Tulisiko vanhempien olla huolissaan?

Yksi toissapäiväisen A-studion otsikoista oli hieman levottomuutta herättävä, mutta loppujen lopuksi itse juttu oli kuitenkin varsin neutraali; Animeconista kertovaan loppukevennykseen oli vain lähdetty hakemaan vähän erilaista näkökulmaa kuin se tavallinen äimistely- ja pällistelysellainen, ja se näemmä sattui heijastumaan otsikkoon asti vähän turhankin kärjistetyssä muodossa. Ja lolitamuoti kummastuttaa näemmä toimittajia edelleen nimensä taksonomialla. Areenasta jakso poistuu parin päivän päästä, joten linkataan sen sijaan YouTube-versio.

"Animelapsi" on varsin mielenkiintoinen halventava kattotermi... Melkein yhtä hilpeä kuin "animisti." Onneksi Finnconin heput eivät pääse kertoilemaan juttuja animefandomista medialle - omia termejään tietysti käyttäen - enää pariin vuoteen.

Первый отряд

Venäläinen Molot Entertainment on tuottamassa ensi vuonna valmistuvaa animaatioelokuvaa nimeltä First Squad, joka on saanut inspiraationsa löyhästi 80-lukulaisesta nuorille suunnatusta neuvostopropagandasta; tarinoista uljaista rintamasankareista taistelussa natseja vastaan.

Studio 4°C:n kanssa.

It is 1942. The Red Army is putting up a violent and effective resistance against the German invaders. 14 year-old Nadya is a medium. In a deadly air raid the girl is shell-shocked. Recovering from her concussion, Nadya discovers her new gift – the ability to foresee the “Moments of Truth” - the most critical moments of future combat encounters, in which one person’s actions will decide the outcome one way or the other.

Nadya’s ability is indispensable for the classified 6th Division of the Russian Military Intelligence, which is waging a secret war against the “Ahnenerbe” – an occult order within the SS. The Ahnenerbe summons from the realm of the dead the powerful prince of darkness, Baron von Wolff. With him on their side they hope to change the course of history and achieve world domination. To oppose the Baron Nadya decides to enlist the support of her old friends from the beyond – the Pioneers of the First Squad.

Juonikuvaus kuulostaa kohtuullisen lupaavalta - ja sitäkin lupaavammalta kuulostaa se, että ohjaajanpallille on istutettu Tweeny Witchesin ohjannut Yoshiharu Ashino. Twitch julkaisi pari viikkoa sitten elokuvan venäläisten ideoijien Misha Spritsin ja Aljosha Klimovin haastattelun, joka on varsin mielenkiintoista luettavaa - alkaen siitä miten he halusivat risteyttää lapsuusviihteensä rakastamaansa animeen ja edelleen siihen kuinka japanilaiset saatiin innostumaan projektista.

Kvaakissa ideaa verrattiinkin jo Black Lagoonin ja Jin-Rohin äpärälapseen, mikä voi osoittautua varsin osuvaksikin vertaukseksi - mainitsevathan haastateltavat myös Oshiin inspiraationlähteikseen. Niin kuulostaa kuin näyttääkin lupaavalta, eittämättä - edes nuo 3D-masiinat eivät särje silmiä kovin kauheasti.

Kuinka rekkasin Nico Nicoon

2chan on ääretön ja absoluuttinen; sen anonymiteetti on ensimmäistä kertaa mahdollistanut pidättyväisille japanilaisille murtaa julkisesti ulkokuorensa ja vuodattaa ilmoille todelliset ajatuksensa. 99 % kaikesta sen sisällöstä voi olla sitä itseään, mutta tässä kuohuvassa alkulimakeitoksessa sikiää nerokkuuden siemeniä ja kulttuuria; Densha Otokon legenda niistä menestyksekkäimpänä.

Vajaan kahden vuoden olemassaolonsa aikana myös rekisteröitymisen vaativa videosivusto Nico Nico Douga on saavuttanut samanlaisen merkittävän aseman (tullen viitatuksi niin animesarjassa jos toisessakin, fanituotoksista nyt puhumattakaan), ja kulttuuria syntyy myös siellä; anonyymit kommentit rullaavat ruudun ylitse ja saavat aikaan samanlaisen anarkistisen yhteisöllisyyden tunteen kuin 2chanissa. Kommenttien väriin, nopeuteen ja ajankohtaan voi vaikuttaa, joten jotkut luovat niistä työläitä kuvioita, jopa ASCII-kuvia. Video ei koskaan tule olemaan samanlainen kahdella katsomiskerralla.

"Katsojat viihdyttävät toisiaan silloinkin kun videot ovat tylsiä", sanoo Nico Nicon omistavan Niwango-yhtiön ideamiehekseen palkkaama 2chanin perustaja Hiroyuki Nishimura Wiredin haastettelussa. "Nico Nico Douga on täyttä ajanhukkaa. Mutta ajanhukka on Japanin erikoisala."

Laiska velttoilija Nishimura - tai "Hiroyuki", kuten häntä netissä ihailevasti kutsutaan - opetti jäykälle kansalle kuinka rentoutua ja purkaa paineitaan netin kautta. "Amerikkalaisissa elokuvateattereissa ihmiset nauravat ääneen, kun elokuvassa on hauska kohta", sanoo Niwangon johtokunnan jäsen Tomohito Kinose. "Japanissa sellaista ei näe. Mutta jos penkkien edessä olisi näppäimistöt, kaikki kirjoittaisivat kuin hullut."

Vaikka enin osa parhaimmistosta kopioidaan lopulta YouTubenkin puolelle on yleensä kuitenkin parasta mennä suoraan alkulähteille, vaikka se vaatiikin aluksi pientä viitseliäisyyttä. Lmmz tulikin sanoneeksi että Japanilla on tällaisissa asioissa miesylivoiman suoma etu puolellaan, mutta veikkaisin että eroja on muitakin; YouTubessa on kuitenkin monin verroin enemmän käyttäjiä, mutta samankaltaisia fanituotoksia, mashuppeja, remixejä eikä viime kädessä myöskään nörttiorkestereita näy läheskään samanlaisessa mittakaavassa. Lienevätkö japanilaiset nörtit vain tottuneempia osallistumaan omaan fandomiinsa kuin länsimaiset - vai pohjaako ero Nico Nicon yhteisölliseen rakenteeseen (videon lataaja voi lisätä videoon pysyvien kommenttien lisäksi mm. äänestyksiä ja automaattisen siirtymän toiseen videoon, ja myös muut kuin videon lataaja voivat muokata sen tageja), joka tekee siitä paljon muutakin kuin vain YouTube-kopion?

Sivustosta avattiin hiljan myös kiinan-, saksan- ja espanjankieliset versiot, mutta näitä kieliä osaamattomille loogisin reitti lienee japaninkielisen sivuston kautta rekisteröityminen. Ohjeita löytyy netistä muutamia, mutta ne kaikki ovat jossain määrin vanhentuneita, joten ajattelin joutessani tehdä omani. Tähän suuntaan siis:

Rekkauslinkin painamisen jälkeen saat eteesi lomakkeen. Lomake varoittaa käyttämästä rekisteröitymiseen kännykkäsähköpostiosoitetta; Suomessahan sellaisista ei ole kuultukaan, mutta maassa jossa enin osa ihmisistä ei vieläkään omista tietokonetta ja sähköposti on korvannut tekstiviestit jo ajat sitten kyseessä on varsin aiheellinen varoitus.

Provinssilla ja syntymäajalla ei ole juuri väliä. Salasanaksi voi laittaa vain länsimaisia merkkejä, mutta jos tarvitset tätä ohjetta tuskin aioit muita käyttääkään...

Lomakkeen täyttämisen jälkeen saat eteesi normaalin, simppelin kirjaimentunnistustehtävän.

Tämän jälkeen järjestelmä ilmoittaa lähettäneensä sinulle mailia.

