divide in the mangasphere [between art comics and more popular titles] as well: a lot of sites focus on mainstream shonen and shojo titles (the manga equivalent to tights and capes, I guess) while neglecting the quirkier stuff. To be sure, there are many sites that cover the full spectrum of titles, or focus on a niche, but the pressure to stay current with new releases and draw traffic discourages a lot of folks from waxing poetic about the stuff at the fringes. Looking at my own site stats, for example, a review of Black Bird or My Girlfriend’s A Geek will attract a much bigger readership than, say, The Times of Botchan.
Which brings me to the argument I’d like to see explored somewhere: how do we interest older readers in manga that’s written just for them? What kind of marketing support would, say, the VIZ Signature line need in order for some of those titles to crack the Bookscan Top 750 Graphic Novel list? Are there genres or artists we should be licensing for this readership, but aren’t?
That sounded like a great argument to have to me…so, with Kate’s help, I’ve organized a roundtable on HU to explore the issues Kate has raised. The critics who have agreed to participate are, in no particular order:
Kate Dacey of The Manga Critic.
Ryan Sands of Same Hat!
Brigid Alverson of lots of places, inlcuding Mangablog.
Erica Friedman of Okazu.
Shaenon Garrity who writes at tcj.com.
Deb Aoki of About.com.
Ed Chavez of Vertical.
Peggy Burns of Drawn & Quarterly also graciously granted permission for me to reprint a short email she sent me in regard to the roundtable, so that will be appearing in the mix as well.
The title of the roundtable was suggested by Ed Chavez:
I would possibly call it… “Komikusu” (Comics) is Japanese for manga
The reason I’d say that is in the seinen and the experimental manga world most manga is not called manga it is literally called comics. However for the longest time pubs and editors there have gone about presenting this category (particularly seinen which happens to be the most stable demographic in manga) as sequential art for the masses. Not just for kids or teens, men or women, but for anyone.
Erica Friedman will kick off the conversation tomorrow, and others will be posting throughout the week. Many thanks to Kate Dacey and Bill Randall for their suggestions and help in pulling this together. And of course thanks to all those who agreed to participate: I’m really looking forward to it!
Update: Erica’s post is now up.