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.
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.