Niinpä näkyy! Klikkaa linkkiä 24 tunnin sisällä vahvistaaksesi rekisteröitymisen.

...Ja siinä se.

Käyttäessäsi sivustoa tämän jälkeen ensimmäisen kerran sinut heitetään automaattisesti aloittelijatutoriaalisivustolle. Todennäköisesti haluat laittaa tämän asetuksen pois päältä, joten oikea vaihtoehto on sininen namiska.

Kommentit saa pois päältä videon alapuolella olevasta tipunapista, luuppauksen nuolinapista. Kommentoida voi näiden kontrollien alapuolella olevista kentistä, ja vihreästä namiskasta voi valita kommentin ulkoasun. Kommentti ilmestyy videoon siihen kohtaan, jossa painat lähetä-nappia. Mikäli et anna selaimesi muistaa sisäänkirjautumistasi kannattaa huomioida, että sivustolle kirjaudutaan sisään sähköpostiosoitteella, ei nickillä. Uusilla ilmaisilla accoilla sivuston käyttö ei ennen onnistunut lainkaan kaistankäytön huippuaikaan, iltaseitsemän ja yökahden välillä, mutta tämä rajoitus on sittemmin muutettu videoiden laadun rajoittamiseksi (ja koska kyseinen väli on Suomen ajassa keskipäivän ja iltaseitsemän välillä se tuskin haittaisikaan meitä elämättömiä yökukkujia). Empiiristen kokemusten mukaan sivustolle on ilmestynyt viime aikoina myös videomainoksia, jotka mainostavat mm. hiirimattoja...

Tämän jälkeen voitkin aloittaa sivuston tutkimisen! Etusivun välilehdet tarjoavat erilaisia tageja tutkittavaksi - näin ensi alkuun voisin uskaltaa ehdottaa esimerkiksi anime-tagia. Tai mikäli kärsivällisyys ei tällä istumalla riitä videoiden seulomiseen voit aloittaa vaikkapa näistä seuraavista videoista. Ne eivät ole missään määrin kattava otos - ainoastaan muutama video jotka sattuivat selaimen välimuistista löytymään - mutta jonkinlaisen käsityksen niistäkin saa...

アカギ もってけ!和了り牌 歌詞付き full ver. 【MAD】バルサ・オブ・ミコス【らき☆すた】 「クラッシュマンで、やらないか」に絵をつけてみた。 アイドルマスター こはるびより 「エプロンだけは取らないで!」 ランク一位が取れない(心のオールスター) 裏ひぐらし 【LBP】リトルビッグプラネット 『阿部高和』緊急参戦!?【PS3】

Hitaasti jauhavat pyörät

Oletteko koskaan miettineet, miksi suomennettu manga on halvempaa kuin englanninnettu?

Kun Dragon Ballia oltiin aikoinaan tuomassa Suomeen järjesti Shueisha laajan markkinatutkimuksen. Japanilaiset näkivät kioskien ja ruokakauppojen lehtihyllyillä sarjakuvia kuten muuallakin Euroopassa, mutta Suomessa oli muuan kiinnostava piirre: hyvin iso prosentti niistä oli Disneyn ankkasarjakuvia. Kokonaan värillisen Aku Ankan taskukirjan hinta, he näkivät, oli nelisen euroa - joten samankokoiset mangapokkarit eivät olisi voineet maksaa kovin paljoa enempää. Jenkeissä asia on tietysti aivan toinen, koska kun Tokyopop laski hintoja 50 prosentilla muutos oli jo valmiiksi vallankumouksellinen. (Tämän vuoksi emme ole vieläkään saaneet Hiroshiman poikaa Jalavalta kahta osaa enempää. Ei kukaan osta 20 euron mangaa, jos on tottunut saamaan moninkertaisesti parempaa laatua kuudella eurolla - tai vaikka kahdellatoistakin.)

Animepuolella mentaliteetti on pitkään ollut toinen. Nähtyään amerikkalaisten maksavan ilomielin 40 dollaria 1000 jenin pienoismallista tai 20 dollaria 300 jenin mangasta japanilaiset tulivat siihen tulokseen, että maassa maan tavalla - joten kun Bandai saapui Yhdysvaltain markkinoille vuonna 1999 se lätkäisi VHS-kasetteihinsa 30 dollarin hintalapun, eikä ole muuttanut tapojaan piiruakaan sen jälkeen.

Tällainen hinnoittelu olisi ymmärrettävää Japanissa, koska siellä tuotteen levittämiseen liittyvä infrastruktuuri on hyvin erilainen kuin lännessä - valmistuskustannukset ovat korkeampia kuin lännessä ja valmis tuote kiertää lukuisten välikäsien kautta ennen kuin lopulta päätyy kauppoihin, joten loppujen lopuksi vaikkapa DVD:n hinta nousee hyvin korkeaksi - mutta Bandain itsepintaisuus pitäytyä samoissa hinnoissa vaikka infrastruktuuri ei sitä vaadikaan on yksinkertaisesti jääräpäistä. Tällainen toiminta ei ole japanilaisten mielestä mitenkään kummallista, kuten vaikkapa Production I.G.:n toimitusjohtaja Mitsuhisa Ishikawan haastattelusta (9:45) näkee.

Kyllä, elokuvan julkaiseminen sekä Blu-ray-levyn että tavallisen DVD:n sisältävässä 90 dollarin paketissa
on varmasti hyvä tapa saada ihmiset ostamaan se.

Kullalla päällystettyjen katujen lisäksi japanilaiset oikeuksienhaltijat ovat viime aikoihin asti olleet harhakäsitysten vallassa myös länsimaisten markkinoiden koosta ja laadusta; nähtyään cosplayaajia coneissa he ovat ajatelleet "jokaista tällaista innokasta fania kohden täytyy olla kymmeniä kasuaaleja faneja, jotka vain jonottavat rahat kädessä ostaakseen DVD:itä"  eivätkä ole ymmärtäneet, että käytännössä kaikki potentiaaliset asiakkaat ovat siinä heidän edessään. Animea eivät lännessä osta kuin innokkaat harrastajat, eivätkä nykyään välttämättä hekään (kuten kyselystä tuolla sivupalkissa käy ilmi).

Tämän vuoksi noin kolmannes pohjoisamerikkalaisten anime-DVD:iden hinnasta on lisenssimaksuja, jotka nimekkäimpien sarjojen - toisin sanoen amerikkalaiset markkinat mielessä budjetoitujen sarjojen á la Witch Hunter Robin, Ergo Proxy, Pumpkin Scissors, Darker Than Black, Black Lagoon, Black Blood Brothers ja Coyote Ragtime Show - kohdalla saattavat nousta jopa 70 000 dollariin jaksolta. Japanissa on luultu, että tilanne on vielä samanlainen kuin 90-luvulla ja kaikki julkaistu käy kaupaksi ilman mitään ongelmaa - vaikka tilanne on muuttunut toisenlaiseksi jo aikapäiviä sitten. Nykyään ihmiset imuttelevat torrentteja piuhat punaisina, ja vain Vizin kaltaiset isoja shounenlisenssejä ja niiden oheistuotteita omistavat julkaisijat menestyvät Geneon USA:n kaltaisten vähemmistöyleisön sarjojen julkaisijoiden laotessa.

Mutta sen sijaan että tuotantoyhtiöt alentaisivat hintoja ja lisenssimaksuja ne ovat päättäneet vian olevan ostajissa, ja ovat sen jälkeen keskittyneet kotimaisiin markkinoihin. Koska DVD-myynti on kuitenkin Japanissakin laskussa - eikä mikään ihmekään, koska Sharessa ja torrentsivustoilla liikkuvien HDTV-rippien kuvanlaatu on nykyään parempi kuin DVD:iden - ne ovat kausi kauden jälkeen suunnanneet yhä enemmän rahaa oheistuotteita myyviin otakusarjoihin.

