Daily Archives: November 1, 2010

Drama comes to the internet: the latest kerfuffle over gender politics hits webcomics

I intentionally try to steer this site away from what can be defined as “politics.” Partly because the first misstep of discussing politics is assuming readers are of the same opinion as you, and typically as an opinion review-writing individual I tend to resent anything that pegs labels. However, I am sorta caught at a dilemma when such “politics” cross into the realm of webcomics and I’m somewhat obliged to talk about it, eventhough most of the time it’s nothing more than internet drama.

So the latest such kerfuffle happened last week when Kate Beaton mentioned, in my opinion using a quite reasonable tone, that she was a little creeped out when guys complimented her with a “Marry me.” As a guy working in a field where women are definitely in the minority, my female colleagues do relate a lot of stories where they’re upset how their gender tends to trump quantifiable achievements. And, let’s face it, comics culture, despite inroads by manga and webcomics, are still a bit of a boy’s club.

This set off a discussion about feminism on the internet. It … pretty much went how you’d expect a “discussion about feminism on the internet” would go. Which then leads us to the latest response, where cartoonists sympathetic with Ms. Beaton’s position start drawing webcomics featuring male genitalia (NSFW). At this point, you suddenly realize: it’s politics as usual. You start with someone trying to tell folks that she’s uncomfortable with people saying “Marry me,” and you end up with drawings of penises.

Which is not unlike the mid-term elections, when you think about it.

Don’t forget to vote on Election Day!

(h/t to reader Dane Thulin and Robot 6)

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Viz Media, manga giant, gets into the digital comics fray

Get ready for some online manga eatin’,” says manga blog Kuriosity (which, for some reason, has a dash between the “i” and the “o” in the URL … so be careful when typing that into the address bar). It turns out that manga anthology magazine Shonen Jump is adding digital comics to its arsenal:

Subscribe NOW and next month you’ll get to read:

* Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan
* Bakuman
* Toriko

It seems to be one of the biggest moves for increased digital presence by Viz Media. (The article mentions that there have been a few previews here and there, available on the Shonen Jump site, but none to this extent.) From Kuri-osity.com:

Whether the chapters of the three titles will simply be the usual 2-3 chapters of manga we see each month in Shonen Jump USA, chapters running simultaneously with the Japanese edition similar to Shonen Sunday’s Rin-Ne, or simply the usual 3-chapter preview we normally get for new manga in Shonen Jump is also unclear. At the moment, VIZ simply advertises it as an “online preview for subscribers only”. As such, it might be that these previews will be rotating series, though Toriko, Nura and Bakuman would make excellent ongoing additions if VIZ is planning longer runs. As both Toriko and Bakuman have already had short runs in the magazine, one would assume these online chapters will be from later in the series.

Nonetheless, this sounds like a major step forward for VIZ, adding a number of popular series that expand their offerings to their subscibers, and finding a way to potentially capitalize on digital manga by giving subscribers both a print and digital edition of the magazine with different sets of content. Given how lowpriced VIZ’s subscriptions are, around the same as 3-4 issues of the print magazine, this looks to be an excellent value for potential subscribers, and a different take from other initiatives not just by charging a subscription fee, but also by teaming it up directly with the print edition.

Now, admittedly, I have never heard of any of these titles at all. The fine folks at Kuri-osity.com are pretty convinced that they represent three of the rising stars of manga. I got no reason to doubt them — once you start name-checking Fist of the North Star, you’re on good ground in my book. Plus an entire genre of manga devoted to cooking?

This is a small, but bold step for VIZ, considering the popularity of Bakuman, with Nura‘s anime being simulcast by their anime division, and Toriko also having a sizeable cult following. When one considers that there are only four regular ongoing series in the print edition currently, having three additional chapters online is a considerable boost, and the range of themes adds some diversity. Toriko‘s strange combination of First of the North Star style heroes and the cooking manga genre, Bakuman‘s manga about making manga aspect and Yura‘s anime tie-in make for an excellent range of titles. This will apparently be further augmented by the addition of print chapters of YuGiOh 5D‘s and Psyren, which appear to be ongoing additions rather than previews. It’s been awhile since VIZ added an ongoing series to the book, and these two should help break up the Naruto/OnePiece dominance the magazine has had lately.

(h/t to reader “algeya”)

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