Friday, November 30, 2012

Big in Japan: Comics

After more years than I care to mention, I've become interested in comics again.

Not the ones with muscle-bound basket cases prowling the rooftops of New York City, but ones like these, Showa period comic books with dainty female protagonists all tied up.

The two on the left are from the Showa Period
I suppose the term "comic" book is as much a misnomer when referring to Japanese manga or gekiga as it is in the West when referring to Spider-man or Superman. They're not really "funny" books, another term that was used in the old days, back when humor actually was the objective.

After I had already tossed out all those comics that today might be worth some serious cash, they came out with more sophisticated mags called "graphic novels". And, as I understand it, that's sort of the difference between manga and gekiga, with the latter being more akin to a graphic novel.

Anyway, I'm no expert on this stuff, I just like looking at purdy pictures.

While I would really like to find some of these Showa era mags, that might prove to be a challenge. I'll have to ask around. In the meantime, I'm planning on heading into Akihabara tomorrow because I keep hearing how the otaku are muscling in on the traditional territory of the electronics geeks.

So that's probably as good a place to start as any.

There's a big chain of secondhand bookstores called Book Off. Somehow I doubt they'll have any of this good stuff from the Showa Period. There's another outfit called Mandarake and I'm pretty sure they deal in this kind of thing but I don't know if they'll have anything in stock. And their prices are quite high.

Oops, just noticed, this one's a DVD
I guess I should see what's available online but I really prefer to go to these shops in person. Just like with regular SM magazines, it's a lot more fun and it gets me out of the house. Which reminds me, I've heard that a really good shop that had tons of old SM mags called SNS went belly-up. Shit.

Comics are still big in Japan. They're sold all over the place and every now and then you'll see a middle-aged salary man flipping through one on the train. Not the ones you see here, though. Almost forgot: they've got these comics aimed at women, too, and I hear tell some of them can be quite naughty.

It makes you wonder what the future holds. I think the Japanese publishing industry is really trying to get their heads around the new digital paradigm. On the one hand, I can see how an iPad-type device would work pretty well for manga and gekiga.  On the other, if everything goes digital, there won't be any old musty bookstores to browse through.

That was one of my great joys as a kid and it would be a shame if it went away.

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