Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Narcissus and The Golden Rule

It's hard to stay news-relevant when your blog isn't intended for the promotional purposes of one company (read: my old blog at Vertical). Even harder when it's a self-ascribed Blog à clef. However, as I sit here waiting for emails and try to squeeze in as much internet power from this local bakery whilst awaiting the repair of my home office ISP, I feel web-responsibility weigh down on me.

So here are a few news items I want to chime in on, keeping in mind I may be a narcissist but not an arrogant one, so I'd never opine on matters far from my expertise.

1. DC Comics has a new distributor - Random House.

My old employer was distributed by Random House so I can say from experience that they're pretty much Number One at their game. You want a book sold, you do it through them.

But DC Comics is not just a book publisher. They're a comics powerhouse, and the epistemology of comics has been turned on its head since the pretense of "graphic novels" and big-box retailers took over America (coincidentally at around the same pace and at the same time). This changed the way publishers like DC packaged their books, and how stores sold them. And change is fine. After all, chain stores can't deal with unwieldy serialized floppies, and Jane Doe reader didn't want them anymore. I think ironically in this age of convenience, it's because floppies are too disposable. But I think everyone knew floppies would become more or less obsolete. The question was whether it's vinyl records-obsolescence or Betamax-obsolescence. Obviously it's more like LP's, since bagged and boarded comics still account for a hefty share of the comics market. Any of these debates can be followed in detail at The Beat or The Comics Reporter (who are in my blogroll, along with many other comics blogs).

Anyhoo, DC used to be distributed to the trade (i.e. chains) by Norton after Time/Warner sold its books division, and to the direct market (i.e. comic shops) by Diamond. So it's not like DC wasn't already serious about selling comics to bookstore, but Random House is the Nike of publishing.

Now. People I knew back in the day used to hate on Diamond for feeding a community that was too insular. However, insular also meant unique. Those comic bookshops we all disdained for being shweaty boys clubs were independently run, and provided one-stop content shopping for movie producers and future otaku everywhere. And the opposite of "insular" was "inviting," which also meant "lowest common denominator for the general public." That's partly why comics have to mimic regular books - to suck in Jane Doe reader.

Yeah, sure. Superheroes are overrated, and manga is taking over the world anyway, but aren't we all going to cry a little bit when the corner trading card/hobby store that's easily confused for a porn shop goes permanently out of business?

2. Japanese Primier Shinzo Abe resigns, collapses.

Sigh. I know it's old news now, but this is kind of a big deal. Everyone else in his cabinet committed suicide (literally). Why didn't he?

No, but seriously, while Abe didn't send tens of thousands of his countrymen into battle fighting an invisible enemy in Iraq, his leadership and his cabinet have somewhat mimicked the patterns of Bush Jr. Cabinet reassignments, resignations, blanket vetoes and all.

So picture this - Bush resigning? No way right?
Our threshold of corruption is seriously on steroids here in the USA.


Ali Kokmen said...

Anyhoo, DC used to be distributed to the trade (i.e. chains) by Norton after Time/Warner sold its books division...

Hey, Anne. Just as a point of nitpicky accuracy, I think you mean Hachette, not Norton, that was DC's book trade distributor after the Time Warner Book Group was sold and before this recent Random House distribution deal.

(Norton distributes Fantagraphics to the book trade, however; easy to get the players confused!)


ill iterate said...

I heard Norton, but you're right. Hachette. Norton, Fanta and DC would be the strangest bedfellowship ever though, heh.