Ihan viime aikoina tilanne on kuitenkin alkanut muuttua. Olen jo aiemmin maininnut länsirannikon conien olevan yleensä ammattimaisia ja itärannikon conien fanivoimin organisoituja, mutta tähän tuli merkittävämpi muutos joulukuussa pidetyn New York Anime Festivalin myötä. NYAFia järjestää sama fima kuin New York Comic Conia, joten kontakteja ja resursseja löytyy.

Näin ollen NYAFissa oli myös mahdollisuudet sellaiseen, mistä eräät täällä Suomessakin haaveilevat: paikalla oli alan ihmisiä, joiden kanssa saattoi keskustella teollisuuden tilasta ja fandomin toiveista. Eräässä yleisöltä suljetussa paneelissa nämä firmojen yritysjohtajat saivat eteensä varsin suorasukaisia lukuja ja tilastoja siitä, kuinka moni lataa animea netistä ja katsoo sitä YouTubesta, ja viimeistään he veivät mukanaan Japaniin tietoisuuden siitä että Internet on olemassa, se on merkittävä eikä sitä voi enää jättää huomiotta.

Eri tahot ovat reagoineet tähän eri tavalla. Esimerkiksi TV Tokyo on hiljattain noussut yhdeksi tiiviimmistä kirjeenvaihtajista YouTuben kanssa... hupaisana yksityiskohtana mainittakoon, että rapatessa on toistaiseksi roiskittu nurin myös eräs cosplayvideokoosteiden postailuun käytetty käyttäjätili.

Onneksi kaikkien päät eivät sentään ole yhtä umpiluisia, vaan eräillä tahoilla on tultu samanlaiseen tulokseen kuin pelialallakin: jos yksi käyttäjä ei ole sama kuin yksi ostaja sille ei voi mitään, eikä piratismin lopettaminen välttämättä merkitsisi myynnin kasvua. Sen sijaan tilanteeseen on yritettävä sopeutua; esimerkiksi Kadokawan liberaalit asenteet fanikäännöksien suhteen tulivat hyvin selväksi jo toissavuotisesta Haruhi-mainoskampanjasta.

Toistaiseksi mullistavin näistä sopeutumispyrkimyksistä julkistettiin eilen, kun Studio Gonzon omistaja GDH osoitti etteivät sen jo viime vuoden puolella (edellä mainitussa haastattelussa) väläyttelemät ideat olleet pelkkää sanahelinää: se ilmoitti julkaisevansa seuraavat uudet sarjansa The Tower of Druaga: the Aegis of Uruk ja Blassreiter YouTubessa, CrunchyRollissa ja BOSTissa - samana päivänä kun ne lähetetään Japanissa TV:stä, englanninkielisin tekstityksin, maailmanlaajuisesti. Eivätkä nämä ole mitään jämäsarjoja - Blassreiter voi ollakin jenkkiyleisöä varten kaavailtu sarja, mutta Koichi "Last Exile" Chigaran ohjaaman Druagan oli ottanut listalleen jo ainakin kolme fansubtiimiä.

Jos et voi voittaa vihollisiasi sinun on liittouduttava heidän kanssaan, eikös? Lyhyellä matikallakin pystyy laskemaan, että X jeniä nettijakelusta on enemmän kuin 0 jeniä nettijakelusta, jos sitä tapahtuu joka tapauksessa. Tuskinpa mainitut palvelut näiden sarjojen streamausoikeuksia ovat nimittäin ilmaiseksi saaneet.

Previously fans outside of Japan did not have access to Japanese animation titles until each property was licensed and localized for TV or videogram release in each respective territory. Partially as a result of this gap in availability, a substantial amount of fansubbed pirated footage has traditionally proliferated the Internet via file sharing communities immediately following the first broadcast on terrestrial TV in Japan. G.D.H.'s decision to provide its content globally in parallel with Japanese broadcast is an effort to offer equal accessibility and new viewing opportunities to fans around the world, while at the same time showcasing a legal online alternative to illegal file-sharing and downloading. The web VoD services in this venture will also explore new business models that both maximize revenues from content exploitation and savings on distribution costs.

Tämä ei tietenkään ole - edes näiden sarjojen kohdalla - nettiin ripattavien TV-lähetysten loppu, koska aina on hifistejä jotka arvostavat kunnollista kuvanlaatua sen verran että jaksavat nähdä sen verran vaivaa. Se ei myöskään ole fansubbien loppu, vaikka se vähentääkin varmasti viitseliäiden määrää - kuka jaksaa nähdä pelkän kuvanlaadun vuoksi vaivaa jakson kääntämiseen ja tekstittämiseen, jos korvaava versio löytyy jo tuubista?

Sen sijaan se tekee niiden laittomuudesta yhdentekevää; sitä enemmän, mitä useampi tuotantoyhtiö päättää seurata GDH:n esimerkkiä. Tulevaisuus on ilmaisuudessa - eläköön, Justin Sevakis.

Muokkaus: "The best part is the streaming will stay FREE and any ads on it will help pay for the costs and go back to the creators too!"  Tiesin.

Muokkaus 26.3: ANN:n Zac Bertschy haastattelee CrunchyRollin Vu Nguyenia ja kysyy tapansa mukaan paljon sellaisia vaikeita kysymyksiä, joita kohteliaammat toimittajat eivät viitsisi kysyä. Valitettavasti se saa Nguyenin vain välttelemään vastaamista...

Muokkaus 2.4: Nyt GDH:lla on pimahdettu lopullisesti - ne ovat siirtyneet Radiohead-linjalle ja antavat ihmisten päättää omat hintansa. Kuulostaa pelottavan radikaalilta - hatunnosto BOSTin poppoolle, jos puoletkaan heidän osuudestaan tässä on totta.

Supervoimana pullea lompakko

Ensimmäistä promomateriaalia Batman: Gotham Knightista. Ajatukset Batmanista roninina ja pohdinnat länsimaisen ja japanilaisen animaatioin eroista ovat kiintoisia, ja jälkikin näyttää lupaavaalta - vaikka idea Bruce Waynesta tummana bishinä onkin vähän häiritsevä...

Tämä entry jäi nyt vähän tylsäksi, joten ottakaa tästä vastavuoroisesti Bruce Timmin näkemys Asukasta.

Äimistelyä

Lolitatyyli alkaa olla ernu-Suomessa nykyään jo niin tuttu juttu, että tällaisia yleisartikkeleita näkee jo hieman harvemmin ja valtavirtamedioissakin (tai ainakin helsinkiläisissä sellaisissa) voidaan ohimennen viitata niihin olettaen, että lukija tietää mitä tarkoitetaan ilman erillisiä selityksiä. Säännöllisesti harhaanjohtavan kuvan antavista artikkeleista huolimatta lolita vaikuttaisi olevan Suomessa pitkälti samanlainen nuorisokulttuuriin liitettävä asia kuin anime Yhdysvalloissa; enin osa ihmisista tunnistaa sanan ja osaa kuvailla sitä ylimalkaisesti, mutta ei tiedä siitä sen enempää. BJD-harrastamisen kohdalla asia on vielä toinen ja - monien iloksi - tuskin tulee jatkossakaan muuttumaan kovin äkkiä, sillä kalleuden vuoksi nukkeharrastuksen aloituskynnys on monin verroin korkeampi. Se on kuitenkin kasvattanut suosiotaan tasaisesti muutaman aiheesta julkaissun artikkelin myötä. Tähän suhtautuminenkin on jo alkanut muuttua positiivisemmaksi, eikä takavuosien nyyppäkammoista wannabe-ernuilua enää esiinny - ainakaan Hartsilapsia liberaaleimmilla foorumeilla.

Paul Gravett: on comics from east and west, III

Osa 1, osa 2

Maus ei ole hauska. Se on kuitenkin hiton hyvä.
So… how much do you think the language has to do with this? I mean, the French have the term “bandes dessinées”, but in english there are only the terms “comics” and “funnies”, that are essentially the reason why the term “graphic novel” had to be invented. So that the people would understand that there’s more than just simple comedy in there.

