My Manga Highlights: Hiroki Otsuka and Manga at BEA

I blogged a few weeks ago about interviewing Hiroki Otsuka who has a residency at Japan Society in New York City.  It’s a long interview (feel free to read the entirety of it here, on the Publishers Weekly website) and I have a few favorite parts.  The entire interview had a sense of commerce underlying it, and the necessity to embrace the business of creativity – or at the very least, recognize and respect it.

The gallery people are looking at my work as money. You need to separate yourself from the value of your work. Some artists take six months to do a painting; I understand that. But I’m a cartoonist, I’m an entertainer.

The other thing that Otsuka said that I found hilarious and honest, is the manga business as a popularity contest.

It’s a business, honey. Popularity is important. I look at Kuniyoshi, he didn’t become a popular artist until his 30’s. How did he survive until then?

Speaking of survival, manga still continues to permeate the U.S. market, further proven by the wheeling and dealing at BEA last week.  With the cutbacks at VIZ Media and the closing down of CMX, there seemed to be this sentiment that manga is dying in the U.S.  Manga publishing is not dying.  It’s thriving.  Unfortunately, it’s thriving in a bullshit “content should be free” environment.  If this stuff should be free, then should aggregators  – and not creators – make money off of it?

P.S. That’s a rhetorical question, by the way, and the answer is “no.”


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