At one point, a few years ago, I interviewed the legendary Jim Lee. There’s really not much I can say about Jim Lee that hasn’t already been said so I’m just going to mention one part of the conversation that wandered to love and comics – a topic that I commonly bring up in interviews. Do you still love it?
I have the tape and transcript around here somewhere, but what I remember is him telling me something about the love still being there, but once you’re in the biz, reading the stuff, it’s not like sitting down with a stack of comics and a donut.
Right now, I’m faced with the biggest tower of comics that I think I’ve ever faced since I started writing for Calvin and Heidi, and it is going to take a lot of donuts.
I don’t think we ever fall out of love with comics, but this is a long-term romance we’re talking about here. And while I talk about professionalism and doing right by the artists and writers that put their hearts and souls into these books, and doing right by the form, I’m definitely seeing more…product that just lacks heart or doesn’t respect the format.
Or doesn’t respect the format.
We can argue about good and bad comics, about taste, about high-culture and low, but at the essence of it is an emotion. Some books I’m not interested in because they’re not my cup of tea, but they’re still good, or they’re bad, or they’re solid midlist. There are books where artists are still challenged by sequential art, writers are still struggling to get a handle on the rhythm of the dialogue, and I can feel that and I take no issue with it. But there are those books, that are just soulless. And it’s not about the craft of the artist or the writing, it’s that the publisher just doesn’t care. There is no consideration for the reader.
I would say, and this is something that I’ve been writing about in my manga book, but the biggest difference between American comics and manga, is that consideration for the reader. The sense of customer service is more prevalent in manga. It’s a different system, a different approach.
This will get me lynched, I’m sure, and obviously there are exceptions and the trend is changing – especially for American indy comics. But I will close with this: when I read Jim Lee, I’m inspired, and looking at his work just makes me happy.
But when I read Hiroaki Samura, from the first time I first picked up Blade of the Immortal in floppy form in 1999, to now when I read and reread the tanks, I think to myself “This is the man I am going to marry.”