PG: Yes, in Finnish you don’t have this kind of problem because “sarjakuvat” only means “serial pictures”, and it doesn’t really have any deeper meaning than that. The word itself doesn’t say that it’s funny. So you don’t really need the term graphic novels, but for us it’s a good thing that this came in, because how else could we ever elevate comics?

PS: It does have the prejudice thing against it. As in how we talked about how British comics are kind of laughed at, like they’re only meant to make jokes. The word graphic novel now in Britain has created its own separate area, because it’s now graphic literature. The British people can now understand it.

PG: You should realize that modesty’s quite a good thing. This term is now being adopted by for example film critics, who have assumed that the graphic novel is going to be science fiction, spectacular, and a bit empty and stressed on explosions and such, and they all describe a bad film being “like a graphic novel”. So still this new term has been twisted and distorted into an another term of derision against comics. And some people also don’t understand that the word “graphic” inclies drawing and think that it inclied explicit, so in a graphic novel nasty material must be shown... these kinds of things.

PS: So in Graphic Novels we took time to talk about this. At the beginning we listed ten things to hate in comics.

PG: Things like “comics are just funnybooks” and “they take no time to read” for example, or speech bubbles. People hate speech bubbles. A lot of people are used to seeing text in a nice kind of type and so on, and we who have been reading comics so much tend to forget that some people haven’t been reading comcis for a long time, maybe ever. And when they look at a spread of comics they think “Where do I begin? All these people shouting at me at once, all these pictures… in which order do I read them?” People say they’re very literate and very sophisticated, but they’re actually not comic literate and don’t know how to read them. So part of the book is about explaining how to read comics. That’s actually what I’m going to speak about today.

PS: The one thing you mentioned is the phrase “Comics are a great way to get kids reading real books.”

PG: That’s what you’d hear from a librarian… “Oh we have got graphic novels, but we want to kind of steer people towards reading real books.”

PS: Which in a way is a very patronizing way of putting things.

This brings me to the case of your book being taken off the shelf in certain libraries in America…

PG: Yes, I forgot to mention that… it was only in San Bernardino county, and that was because a fundamentalist christian mother had a 16-year-old son who got the book from the library. And any other 16-year-old finding some naughty pictures from a book would have actually kept quiet.

I thought so too. What kind of 16-year old goes to tell his mother…?

PG: …Goes to tell his mother “Mommy what is that, this is disgusting!”? (Laughs)

PS: Well, we’ve put up an interpretation of what we’ve read, and this is just a personal opionion, but… I think that he was reading the book in his bedclothes or something in his room, searching his own identity, having the book from the library. He had it at home and he didn’t tell his mother he had it, but his mother found him reading it and immediately asked “what are you reading?”, and of course…

PG: Well we don’t know that, but… I think the whole point is that this reflects America’s discomfort with sexual subjects. They haven’t complained about the violent images, which I thought that they would. It’s also a matter of how this book is not aimed at kids. It’s the thing that “it’s manga, it’s comics, so it must be a book for kids” all again. In fact the book was reviewed by the library association to be a book for young adults: it wasn’t actually in the 18-class basically, but the 16-class – whatever. The point is that it should not be issued to children, so the library made a mistake there. We didn’t want to do a book about manga that wouldn’t talk about all of manga.

In fact… in 1991 I was going to be involved in a big exhibition of manga, the first one in Britain, in the Museum of Modern Arts in Oxford. We had Toyota sponsoring it. The museum wanted to present a complete survey of manga, including the erotic and sexual material, showing in an art gallery where you can show out. But Toyota of course weren’t very happy of their name with X-rated or explicit material, so the sponsorship collapsed and the exhibition didn’t happen. And in the end what happened was that a small private gallery in London worked with me and Helen McCarthy and we put together a much smaller show showing original art from books of manga, including some pretty wild stuff and some classic Tezuka, original artwork.

As far as I’ve understood it the Americans have a nipple complex. They can bear punching, but if there are nipples then it’s X-rated, absolutely. I hear it's a Bible Belt thing.

PG: It is, really. And I was surprised by the fact that San Bernardino county is in California, and California’s actually a lot more liberal than the Bible Belt or the Midwest. But it seems to be that in that particular area there’s quite a strong fundamentalist christian community, and of course the reaction of the local mayor was really heavy-handed, as the book had to be withdrewn completely and not being made available even to adults. I would’ve been happy if they’s admit is as a mistake, as even the website of the library rates the book as a book for young adults, not to be issued for a child.

But really, how can any adult be worried about of an image of a fairy having sex with a hamster?

Keijun ja jyrsijän välisen seksin lisäksi kuuluisa aukeama sisältää naisopettajan ja poikaoppilaan välistä kanssakäymistä, viiden kimpan, scifikyberseksiä ja ensimmäisiä kuukautisia symboloivan neitsyydenmenetyksen lohikäärmeelle.

PS: Actually, if you look at the picture it isn’t even explicit.

PG: No, no it isn’t. And very importantly, both the fairy and the hamster are over 21. We checked this before we got to use the image.

PS: What is very strange here is that if you look at the spread we talked about, and you look at the image that was objected to… on the same spread there are things which I think are far more worse than that.

PG: Yes. So really here the thing isn’t the nipples that upset them, it’s sex with animals. Now this is where the local paper had to go “Images of sex with animals too shocking for us to show you in this newspaper”, which of course is great… if they can’t show it to you, then it must be really bad. And of course what this really is is an absurd fantasy – I don’t know who could read Bondage Fairies and find it arousing. Well, you can’t say that for sure, but in the end it’s not very arousing but absurd.

A lot of Japanese erotica is like that. You're supposed to enjoy it as an entertainment; erotic entertainment, yes, but in the end not just pornography.

PG: Yes, they don’t have the same kind of attitude towards portraying sexuality than we do.

PS: And their religions don’t talk so much about sex as Christianity does. Except maybe shintoism, but even that’s all positive stuff and nothing like regulations.



Nowadays there are lot of people in the west who draw comics using style that’s influenced by manga, and they’re getting their work published, especially in America… and Finland too, bit by bit. But the problem I see is that a lot of people are just artists, not comic makers. They have problems with making actual comics.

PS: So they draw pin-ups, basically? That’s the whole problem of this “How to draw manga” thing. There are so many books out there that don’t actually tell you how to draw manga. They tell you how to draw pin-ups, how to draw set character style, which is again not very representative in manga, but if you think about Finnish comics or American comics there is nobody who’d say “there’s one way to draw comics from that country”. I think it’s a very damaging thing if you boil the multitude of graphic styles into a bunch of clichés. That’s what these books have been doing.

So we are here still at a stage where people are still young and just want to enjoy the ability of creating nice-looking characters and art. But the rise of this western manga, “global manga” is it’s nowadays known, shows that there are however people who want to make an affort of making full-scale comics like the one they’ve learned to love. Like what I mentioned at the back of the Manga book.

Though 95 % of it isn’t actually very good.

PG: But that’s how you have to deal with any other cultural application, isn’t it? It’s always that you have to look to find the good stuff.


Hyvää kamaa.

But I think the greatest problem there still is that a lot of these young people drawing comics with manga style haven’t read much comics besides manga. So in the end they often end up just copying the styles and images, and the result is actually copying another comics rather than real life.

PS: In Britain during the 60’s there was a huge superhero thing going on, but gradually some fanzines started to publish things that were completely opposite in style to them. It was like a reaction against it, and it was really unusual stuff… based on poems and such.

PS: Maybe in few years there will be people who formerly liked manga but now say “we hate manga” and start drawing stuff that’s influenced it but still original. And that’s the point when the Finnish comics will start evolving.

I actually have here a copy of a publication showcasing British manga that was bundled with an issue of the NEO magazine last year.


PG: Yes, this is actually what Tokyopop’s been doing in the Britain since then; we now have the “Rising stars of manga UK” competition now. Yes, obviously some of this stuff looks more or less like manga… and some if doesn’t. It’s all in a very early stage, basically.

