September 23rd, 2007

#585: How convenient.

NYT editor rebukes MoveOn ad.

The "General betray us" ad violated NYT's corporate policy.

The ad salesman promised a Sept. 10 print date when MoveOn paid the "standby" rate and shouldn't have been promised any specific date. Not at that price, anyway; a "guaranteed run date" ad costs at least 2x as much and MoveOn got a discount of around $117,000 for its ad, paying only something like $65,000.

The language was "rough" but acceptable.

But the paper erred on the side of "free speech".


In other words, NYT did something unethical and possibly in violation of federal election laws, but it's okay because it "...err[ed] on the side of more political dialogue."

So I'm wondering: how on earth does an ad salesman end up dictating when and where corporate policy is ignored? I mean, that's a pretty sweet fricking job, if you ask me: he can sell full-page ads at 60% off list price and he doesn't have to pay attention to corporate policy when he makes promises.

The truth is, everyone responsible wanted that ad to run, and they wanted it to run on Sept 10 when General Petraeus was before Congress. Now they are simply passing the buck and doing their best to avoid the consequences.

In fact, I would argue that the editorial itself is a put-on: "See, we're being self-critical of our mistake!" NYT got caught with its hand in the cookie jar and is now trying to cover its ass. They gave a major discount to an organization they support; they didn't expect this to come out, and they sure didn't expect it to become as big a story as it has become.

The telling point would be whether or not that salesman keeps his job. Most places, a salesman who did something like that would probably be fired. Not only did he violate corporate policy; he basically cost the paper $117,000. But he won't be fired. Not unless the public outcry really gets bad and NYT finds itself needing a sacrificial lamb. ("Bad" meaning the Federal Election Commission decides to prosecute.)

But, more likely, nothing will happen. NYT higher-ups will privately grumble about the "sheeple" trying to act intelligent instead of shutting up and being good little consumers, and the whole mess will get swept under a rug.

And next time they'll just be a lot more careful about how they give MoveOn their "friends and family" discount.

#586: Waiting....

Potemayo 12 was posted today. Lovely Complex 22, too. And Sky Girls 11. I only found out about an hour ago, and so it's going to be a while, damn it.

Of the three, Potemayo is the furthest along, at 62%. Argh.

That'll be the last ep of Potemayo, unfortunately. Until and unless they decide to do a second season.

I'm betting that Sky Girls will end up being 26 episodes. At ep 10 the story is only just getting started; it took until then for the girls to meet their first real enemy in combat; the fourth Sky Girl is introduced in ep 11, as I recall from the omatase.

In the meantime there's a ton of anime I could be watching, but I picked up I"s volumes 13 and 14 yesterday, along with Suzuka 3, Ichigo Mashimaro 2 and 3, and Ultra Maniac 1.

...and now I learn that there is Ultra Maniac anime, after it has been licensed. Argh.

Anyway, I've read everything but I"s 14, and of course I haven't read I"s 15 yet, either, which I bought on my last foray into the bookstore. And as of volume 14, they've set up the story to go pretty much the same way it went in the anime.

At least in the manga it's set up better. I think the anime suffered because they had to cut too much.

I didn't pick up more Someday's Dreamer only because I didn't think of it. I made a quick in-out dash and didn't browse much so I could avoid doing lethal damage to my checking account, but it was a near thing. I did pause to think, "What else?" And then I took a tally of what was in my hands and said, "This is more than enough, dude," and resumed my trip to the cash register.

The Ichigo Mashimaro continues to be about the same as the anime. I'm starting to think that Nobue is a closet pedo-lesbian, though; she kissed Miu, glomped Anna at first sight ("She's mine!"), checked out Matsuri's panties, and did some other things which make me wonder about her, just a bit.... Still, it's fun to read.

Ultra Maniac is not really all that surprising, in the sense that I expected it to be entertaining and fun, since Wataru Yoshizumi is a veteran manga artist with several major series behind her (including Marmalade Boy, arguably her most famous and successful). She draws like I do I would like to; in fact, the first time I saw any of her work I thought, "Whoa, that looks like I could have drawn it!" My style aspires--completely independently of my own volition--to be like hers. (Which is really surprising, considering that my chief influence is Rumiko Takahashi.)

Ultra Maniac isn't primarily a love story, not like Marmalade Boy was, which helps; it's a fantasy about a girl who is a witch named Mimi, from the magic world, who has come to Earth for a variety of reasons. And the main character, Ayu Tataeshi, ends up having to deal with the fallout of all her magical "help". (At the end of the first volume, poor Ayu Tataeshi has been a boy twice and has had several other disastrous dweomers applied to her.) The only annoying thing is Mimi's incessant tendency to refer to herself in the third person. That gets old fast.

But it's a keeper, regardless, and I'll be getting more of it.

Suzuka continues to be interesting. It's unfortunate that Del Ray charges $14 per volume; everyone else seems to charge around $8-10, and Suzuka isn't all that much better than anything else I've been reading. In fact, "better" doesn't apply; it's "about as good".

But $13 won't break the bank, either. Certainly it's a better price than the $15+ Viz used to charge for its tankoban. Even so, $10 is still about twice what the Japanese pay for their manga, in tankoban format, and even the high end of the scale for Japanese tankoban is only about ¥700 or so.

Ultra Maniac will end up taking the place of I"s as my long-term series, I think, though I don't know how long the series is. Marmalade Boy only ran to seven volumes. I guess we'll see.

