Monthly Archives: December 2009

Update from Columbia

Hey everyone,
I am having a great time in Columbia, it is really a much more exciting country than most would think. Things are pretty safe in terms of going out and doing touristy things, although a governor from one of the Columbian departments (read: states) was kidnapped and assassinated while we’ve been here. It’s hard to feel shaken by it since he was in a department far away from where we are and one that is closer to the FARC-controlled areas. Clearly FARC is only bothering with bigwigs and not tourists like us, although it’s a shame there’s still some drug-related problems here.

Bogota was a lot of fun to be in. I mentioned on Twitter a particular restaurant outside the city called Andres Carnes de Res. It is like Disneyland if Disneyland was about eating, drinking and partying (read: dancing.) It seats over 3000, which boggles the mind in terms of logistics, but they have it organized well enough that the food is still fantastic and the service is not too bad either.

Also in Bogota is a fantastic Gold Museum (Museo de Oro in Spanish) that shows how the pre-columbian (meaning before the times of the conquistadores if you are confused) people worked, revered and wore their gold. In contrast to Peru and the Incan and Pre-Incan cultures I am used to, it was a lot different. The actual gold-working techniques came from Peru, but the pre-columbians in Columbia made amazingly detailed small objects while the Peruvian cultures went for bigger more dramatic pieces embedded with precious stones. Still, the Museo de Oro in Bogota was fascinating. My mother and I expected to go for an hour and wound up spending three whole hours there. We aren’t really museum people, so that is saying a lot.

Another museum in Bogota I would like to mention is the Botero museum. Obviously, Botero is one of the Columbia’s most famous figures after Shakira, Juanes and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. His art style is absolutely fascinating and the famously fat figures he paints are not just his default style, but a commentary on various social figures, events and institutions. One of my favorite paintings is one of a blonde archangel done in the style of Cusqueña art (which is a religious art style based in Cuzco, Peru that supplied all of Latin America with religious art in the colonial times. The Peruvian side of my family used to have a large collection of Cusqueña art, so I became very interested in it via interest in my family’s history.) My mother’s favorite was the fat Mona Lisa. Also housed in the museum is a collection of other surrealist paintings and sculptures by other famous artists, which Botero owned. There were paintings and sculptures by Picasso, Chagall, Toulouse-Lautrec, Degas Dali and many many others, which was a lovely addition to the extensive catalog of Botero’s works.

Now we are in Cartagena and have had a wonderful time so far. We went to a private island hotel in the Caribbean sea and went swimming and snorkeling all day. It was a lot of fun, even though I’m not a beach person at all! The snorkeling was just fantastic. The old city of Cartagena de los Indios is also very beautiful and it reminds me of Havana, Cuba if Havana had been allowed to keep all it’s old architectural glory instead of falling to ruins under Castro’s rule. (Yes, I’ve been to Cuba! It has been awhile though.) There are lots of little side streets and places to explore, it’s like a very exciting labyrinth. The old city is actually a walled city because of Sir Francis Drake, who I’m sure you all remember in your elementary school history books as being one of the great “explorers” of the New World. Well, here he’s regarded as a dirty pirate! Since this used to be a Spanish colony, when Sir Francis Drake, under Spain’s worst enemy, England, attacked the city, looted it and almost burnt it down. Let’s just say history books here probably don’t regard Sir Francis too kindly.

Other than that, I’ve been fighting off stomach problems (yogurt helps if you ever have stomach problems in foreign countries by the way) and a sore throat (somehow, magically, in constant 85 degree weather and 40% humidity of Cartagena, I got a sore throat/cold.)

I’ve also determined that Columbia does have something of a comic book subculture, but that it is something of a rich city kid’s thing. Other than that, the country is in a state where Dragonball and other such anime programs are airing on TV, which has fueled a small interest in the related toys and card games. Beyond that, I don’t think most of the country is aware of anime or manga at all.

We have a few more days in Cartagena and then we move onto Medellin for New Year’s Eve. I am kind of looking forward to the cooler weather and whatnot. Medellin is also Botero’s hometown so I’m sure we will get to see more of his fabulous artwork. Then it will be time to come home! I’ve had a lot of fun, but I would definitely like to go home soonish and be able to share all my great photos with you.

I hope everyone had a great Christmas (btw, Columbian Christmas decorations are way better than the ones in the U.S. They have seriously outclassed us in that aspect.) and will have a happy New Year as well.

Cíao!

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Manga as a worldwide phenomenon + Hiatus

Hi everyone, blogging from Bogota, Columbia right now. We just got here a few hours ago, but it´s fairly late at night and everything´s closed.