You can tell that the cover artist’s been reading Junko Mizuno.

PS: Though she might end up being really good and having an original style in a few years.

PG: Exactly! As said, the great thing about publications like this is to give young artists chance to eventually find something that they want to do with comics. And the problem is that we still have to wait for a lot of them to actually have something to express, something interesting to tell stories about.

PS: We noticed that you have an art exhibition upstairs at the con, and I think it’d be rather nice if you also had a competition like you have the cosplay contest… best manga strip.

Well we do have the Finnmanga, naturally… when the first issue came out two years ago it wasn’t very well-known, so a lot of the stuff isn’t very good, but the second one that came out just recently is geberally a lot better. Maybe the third one will be excellent?

PG: Yes, that’s the whole idea of publications like this. People improve all the time, and things like this encourage them to improve even more. When you see it on paper you suddenly start to see all the mistakes you did, and so on… and you get a lot of feedback that way.

PS: And in a way it’s sort of a peer thing.

PG: In Britain we have these people called Sweatdrop Studios. They started by doing little magazines on their own, and they grew and supported each other, sold each other’s publications at cons and so on. And nowadays they publish all that, and also anthologies in the size of real manga books. They’re a growing small press.

PS: That’s the good thing with digital printing.

PG: And I think that people are fond of the manga book format. The square-bound tankoubon that’ll sell for about 5 or 6 pounds.

Isn’t that what Marvel’s been doing recently? Spider-Man and such…

PG: Yes, nowadays a lot of comic publishers in America are printing and packaging their material with that size. That really is a a strong format, or so they think. People will easily recognize a comic with that size if they’ve been reading manga before.

One of the recent things starting up in Britain is a small publisher called Self Made Hero, and their first project is going to be recreating Shakespeare as manga. I’ve seen some of the stuff these people are doing – it’s got 160 pages and there’s Hamlet and there's Romeo & Juliet, and it’s great!

I met with the publisher, and she had gone to Tokyo and showed the people there what they were doing, and the people were really impressed. They said that it didn’t look like an imitaition at all, it was really good quality – there was almost interest, I think, from the Japanese publishers. So you might eventually see manga being produced over here in Europe to be sold in Japan.

PS: They’ve always been open to publishing foreign-made stuff in Japan… I remember back in the 80’s they used to publish European works recreated with Japanese style.

The Finnish Donald Duck magazine actually published some of those some years ago. I wouldn’t say they were very good, as the format just didn’t work for the kind of stories they were… There was lots of meaningless empty space just for the sake of manganess, and all the actual story was crammed into one montage page.

PG: Interesting… So they would have to be told in a different way for different audience.

Down at the artists’ alley there actually are two self-published comics on sale right now. One original story and one doujinshi. Maybe next year there will be dozens of them?

PG: Really? We have to go check that out. But the really great thing about this is that when people see them being done they are really encouraged to join in and make their own. There could be this great sense of community like with Sweatdrop Studios, I think – community that supports people and gives advice when they are starting out. An Internet-based one would be just the same.

Ok, let’s take one last question… How would you see the future of comics with this global manga and all? I mean, in 10 or 15 years?

PG: I could say that the future, of course, is the Finnish comics… that they’ll take over the world. (Laughs)

Hmm, really… there are a lot of Korean comics coming out in english again, an we’re waiting China to show what it’s capable of. There are already some of that that’s come out in French, and it’s amazing stuff. And I think what I hope to see in the future is a more globalized environment for comics that are being pressed, so that we don’t think that it has to come from one country or another to be good.

And clearly the online comic world is where there’s unlimited potential, because there you don’t have to worry about costs or distribution, and can just publish whatever you wish. Wonderful things have come out from there – and even business can be run directly through the website.

PS: If you want to buy original art or a T-shirt or something, you can buy it straight from the artist.

PG: And in the future even more so, because I think that this and the coming generations are going to be less fixated on having printed matter. Though I don’t think that the printed medium will disappear, because there is the special feel of owning the product physically – to be able to hold it in your hand and flick through it are something that digital medium can’t duplicate.

What I really think is that rather than taking over the comic world the Internet will revolutionize the animation world, and we will see more and more amateur anime being produced in the future, now when the technology to produce it is widely available and easy to use.

But I think that the medium of comics will survive, absolutely. They’ve survived the coming of film, the coming of TV. And now when manga has come along to revive the whole art form, especially in America, they’ll be around for even longer.

PS: What I think will happen that when these people will grow up and have families, then their kids will hate manga and reject it and find something else. (Nauraa)

PG: Maybe in 10 or 15 years we will talk about the next big thing that’s come along… maybe Finnish comics.

Thank you!

Paul Gravett: on comics from east and west, II

Osa 1

Not also talking about future publications, but also your own… Manga – 60 years of Japanese comics was sold very well in Finland, and is now in second print. It means of course money in the bank…

PG: Eventually. (Nauraa) Everyone is feeling that we’re doing a lot of money on this, but I’ll tell you it takes a long time… We’re promoting the culture, of course.

Your next publication would be about graphic novels in general.

PG: Yes, I’ve brought a copy with me. This is out in English alreasy, came out last year… It’s the same format as the Manga book, actually with more pages, and it’s a guide to graphic novels. We’re recommending 30 really outstanding ones, and they’re all connected systematically, so there’s one chapter on horror, one chapter on noir and crime, and one on science fiction and fantasy…

It’s a complex book because the idea is that you can also explore the entire book by the links of the bottom of the pages, and the target of publishing is next september in Finnish. (Venähti lopulta lokakuuhan 2007 - toim. huom.) In a way it does the same as the Manga book in the sense that it helps people who don’t know where to turn and what is out there. So it’s a guide to tell where to start, and in this book especially we try to explain to people who don’t know comics very well.

So what’s your next project?

PG: It’s a book about British comics. Actually I have the cover with me here – it’s going to be in the same size and format as the previous books. We’re going to explaining to British people as well, we have to explain our own culture of comics. And they can be pretty strange and pretty eccentric, in fact just as alien and weird as manga. And they’re also just as interesting, something like we’ve already mentioned, like Modesty Blaise or Judge Dredd.

PS: I must add that we try to write all ours books to people who know nothing about it. And the thing is that you can’t even take for granted that the British people would know anything about British comics.

PG: The British comics have been in a kind of a downward stage for some ten years, and now it’s resurrected – you’ve got Wallace & Gromit for example as a comic on the newsstands, and we’ve got new characters coming from the Internet, and the small press, so the story isn’t just a historical one, it brings us right up to date, and looks at what’s going on now, and by now I mean 2006. And the new thing here is that we also show some fantastic photographs, photographs of how comics connect to our culture. And we also had to explain to our publisher that British comics are actually better known abroad than they are in Britain.

We all know the saying “comics aren’t just for kids anymore”, that’s a cliché. They have said that for years, but somehow I don’t think that the public has really gotten that. So how do you think that the attitude of the general public could be changed, so that they could understand that comics can be entertainment for all people?

PG: Well, this is really one of the ideas behind the Manga book too. Because I think a lot of people came to the book expectuing to find just the bit they liked, for instance “I like CLAMP, I like Dragon Ball”, and the whole point of the book was to go “well there’s this, and then there’s also material that’s more sophisticated or more adult”, and to show that it covers the entire age range from cradle to the grave, literally.

And we also deliberately named the book “Graphic Novels – stories to change your life” a bit ironically, as we don’t pretend that these stories will transform you overnight, but we do think that these stories are worth reading. And this is the main problem: to get most of the non-reading general adult public to be convinced that comics are worth reading. They’re going to have to make the effort, to find time to say “I’m not going to watch anymore TV, I’m not going to listen to a CD, I’m going to make an effort and read a comic.”

And a graphic novel, where the story is complete and is worth reading, will get through to people. We already know that things like Maus or more recently books like Persepolis are great stories regard of the fact that they are comics. In fact they’d be great stories if they’d be made on film or written as a text novel. So the fact that they are comics is actually a proof that comics can be just as entertaining and have subtlety, and are not just meant to be escapistic and forgotten as soon as you’ve read them.

