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Friday, January 08, 2021 

What can "woke" creators learn from manga and the Mandalorian?

A writer at the Federalist says 2020, bad a year as it was due to the damage wrought by Coronavirus, did teach an important lesson regarding what it means to "get woke, go broke", and telling what could be learned from Japanese manga and even the Star Wars spinoff, the Mandalorian. Many of the problems seen in entertainment may have begun with comicdom, and it surely had its roots in the 90s, if we take how, by 1995, most publishers all but abandoned sales through mainstream bookstores:
As noted in the Post Millennial, at the start of lockdown, the American comics industry was already dying. Sales have been down for quite some time and continue to decline. Worse, as comics shops perish, fans watch in horror has the industry turns each popular character into woke caricatures.

To name only a few, in 2020 we added “Superman Smashes the Klan,” black Batman, bisexual polyamorous Wolverine, Safe Space and Snowflake, and a non-binary black Flash. And who could have predicted sunsetting, so strange an enterprise that I would call it a conspiracy theory if I hadn’t seen the evidence?
Even cartoon shows fell victim to this ideological flood:
Many friends with bored children were surprised to find Cartoon Network evangelizing for the radical left in 2020. At the start of the George Floyd riots, Toonami came out supporting Black Lives Matter. In December, the network featured an insidious PSA about race and embarked on a campaign to encourage young kids to embrace their inner “zhe/zher” alternative gender pronouns.

That’s a lot of woke, and it came in response to a 10-year trend of slaughtered ratings and rapid abandonment as children and young adults decide they’d rather watch Minecraft videos on YouTube.
Hmm, if young adults, as they're described, aren't interested in cartoon matinees laced with political pandering, chances are they're not very interested in the comics DC's been making for the same category (I think Marvel is too), let alone the text novels marketed to the same crowd. By contrast, most manga/anime creations are doing considerably better:
In Japan, on Amazon, and across the globe, Japanese comics are selling gangbusters. This year, the fantastic manga “Kimetsu no Yaiba (Demon Slayer)” broke the record for the best-selling comic in Japan, with more than 100 million comics sold. [...]

Culturally and fiscally, we are comparing Japanese whales against American minnows here. For the comics industry, 100 million comics would be an absolute dream. Indeed, in 2019, the entirety of the western comics industry sold a combined 15.5 million units, and most of that is scholastic books and manga anyway. To view it another way, the total sales of the western comics industry amounts to just 10 percent of the sales for one trendy Japanese comic book.

What gives? Well, first and foremost, the Japanese comic book creators look at their supporters with adoration. In Japan, a culture with a much more conscious sense of respect and hierarchy, if a creator insults anyone or an actor breaks the law, they’re given the boot. Here in America, Amber Heard can be a known serial abuser failing upwards.
Yes, that is a serious problem with how US businesses conduct their operations as opposed to Japan's. Some could argue that a similar problem with comic writers existed at least 3 decades ago, enabled primarily by nepotism. Gerard Jones was an early example, a writer whose stories by and large were tedious and laced with heavy-handed politics, a precursor to modern problems with wokeness, and Dan Slott, who began his career in the early 90s, is another example. Despite all the dreadful elements in various stories they wrote, they continued to get jobs. In fact, while Rob Liefeld may not speak abusively of the audience, he too was an early example of an awful artist continuously safeguarded by pretentious editors and publishers, many who were surely the same ones who thought it a great idea to remove over 90 percent of their output from commercial bookstore chains and rely almost entirely on specialty stores, complete with a policy for non-returnable items that made it difficult for stores to get rid of excess junk. And, lest we forget, they repeatedly continued to stick rock solid with the monthly pamphlet format, despite the rising costs which made it less appealing to anybody on a tight budget. Indeed, one could say the comic industry's "going insular" was but one way the worst contributors felt emboldened to belittle their audiences. It's good most mangakas and anime producers recognize why it's ill-advised to speak negatively of your audience, and hugely regrettable US industrialists won't draw inspiration from the land of the rising sun for how to lead public relations. Also brought up here is how the Mandalorian's marketed and made, in contrast to what Kathleen Kennedy oversaw with the Star Wars sequels:
All is not seemingly lost, however. One major American company is returning to properly respect Nerdom.

Everyone and his mother appears to be caught up and blissfully swept away watching the second season finale of the adventures of Baby Yoda and friends. Yet it’s important to look back at the depths from which “The Mandalorian” has managed to ascend.

When Disney bought the intellectual property rights to “Star Wars” in 2012, Bob Iger ousted George Lucas not only physically but spiritually. New el Presidente of Lucasfilm, Kathleen Kennedy, stacked the story group with a group of almost entirely white female sycophants and woke bullies with little knowledge of the franchise, mocking fans while they purposely defenestrated Luke Skywalker and Han Solo. [...]

Unlike Kennedy, however, Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni understand “Star Wars” is best when it is being “Star Wars,” and just one year after creating “The Mandalorian,” Disney Plus ballooned to 86 million subscribers. In short, economics is forcing Disney to acknowledge that which by politics they refused to acknowledge.
Certainly the 2 aforementioned producers on TV seem to recognize the importance of putting entertainment value first. But if recent news that Patty Jenkins, who recently indicated she's unrepentant for the troubling way Wonder Woman 1984 is written, will be getting a job directing another SW entry, Rogue Squadron, Disney haven't learned their lesson at all, and there's no need to continue patronizing movie theaters next time to see what else is in store.

And let's remember Disney's owned Marvel for over a decade or so, and allowed them to get away with only so much awfulness, not the least being the time when Steve Rogers was turned into a Nazi-Hydra worshiper, among other embarrassments. Now, much like DC, they too could be heading for closure of their comic publications, and with the continued use of company wide crossovers nobody cares about anymore, that'll only precipitate their collapse. I suppose it's a question of whether, if Disney and AT&T continue ownership of the properties as comics, they'll license them out to other sources who understand the importance of entertainment merit, along with continuity and even creative freedom without being held hostage to PC mandates? Either that's what'll take place, or, the Big Two will become defunct as publishing outfits altogether. All because they wouldn't let go of their oh-so precious politics.

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You see a lot of comic books in the commercial bookstore chains now, but this is a new thing. The comics publishers always wanted to crack that market - that is why they put the UPC code on the covers - but never quite managed it until the last few years. No comic book publisher ever chose to abandon hat market. The specialty shops were a life raf for the industry when newstand distribution collapsed.

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