Journalista for March 9, 2010: An excessive use of first-person pronouns

Posted by on March 9th, 2010 at 7:32 AM




“If I had written this article for a comic book centric website, then I would have said ‘Top Ten Gay Moments in SUPER HERO Comic Book History’ But for a larger audience, ‘Comic Book’ still means ‘Super Hero.’ Many of you may not like that, but it is a fact. I didn’t name any indie books not because I’m unaware of them, but because the events in those books simply did not make headlines in the mainstream press.”

Eric Diaz, in comments,
clearly in over his head


“For the love of god, please don’t scare the nice Japanese lady, CCI attendees.”


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Detail from a promotional illustration originally drawn for Otherworld Barbara, ©2010 Moto Hagio/Shogakukan.


Well, that stirred things up. I didn’t tag yesterday’s bonus post to the ¡Journalista! RSS feed yesterday, so in case you missed it: For the past four years or so, manga scholar and translator Matt Thorn, Gary Groth and I have been working on a manga line for Fantagraphics, which Matt will edit. The first two releases will be a collection of short stories by shojo-manga godmother Moto Hagio (entitled A Drunken Dream and Other Stories) and the first volume of Shimura Takako’s Wandering Son, a tale of transgendered youth. Our parent company Fantagraphics has the official press release, while Thorn has offered a few comments on his blog, including a list of the story selections for the Hagio book, as well as additional commentary over at Christopher Butcher‘s blog.

I have no idea how much I can say about the new line, but having bottled all this up for four years, I’d really like to take a moment, put on my company-shill hat one last time and answer the few questions found online that I do feel comfortable discussing:

  • No, this won’t be the last Moto Hagio book that we publish.

  • Ms. Hagio will be attending the San Diego Comic-Con this summer. See Simon Jones, above — this is a living legend we’re talking about, folks, and we’d like her to consider returning to the States at some point, if at all possible.

  • We’re committed to publishing Wandering Son from start to finish. Yes, of course we’re aware of the controversial nature of its subject matter. Those who don’t like it are strongly encouraged to lump it.

  • For any stray manga fans reading this who don’t know who we are: Fantagraphics is one of the pioneering publishing houses responsible for nurturing the modern literary-comics movement, and we take our job very seriously. We have more than earned our reputation for publishing works of the highest artistic quality in well-designed, high-end volumes, and we certainly intend to carry this aesthetic over to the manga we publish as well. These will not be slipshod books.

  • Matt Thorn was one of the Original Gangstas of English-language manga translation, and his reputation for quality work is impeccable. He’s currently an associate professor in Kyoto Seika University’s manga department, and is one of the people responsible for planning and organizing the Kyoto International Manga Museum — the man comes with serious credentials, and he’ll be translating as well as curating and editing the manga line. (If you’re curious about his thoughts on translation, you’ll likely find this essay on the subject to be quite informative.)

  • I might as well tell the story while I’m here: The idea for the line grew out of a series of e-mail discussions between Matt and myself that took place during and after the production of The Comics Journal #269, our sh?jo-manga issue. I had originally contacted Thorn back in May of 2004, after a snarky (and not entirely unjustified) comment he’d made about the Journal on the Sequential Tart message board concerning a news article we’d published, and invited him to assist us with a special issue of the Journal devoted to girls’ comics from Japan that we were planning.

    It was easily the smartest thing I ever did as managing editor. I was a recent convert to manga, and while my heart was in the right place, my head was… less so. When Thorn asked me whom I’d like for him to interview, my response was something along the line of “Gee, how ’bout them CLAMP gals? I hear they’re popular,” or something equally idiotic. Showing me far more patience than I deserved, Thorn explained that, while he could obtain an interview with CLAMP if that’s what I really wanted, he also happened to know a Very Important Cartoonist named Moto Hagio, and that she would make a much better subject for the issue’s centerpiece. So I responded with something that probably sounded a lot like “Well gawrsh, you’re the expert!” and gave him the go-ahead, then went online to learn a little something about the person to whom I’d just committed the Journal spotlight.

