Manga in U.S. newspapers

Good grief!

Yeah, next time Lucy pulls back the football, Charlie Brown goes Super Saiyan and obliterates the entire neighborhood.

One step closer to introducing American readers to tentacle rape and torture porn.

The glass is just half empty, isn’t it? :)

Maybe better to see it as “One step closer to introducing American readers to manga/anime that isn’t tentacle porn.”

Hmm. On reflection, it is I whose glass is half full.

I guess anything that changes the status quo of the newspaper comics page is a good thing (it couldn’t be worse), but if they’re really interested in attracting younger viewers they might start by putting up comics that aren’t bland, overly cautious about being offensive, and unfunny. The anime equivalent of Marmaduke isn’t going to solve the problem.

I like manga, but bad idea. The thing is, it’s not the art style that makes manga popular, it’s everything around it. The digest format of publishing and the relatively tight stories from having one mangaka writing it (sometimes it’s stretched out due to publishers, of course, but it’s still one author writing), first and foremost. Some reforms in that direction in the comic industry may do more to revive it than aping after a Japanese style (no offense to the artists who’ve been inspired by manga, of course).
This article isn’t about the comic industry, though, and in this case, I think it’s a wrong-headed move by someone who does not understand the strengths of manga compared to American comics, and the American comic strip tradition may well suffer for it.

True. Interesting you should mention Marmaduke. Some of us have wanted to euthanize it for years.

Folks, it’s all phooey. Newspapers everywhere, including ours, are desperate to rid themselves of comics, because most of them are space-wasting ads. Except we pay the advertiser. Why not get rid of them, or replace them with something more interesting? Because all of them have significant numbers of local fans who will raise all bloody hell if you touch their Marmaduke or their Nancy.

It’s like the local news+classifieds that many small papers run on their websites – an enormous pain in the ass once thought necessary, rendered obsolete by time, and now just sat there sucking up space, time and labor. And, because of the small markets and loud voices, there is little desire to deal with the problem.

Look at the Albuquerque Journal’s comics page. It is a comics page and a half, because whenever the new hot comic hits and they buy it, they can’t get rid of an old one. Two years later the hot comic, or the Sudoku game, or other space wasting crap has failed to generate revenue or new subscriptions. But it now has its knockeyed lunatic fans who will literally come to the office and scream in your face if you take it away.

For example, at our newspaper we had a popular local website, and I changed it so it was subscription only. It’s done well, and most readers didn’t complain. They either bought a subscription or didn’t. Many switched subs to online from delivery, which was nice. We got our first international subscribers!

But we also got our first death threats. I, personally, had to deal with people walking in, shuddering with barely-contained anger – nearly tears of rage – asking me though gritted teeth what gave me the right to take the free content of our own website. All sorts of rambling arguments were endlessly submitted, including a page-long analysis of our “failing online business model” from someone who claimed to be an economics professor. All ultimately boiling down to a sense of personal entitlement to free access to our website. All brimming with hate and venom.

Just getting rid of a Bridge column read only by dessicated corpses raised more complaints that I thought possible.

That, however, is all in a days work. We knew it would happen, and we dealt with it. The voices hushed, the peanuts stopped flying.

But guess what: we don’t have the balls to remove Marmaduke from wherever the hell he is tucked away in a dim corner of the classifieds section. We don’t have the balls to remove any of our antideluvian comic strips.

Because if we did, death threats would only be the beginning. By the time they were done with us, we would be praying for death.