PS: When we researched for the British comics book we found that the prejudices about comics are for kids start after the first World War. Because what happened in Britain after that is that you’d have all the people trying to reestablish their home lives and their families, and up until the war you’d have lots of childrens’ comics but lots of adult humor as well. But it stopped selling after the first World War, and a lot of publishers decided there are lots of young families, people coming back from the war and having children – there was a population to be built after the devastation after all – and the market for British comics for children suddenly booms. It was around 1920’s, and that’s where the public starts to think that comics are for kids.

PG: And adults, of course, look elsewhere – they look to the cinema, to the radio, for entertainment. And I think that now that we’re in the new millennium, on a new century, the comics are being reappraised as being exciting medium to expression. There are many people in the world of literature, for example, people like Jeff VanderMeer and Justina Robson who are here as guests of Finncon are both really interested in comics. Not because they think that they’re cool or fun or they’d recommend them for their kids, but because they actually seem to see as writers that maybe mixing pictures with words actually opens up new ways of doing stories. Which it obviously does.

Franquin oli parempi kuin kaikki muut yhteensä. Ei vastaväitteitä.

Could you compare this to for example France, where comics have long been one of the art forms? Whereas the BBC laughs when they mention that the French are so stupid that they have made a comic version of a famous French novel. As seen on TV a few years ago.

PG: “The ninth art”, yes. The French attitude obviously has been helped by the fact that they have the album format that goes all the way back to Hergé, or even before Hergé. And the whole idea that a comic story is not worth of keeping in print, which is still common in Britain, is missing. The whole publishing attitude in Britain has been magazines and periodicals that bring out a new issue every week, which are then forgotten and have just disappeared in a newsprint limbo, and nobody reads them again.

The British also have attitude of an annual publication that is sold maybe just four months up until christmas, and after that you can’t buy them anymore. But any Tintin book, as you know, is kept in print and is reprinted endlessly because it’s a classic, an all-ages classic, and this is why the French have been able to establish their culture. That plus of course having the whole May ’68 culture revolution, where things that were respectable suddenly became dull and things like rock’n’roll and science fiction and comics suddenly became intellectualized and trendy.

PS: It’s actually very complicated to answer the question because France is a republic, and Britain never was, and there’s the whole class system. Not as much are there used to be, but there used to be a class system in Britain which has gradually eroded away since the year ’68. But it could also be the different attitude towards culture in France, the art in general. Even in the 19th century the attitude towards the intellectual.

PG: Class definitely has to be mentioned, because in fact a whole chapter in Great British Comics is dedicated to class. Britain is incredibly rigid in the class, and for example in Finland you don’t quite as much of a class hierarchy. Whereas in Britain people are put into certain categories, certain levels of class, and so it’s often difficult to rise in between them.

PS: And in fact comics in that aspect are very fond of ridiculing anything…

PG: Yes, the comics definitely seem to be lower-class, unintelligent, and therefore undesirable.

There’s a difference between manga enthusiasts in Japan and in the west. In Japan the enthusiasts have the culture all around them. Whereas in the west the culture has to be brought here, it has to be searched… The enthusiasts in the west feel they have things in common, and that’s why they have concentions and dress up and talk in the Internet. And that’s why it has become such a phenomenon that it is.

PS: I think it’s very much about identity. And it’s also that the mass cultures don’t take any notice with people who are enthusiasts. I mean if you look, just to mention very briefly, the American underground in the 60’s nobody supported them at all. They actually made their own culture, they decided they’d do their own comics, and it was based around the hippie thing and drugs for the most bit, but there are similarities in that there are a lot of people among the manga enthusiasts. Nobody’s going to give them their culture so they’ll make their own.

And also the thing that you’ve got thousands of people coming to Animecon and dressing up, and it isn’t just dressing up but also identifying with the character. It is also like an oppositional identity, opposing to the mass media that says that you have to wear Gap jeans, you have to have a haircut like this, you’ve got to conform, this is the film you’ll be watching this week… And many young people, especially because of the Internet, are looking for something else, something that’s just a bit more different.

PG: And wildness, that’s very important. “I don’t want mum and dad to know what I’m reading! I don’t want them to understand why we read the books backwards!”

Manga’s the new punk, they say.

PG: It is, isn’t it? The Dragon Ball hair is not that different from a mohican, after all. (Nauraa)

PS: It’s very interesting, because we were talking last night about how in London during the 90’s, or maybe even the late 80’s, you used to get these Japanese people who came to buy all of the punk clothes. And they’d go up and down the streets with their pink hair and black everything and big boots, even though punk had already been dead in Britain for years.

And if you now look at the Gothic Lolita magazines from Japan and the clothes in them you see that many of them are very much punk. So they just adopted some of our rebellious youth culture to their own: in Japan it’s still exotic and underground and rebellious. So you get this thing going around all the time in cycles…

You can’t be satisfied with what you got. You’ve got to get your underground from the other side of the world.

Jatkuu...

Paul Gravett: on comics from east and west, I

Mitä tehdään kun on kiireistä ja hidas uutisviikko, enkä viitsisi täyttää tyhjiötä uusimmilla Miku Hatsune -videoilla, Cloverfield-mangalla, trappimeidokahvilalla, Gyakuten Saiban 4:n Flash-demolla ja marinalla Newsweekin tuoreimmasta journalistisesta munauksesta? Kierrätetään! Monet uudet lukijat eivät varmaankaan ole nähneet tätä Paul Gravettin (ja hänen ystävänsä Peter Stanburyn) haastattelua, joka oli tällaisenaan esillä Otakun vanhoilla nettisivuilla ja joka julkaistiin lyhennettynä numerossa 2/2006. Tein sen Kempin kanssa 20.8.2006 Animecon IV:ssä, jossa Gravett oli kunniavieraana; Kemppi kirjoitti haastattelun pohjalta henkilökuvantapaisen Anime-lehden numeroon 15.

*****
Let’s start from the basics… Who is Paul Gravett?

Paul Gravett: I think I’ve always been enthusiastic and passionate about comics. And somehow, while my friends at school kind of grew out of them or gave them up or whatever, I seemed to be able to find new things that ? come along that interested me throughout my life. And manga came along with me in the late 70’s, when Barefoot Gen was translated. That was when I started to read, or at least buy, original japanese magazines for the first time. And at the same period I was also discovering European comics and the bigger history of comics from the past, and so my interest has been continuedly sustained, and I see no reason why anybody should grow out of comics. If you simply look around enough you’ll see that if you’ll get bored with Superman, or get bored with children’s comics, you’ll find more stuff to keep you interested.

But that’s a pretty big background… All that there’s really to say that I have a degree in law and I lived for a year and a half in New Mexico, America after graduating. But for me comics weren’t just a passion to consume: I wanted to meet the people who produced them, and eventually I wanted to explain them to people. Because I feel that a lot of people are missing out on the pleasures of the comics.

Thinking about that... Comics don’t have a very good reputation in the UK, and so it seems interesting that you chose japanese comics to write a book about. What is there that Battler Britton didn’t offer you? (Battler Britton oli 70-lukulainen poikien korkkarisankari – toim. huom.)

PG: I was involved with an exhibition of manga. Manga of course does that here in Finland; it’s catching on very fast, it’s a phenomenon fueled by the interest in anime and the interest in japanese culture in general. And at the time I was looking for a chance to do a book – not necessarily about japanese comics; I would’ve had another book in mind with Peter. But the publisher came to us – it’s unusual, usually you have to try and find the publisher. But the publisher came to me because I was involved with this exhibition – it was called Zamanga - in which we turned the gallery into a manga shop that was with about 10 000 manga books. It wasn’t exhibiting the art, it was just the books. They were all donated by the publishers in Japan who just wanted to have a big display. And after that this publisher came along and said “We really wanted to find someone to do a book on manga. We know it’s going to be big.” That was in 2003, and the book came out in 2004.