    Half an hour later, I very nearly had a heart attack. I quickly discovered that (A) Moto Hagio is quite possibly the second most important cartoonist to come out of Japan after Osamu Tezuka himself, one of the originators (along with Keiko Takemiya and their fellow Magnificent Forty-Niners) of modern sh?jo manga as we know it today, and thus a prime mover for the worldwide manga revolution; (B) this was going to be my one opportunity to introduce the English-speaking world to a master cartoonist on par with Will Eisner, Hergé and Carl Barks; and (C) if I screwed this one up, I’d regret it for the rest of my life.

    It certainly put the fear of God into me, I can tell you that — The Comics Journal #269 wound up taking over a year in planning and production, was anchored around a full-length, absolutely essential interview with one of the world’s greatest living cartoonists, and remains to this day the one indisputable highlight of my career at Fantagraphics.

    As those who’ve read the issue are aware, Matt and I made no secret of the fact that one of our goals was to provide the needed momentum to bring Hagio’s work into long-term English-language print, and… well, I just happened to know a publisher, didn’t I? After playing e-mail tag with me for a year or so, Matt wrote up a pitch for Fantagraphics co-founder Gary Groth, I passed it along, and just over four years later, here we are.


  • It would be all too easy to overstate my role in all of this, and I fear that I may have done just that, so let me state for the record that this is Matt Thorn’s show. Without him, we’d have neither a line of comics nor the privilege of publishing the divine Ms. Hagio. My own official title for the line is “consulting editor,” which is a fancy way of saying “official kibitzer.” I suggest possible titles that we might want to chase down, and Gary and Matt then try to figure out exactly how far out onto the limb I’m trying to lure them. And that’s pretty much it. You can only call yourself a midwife for so long after the baby’s born — after that, you just look like you’re trying to take credit for other people’s work, and it’s not like you’re the one who gave birth, now are you? (I mean, “am I?”)


Okay, enough with the sales pitch, already. I should also note that I somehow managed to confuse the one-time autocrats of Chile and Argentina yesterday… because I’m a professional, don’tcha know! So my apologies for that. Today may be even worse, as I’m currently running on three hours of sleep, so despite the above bloviation, this will be as brief as I can make it. Let’s see if I can do one of these here blog things without getting into too much trouble, shall we?


Drawing by Norman Pettingill.


Recently posted to our homepage:

  • Gary Groth offers a brief introduction to the work of Norman Pettingill.

  • Rob Clough reviews Shane White’s zombie slice-of-life story, Things Undone.

  • Rich Kreiner examines a number of minicomics: one, two.

  • R.C. Harvey compares Oscars and Reubens.

  • Over at The Hooded Utilitarian, Noah Berlatsky examines copyright and free culture through the lens of Nina Paley’s animated film, Sita Sings the Blues.

And in the news…


Above the Fold


Life in interesting times

  • Sky News reports, “Seven Muslims have been arrested in Ireland over an alleged plot to kill [Lars Vilks,] a cartoonist who depicted the prophet Mohammed with the body of a dog.”

    Related: Christopher Hitchens examines “a nasty attempt to coerce Danish newspapers into apologizing for the cartoons of Muhammad.”


  • Tom Spurgeon catches word that the wife of missing Sri Lankan cartoonist/journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda has outright come out and blamed the government for her husband’s disappearance.

  • “It took a little longer than employees thought, but the expected cuts in the store workforce at Borders began last week in what employees on various blogs are calling ‘Black Thursday’,” reports Jim Milliot.

  • Also cutting back on the workforce: manga/anime publisher Media Blasters.

  • I’ve generally stopped doing announcements for birthdays, births, weddings and the like, but how often do you get the chance to wish a belated happy birthday to a successful comics writer who’s just turned six? Happy birthday, Malachai!

    (Link via Gary Tyrrell.)


Format WarsTM inside-baseball baffler… strike!