I know everyone´s first reaction is going to be: WHY ARE YOU IN COLUMBIA?! You´re going to get yourself killed! Actually, a lot of the nasty drug business moved up to Mexico recently so Columbia is relatively safe. Also, my mother is a tour operator and I´ve been traveling with her since I was 2 years-old. We´re here for business the first few days and then a group of clients will be meeting us.

Enough about Columbia and why I´m here. I want to talk about manga as a truly worldwide phenomenon. I haven´t been to every single country and I know for a fact that a lot of countries probably don´t have anything close to a comic book publishing industry, let alone a manga publishing industry. Some countries just leach off the industries in more prosperous neighboring countries. BUT I have been to a lot of places and found manga in some of the most random ones.

Unsurprisingly, China has manhua, but they also publish manga from Japan. I´ve got quite a number of magazines and tankoubon in Chinese. I´ve also got a few from Taiwan that my mother picked up for me. She actually had a comic book store employee help her pick out age appropriate manga for me, so I got a lot josei titles!!

Probably a lesser known fact is that Argentina has a thriving manga and anime culture. I found manga like Card Captor Sakura and Fushigi Yuugi sold at newsstands. I visited about 7 years ago, a few years after they´d had a very bad economic depression. The country as a whole was starting to recover and otaku culture was taking off, but neighboring Uruguay was utterly desolate. So desolate that horse-carts were being driven around in the capital city of Montevideo. But we stumbled into a mall and I found a comic book shop that had some copies of D.N. Angel as well as a few other manga! It was such a strange contrast.

When I lived in Cuba for a summer when I was 14, I went to an arts market and found some comic books on the subject of Cuban hero Jose Martin. A local noticed my interest in comic books and stopped me outside the market, even though it was probably slightly dangerous for him to interact with two Americans. It turned out he LOVED manga. He showed me some pages he´d drawn in a very 80´s cyberpunk style and I gave him a couple of copies of Angel Sanctuary in Japanese. I´m sure he still has those manga because I´m sure Cuba still has a bunch of restrictions on what gets published in Cuba. I was super happy to give them to him and he was positively estatic to get them.

When you think about it, it´s truly amazing. Manga really is worldwide.

Unfortunately, it´s time for me to put this blog back on another hiatus. I`ll make a report if I find any manga here, but we´ll be pretty busy once the group gets here.

I´m really sorry guys! I miss blogging, this is just a busy time for me! See you soon! Hopefully

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I’m graduating! (Check out my cool cap!)

I’m graduating from college today, I thought I’d share my graduation cap, which I decorated last night.

graduation cap

Sparkles and hearts added where appropriate!

Don’t you think it suits me? XD

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Short Hiatus

Hi everyone,

I am sick. Definitely sick. Plus it’s my finals week and even though I have two finals that will be almost exactly the same, I need to devote my time to them. And I have to finish my senior project. Then I have to graduate and move out of my apartment. All within the next week.

I hate to do this because I’ll be taking another hiatus soon to go to Columbia with my mother, but I clearly only have enough energy and moments of clarity to focus on studying.

I do have an awesome post planned, so please forgive me for being human, having a life and not being immune to disease.

Much Love,
Daniella

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EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Lillian Diaz-Przybyl

So, since this blog is for a multimedia class and all, I needed to do an audio project!
The local comic book store I originally intended to interview turned down my request for a short interview, so I asked my professor if I could put this part of my project off and potentially interview my former internship supervisor, Lillian Diaz-Przybyl, who you all know is Tokyopop’s senior editor.

Luckily, Lillian let me interview her quickly before she left on a trip to Japan, where she and Stu Levy did their Tokyopop Insider on Wednesday.

It’s just a short interview, nothing too special. I intended it to give some insight into Lillian’s job as an editor, so it doesn’t include anything on the whole scanlators v. pro translators debate that’s been going on. (I plan to post more about it later.) Regardless, I hope it is insightful as to what Lillian does.

http://www.zshare.net/audio/69397612c701a0c2

Also, if anyone is wondering, this is the last assignment for the aforementioned class. I could stop blogging after this if I wanted to, but I’ve had so much fun, I plan to continue blogging as long as I can. Again, I will post more on this later.

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Geek not Greek Project Debuts!

Some of you may remember all the posts I’ve made with various multimedia components called Geek not Greek.

Well, those posts were a part of a larger project I’ve been doing for another class (seperate from the one I created this blog for.)

The project, called Geek not Greek, is about showcasing vibrant geek communities that shatter the still way-too-prevalent stereotype that geeks are anti-social and can’t make friends.

