Creative Connections

By | Thursday, November 11, 2021 3 comments
Lone Wolf and Cub
I took my first real foray into manga in 2007. Before that, I'd read the First Comics highly Americanized versions of Lone Wolf and Cub and seen a handful of (again, largely Americanized) anime movies and shows, but that was pretty much it. A decade-plus on now and I still know far, far less about manga than I'd like. More than I did back in 2007, certainly, but I still have a lot to learn.

I've also been trying to get more knowledgeable about European comics. I'd read a number of them as a teenager, but generally without the knowledge that they were in fact created on the other side of an ocean. Still lots to learn.

Same with Canadian comics. And Australian ones. And Indian ones. And...

One of the reasons I first looked at those Lone Wolf issues back in the day was because the covers were by Frank Miller. (Bear in mind that this was 1987, shortly after his Dark Knight Returns blew everyone's socks off.) I recall reading somewhere that Miller was happy to do the covers because he had seen some of those stories before and they were very influential on his Daredevil run.

And I think that's an interesting notion. That Miller's work on Daredevil and Dark Knight looked revolutionary to American audiences because it had a Japanese influence that most people in the States hadn't seen in any capacity at that time. When you distill that idea down even further, that's basically what creativity is: putting together two or more ideas that no one has before. Miller took elements of Japanese manga and merged them into an American superhero story.

I don't say that to diminish Miller's achievements on those works. He understood the power of Goseki Kojima's art style/storytelling, and figured out how to adapt some of those elements to what was essentially the Jack Kirby method of storytelling. Not an easy task, certainly a creative one, and Miller was able to execute on that very well.

And that's why I try to see what's going on (and has gone on) in comics beyond those created in the U.S. You never know when/where something really cool and useful will come up, or in what capacity. Different cultures approach problems (like storytelling) in different ways, and they could well have ideas and methods unique to their culture. And those might be perfectly valid and usable in my own work. Even though I don't actually write comics themselves.

The more you know, the more you're able to make those connections no one else is making.
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Matt K said...

I feel increasingly that most people's stories and models and thinking, about American politics, is informed almost entirely by American sources and without reference to any other society. Which seems to lead to a rubbish heap of stale nonsense.

It's more than politics -- it's everything. One of the reasons I hated where I grew up was because everyone and everything was so stuck in their bubble of a 7000-person town. There was almost never even any acknowledgement that there was a world beyond the town borders, much less than anything of interest came from there.

Before I all-but-left Facebook, I had muted/blocked virtually everyone from my hometown because that attitude continued. They'd moved maybe 10 or 20 miles from where they grew up and, aside from the very occasional family vacation photos from Disney World, never referenced anything beyond their current city limits. Natural disaster? Nothing. Mass shooting? Nothing. Worldwide pandemic? Nothing. Climate change? Nothing. It was pretty exclusively dinners, family movie nights, and high school football (but only the home games).

I don't expect everyone to comment on every major event, certainly, but nothing? Not even "Hey, did you hear about this" with a link to an article? They weren't just not paying attention to non-US news sources, they weren't even paying attention to news of anything that happened past the town border. It's as if they're all willing participants in The Truman Show, and they don't even have any interest in anything beyond the giant prop of a city.

I left Avon to get away from that entire mindset. Cincinnati was an improvement but their collective scope still mostly stopped at the state borders. Few American cities seem to have any sense there's a world beyond the US.

Matt K said...

I have reflected over the years that one of the best things about Lakewood is that so many people move in; people move back out, but some stay and make a contribution which I think is critical. I don't think it's coincidence that most of the active residents, the candidates, and the local electeds are from somewhere else. No slight meant to my friend the mayor--one of the only born-and-raised in Lakewood gov--but I think if the city were left entirely to people who spent their lives here it would be a lesser place.

Then there are places like Toronto, where I spent last weekend. Truly a global city with a huge, diverse population from beyond not only the city but North America.

(America's system of government is, of course, basically designed to reduce the influence of places like that and give extra power to insular, rural populations…)