Geoff Boucher talks to Alan Moore for this article on the LA Times blog, Hero Complex. As per Hollywood’s neo-love affair with comics, Moore has this to say:
“There are three or four companies now that exist for the sole purpose of creating not comics, but storyboards for films. It may be true that the only reason the comic book industry now exists is for this purpose, to create characters for movies, board games and other types of merchandise. Comics are just a sort of pumpkin patch growing franchises that might be profitable for the ailing movie industry.”
Meanwhile, back at the Beguiling, Chris Butcher has a review of Hideo Azuma’s Disappearance Diary, published by Fanfare/Ponent Mon and released in the U.S. over the summer.
It’s a very thorough review and Chris makes some astute observations. But in terms of it finding it’s audience here in the U.S., I agree with him that “Disappearance Diary has traded in too much of what mainstream audiences want from their memoir for a gentle, knowing humour and a refusal to find a conclusion in an ongoing life.” But there’s a tradition of meandering in Japanese narrative – something that Eddie Campbell attributes to the 1970’s in an entry he posted about Seiichi Hayashi’s Red Colored Elegy on his blog over the summer.
“today’s reader has a more linear brain than 1970’s reader. It [Red Colored Elegy] reminds me of ‘world cinema’ in the ’60s and of that noble movement in which cinema viewers were expected to be viewing at a somewhat higher level than tv comsumers in their sitting rooms. There was an idea abroad in the world that cinema was the art of our times, absurd in these times now that the whole medium appears to have descended to the level of comic books.”
I would say that it’s not uncommon for Japanese fiction to wander, to be much less plot oriented than western narratives. It’s a theme that can be found in Yasunari Kawabata’s novel from 1954, Sound of the Mountain, (about a family’s dynamics and the father’s relationship with his daughter-in-law as his son is having an affair) as well as Kenzo Kitakata’s Ashes (published by Vertical a few years ago) which is about a middle-aged gangster. It’s certainly a tradition that allows mainstream manga to expand from volume to volume. But for titles like Disappearance Diary as well as Kazuichi Hanawa’s Doing Time (also Fanfare/Ponent Mon) where Hanawa visually documents his time in prison for gun posession, it’s not the best fit for the mainstream American audience. There’s no real narrative in either Diary or Doing Time, just snippets of life, small adventures, observations. It’s definitely thinking person’s manga – not because it’s smarter or anything pretentious like that, but because the lay-out and structure of the book allows for the mind to relax and open.
Hopefully the artcrowd that picked up Hayashi’s Elegy from Drawn&Quarterly will find Doing Time – and Disappearance Diary. Maybe they’re Alan Moore fans, too.