I had initially wanted to cover all the geeky clubs at my university, but I wasn’t able to. Instead, I decided to focus on the one that has meant the most to me: Minna no Anime.

It’s quite small for now since I only had a small about of time to focus on the project, but I would love to add more about other geek communities in the future.

Enjoy!

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Tokyopop Insider LiveBlog and Commentary

Unofficial Tokyopop Insider LiveBlog

Ok, so just to let you know, it’s not a word-for-word transcript of the Tokyopop Insider with Q&A with CEO Stu Levy, but it does include some interesting stuff.

I kind of feel the need to talk about Tokyopop a little right now because I know a LOT of people have bad opinions about the company and how it handles things. I know I’m biased because I’ve interned for them and hope to get hired by them in the future, but you have to realize a few things…

1. Tokyopop and it’s employees try really hard to publish great content. But, in publishing, every book released has a high risk of failure and Tokyopop has had a lot of failures. Unlike Viz, they are not backed by a larger publishing giant and they don’t have titles like Naruto or Bleach that are so wildly successful that they can breathe easy. Fruits Basket, their big money-maker title, is over. They don’t have anything to fall back upon if their sales go down the tubes. Is that Tokyopop’s fault? Perhaps, but not for lack of trying to get it right. Business ventures fail all the time and force companies to work on lower levels than they would prefer to be working on. You wish they could help it, as a fan, but if you look at it from their side, they can’t always do so.

2. Tokyopop made some really big mistakes and they know it. They essentially released WAY too much content at a time when the market wasn’t able to support it. They had to stop publishing a LOT of titles because they just couldn’t publish that much all at once. If they had been more moderate in their growth, it probably wouldn’t have hurt them as much, but if you had something really hot to sell, you’d probably make the same mistake. Now, they don’t have the choice, even though they really want to publish the next volumes of all the series they had to postpone. Hindsight is 20-20. Take for example, the huge investment they made in OEL titles. Since they couldn’t make money from it, they cut what they couldn’t afford. It sucks that they burned a lot of bridges that way, but I don’t think they wanted to.  They were just trying to make smart business decisions.  If you remember the small uproar about their paper choices, that was because they had a choice between choosing bad paper or no paper at all. No paper would have meant no manga and I’m sure that would have been a much bigger problem.

3. All the people at Tokyopop are actually really nice people. I should know, I spent three solid months working with them. They were always sweet to me and they trusted me even though I was just a little intern. Sure, I did my best to earn their trust, but they were above and beyond nice. When I left to go back to school in September, they bought me a cake and gave me a really touching send-off that brought a tear to my eye. But I knew they were nice people the day that interviewed with them for the internship. I felt at home with them. They kind of get this rep as the big bad manga publishing company. Maybe they were at some point, but they’ve had a lot of changes in their company and their business. Now they’re entirely different and they want to do what’s best for everyone. That’s why you’re seeing them slowly return to publishing series that were on semi-hiatus. It’s because YOU  told them that you want a certain series back and because taking their time is better for them financially. Either way, they’re a company that has tried to embrace the changes they are going through and react the best ways they possibly can.

I wish I could tell you that they absolutely will do better, that they will release the next volumes to all the series you want to read. But they might not. What you absolutely must remember, though, is that they want to bring you what you want. I’m really hoping that the print on demand is successful. Not only would it allow readers to get titles that are older, out of print, etc., but it would allow the company to give you what you want at less cost to them, which means they can give you more of what you want. A standard print run isn’t cheap, you know.

I think this is the time that we should really show Tokyopop what we want from them. Now is when they’re eager to please the fans. If we make our voices heard, they will listen. The Tokyopop Insiders they have done really show that. Every single one has had Q&A in order to get you to ask them what you want. We should tell them in no uncertain terms. We should not be afraid to ask for this or that. We should be vocal because it will get us a lot farther than just grumbling that Tokyopop sucks.

If you still want to say Tokyopop sucks, say WHY they suck. Then Tokyopop can take that and change. Just because you said so. Wouldn’t it be nice if Tokyopop listened to you? I think it would. But it won’t if you only say they suck and don’t explain why you think so! You’ve got to remember, that we are who Tokyopop is trying to sell stuff to. It helps them spend money on us if they know what we want.

I also want to apologize for misspelling Lillian Diaz-Przybyl’s name in the liveblog transcripts. I can’t go back and edit them, but one of my unfortunate grammar quirks is switching words and letters. I constantly have to edit for this quirk and sometimes I can’t catch it as I type something quickly.

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