Wednesday, January 23, 2013

PictureBox Inc. announces their Ten Cent Manga line

This is very exciting news! Kind of breaking out all over the internet at once, publisher PictureBox Inc. has announced that 2013 will see the launch of a new line of comic releases they are calling Ten Cent Manga. Ryan Holmberg will be handling the editing, translating, and introductions for each. Via The Comics Reporter, Ten Cent Manga will consist of "largely forgotten one-offs and ignored work from various manga superstars" and will focus on "the way that mid-20th Century manga was less 'an independent world of its own' than in part reflective of a significant influx of American comics and cartoons from the 1920s through the 1970s."

Additionally, PictureBox has announced the first two titles. May 2013 will bring us The Last of the Mohicans by the brilliant Shigeru Sugiura...

While October will see the little-known The Mysterious Underground Men by Osamu Tezuka. I'm really looking forward to these, and I love the design of the covers, which I hope that PictureBox will be keeping consistent across the line.

See, like comics, I have a real love / hate relationship with manga. I think there is some really brilliant, eccentric and important work out being done in the medium, but much of what we see translated and published here in the U.S. baffles and depresses me. For every Tekkonkinkreet or NonNonBa we are lucky enough to get, we are saddled with a dozen other titles like Bleach or Hot Gimmick. I saw the popularity of Death Note and I tried to read it but as I finished each volume I found the plot growing more repetitive, tedious, and episodic while also paradoxically becoming more complex and eventually completely baffling. And that exact description is the problem I have with so much manga, especially the series that run to 20 or 30 volumes or more. I understand that these stories are serial in nature and are designed to be long-running entertainment in the manner of television shows with episodes and multiple seasons, but as I reader I find myself craving some kind of eventual payoff or conclusion. Even if that payoff only sets up a new status quo. I don't seem to find that in manga at all, only an endless kind of tension and misdirection that leads nowhere. And I don't mean anything personal by this, RF (a friend who occasionally visits this blog and I know has enjoyed Death Note), I mentioned that series because really it's the only one I have been able to have an intelligent discussion about that didn't eventually devolve into name-calling and insults.

So, yeah, enough soapboxing. Ten Cent Manga from PictureBox in 2013. Be excited.


  1. Man, Death Note (a story that is vanishing increasingly into the past for me) is not a hill I'd choose to die on. Remember what I said about fandom, and the fannish brain falling in love with stories that have some clear sense of incompletion? That's a good example. I know it's not a very good series by most standards. Its virtues are largely camp virtues.

    The Ten Cent Manga line sounds fabulous -- more older manga, and more manga in context, for the US please! I agree that many manga stories are twisted and deformed by the requirement that they be of indefinite/infinite length -- I've seen this happen to some manga of serious literary merit, Samura's Blade of the Immortal being a good example, Yoshida's Banana Fish a somewhat lesser one. That said, the limited series is a boon to any kind of comics, and shorter series like Paradise Kiss by Ai Yazawa, Flower of Life by Fumi Yoshinaga, MW by Osamu Tezuka, and The Heart of Thomas by Moto Hagio succeed (in very different genres) at writing structured stories, albeit still ones with substantial loose ends and elliptical storytelling (which I suspect is a Japanese thing rather than an unintentional flaw). I don't know that any of these would be to your taste, though.

  2. You're right, it is quite unfair for me to assign "Death Note" this kind of importance to you, and I apologize for that. It comes largely from you being the only other human adult I have ever had a serious conversation with about manga, and since it hinged on our different opinions of that series it has become some kind of symbol. Which it never should have.

    (Also, "not a hill I'd choose to die on" was amazing.)

    Camp escapes me, and it always has. For some reason, my brain is simply not equipped to receive what it is projecting. I've had this discussion with my wife regarding drag queens. She thinks in much more complex terms about gender and identity and cultural performances and represenatations of such than I do, so her thoughts about drag queens reflect that. To me, they always seem to be very sad and tragic, which I know may be unfair and unkind, but I blame those ideas on myself and myself alone. I know this is incomplete, but it's a half-step toward an idea.

    We have discussed Blade of the Immortal as well, just a bit, if I am remembering right. I read the first 4 or 5 tankobon and quite liked them, but I drifted away. This was years ago, so you can imagine my shock when I discovered that the series is either still going or only recently concluded. What saddens me about this indefinite / infinite length is that it is purely for market reasons. And you know how toxic the intersection of art and commerce can be.

    Of the finite titles you mentioned, I have read "MW" and amd curious about Moto Hagio in general. You are right though in that I think I may be looking for something very different in manga. The elliptical storytelling is, I agree, a very Japanese sensibility (there is an interesting exploration of the use of time in comics in Scott McCloud's "Understanding Comics" which relates to this tangentially) but that, to me, is a positive. I must admit though that gender does seem to shape my preferences as I find myself drawn much more strongly to boys' stories, especially the juvenile delinquents and troubled schoolkids of Taiyo Matsumoto, than I do to what I perceive Hagio's work to deal with. Which is odd because I do find the lushness of that art to be very appealing, although that appeal wears thin for me eventually. I feel the same about the "Death Note" art, which we've discussed.

    Anyway, I've got to marinate a bit. Maybe this is best suited for email. I've a question I've been meaning to pose to you anyway.

  3. I think camp-brain and fanfic-brain are somewhat similar brains. They overlap in a lot of people; they certainly overlap in me.

    I also think you're on to something there with regard to drag queens -- my response to them is much closer to your wife's, but I do think a deep sadness often underlies camp.

    Blade is to be put out of its misery in about five more volumes, for which, as a huge fan, I'm eternally grateful.


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