You have been reading manga a fairly long time, and you have also extensive understading about the comics in UK and also in Europe and America. Can you say that there’s something in manga that’s particularly good or bad? Combined to bandes dessinées, for example, or graphic novels in general?

PG: Personally for me the thing that’s most exciting about manga is propably the fact that I’m constantly surprised by manga. And not just surprised by the story and the themes, but the storytelling techinques and the openness of the pages, and also the unexpectedness of how the stories turned out. Because after a while western comics –especially American comics, I suppose, more than anything – have gotten very clear-cut, good and bad… The good guys essentially win all the time. They may have the gray area between good and bad: they may have villains that are a little bit okay, they may have superheroes that have dark sides, but in the end it’s pretty clear-cut, there’s moral clarity. But there isn’t that kind of moral clarity, it seems, in a lot of manga. There isn’t the kind of predictable rote the story takes. There are of course clichés but may manga to me are surprising in that they can take any kind of direction, they are not following any kind of story paths that I’m familiar anyway.

Peter Stanbury: That’s because they don’t have any kind of Christian basis. They don’t have the same moral bodies.

PG: Yes! They don’t think of characters being all-good or all-bad, they don’t essentially look for a moral message. And that’s one of the facts that excites me. And also, as said the techinques are very interesting to me. We think we know how comics work: if you’ve read comics as long as I have, you kind of go “well, I know, this is how you get this across, this is how this scene can be conveyed”, but as you know, with manga there are several more pages and several panels to express things. And suddenly you realise: why would we be cramming stories in 20 or 50 pages when you could just let them decompress, and actually express a lot more? You realize what an amazing language comics is - an actually more amazing than I knew when growing up.

But this rises an interesting question: can then someone from Judeo-Christian background, raised with Judeo-Christian set of values, understand manga like the Japanese? We have a different cultural background… And what about the ages they have been directed to, the targeting group? I mean, we’re all old men rather than giggling young schoolgirls. Naturally there are a lot of giggling schoolgirls there who like it, but can you really understand it?

PG: We happen to be, yes… Umm, there are things we’ere going to miss, definitely. I mean, the phrase “lost in translation” of course is absolutely right. There are parts, mostly cultural things, that we’re going to miss. Fortunately some of the best manga do actually have, as you know, footnotes and explanations that help you appreciate some of the things that you’d just otherwise be oblivious to. But I think that it’s difficult in the same way that I think a Japanese person would have a hard time to understand our comics if they read Moomintroll or Superman or whatever.

But there are also things that are found in translation. There are actually things that I think… in a way a work doesn’t just belong in one culture, it moves between cultures. And it actually starts to take on a different meaning, a different… importance maybe, it’s receiving different ways from culture to culture. So I don’t see this is necessarily a fault; we understand it in our own way. In fact basically we can’t generalize about the reading of comics in general, because we each individually bring so much of our own baggage: our emotions and our responses. You might identify with one character, I might indentify with another, I might see one character in one way or another – the whole point about comics after all is that they are very interpretive, very active way of getting a story. They’re not like a movie, where it’s given to you and you just sit there and you are just basically getting very clear messages, they usually broadcast with big emotions on the screen, scores, soaring violin and special effects, and you are basically bludgeoned – you haven’t gotten any work, you just sit there and go “wow, I got all that.” But with comics you have to do a bit work. In a way comics are like sheet music, they are like pieces of music where you actually have to perform it, you have to bring it to life. So in that sense comics are a highly personal thing in the way we react to them.

Testi: mainitse joku muu mangakäsikirjoittajana uransa luonut kuin Kazuo Koike.
Knowing rather much about manga it’s rather obvious that you have noticed the good things in them, but there also has to be something bad. What might that be?

PG: I think what people think is possibly weak in manga – and they might have a point here – is that there isn’t enough of work put in and not enough use made of text. There is obviously to an extent a lot of dialogue, which is great, but one of the things that we’re going to see in the book is this kind of a hybridized version of the best of manga and the best of western comics.

I mean you don’t tend to get someone like Neil Gaiman writing Sandman, or like Alan Moore writing eloborate caption boxes, for example, to describe a mood or an atmosphere. Now manga can do some of that without captions, but there is a slight devaluing of text in manga. I’m talking in particular more about narrative text than spoken. And you could argue if it really is so bad that they’ve chosen to not make it a prominent path in most manga – I mean there are some who use it – and I think that’s where perhaps manga could learn from the west, actually. To develope the written side.

It may come from the simple fact that a lot of the people producing manga are writer-artists who do everything. You don’t get a lot of writers. I mean, if you look at American comics you got Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, Warren Ellis… All these people who are word-orientated. And these things start as a script, with the word in the beginning, whereas in manga they get the beginning with the image, with the visual impact, and getting things across visually. So that will be one thing.

Maybe the other thing… obviously I still have to figure out – we still have to figure out, for the future book – some things, but we’re going to be looking at the other values in the Japanese society, which are not necessarily 100 % positive by any means. I mean, the role, the image and the perception of women in Japanese society and in manga, for example, and the way they are reflected in manga as sexual objects, are certainly questionable from our western point of view. That’s one example, I would say, that I would question.

But also, the images of violence and eroticism are usually why manga are criticised. I personally have no problem with all that being shown – I seems to me that comics need to be as free to express things as possible, as not everyone has to read the most shocking or explicit manga, but there should be room for those things to be done. Because I think that the Japanese have a more healthy attitude in one sense, they have no problem to understand that it’s just imagination, just lines on paper, and it doesn’t necessarily connect to the real world.

So it’s a case of that everything must be put on context. Both where it is shown and how it is represented.

PG: Yes. But I am trying to understand some of the more outrageous erotic material, because it isn’t actually arousing, it actually isn’t intended to turn you on. It may be intended to horrify you, disgust you – and in a way, this material is actually a challenge, it’s like a kind of contest, it’s almost like the TV programs where people have to sit in a bucket of worms or eat somethin horrible, or whatever – it’s kind of like “I’m going to write and draw something really nasty - can you take this? -sort of challenge, a one that’s not supposed to turn on. And that entreats me; the fact that comics can be used in such a way.

I would now like to turn the discussion towards the comics in United Kingdom. Lots of Finns are interested in about how manga is doing in the Europe in general and how popular manga is in United Kingdom and how it is doing, considering that you have a long tradition of a british comics as well.

PG: Well, in many ways it is a similar scenario of what’s happened here in Finland. We have a long tradition as you have, but the problem is that the publishers have fallen asleep. They haven’t innovated, and they have lost the audience – two audiences, both boys and especially girls. For a long time Britain had a fantastic tradition of girls’ comics, the equal of anything that’s been done in manga: very good, dark, exciting stories, often on quite serious subjects, just like shoujo manga.

I seem to remember that you’d have the so called Boy's Own Paper, but there was also the Girl's Own that had topics ranging anything from actors like Richard Burton to comics. On 1950’s and 60’s.

PG: That’s right, 50’s and 60’s and into to the 70’s. These magazines held on to about to the 80’s and even to 90’s. The last of the titles like Bunty and Girl and Pink lost their way - they were taken over - partly because girls wanted to grow up much quicker, they wanted to have pop stars and stories of sex and boyfriends and such, and the publishers were very slow and conservative and didn’t move with the times. And this is really why manga has been able to succeed all over the world and in America too, and in America after all girls only had Archie and Sabrina and not much else to read. And when manga came along with all these great emotional stories about friendship and school and boyfriends etc., it’s no wonder that it took off. It’s filling a need that people want, stories that relate to their lives.

Ernie Colonin A Girl Named Joey ilmestyi 70-luvulla amerikkalaisessa teini-idolilehti 16 SPECissä.
And as for manga in Britain… We are very much at the same point as you are. We’ve got publishers waking up – often actually not comics publishers but book publishers, who are putting manga in to the high street, and that’s a major crossover because up until now manga’s been kind of a secret thing that’s only available in comic shops, and many people around a country don’t have a comic shop around them, but now they can buy a manga series in the bookshop, and the events are getting bigger and bigger, just like here. The following is enormous.