#587: Yet Another Series Idea

And this one's a spinoff.

In American Dawn, one of the supporting characters is an old senpai of Asa's--a girl named Sayoko Igarashi, who is a year older than Asa is. Sayoko makes her nature plain in AD, when she pulls a switchblade on Amanda, the primary antagonist of the series; Sayoko spells her name using kanji which mean "fast blade" even though her family name isn't anything like that.

When Asa was going to Itabashi Junior High school, she was bullied a lot because of her naturally chapatsu--"tea-colored"--hair. Itabashi had strict rules against dyed or bleached hair; since it was her natural color, Asa was in the clear, but the other girls wouldn't listen to her explanations.

The teasing stopped when Sayoko--suffering a nicotine fit after her mother had confiscated her smokes--made it clear that the teasing was over now. But how could she make it stick?

Sayoko was the founder and leader of a girl gang called the Seven Sisters.

Sayoko's gang was the first and only gang in the history of Itabashi Jr. High. It's a private school and the people who are attending that school are there because they wanted to be there. But Sayoko is not an ordinary girl, and by the time she enters 8th grade she's royally sick of the cliques and the peer pressure and the inane, vapid stupidity that is junior high. One year later, the students of Itabashi Junior High know not to annoy her. At the same time, she's managed to keep it "under the radar" so that she's not expelled; to the faculty, the Seven Sisters generally appear to be no more than a clique of seven girls from all over the school.

So that's when Asa comes in, gets bullied, and Sayoko--having recently lost a member of the gang to graduation--brings her into the group. Asa joins the gang but, when her family must move again due to her father's job, she leaves Itabashi and loses contact with Sayoko entirely. Sayoko's family moves to the US shortly after that, but Asa doesn't know that, and it's a surprise for her when she meets up with Sayoko in the US in the first several pages of American Dawn. All of this is pretty much part of the canon.

And so this evening while I was thinking a bit about Japanese names, I realized it would be interesting to have a gang of sukeban with virtuous names: Truth, Charity, Mercy, etc.

Then my brain did its little integrating trick and SubaruCo was born.

"Subaru" is, of course, the Japanese name for the Pleades, the "Seven Sisters". Japanese female names commonly end with "-ko", the kanji meaning "child". So, for example, one spelling of "Honoko" could use the kanji for "truth" and "child". And there's the pun of "Co" being short for "company".

(Oh, and Sayoko's car in the US? An Impreza WRX. A Subaru. I just remembered that detail now. My brain is insidious.)

Why not have it be a series about Sayoko's gang? It could show the beginnings of the gang, how Sayoko recruited members, etc; Asa's part in the story is not large, spanning only a few months, and it wouldn't hurt to have the tie-in. And Sayoko, I have found, is a really interesting character.

Then comes the problem of coming up with six other girls to be in her gang, of course, and good character designs for each, plus--in the tradition of sukeban stories--a signature weapon for each. (Even though they don't attend many rumbles, and most of those off-campus, because they can't afford to show up at school with injuries which would elicit inconvenient questions from the faculty.)

I'd like to work on this one. But let's face it: I'd like to work on all the projects I've got in front of me, but there are only 24 hours in a day, seven days in a week, and one of me; and I only have two hands and one brain. And a limited supply of "round tuits", come to think of it.

What I need to do is get a job as a manga editor. That way I could talk to artists in the magazine's stable and say, "So-and-so, I think you should do a story about XYZ." Of course the artist would get 99% of the credit and the money, but he'd be doing 99% of the work, too; and that way at least I'd get to read and enjoy the story without having to create it all myself. (Of course, this makes rather light of the fact that I would have to be able to fluently read, speak, and understand Japanese. Nothing is ever easy.)

As it is, I could give up everything else tomorrow, concentrate solely on drawing manga, and still never get anything accomplished. There are too many good ideas in my head which pop out at approximately random intervals, and they frequently are ideas which aren't any good for prose. In the past I tried to make them work anyway but gave up when they didn't; now at least I understand the difference between a story that will work as prose and one which will only work as manga.

SubaruCo brings the list of manga series to five:
  • American Dawn
  • Magical Angel Selene
  • Crisis Angel
  • Megumi's Diary
  • SubaruCo

...and I feel like there's one I'm forgetting.

Of the five, only American Dawn and Megumi's Diary have more than a few pages of layouts. All but SubaruCo have character designs completed and basic story frameworks constructed. I know what each one is about, how the overall plot goes, and who's who (except for the latter one, of course, since I just thought of the premise about an hour ago) but that's about it.

And that doesn't include the bits-and-pieces things I've done here and there, the germs of ideas which haven't generated enough thought to end up as series. One is about a young college girl named Shiho Murayama, who is in love with a man she's never met but whom she dreams about all the time. I never worked out how to tell the story without ever showing the mystery man's face or name; nor did I quite figure out how I wanted to show that she was dreaming everything right up until the moment she met the guy for real--oh, each chapter would have shown her going to sleep or something, and then having a dream, but I couldn't work out the mechanics of telling the story, and it really didn't catch my attention well enough to work out the flow of it. I drew several half-assed pages to noodle the idea out but I couldn't get it nailed down concretely enough to do anything serious with it. (Shiho was really cute, though.)

But I'd wager that the next time I sit down to draw, I'll find myself thinking about character designs for Charity, Truth, Mercy, et al....