Y’know the post I did earlier that I thought was funny, this one? Well, I’ve been thinking on it for a short while and came to this.
While I applaud the attempt to get citizens to BUY AMERICAN, it’s also a massive disappointment that the country they’re basically antagonizing is Japan. A.K.A. the only Asian country that isn’t batshit insane.
Well, America, I’ve got news for you. No, it isn’t that Japanese manga is better than American comics. Okay, maybe a little, but when you’ve read the whole FullMetal Alchemist series, laughed your ass off to Hidamari Sketch from Season 1 to Season 3 (while eagerly awaiting Season 4), then switch over to an AMERICAN comic…… Well, it’s hard to shake off that bias. Let’s leave writing out as a factor to quality… and females because I don’t want to piss off any feminists with pictures and rants on how hypersexualized the female characters are. The world’s aware of it enough as is.
- Generally highly stylized face design.
- Males often have a more average if not slim build.
- Tend to be monochrome.
- Volumes generally at least 100 pages.
- Prices averaging at least $15.
- Realistic face design.
- Males often muscle-bound.
- Tend to be in color.
- “Volumes” generally less than 30-50 pages.
- Prices averaging at least $3-5.
To avoid further bias, I’m going to try and avoid talking about manga. Here’s the thing about AMERICAN comics.
They. Just. Aren’t. Getting. Better.
And in reality, that’s just a nice way of saying that they are getting worse. You see, nearly every AMERICAN comic book runs on the same basis of a superhero doing nothing, but beating up the bad guys and saving the day. In fact, you just about sum up majority of comic books with that kind of basis: Superhero. Beats Up Bad Guy. Saves Day. Has A Fucking Orgy… Okay I’m just kidding on that last one; that’s more like the greatest fault behind manga (so much harem genre… blegh). But because of this lack of progress, it’s definite that this medium is going to be left in the dust.
Now, have you noticed the apparent lack of original [insert plural noun for “series”]? Seriously. Hop on Wikipedia and search up a comic book hero. Any comic book hero. There are at least ten official artists for each well-known hero and just as many alternate continuities. That means that Spider-Man 2099 does not count as an original character… and the same goes for every other variation of Superman, Batman, Wolverine, Wonder Woman, etc. Each franchise centered around a particular character, not a series (except maybe X-Men and Hellboy). The overwhelming presence of a singularity in each franchise leads to an overly predictable curve of boredom that has absolutely no end to it. It’s like taking a shit that never ends. At first, it feels good to get all of that shit out your system, but keep on shitting and soon enough you’ll be finding that your own bowels have come out as fecal matter as well. People complain that Final Fantasy has been going on for too long? Shit, at least they take the time to come up with an original universe for each installment rather than use the same goddamn character for over six decades!
But wait, but wait! What about original comic books?! Simple. Add in the lack of good writing, and now we’re getting somewhere. Have your ever read Athena? Marville? Were any of those both good and original? Been a long time, hasn’t it? Comics suffer from writing that makes the casual Sunday newspaper comics a better read than any of Superman’s attempts to be dramatic. There are probably so many comic books in Linkara’s oil drum of burning comics that comic book that fanboys might have even turned away from them altogether in shame of how immature they have been for liking such crap.
Art style? ART STYLE!? You want me to talk about the friggin’ art style!??!?!
I can sum it up with just three words: The Uncanny Valley. If you really don’t know what’s the Uncanny Valley, you really don’t know the laws of fictionland. But I’m in a good mood, so I’ll explain it if you’re too lazy to click on the link.
The basic idea is that as something that isn’t human begins to look human, our response to it gradually becomes more positive… to a point. That ditch you see in the graph, right there? That is the uncanny valley. It looks human, but it also has enough characteristics to make it clear that it’s not human, thereby making the reception take a massive drop.
But this doesn’t just apply to robots. It can apply to everything! The thing about the art style of AMERI–Okay, this is going on for too long, American comic books is that it takes on a more realistic art style. Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong about taking on a more realistic art style… until you combine it with bad writing. Imagine watching the scene of a suspense movie. Someone is busy working on something seemingly important. There is a shadowy figure behind him and he notices. He turns around, saying, “Who’s there?! How did you get in?!” with a face that just simply screams, “I don’t have time for this bullshit!” What can possibly ruin this scene? Forget that you wrote in a door where the shadowy figure is standing… and that the said door is the only way in. Boom. The magic is gone. The scene falls flat on its face and it comes off as a disappointment. Because of the minute details you wrote in, but forgot, all of that drama and suspense comes off as pointlessly overdone.
The primary theme around American comic books is “heroes”, right? Well, it just seems as though whenever comic book artists think of a hero, they picture someone who goes above and beyond and always wins… ALL. THE. FUCKING. TIME. That is how Superman is losing his popularity. Yeah, we remember him as always the guy who overcomes the bad guy, but do you know what else we remember him for? Always getting his ass pounded into a pulp because of an allergy to a green rock… before inexplicably beating the bad guy and saving the day. Over, and over, and over, and over again. The guy is showing himself to play a good game, but in reality he can’t. What he does, and how he is doesn’t match to what his creators want us to see him as. We can’t recognize the guy as a human (and no, I don’t mean a biological human). We can’t connect with him. The guy is beyond our reach.
Now look at Kamina here. He’s chewing the scenery like a guy who’s been starved for years and he is living up to his image as crazy awesome incarnate! And the thing about him is that basically has not a single superpower that American comic book heroes are just overflowing with. He is just. That. AWESOME. Theeeen he killed off in a manner that makes you curse at the gods for doing so. While he appears some official alternate continuities, GAINAX makes it clear that the original anime is the canon storyline and that there is no changing it. Boom. No matter how much you want different, not gonna happen. And yet we still remember him as the very pinnacle of how to dare to be badass. Because he is still just human. The guy lived and died as a human (albeit an awesome one) and his audience can connect with him because we know that no matter what, we can’t change the nature of life and death. When you look at this BAMF, understand that not even he could stop death but welcomed it, and see that he is still remembered, you come to the realization that you don’t need to keep a character alive to keep him remembered.
Now, look at this.
What is this, America? What are you trying to prove? This isn’t gonna help you or anyone else. Not even in the short term. You are throwing under the bus a medium so large and populous, it’s its own category in the world of fictional mediums. With something like this, you are subtly implying that you are antagonizing what is by far the only Asian country that hasn’t lost itself to power, money, or anything. It’s only going to give ammo to the people who see America as a bunch of machismo obsessed jackasses who hate everything that isn’t American. And chances are, you’re not going to make any progress with this, because you know what people own manga? People who like manga. There’s a good chance not even half of the manga fans who read this are going to care about American comic books. Still there is a good chance that many of those manga fans love America just as you do. Chances are, they are just as worried about the rising power of China, Russia, and all of that shit. But you left no ground for them to stand on. Instead, you caved to the international tensions between the countries, go with this advertisement, and basically announce that anyone who likes a medium from a country that is almost effectively neutral an enemy of the nation. And to add to it, you did it in a way that anyone that has grown out of comic book obsession will find this so overdone, so self-centered, and frankly incredibly stupid. Good. Fucking. Job.
Call me an extremist and oversensitive, but something like this can’t be kicked off. If comic books sell, it’ll be on the merit of medium despite this ad, not because of it. You’re selling short the future of a possible peace on the international level for what? To try and improve faith in your own country? Not even that; that American comic books are still relevant in today’s media. That America’s ideas of heroism are still a driving force in the international ideology of what it means to be a hero. You really want to prove that comic books are important? You really want to prove that America is still important? Then you can’t try and block out the facts that there are other countries out there that have already made their mark on the entire world. Get the artists and writers to understand that to let your comic books continue to thrive, its to make good comics and show the world that patriotism is more than just blind, idiotic loyalty to our country. I can promise that if you prove that we are not the barbarians that all the other countries view us to be, more of our own countryman will rally around the flag when you want to prove your patriotism.
This, right here? This is what America was. Young, but proud, standing up in our place of the world despite what is going on with dignity, no matter what happens. And we can still be this now.