Comparing comics to music

I still stand by my comparisons where I think a good number of superhero comics are equivalent to niche rock music bands (and arguably niche rap bands as hip hop itself is a broad church encompassing both popular and unpopular acts) in which Legion of Superheroes is equivalent to say Christian Death in terms of popularity and sales which’s negligible outside of niche subcultures. The Cure and Spider-Man are comparable in that they’re one of the few, if not the only examples of something popular from a rather niche genre. (Superhero comics only account for 9-10 % of comics sales in America, they’re outsold by children’s comics and manga.)

I feel newspaper cartoons are equivalent to popular rap musicians/acts and pop singers in that they appeal to a wide audience, sometimes without even trying and they’re very accessible. You encounter pop music in grocery stores, vehicles and the radio. Likewise you’re likely to find a comic strip in a newspaper, even if not all people necessarily read newspapers for comics but it’s still likelier than say buying a superhero comic book. Comes to think of it, Jim Davis is one of comics’ biggest pop stars to date. His cartoon Garfield’s one of the most widely syndicated comic strips in the world, a handful of Garfield books are bestsellers and that Garfield’s one of the most heavily merchandised comic strips to date, thus making him comparable to popstars.

The fact that Garfield aims to be appealing and inoffensive to people makes him even more comparable to a popstar doing safe and popular music tracks. The only other comic strip so far that’s heavily merchandised (to my knowledge) is Peanuts. But I still think that comparing newspaper cartoonists to pop stars and popular rap musicians is fair in terms of outreach and breadth, even popularity when it comes to their comics selling in the millions. Pop albums and some some rap albums sell platinum and multiplatinum, which again attests to their great popularity with a lot of people.

There are some comic books that sell in the millions and hundreds of millions even, which’s just as comparable. But most comic books and especially superhero comics tend to sell in the 100,000 and 10,000 or more, which makes them comparable to cult rock bands and some rap acts when one thinks about it. They don’t sell gold (though some do), they attract a niche following and aren’t even top of billboard charts. Let’s not forget that most superhero comics tend to be usually sold through specialty stores, until recently, and even their trade paperback forms don’t sell that much make them comparable to cult bands and musicians.

I could go on saying that if/when superhero comics don’t sell that much compared to say children’s comics, they’re a lot like less popular music genres such as jazz and classical in that they target a more rarefied audience or readership in this case. Only a handful of superhero comics sell in the millions these days, which make them a pretty cult genre of comic books. If newspaper comic strips are like pop music, superhero comics are more like jazz in the sense of being formerly popular and target a niche readership. Not necessarily in massive decline, but when compared to Peanuts and Garfield superhero comics don’t have much of a big clout.

Hence the comparison to jazz is apt.

Limited influences in anime

It’s parsimonious to say that the more self-referential a work or story gets, the more insular and even inbred it becomes. Especially if it panders hard to a minority, that’s when it risks getting cut off from everybody and everything else. Comes to think of it, whilst not all anime are this inbred and insular a good number of it is especially whenever it panders to those who’re already anime fans. It would be interesting if there are any anime artists inspired by the likes of Robert Mappelthorpe, Joel-Peter Witkin and Rotimi Fani-Kayode and probably already do exist but they’re in the minority compared to those inspired by other anime artists, which makes it inbred in a way.

Especially if they’re already the ones establishing the anime style canon and practically why there aren’t a lot of anime artists that diverge from this style canon to whatever extent. Hirohiko Araki might be among a number of mangaka influenced by other kinds of art such as Renaissance sculpture and fashion illustration and photography, though some of the same things can be said of Naoko Takeuchi to some extent. But when it comes to anime artists whose major influences are previous anime artists, there’s the risk of insularity and inbreeding when these are one of the few influences around. Not that they aren’t good artists but when their influences are so limited that explains why there’s a repetitive quality to their work,

It would be neat if there are any mangaka and anime artists inspired by the likes of Cindy Sherman and Claude Cahun, they probably already exist but not so much as to be outnumbered and overpowered by those inspired by other anime artists that leads to stylistic and a degree of artistic insularity. It’s not that they don’t know any anatomy, they do to some extent enough to stylise it. But when it comes to recycled elements of maid costumes, thigh high stockings, schoolgirl uniforms and twin tails then that points out to a rather limited range of influences.

This also extends to writing where it’s like if there are a lot of kuuderes, tsunderes, danderes and yanderes but not those who actually suffer from mental illness and developmental disorders this doesn’t just indicate narrow range of influences and experiences but also a limited willingness to explore those kinds of characters. It would be fun to see black characters who like cats and dogs (trust me, I know these kinds of characters in real life and online). But it’s unfortunate that there aren’t a lot of black characters in anime, let alone those who aren’t stereotypes that makes me wonder if those authors have any experience with blacks to change their minds or something.

There are probably already some mangaka inspired both by real life and by authors such as Muriel Spark and Jane Rhys to varying degrees, but when they reference and are inspired only or mostly by anime and manga that’s when they risk being narratively and stylistically inbred.

Of beauty and decay

Dianora Niccolini

She specialises in male nude photography, often photographing and depicting muscular male nudes in their prime as she had a father who fought with her mother over their perceived gender and familial roles. This is why Niccolini never married, she would have to contend with a man who wanted the same as her own father did. So that’s why she often has superficial relationships with men, and why she goes after nude young men. She predated Robert Mapplethorpe when it comes to photographing nude muscular black men and got critical acclaim for something that was taboo (as it was primarily done by gay men).

