A Careful Reader's Guide.

*Unexpected Enlightenment In Place of Snark Dept:


In the beginning, there was Dirk.

(End of Prelude)

You know, sometimes you get a little more than you expect.

I. Like out of this already-famous piece. Reading the comments, there’s some snark, yeah, but the seeds of some decent discussion.

II. Spiraling out onto a message board, the subject matter fractures into everything from evaluations of basic terminology to the intricacies of manga editing in the United States, with some industry vets weighing in.

III. A follow-up to the original piece prompts some excellent comments-section discourse on visual vocabulary, and whether or not it dictates the classification of works of art as fundamentally apart, or of different styles as grouped under an encompassing whole.

IV. Splitting off, we’re led to a simply fascinating piece by linguist Neil Cohn on the failings of the current critical/conversational vocabulary in regards to ‘visual language’ (UPDATE 9/9/05 4:03 PM: and you can also find some directly on-topic Cohn material here, as Jon Silpayamanant points out in this post's comments section)…

V. …and another spirited comments-section debate on the original post’s East/West theatrical analogy, itself handily extending a ‘movement v. script’ dichotomy to a ‘text v. image’ landscape of visual arts analysis.

VI. An additional link uncovers further cultural/critical examination, characterizing the dominantly theme-based English language manga discourse as an implicit subjugation of a unique medium to a Western-developed system of analysis; it’s not too much of an extension, I think, to validly criticize the ‘manga-are-comics’ stance as something of a patriarchy of inclusion, though Rommens’ criticism here seems more geared toward the ethnocentric perception of manga as a ‘genre,’ rather than as a form of a sequential language in possession of its own visual vocabulary (not to mention its own genres, storytelling tropes, thematic concerns, etc.), and capable of tremendous inter-media influence. Presumably then, a culturally non-specific characterization of ‘visual language’ as the umbrella under which all might find shade (or at least an common acknowledgement of ‘comics’ as encompassing more than nation/culture-specific art, something I believe is already happening) could provide a solution, though criticisms of overbroad definitions of ‘comics’ already abound.

VII. Of course, talk of visuals and culture and influence takes us right back to Boilet’s Nouvelle Manga Manifesto.

VIII. While yet another link leads us to yet another comments-section (see why I love those thing) chat on The Death of the Author as a specific product of the Western critical mindset, hosted at the ever-dazzling Jim Roeg’s site, the main post also providing all sorts of goodies.

IX. Which leads me to a general recommendation of Jon Silpayamanant’s Mae Mai, where he spends some time expanding on earlier comments.

X. And meanwhile, a different fandom weighs in on the whole situation.

You see? You see how much great stuff can come out of the unlikeliest places? Wonderful work, Internet!

*Speaking of work, I'm hammered with it. How about you? Is The Engine working yet? Yes, it seems. I think that's what everyone's going to be talking about in the next few days.

*In the meantime, why not check out some reviews of a pair of new-to-dvd comics creator documentaries from Hero Video Productions' Gregory Jurls, one on Terry Moore, and one on a whole bunch of folks.

*And hey - a new Buster Keaton dvd coming in early 2006, with lots of assorted post-silent material, including industrial shorts, commercials, and the sound feature Parlor, Bedroom, and Bath (I've talked a bit about this and other Keaton things already).

*Yeah. Work.