[Bat-Manga part 2] Never attribute to malice…

Follow-up to my last post on Bat-Manga:

This interview with Kidd makes the whole project sound less malicious and more haphazard. It’s not even clear whether they contacted the Japanese publisher!

Bolton: So, DC gave you its blessing. Did you go back to Shonen King to access the archives Mazzucchelli told you about?

Kidd: We did not. There are several reasons for that. First of all, at that point we had enough for a book anyway, in our own possession.

Bolton: Just from eBay purchases?

Kidd: eBay purchases, contacts from Japan… By the way, this stuff is rare over there. On several business trips to Japan I would go to manga shops with color Xeroxes to show them and ask if they had any more, and they would look at me like I was nuts. “No, of course we don’t have that. Where’d you get that?” [Laughter] To be quite honest, first of all, if we were going to access the Shonen King archive, it’s like, do we go over there? You get these instant expenses. So, the photographer and I are gonna fly over to Japan to photograph this — that’s gonna add up real quick, in terms of money. And I couldn’t imagine in a million years that they would just send them over, willy-nilly, to us. … These are the sorts of considerations, because it’s a perfectly logical question, and as far as I know Shonen King did have everything in their archives.

I don’t want to be too hard on these guys since I don’t know the story, and we at Top Shelf are having our own adventures preparing to publish a book of manga… but Random House has approximately a billion times the budget of Top Shelf. Declining to visit the publisher because a plane ticket to Japan costs too much?! That makes no sense to me.

achewood-ebay-crop

But then, I don’t think “hey, check out these craaaazy comics I found on eBay” is a good idea for a book — not when the artist and publisher are still around and accessible. When you think about the care and dignity with which Tomine and D&Q have treated Tatsumi… it’s not a flattering comparison.

4 Responses to “[Bat-Manga part 2] Never attribute to malice…”


  1. 1 ADD November 6, 2008 at 12:20 am

    Presumably they got the OK for the book from DC, and I’m sure at least DC felt ethically there would be no reason to talk to the original publisher or creator, because, hey, it’s Batman, and they’re DC.

    From within the ethically bankrupt work-for-hire mindset, it all makes perfect sense. You indy comics snobs and your “ethics” and “decency!”

  2. 2 Katherine Farmar November 6, 2008 at 2:34 am

    This just reinforces what Jog said — if Shonen King had everything in their archives, then it would have been possible to present complete storylines, not just isolated episodes. But to do that when they “had enough for a book anyway” would require a concern with the comics as comics, as a means of telling a story, and not just as a cultural curiosity or a kitsch artefact.

  3. 3 Bob Agamemnon November 6, 2008 at 11:54 am

    I just got this last night and had a long conversation about exactly all of this immediately. It really does seem a little insane to me to see the creator of the work that’s the point of the book’s name nowhere on the actual cover. And looking at the photographed pages and the overwhelming thingness of the book definitely made me think that what was being presented was “a cultural curiosity or a kitsch artefact” rather than a comic. Do we take photos of forty year old Tezuka stories so that we can see that “hey this is really an old book!”?


  1. 1 How Jiro Got Fingered, or, If This Is a Teapot, Call Me Helen Hunt « Picture Poetry Trackback on November 10, 2008 at 6:49 pm

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Leigh Walton talks comics and maybe other arts. (RSS)
He also works for the very excellent publisher Top Shelf Productions (which does not necessarily endorse the views and opinions, etc, herein).

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Header by me. Contains an interpolation of the final panel from All-Star Superman #1 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely. Speaking of which.

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