I heard that the limit of 10 000 visitors in one day was broken at this con yesterday. So how big are the British cons then? Which conventions are the ones that Finnish fans should consider going to?

PG: Ten thousand? Right, right… There are annual conventions, things like AyaCon last year or AmeCon that was last weekend, which are out in the region, and their quite small because they tend to cost guite a lot: there may be 1000-1500 guests. There may be a fee of 20-30 pounds to get in, but why they do cost and why people go is that they have amazing screenings of anime. And the main program, all the cosplay and activities, is that they get to show fantastic, brand new anime, stuff that people are dying to see. And the one point little bit of missing here at Animecon is that there isn’t very much anime shown.

PS: The truth is that they are very expensive, I mean one episode can cost…

PG: Well they can be, yes… I think that some of these things are propably a little bit of dodgy, they show stuff that’s perhaps pirated or fansubbed, or this kind of thing. But that’s one level of a convention. The other ones are the one you reported at the latest Anime magazine, the London Expo, which of course is not just anime, its got film and TV and comics too. They’re very popular.

The other one that’s taking off is IMAF, the International Manga and Anime Festival that’s held in London. And like Animecon it’s free, which is fantastic, and unlike Animecon is that it’s got this amazing building that’s actually a county hall, right in the middle of London, next to Thames. It’s a huge building and they can take in as many people as they want, they have loads of free screenings of anime, they have workshops and signings, they’re doing cosplay the first time this year… and most important of all is that they have an international competition for original works. It’s for manga, original character design and anime – three categories – and the total price fund is 75 000 dollars, which is not to be sniffed at. And when this thing started three years ago, in 2004, the fan community was like “What is this? Is this for real? They’re going to steal our characters!” They couldn’t believe that this kind of money was being offered, and there was no trick.

The simple answer is that this building is now owned by a very wealthy Japanese businessman, who also of course loves manga. And within the building he set up an animation studio because he wanted to develop new characters, obviously finding talent from all over the world to develope new things. But it’s a great opportunity to people who are looking to start up. You should tell your readers to check it out, its imaf.co.uk, and it really is international and open to everyone.

I actually believe this, because there is a Japanese guy who wants to cosplay Char Aznable in space, and he has money to pay for it. With the pointy helmet and all. (Daisuke Enomoto reputti lopulta fyysisessä testissä – toim. huom.)

PG: In space? Wow, I hadn’t heard about that. Fantastic! (Nauraa)

Kati Kovács on tyypillinen suomalainen sarjakuvantekijä.
Now this your third time in Finland, and you’ve had a chance to get to know some of the Finnish comics. So how does the Finnish comic scene look like to you?

PG: I liked a lot of the small press and experimental makers like Glömp and the Napa people, and the other one, what’s it called… not Like, that’s a publisher, but in the same format as Glömp… um, anyway, anyway, there are a lot of very good new Finnish artists, not new to you, but to me since I’ve first come to Finland only three years ago. There’s Matti Hagelberg and Katja Tukiainen... Anyway, what they bring out is more like underground, alternative kind of comics which I think that Finland has really well – some of the best in Europe right now, fantastic artists – and fortunately some of these are published in english or have subtitles, so I can read them. And I think they’re very good.

And also I must say that I’m pleased to see that you have a newsstand presence for comics, and not just kids’ stuff but things like Modesty Blaise. At first I couldn’t believe it that you can go to a Finnish newsstand and find Modesty Blaise every month. Jet-Ace Logan reprints, Rick Random reprints (Korkejännityksiä - toim. huom.) – these are things that you just can’t buy in Britain on the newsstands.

PS: We haven’t had Jet-Ace Logan comics in Britain since about the 60’s, I think.

PG: And for you to have all these reprints sitting on the newsstands, it’s really “what’s that doing there?!” for me… and also you’ve still got Buster, which I think hasn’t ran in Britain for at least 10 years, if not 15 years. But the character’s still going here in Finland – it may not be a major comic, coming out maybe just monthly or bimonthly – but it’s kind of strange that this British character has survived.

I’ve also very keen to see that there are many people trying manga over here as well. But we’ve got to understand that it’s a learning curve, and people initially are going to be imitating manga on a simple, should we say obvious way, they’ll just pick the surface and the look of the characters, but as people get to read manga a bit more they’ll realize that it’s more than just characters that have big eyes and pointy chins and lots of hair. They have a bit much too manga in that. Then they’ll start to develop their own styles and stories and will get a truly natural form, a Finnish form of manga developing.

Of course the main question remains: you have to find more home-grown, original characters and artists that can build up your own industry. You need to have more albums and more graphic novels coming out, and liket that. But ideally one of the publishers, Egmont or something, will make more space for local talent so that you can have your own stars. Not necessarily manga.

As an example I could show this. Hokuto Manga is a competition held by Otava, one of the Finnish publishers, who is looking for this local talent.

PS: That’s very exciting, because it’s a very important thing. Because when Paul and I used to publish the Escape magazine in the 80’s, we found that when we put the young artists in the magazine for the first time they improved hugely. The first time we published their stuff they were very good, the second time they were excellent, and on the third time they were brilliant. And all because they were getting their work published and seen. And this is what Otava’s doing now I think: it’s encouraging people to go on on their own. It’s beyond getting the price, it’s also about getting your work seen and printed.

Jatkuu...

Mediaseurantaa

Jason Thompsonin kirjoittama mangamuotoinen artikkeli oli se mistä puhuttiin eniten, mutta tietenkään ei saa unohtaa myös Wiredin varsinaista manga-artikkelia, jolle tuo mangamuotoinen USA-ekstra on vain sylijuttu. Kustannusalan nyanssien penkomisineen, eri tapahtumisissa ravaamisineen ja Mandaraken perustajan sekä Ageha Ookawan haastatteluineen se on hyvin perusteellinen reportaasi mangateollisuuden ja doojinshikulttuurin symbioosista, olkoonkin että se viettää hyvän aikaa äimistellen jälkimmäisen häpeilemättömiä tekijänoikeusrikkomuksia. Toisaalta se selvittää myös syyt ja seuraukset kaiken tämän takana. On kiehtovaa, miten japanilaisen hahmokulttuurin synnyttämä osallistuva harrastaminen on suodattunut lähes sellaisenaan myös länteen - kenties syynä on yksinkertaisesti vain materiaalin puhuttelevuus?

About.com julkaisi äskettäin Thompsonin haastattelun, joka on kirjoittajan kursiivipakkomielteestä huolimatta hyvin mielenkiintoista luettavaa. Kirjansa lisäksi Thompson kertoo siinä esimerkiksi siitä miten Viz sai oikeudet Shonen Jumpin nimeen (myymällä puolet itsestään Shueishalle), japanilaisen ja amerikkalaisen sarjakuvan ja julkaisukulttuurien eroista, lempimangoistaan, siitä miksi One Piece on hyvä manga (koska Odan tyyli on omaperäinen, koska se on niitä harvoja shounenmättöjä joissa on oikeasti etenevä juoni, ja koska se ei ota itseään vakavasti - tiesin!), siitä kuinka hän olisi voinut päästä toimittaharjoittelijaksi Shueishalle mutta päätti olla menemättä, ja siitä mitä hän aikoo tehdä nyt suurprojektinsa valmistumisensa jälkeen.

Aihetta vaihtaen, Takashi Hashiguchi on aloittamassa uuden sarjan. Kulttistatuksen saavuttanut Yakitate! Japan oli erinomainen esimerkki siitä kuinka kamppailushounenia voidaan rakentaa muillekin puitteille kuin mätölle ja urheilulle, mutta on Saijoo no Meii tulee sijoittumaan lastenlääkäripuitteisiin. Odotamme uutuutta... kiinnostuneina.