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::i can has maneki neko!::
I rang in the New Year in our backyard in 40 degree heat, entertained by my neices… seriously hilarious… they had us on the floor laughing until our sides ached. Nothing like an insight into the minds of a 9 and 6 year old and their reaction to the media they are bombarded with on a daily basis. The performance ran like a American reality tv show but was pleasantly infected with some ironic Australian ‘shitstirring’. Nice.
I have spent the past week and a half madly piecing together the long list of notes and ideas I took during my last trip to Japan and connecting these with current themes running in my work… no easy task due to the chaotic nature of my scribbles and shorthand and disconnected feelings that come with travel.
I also finally got to visit the Japanese T-shirt Mart Aoi(review) and (website) in Exhibition street where my friend Ryohei has been working. Highly recommended. Ryohei asked me “Why did you want to live in Japan” … ah if I had a dollar. He also asked “Why do so many westerners like Japanese stuff”… again if I had a dollar… but this time I thought long and hard about it only to realize that to answer from my perspective only does not suffienctly answer the question in a way that could truly satisfy Ryohei’s, and now my own, curiosity on the subject. At it’s most basic explanation, mine is based on childhood experiences, friends and family influences and there is no one ‘defining moment’ that stands out, and so if anyone out there has their own musings on the subject please post a comment.
“I never cease to be amazed at the ways that the Japanese recombine and reconfigure completely foreign elements in ways that are alien to western sensibilites, yet still manage to create new hybrids that are completely droolworthy in their coolness. Example? Limited-edition, handcrafted punk rock fishing lures. My brain hurts. “
This is also something I strive to do with my own work.
The question was still bouncing around my brain the other night when I was finally reunited with the issue of Wired Magazine* I purchased prior to my flight to Japan so many weeks ago… there it was half read… “Manga Conquers America” and “Japan, Ink: Inside the Manga Industrial Complex”. Both brilliant reads on on the subject…. and hats off to the writer Daniel. H. Pink for the second article. Although hard to summarize here it is basically an insight into the world of dojinshi in Japan and how this homemade industry of writers, illustrators and publishers feeds back into the commercial publishing houses and vice versa, all the while, copyright laws and licensing issues are being broken and ignored.
Here is just an excerpt:
“Imagine Disney’s response if some huge comics convention in St. Louis or Houston were selling exquisitely rendered, easily identifiable comic book versions of Mickey Mouse and Goofy falling in love. Picture the legal department at United Feature Syndicate hearing about someone selling $6 books that show a buxom teenage Sally and a husky teenage Linus canoodling on a beach. The violations at Super Comic City were so brazen and the scale so huge — by day’s end, some 300,000 books sold in cash transactions totaling more than $1 million — that just about any US media company would have launched a full-metal lawsuit to shut the market for good.
Why aren’t Japanese publishers doing the same? I posed that question to two of the main organizers of Japan’s dojinshi gatherings, Kouichi Ichikawa and Keiji Takeda.”
It’s true just look at ‘Steamboat Willie’ as one example…. and the irony is that ‘Steamboat Willie is actually a parody of a Buster Keaton film ‘Steamboat Bill Jr’!?!? Didn’t Walt Disney spent the majority of his career retelling stories just as the dojinshi publishers do? Might leave that one there for all to ponder…
I also wanted to include a couple of links to two artists I rediscovered lately ‘Suehiro Maruo’ ….positively and deliciously, ghastly works! And the soft and alluring illo’s of another fav of mine Sayaka.
*Awesome magazine I would love to illustrate for… nudge, nudge, wink, wink …;-)