So this time last week I was airport hopping, returning from my first manga/anime convention. At least as a guest, that is. I've played the role of "cool uncle" by taking my teenage niece (a genuine manga chic) to a few local, one-day manga/anime shows, but this — A-Kon in Dallas, TX. — was my first stint as a name-in-the-program, seated-in-the-artists-alley guest. Ka-Blam, my digital printing business, had created some materials for the convention and they were kind enough to offer us a table at the show.
I meet some nice folks, discovered some really good manga of which I'm somewhat embarassed to admit I was ignorant, and discovered a couple of cool webcomics of which I was previously unaware. One being Drew Edwards's over thetop monster mash Halloween Man and another being a new, very slick, noir comic from Daniel Fu called The Retriever. Both well worth a read.
All in all it was a fascinating experience, eye-opening in many ways, and I came away more convinced of one thing than ever before. Comics are comics. A simple, but somewhat heretical doctrine that I've always held dear. There's really only three kinds … good ones, bad ones, and ones that could've been better.
In the past I've been guilty of overlooking manga. The big eyes, the sometimes androgynous male leads, that weird dropping into chibi mode in the middle of a scene … just not my thing, I rationalized. Pretty silly reasons to write off a whole segment of comics, especially one as energetic and thriving as manga. And somewhat hypocritical as well. I mean, here I am an evangelist for digital comics, dealing day in and day out with the frustration of trying to get through to my brethren and sisters stuck in the mire of traditional comics worldview, folks who love "comics" and would love many webcomics if only they'd give them a try, but they won't because webcomics just aren't "their thing."
Comicdom has always promoted the formation of cliques — Newspaper vs. comic books, Marvel readers vs. DC readers, "mainstream" vs. "indy", western vs. manga, print vs. digital. It's all a form of "us vs. them". It's divide and conquer and it's never served us well. So my proposal to you this … examine your comics related prejudices. Maybe it's a genre you think you don't like — say superheroes. Maybe it's a format, maybe you don't like infinite canvas or flash comics. Maybe you don't like black and white. Maybe you think you don't like manga.So once you've indentified a segment of comics that you think you don't like, then purposefully read a few comics from that segment. Maybe you'll only confirm that you really don't like them. That's fine. No one has to like everything. But maybe, just maybe you'll find a whole new world of stuff out there that you had previously written off.