February 24th, 2006

Jeeves Nazis

Happy, Happy!

Happy birthday to walksamongstars and kurst! For your present, here's Today's Forgotten English!

For what reason? Why? "Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore are thou, Romeo?"
--Daniel Lyons's Dictionary of the English Language, 1897

Death of Thomas Bowdler (1754-1825),
whose Family Shakespeare (1807), while not the first modern attempt at literary expurgation, loosed a flood of such cleansings during the nineteenth century. Perhaps the original "bowdlerizer" was the Scotsman Alan Ramsay, who in 1724 cleaned up a collection of his own poems. By 1850 seven censored versions of the Bard's plays had been published, and by 1900 nearly fifty were in circulation. Even Lewis Carroll had planned one not long before his death in 1898. In several such editions, large sections of Romeo and Juliet were snipped out, including most of the nurse's lines, leaving what was referred to as an "elegant extract." Victorian do-gooders believed these condensations represented moral progress over their coarser predecessors, including Shakespeare himself. Among other classics to undergo scrutiny and excision were Robinson Crusoe in 1826 and Tom Jones in 1896. Jane Austen avoided censorship by rewording a single reference to "bastards" for the 1813 edtion of her novel Sense and Sensibility.

-The Gneech
Hong Kong Phooey

Something I Found Fascinating

Speaking for myself, the straw that broke the camel's back fell during this year's Emerald City Con in Seattle. I'd stepped out to smoke a cigarette and was watching the passersby. I noticed a family leaving the convention -- a Mom, a Dad, and a little girl no older than eight years of age. The girl was decked out in a beautiful, elaborate kimono and clearly distressed by what she'd just encountered. "But they didn't hardly have any manga at all!" she said as they walked away.

When I was done with my cigarette, I went back inside and relayed this story to an acquaintance prominent in the art-comics publishing scene. "I hate to say it, but good," was his reply. Indeed, I told the story several more times that day, to both indy-comics and superhero-comics professionals, and the reaction was more or less the same each time. A young reader disappointed by the selection offered to her? Good. The future of comics walks out the door, unable to find what she wants? Good. I left the convention early, lost in a foul mood. I swear: I love the comics art form with a passion, but my utter contempt for the American comics industry grows like a cancer with each passing day.

The Comics Journal: She's Got Her Own Thing Now -- A very interesting op-ed about the rise of manga in general and shouju in particular, and the "western" comics world's total inability to grok what's going on.

What fascinates me about it is that a lot of the stuff that's covered here is exactly my beef with the comics scene -- and one of the reasons I'm so interested in furry comics. Omaha the Cat Dancer, Carpe Diem, and so forth are all a lot closer to manga than they are to any superhero comic, and I think that it's with the manga fans that furry has the most room for expansion.

FWIW, although I have my problems with the prevailing trends of manga art style, all of the contemporary non-furry comic books I read are manga, except for Dark Horse's Conan series. Because that's where the interesting stories are. The best Detective Comics I ever read (and I have read some good ones) didn't appeal to me as much as any given issue of Love Hina for instance. Despite the slant of the particular essay above, I don't really think it's as much a boy/girl thing as all that. Why would there even be the concept of "fanservice" (largely meaning panty shots) in the manga world if it only appealed to women?

Speaking as a card-carrying member of the male sex, as far as I'm concerned, bring on the manga revolution!

-The Gneech

PS: As crazy as the term "American manga" is, it points towards something I'd really love to see -- and in fact towards something I would like to help create. Right now, my thinking on the subject is half-baked, so I'm sorta rambling. But the idea is definitely brewing in my mind!
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