Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Am I a Big Sell-Out?!?

Today I was surfing around some comics blogs and stuff. Yes, I should have been working, but there you have it. It’s not like I spent all day at it…

Anywho, I was looking at Becky Cloonan’s website. I don’t know Becky personally (I met her briefly once), but I’m a HUGE fan of her work. On her page is a link to her blog. She posts about as rarely as I do, but one of her posts immediately got my attention. Alas, it seems she really hates a certain book that, as it happens, is a major influence on one of my projects.

For the record, I believe that her reasons are sound. I may even agree with her, personally! Still, I’m creating something designed to appeal to a specific audience.

Is that so wrong???

I guess I feel bad in the knowledge that I am currently working on something that I know Becky will not like. Even though I don’t even know her. It’s just because I admire her work so much, I wish there could be some reciprocal feelings.

At the same time, closer to home, I also know that my book will have little appeal to my wife, some of my friends and my parents! It will also be unsuitable for my kid--at least for another 10-12 years!

But they aren’t the target audience! Neither am I for that matter! I am just trying to do the best work I can on a project that will appeal to a certain niche.

Does this make me a big sell-out???

I don’t think it does. But maybe I’m just delusional. You’ll have to let me know.

Sorry Becky. Maybe you’ll like my next project, whatever that will be (wonder which “target audience” she falls into?)


Marie said...

You have to make a lot of money at something to be a sell-out. Wishing you the best for the dubious honor of selling out.

Allen Gladfelter said...

Are you talking about Runaways? If so, I'll point out that she loves to hate it, and is drawn into it against her better judgement. That's about as ringing an endorsement as I can imagine!

Steve Buccellato said...

Nope, not Runaways. It's a book she doesn't like, for real. A Manga.

Don Hudson said...

I think you should create whatever makes you happy. And if it happens to sell a million copies, be proud and call yourself anything you want.

Allen Gladfelter said...

Is it LOVE HINA that you're talking about? Is sure seems that she hates that comic. But I think she hates the attitude of those 13 year old girls even more, and the marketing that they have been subjected to that would lead them to have a myopic impression of what comics and manga are. To that sort of thing, I can only say, "Feh!" They are just kids and you can't really expect them to know anything outside the tiny bubbles of their experience. Remember being 13? It certainly was a time when I thought what I knew encompassed everything I would ever need to know, the input and advice of all the snooty 20 and 30-somethings never-withstanding. Nowadays, when I think back to those times, particularly thinking back to those times when I would pontificate on any manner of vital pop cultural trivia I had taken on as my personal defining characteristic, I can still see the faces of the patient older folk (those 20 and 30 somethings) and it makes me wince knowing what they were thinking. Probably something like, "Listen to that kid talk about >enter your favourite subject here, be it David Bowie records, Tom Robbins novels, Frank Miller comics, or Flower Power music festivals< as if he knew anything. I was there when it first came out and I know a lot more about that scene than his green ass could ever know." And they were keeping their mouths shut because, and this is the cringe-worthy part, because they knew it just wasn't worth it to get into it with a snot-nosed, know-it-all pseudo-intellectual teenager! Yep, that was me, a snot-nosed, know-it-all, pseudo-intellectual teenager with WAY too much to prove. And that's what those kids that Cloonan encountered in that gallery. What'cha gonna do about it? I'd have given them free copies of my comic and hoped that they would like it. I think that's the best anybody could do.

Steve Buccellato said...

Okay, yes, it is Love Hina that I was talking about. I did not want to mention the book by name, because I don’t want to give up too much about the book I’m working on. But I guess, I might as well tell you that I’m doing a manga for Tokyopop that is very much inspired by the “spirit” of Love Hina (Sorry, Becky, if you’re out there!).

Without going into details--it’s a story that falls into the “harem manga” subcategory. For those unfamiliar, there are many manga books like this. They can be of any genre (mine is romantic comedy/action-adventure!), but the unifying characteristic of “harem manga” is a situation where one guy is surrounded by a bunch of women. They hate him, they love him, wackiness ensues. My book is not scheduled to come out until next summer, so there will be time for me to spill the beans and share some artwork, later. Meanwhile, I've been absorbing all kinds of manga (harem and otherwise) and watching anime while working. The Love Hina animated TV show was interesting. Completely dopey, yet strangely compelling. Put it on your Netflix cue!

I guess, I never expected Becky Cloonan to like it. I don't expect everyone to. But, I must point out that the amazing Scott Pilgrim books DO, technically, fall into the 'harem manga" category! I assume she likes those books. I think they are terrific!

By the way, I liked YOUR rant about teenage know-it-alls. I think it is rare for a teenager NOT to be one—part of growing up. I agree that patience and understanding is the best way to deal with that situation! And then we can raise the legal age of voters to 25! ;)

Allen Gladfelter said...

So, do you have to adopt a "manga" style to work for Tokyopop?

Allen Gladfelter said...

I mean, you've already got a pretty cartoony style, but I wouldn't go so far as to say you're stuff is anything like manga. So is Tokyopop okay with you doing your thing, or do you have to make some stylistic *ahem* concessions to the manga style that millions of kids know and love?

Steve Buccellato said...

I am working in my new, "extra-mangerific" style!

Not such a stretch from my "usual" style (whatever that is). I like drawing in different styles anyway. Still, it has been a lot of hard work. Been trying to "perfect" my Tokyopop style for more than a year now. Been looking at dozens of different books & movies for inspiration.

I think it will be good. What else can I say? I hope so!

Allen Gladfelter said...

I recently did some "manga-style" stuff for a couple of projects. One of them is in a recent issue published by a Fantagraphics-related label. Not a Fantagraphics book, per se, but another label operated by Fantagraphics that is *ahem* not exactly appropriate for the entire family. :-0

It seems that in this day and age, you've gotta have that Manga thing in your bag o' tricks to put the kids in the seats, don't it?

When I have permission to, I will post some pages from my other manga things on my blog to see what people think...

Steve Buccellato said...

Me too!

Sara Kocher said...

Well, I proofread your manga script (or at least a version of it...edits happen) and I wasn't offended. It's pretty fun and I didn't find it sexist. Although there's still plenty of opportunity to offend me with the artwork.

And selling out should not only involve making tons of cash, but also compromising your basic ethics. Somewhat altering your art style for effect just isn't soul-killing enough.

So you're not a sell-out.

Steve Buccellato said...


Steve Buccellato said...

I just re-read this blog and the comments, almost a year later and thought I should comment again. Even though it is likely NOBODY will ever read this!

It's now June 1, 2007 and I finished the book in question about a month ago.


Not really. I still hold that this book (called Battle of the Bands) is not for everyone. And still not for Becky Cloonan. But, over the course of the past year, a couple of things have happened:

1- I have become emotionally attached to my characters.

2- I have worked DAMNED HARD to make an entertaining story with broad appeal.

The end result is something I am PROUD of. And, I look forward to doing more with the creation, even as I look towards working on other interesting stuff.

Anyway, I think the bottom line is this:

To be a "sell out," one has to actually MAKE MONEY on the project. And that remains to be seen! When you think of it that way--I sure HOPE I get to be a sell-out!