Friday, August 19, 2005

If the Pocky don't stick...

I’ve been reading different blogs talking about “OEL”. Which stands for “Original English Language”. It refers to the rush of American kids that are doing wannabe Manga in the US. I think this is a good idea. More diverse artists taking a crack at sequential storytelling is a plus no matter what you call it.

It’s all sequential.

It’s all good.

I hear that certain companies pay them dirt wages.

This is a worst case scenario/ perfect storm cum disaster.

It’s raising the next generation of American comic artists to not value their work from a money standpoint. I know they are young and they do it for the love of the game and all that but they are artists who are doing published work. They should be paid fairly for what they create.


It’s similar to how a whole generation of young music fans have grown up on free downloads of music on the web. It’s brought down the value of music and media in general.

The consumer is taking the art and artist for granted.

We love free but most people feel you get what you pay for in terms of enjoyment...

No pay, no respect.

That’s not the biggest issue I see on the horizon for the OEL artist on the come up.

There will never be an American Manga artist that will be popular until one of them “is big in Japan”.


I think part of the allure of Manga is that it is a window into (from an American standpoint) a mysterious culture.

That’s part of the draw.

It’s different. It’s cool.

It’s foreign.

It’s also a question of authenticity. Manga and Anime fans are into what’s cool and unique about the culture of Japan and how Manga and Anime sprang from that. Will they be as enamored with a kid from Ohio writing a parody of the art form they respect and worship so deeply.

I think not.

Like all underground genres that go mainstream it has it’s casual viewers and it’s hardcore folk. The OEL peeps need to start there and hopefully win them over and use them as their ambassadors....but....

Unless there is an American OEL artist that is an Otomo or a Rumiko Takahashi level talent out there. You can bet your last box of Pocky....it’s not going to stick.

I love the energy. I love the revolution. Comics need that. It’s freestyle...but for how long.

The lines between American Super Hero rehash and Manga and it’s American disciples is beginning to look like a map of the US on election night. Red and Blue in the world series of sequentials.

Which style?

Which format?

The size of the eyes?

The themes of the stories.

Personal vs. Corporate.

The problem for the OEL disciples is they are soldiers without a country. Japan and Japanese artists will never accept a non Japanese doing Manga. It’s one of their most treasured art forms. They are not going to turn it over to a bunch of 20 something Americans with a ton of ambition. At least not without a fight.

With the internet putting more artists in contact with each other I see a time when there will be global collaboration on comics in many styles with diverse ideas.

I just don’t think that time is now.

It’s a few years off.

Maybe ten.

I remember seeing Anime in the 80’s. It took almost 20 years for it to go global.

With the internet and the speed it brings. It will be half that...or less.

Comics and their aesthetic are flowing into other media like water from a broken dam. What is created over the next 10-20 years will define if comics are ever going to cross over into the mainstream and be as respected as a novel and or a movie as a stand alone art form. This generation of OELs may not make the splash they want in terms of taking over the Manga market or getting the respect they may deserve from their Japanese influences but I think their generation of comic artists will be the first to create work on their own terms on subjects that are diverse and complex as the norm. New ideas will be the center of the movement not the fringe.

All this will be done without a cape or templated breast in site.

Making it a revolution of sorts.

Or at least that’s what my magic eight-ball tells me.

KA-lifornia
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