Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The comic book and the coffee table

Remember the story of the super book? The coffee table volumes that require super-strength coffee tables? The trend is spreading. Now even comic books – which when I was a kid were the ultimate disposable (and swappable) items – are headed the same way. Blame Marvel. A few years ago they came up with an exciting tie-in to the Fantastic Four movie. The brief was to excite the ‘extreme collector’. The solution? A 5.4 pound, 848 page monster crammed with the magic of Jack Kirby. The comic 'brick' sold out almost as soon as it hit the shelves. Now large-scale comic books are everywhere. I’m told part of the reason for their success is that comic collectors are very reluctant to read their precious originals but another part is probably what I call The Collector’s Dilemma. Having something rare and scarce is great, but giving other people access to a version of it is even better. Then they know how amazing it is. When I was a kid reading comics, the thought of them having pride of place on the living room coffee table would have been risible. The fact that adults hated them was part of their irresistible attraction. In Japan, comic lovers are taking another option. There, thick Manga comic books have been hugely popular for decades but today the appeal is cooling. The reason seems to be that young people no longer want to lug heavy blocks of paper around when they can have the same, or better, experiences on their lighter laptops or handhelds.


Chris said...

As per usual –ur blog attracts pov! Thx 4 that KR! I think the Coffee Table thing and Comic Bricks is not as relevant as the fact that the Anime is still very alive and huge across multimedia and digital universities, colleges and campuses. As you rightly point out –thick Manga comic books have been part of pop Japan culture for decades. I’m not totally up-to-speed with Japan last night, but I’m not sure Japan and definitely China and other Asia markets are cooling on comics just yet! Japan is, I believe, already getting hot on mobile books and I think-particularly for Graphic Novels, like Anime, the mobile is already firmly part of that culture. But so is the Graphic Novel, like a Comic Strip Paperback. My Malaysia based partners, Macera Technology have a long standing relationship with a really cool group called Gempak Starz who publish Games, Anime, Graphic Novels and Magazines. I’m a proud owner of a couple of the limited edition Anime, although I cannot read any of the pure Malay and Chinese storylines, but can certainly read the pictures! Gempak Starz nurture and feature Comic Artists and these young and brilliant artists do all their stuff by hand as well as laptop. There’s a real mixed and mashed genre culture happening and its vibrant and incredibly intuitive. I see these guys like break dancers or b-boys or street dancing/artists. My Bracket Girl character that I invented has real Anime leanings and I’ve penciled many comics that I’ve passed on to some of the artists working at Macera. I think there’s still a real place for the Anime Comic in print, handset and webisode versions. Way back when-my original virtual band concepts-forerunner to Gorillaz and stuff like that had very big Anime leanings mixed with pure London Punk Rock and Hip Hop! I truly believe that this is a very mixed genre/culture NOW thing and that-for example-today’s Film Director is about making consumer-generated media, mobile advertising, videogame advertising, online video advertising, webisodes, search movies, lead-generation movies, digital out-of home media movies and – of course – the Comic Strip Clip!
By-the-way…Should your blog ever need them-I can often complement what I say with real current pictures and clips…Best to S&S and ur communities! Keep blogging babies!

Coffee Tables said...

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