29.1.08

everything nice

Cinnamon sugar is the greatest condiment, as evidenced by how amazing life is since I bought a can of it yesterday and have applied it to every food product I own. Seinfeld was close, but, unfortunately, will receive no cigar.

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I was talking to Rachel the other day about Bukowski, and yesterday I was hopelessly trying to start a story, but I couldn't get Vonnegut and Moore out of my head, and as a result I kept performing halfassed imitations of their respective styles. I took a break to think over how I'd fix this and find my own voice, when I can across this quote:
“The funny thing about aping someone else’s style is this: Everything that constitutes an artist’s “style” is a combination of habit, shortcuts and (if we are honest) mistakes, and in most cases it is not arrived at deliberately, but instead happens when you aren’t paying attention. It is like the DNA code of the artist’s experience and learning.

“To ape surface elements of another artist’s work, without the innate understanding of why the artist does it that particular way, is an empty exercise. To do it for years, to the exclusion of anything else, is just sad.

“Most importantly, you look like an ass whenever anybody notices the theft.”

It helped me, anyways. I just hope it's not too late for all the Bukowski idolizers that comprise maybe 40% of all undergraduate writing majors across the US.

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I occasionally get asked about things I don't like in Japan. Everyone assumes I'll say natto, which on the whole I'm not disinclined to do. But what I have a really hard time with is the apparent absence of an indy comics culture, with the notable but personally undesirable indy porn industry. Of course the barrier is probably linguistic, and I'm still miles away from breaching that, but I don't even get the sense that underground comics exist in Japan. Or maybe they do, but it's about as popular as the underground prose books in America, which is barely breathing.

The big reason being, if there was an underground manga culture, they might be inclined to dabble in Western comics once in a while. But those remain impossible to find. Also, they might be inclined to do some sort of award program apart from Animage, which, despite its fanfare population, I trust about as much as Wizard when it comes to literate comics culture.

Is there a Japanophile in the house who could help?

1 comment:

tarepanda said...

I don't think there really is an underground Western-style comic association. Most of my kids seem to think that the most amazing thing is that Western comics are in color, and that's about it, heh.

Doujinshi, on the other hand, get a bad rap because all of the publicized ones are porn. Doujin works are really just fan works where someone plays in an established playground; you can find doujin games, doujin manga, doujin novels... the works.

Of course, a fair percent of it is porn.