  • Nilay Patel reports that Hewlett Packard and Adobe have teamed up to add Flash functionality to the company’s upcoming tablet computer.

  • The Electronic Frontier Foundation has acquired a copy of the iPhone Developer Program License Agreement — the contract that every developer who writes software for the iTunes App Store must sign — and offers a withering analysis of its terms.


Joe McCulloch: New this week

A look at the best-sounding books scheduled to hit the comics shops tomorrow.




  • Tim O’Shea on Ho Che Anderson

    An interview with the King author.






  • Paul de Rooij on Footnotes in Gaza

    “What [Joe] Sacco has done in this book is to rescue the 1956 massacres at Rafah and Khan Yunis from oblivion.”






  • Christopher Irving: The Spirit of comics

    “When Will Eisner spoke on the comics page, it was in a language that was distinctly no one else’s but his own.”


Business and Craft


  • Thomas James: How do you promote yourself online?

    A forum discussion packed with information despite the relatively few participants (so far).


  • Casual Webcartoonist: How to price your artwork

    “First, you have to take out the fixed cost. This means, how much money is the job costing YOU to take. This is the easiest part, although it can be more or less subjective.”

    (Link via Xaviar Xerexes.)


Comics and Art


  • Illustration blog: Otto Björnik

    “Speak No Evil,” ©2010 Otto Björnik.


    It’s been a while since I’ve seen work this delicate and beautiful.




Events Calendar


This Week:

  • March 10 (Dallas, TX): Girls With Slingshots cartoonist Danielle Corsetto makes an appearance at Zeus Comics on Lemmon Avenue, from noon-6PM. Details here.
  • March 11-12 (Chicago, IL): The first ever Comic Symposium of Chicago will be hosted by the School of the Art Institute of Chicago on Michigan Avenue. Details here.
  • March 12-13 (Chicago, IL): The Chicago Zine Fest takes place at various locations throughout the city. Details here.
  • March 13-14 (Seattle, WA): This year’s Emerald City Comicon once again takes place at the Washington State Convention Center, where a gazillion cartoonist types await the chance to meet you. Details here.
  • March 13 (Newcastle Upon Tyne, England): Think you’re good enough to take the 24 Hour Comic Challenge? Sure you are. Prove it — go to the Tyneside cinema at 10AM and put your £15 where your mouth is. Go on, I dare you. Details here.
  • March 13 (Seattle, WA): Join Love and Rockets co-creator Gilbert Hernandez for an art exhibit and book signing at the Fantagraphic Bookstore on Vale Street, from 6-9PM. Details here.


Want to see your comics-related event listed here? Email a link to and let me know. Please include an online link to which I can send people for more information. No sales-only events, please — it’s nice that you’ve marked things down at your store or website, but I won’t be listing it here.


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7 Responses to “Journalista for March 9, 2010: An excessive use of first-person pronouns”

  1. […] Dirk (Journalista) Deppey […]

  2. […] links. For extended giddiness, I recommend Twitter. ETA: Additional commentary from Dirk Deppey here. Bookmark/Share Featured, news fantagraphics, manga Fantagraphics Makes […]

  3. Michael Nicolai says:

    And here I thought you were some kind of manga expert. Well, gawrsh…

    For the record, I think TCJ 269 was something of a milestone, at least in regards to my own appreciation of manga. This news has gives me a happy, floaty feeling when I think about it.

  4. […] links of note: Dirk Deppey offers a behind-the-scenes look at Fantagraphics’ new manga line, to be spearheaded by legendary scholar Matt Thorn… Brigid Alverson trains a critical eye on […]

  5. KrebMarkt says:

    Thanks a such great news.

    Any hope for Hitoshi Ashinano’s Yokohama Kaidashi Kik? to make it into the mana line?

    I know that Dirk Deppey was supportive toward that manga series.

  6. […] although Amazon information suggests somewhere from $19.99 – $24.99. They’ve been working on this project for at least four years, so I’m expecting great […]