Buying American, Japan bashing in the post-industrial

Image by Chris Vangompel

UPDATE: It appears I was mistaken, and this was all just a clever ruse. I rescind my offer and reactionary knee jerk reaction.

What? Something wrong happened on the Internet? Well LOOK OUT BLOGOSPHERE BECAUSE I’M A SHARK AND I JUST CAUGHT THE SCENT OF BLOOD.

No, I’m not talking about SOPA or PIPA, which are both very big things too that people should look into (as my being funny depends on stealing the works of others to use on my blog).

According to a post on BleedingCool.com, there’s a comic shop called A Comic Shop in Florida that came up with a clever form of viral marketing — one that is similar to a woman throwing a cat in the litter bin.

I’ll let the ad itself speak for itself.

Courtesy of BleedingCool.com

So I can take my useless mangoes and get myself a travesty of a reboot that turned off an entire generation of female comic fans and perpetuates a male centric view of popular culture? That sounds amazing.

Oh, huh, what do you know. Courtesy of 4chan.org circa November 2008

Though, to be absolutely fair, I am rather perturbed that the ad openly says “Robama,” which I can only assume is a cooler and more robotic version of our President. Is that in reference to Cyborg from Teen Titans on that poster there? Is the ad seriously just coupling a cyborg teen superhero with the President of the United States based on the fact they’re both black? I hope not, but why not just throw him in with some random black dude on a skateboard.

Well, Robama is catchy, so I’ll let that slide (for now).

You know what bothers me though? It’s that this ad is asking me to trade in a volume of manga I own for a copy of American comics in some fit of nationalist pride. It reminds me of anti-Japanese sentiments in the 1980s when the U.S. automotive industry was reeling (due to really badly made cars) and calling out the Japanese automotive industry as some sort of perilous enemy to American industry.

First of all, I buy my fair share of good American comics; stuff by Adrian Tomine and Larry Hama, or even comics by non-Nikkei guys like Andrew Hussie, Zach Weiner and Bill Amend. I like American comics for what they are and I like my Japanese manga for being manga. It’s not like I prefer one over the other. What I see here is like MGM telling me I should trade in my collection of Mission Impossible DVDs for the new Bond films with Daniel Craig; they’re similar but totally different.

This ad is disgusting and an insult to fans of comics, manga or not. The very fact that the ad is venturing to promote itself on the assumption that people will gladly hand over their manga (which costs anywhere from about $7 to $25) for a thin packet of pages that costs about $3 sounds elitist at best. The fact it says “Limit one per American citizen,” makes me wonder if those working at this shop will ask me to produce my birth certificate if I were to take them up for their offer. I can only imagine, as I’m not about to fly to Florida, nor am I about to even spare them of my first volume of Avalon High Coronation (a collector’s item!) from the late TokyoPop.

To be clear, while DC Comics is not directly responsible for the ad, they did approve and pay 75 percent of the costs. It makes one wonder if DC Comics is just that desperate to get rid of their reboot or if they fear the Japanese manga industry enough to start an attack campaign. In any case, I’m not all that interested in purchasing their new line any time soon, this ad not withstanding.

Anyway, I would like to ask that if A Comic Shop is so brash to think that it is okay to be prejudiced against non-American art-forms for the sake of some distorted sense of Nationalistic pride, to kindly remove themselves from the Internet at once. In turn, I’ll buy a copy of The New 52. That sounds like a fair deal. I’m sure they want to get rid of their copies somehow — I’ll help out.

About Tomo Hirai

For more than half a decade, Tomo Hirai has whittled his time away playing video games and reading comics. He has been writing about Japanese pop-culture since his start at the Nichi Bei Times working on Anime/Manga special issues.

Comments

  1. e m says:

    First of all it’s not “free”. it’s a trade-in. a trade for something worth more than what you are receiving.
    which is probably what the store owners planned as they sell those manga trade-ins for at least half the cover price.

    Secondly, what does Jim Lee think of how his cover art is being used.

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