In news of the long overdue variety, Fantagraphics has announced they're going to start publishing Japanese comics. It's about time someone started making the more obscure and artsy-fartsy type manga books available in English. Here's my favorite quote from the Publisher's Weekly story:
[Gary] Groth said his reluctance to publish manga was due to his perception that commercial manga lacked "literary worth."
I was all set to rip this quote to shreds, but then I decided he probably has a point. Commercial manga. I think he's trying to position Fantagraphics' manga output in opposition to things like One Piece and Naruto. Hopefully he's since become aware "commercial" manga includes almost all of Tezuka Osamu's output, the brilliant Pynchonesque sci-fi epic 20th Century Boys and Nana, the writer-artist of which Journalista! writer Dirk Deppey called "the Gilbert Hernandez of Japan" on an Onion A/V Club message thread last year.
It's just more than a little amusing to see the publisher of material that challenges the mainstream comic book fans actually shares-- or shared-- their same cloistered, paranoid response to Japanese comics. The difference is he was able to couch his in lofty aesthetic terms rather than the usual complaints: All those big eyes! No noses! Not enough cross-hatching! This stuff can't be any good... it's... gasp... foreign.
Scratch a literary comic reader and find a... comic reader?
Guess I couldn't resist after all.
Anyway, knee-jerk reactions should last only as long as it takes... you know... the knee to jerk. So welcome to the club, Mr. Groth. Might I suggest you take a gander at the works of Ito Junji while you're still in the learning stages of manga acceptance? And I'm looking forward to seeing what Japanese comics Fantagraphics deems literary worthies fit for publication for the perusal of pretentious comic snobs like myself. Oh yeah-- I'm still introducing anyone and everyone to Love and Rockets here in Japan.