Joel-Peter Witkin

The opposite of Dianora Niccolini in some regards where Niccolini chooses to photograph conventionally attractive young men in the nude, Joel-Peter Witkin goes for those with dwarfism, missing limbs and corpses. Actually it would be an understatement to call his photographs ugly as they do have quite an interesting quality when it comes to emphasising otherwise deformed and decaying characters. This wasn’t just inspired by his Catholicism but also the time when he caught the severed head of a girl when he was younger so they’re macabre and morbid by nature due to this experience.

Education of a cartoonist

There’s an essay circulating online about how many comics writers aren’t that well-read, which may explain why they retread many of the same things they did before. Not to mention it said that there’s a tendency for comics readers to go for competent artists, which is true on some level. In that they go after those with chops, especially those who are simply competent at drawing whilst ignoring the more experimental ones.

There are those who do go for the more experimental cartoonists and I’m not saying that Adrian Tomine is mediocre since I’ve yet to read his comics, but I do think there’s a tendency to go after those who’re rather conventional in that they provide hot women and action scenes. Not that there’s anything wrong with that except that I think J Scott Campbell is a worse artist than say Hirohiko Araki, the latter doesn’t do much pinups of women.

But there are people who like the former artist’s stuff, even though he’s not a particularly good artist. Likewise the standard for writing is much lower, where I think if there’s ever a way to quantify what’s bad writing it’s by resorting to things that both devalue how disturbing this gets through frequency and the lack of nuance in what makes it awful without being too frequent as to avoid a bad reputation of sorts.

Or to put it this way, to use shock value sparingly and with care. That doesn’t mean those using it very often are necessarily bad writers, but they’re not very careful at that. It’s like if you keep on killing off female characters, you don’t just accidentally devalue them as characters but also show little insight into how their deaths affect someone without resorting to revenge and more angst. Something like x character loses his girlfriend and shows compassion to somebody.

That’s how you portray something like that, which gives insight into their own personalities and how they respond to this. It also risks being limiting, especially if that’s the only thing the villain does. Give them something else to do if you want them to be around longer. Something like that keeps them from being too limited (something Carl Barks knew when he had Magica centre around stealing only Uncle Scrooge’s dime).

It’s also possible to portray evil in a more subtle manner, but that involves greater knowledge of evil beyond the usual shock value shtick and greater nuance than they’re used to. I still think that bad writing can be quantified, even if that may be shocking to some people who regard some as good writers. They’re not necessarily bad writers per say, just not very careful and nuanced at that.

Moomin

I don’t know much about Moomin but it does feature hippo like characters alongside a handful of humanoid characters such as Little My. It’s done by the Finnish author Tove Jansson (who’s of Swedish descent) and this novel series has spawned two animated programmes, a comic strip series and a theme park or two in both Japan and Finland. If I’m not mistaken, it’s really popular in Japan for some reason though it’s just as popular in Finland.

It’s also popular throughout Britain and Scandinavia proper, in fact enough to warrant translations in English though these aren’t popular in America and possibly much of North America in general for some reason. If you lived in both Finland and Japan, given Moomin’s popularity in both countries that there’s a good chance that you’d be familiar with Moomin characters on some level.

Moomin unmistakably spawned some toys in both Finland and Japan, which again attests to the franchise’s and brand’s popularity in both countries. The author also dabbled in painting, political cartoons and novels other than Moomin herself, though I’ve yet to see the rest of them. While Moomin’s only popular in a select number of countries, I think it’s interesting in that the author did both children’s books and comics which made me wish more comics artists did the same or similar.

Moomin’s one of those major Finnish imports that have gained any degree of international popularity alongside the rock band Hanoi Rocks.

Plea

God, I feel ashamed of what I did and what I did was wrong because I wanted the marriage to be cancelled but because I couldn’t control my thoughts and still can’t so I feel like I made a bad mistake where the kitten will die and it’s all my fault for doing this. Please let the kitten live for 15 years, amen.

Working on a comic

I’ve been working on a comic strip since yesterday (I think) where it’s about Russian visitors entering a house. When it comes to merchandising, I’m doing this so that I can earn some money off of my creation, where I’d like to make posters out of the comic. I can also merchandise it even further by selling and making bookmarks and paper dolls. I do have a history of selling stuff, especially face masks where I sold them for 20 pesos each and a skirt for 60 pesos. I was able to earn some money this way, but I’m planning on merchandising this comic so that I can make even more money.

If I sold merchandise

If I sold merchandise accompanying a comic strip I would sell books, stuffed/soft toys (so that younger children won’t choke on them), notebooks and pad paper. I may not become a millionaire overnight but at least that would give me enough money to support myself. (I would also like to donate books and toys for free, especially for poorer people around the world.) To prevent people from being overexposed to the brand, I’d have to just limit it to books, soft toys, pad paper and notebooks.

Extending the brand to encompass clothing would be nice but if I were you, I’d rather have manuals instructing parents and children on making on their own clothing to dress up like the characters in question though the occasional clothing line is nice too. The Garfield brand for instance encompasses several kinds of merchandise such as bandages (I saw one in a mall before), clothing such as the Garfield clothing line, books and food.

Some of the same things can be said of the Peanuts brand which encompasses many of the same things such as clothes, books and food. If I were to build a brand, it would encompass books, clothing, notebooks, soft toys and pad paper. It wouldn’t be as extensive and perhaps I’d like to scale back on things to avoid overexposure but the occasional licenced clothing is too good to get rid of. I’ve yet to build a brand but I do have plans for it in the future.

Especially one that would make a lot of money or at least enough to support myself in the future.