Today, Ryan Holmberg offers another installment of his essential, endlessly fascinating history of alternative manga. This time, he tackles two big, big topics: Osamu Tezuka and Mickey Mouse. An excerpt:
From his arrival in Japan in the early ’30s, Mickey Mouse was an icon of humor. To some, he was also ambassador of American ingenuity and American quality in production. But thanks to lax copyright protections for foreign properties, and his rendition by goods-makers that did not necessarily privilege the faithful or even skillful reproduction of his image, Mickey also became in Japan an icon of appropriation and its side effects, like modified personality and degraded design. This continued into the early postwar period. But towards the end of the Occupation, a series of forces colluded to “correct” Mickey’s image. Amongst them was Tezuka Osamu. For Tezuka, rectifying Disney went hand in hand with a number of things. It meant denying the akahon rodent of his roots and the production ethic on which its inventiveness fed. It meant recalling Mickey from appropriation and putting him back in the hands of authorship. It meant repositioning Disney as a light of genius and industriousness, against a mainstream that viewed him primarily as a talented showman and joker. It meant seeing himself more and more in the image of Disney. It meant expelling the rodent from the classroom, however much he had been there for the professor in his youth, and teaching straight from the Mickey on the board.
Joe McCulloch refrained from exploring the swamplands this week, and has his usual Tuesday report on the most interesting-looking new comics ready to go.
And Rob Clough continues his tour through the output of Nobrow Press with a review of Jesse Moynihan’s Forming.
Also, we have continued to add new Maurice Sendak tributes to our page for him, many of which you may not have seen if you haven’t looked at the post since last week. Some of the more recent contributors include Megan Kelso, Dylan Horrocks, Cathy Malkasian, and Victor Kerlew.
And of course, the tributes to Sendak have continued to grow everywhere else on the internet, too. Some highlights not previously noted in this space include Chris Mautner at Robot 6, Ellen Handler Spitz at The New Republic, Neil Gaiman at The Guardian, and a whole slew of artists at the New York Times (don’t miss the attached slideshow at that link). Philip Nel, who of course wrote an excellent Sendak obituary for us, has penned another short remembrance at his own site, at the end of which he has also gathered an extremely thorough collection of links to the best and most informative memorials.
It also just came to my attention that Lance Bangs and Spike Jonze’s Tell Them Anything You Want, their 2009 documentary on Sendak, is available for viewing at Hulu:
—Over at the Los Angeles Review of Books, the esteemed cultural critic Mark Dery writes about a recent collection of Edward Gorey’s correspondence.
—Roger Langridge has revealed a little more of what was behind his recently announced decision no longer to work for DC or Marvel.
—Derik Badman uses a critical roundtable on Wonder Woman as an excuse to take a closer look at the overlooked, underdiscussed importance of style in cartooning.
—Tom Spurgeon has the first (that I’ve seen) big interview with Joseph Remnant, the collaborator on Harvey Pekar’s Cleveland who has taken a lot of people by surprise.
—Blake Bell continues to cater to that small part of the Venn diagram where superfans of Steve Ditko and superfans of Dave Sim meet.
—Leonard Pierce writes about Pogo.
—And finally, via Mike Lynch, Jules Feiffer reads from “Boob Noir”: