Friday, September 2, 2011

Back from the Hurricane!

Welcome to the Wednesday Blog of Christopher Hart

Best-Selling Author of How-To-Draw Books on Art Instruction

If you have a passion for drawing - whether it’s manga, cartoons, comics, or the human figure – you’ve found the Blog that’s written just for you.  Every Wednesday, I’ll discuss tips on drawing; offer my analysis and predictions about the rapid changes in the publishing industry; offer advice on how to become a published artist; and, of course, give brief updates on my books. So make this a regular stop as you surf the Blog-O-Sphere. No reservations required.

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Sorry for the delay in writing the Wednesday Blog, but we were out of power for days during Hurricane Irene. The thing I missed most of all wasn't TV, or hot meals, but the internet! With it, you're connected to the world; without it, you feel as though you've disappeared.

Here's what I've been thinking about...With so much manga are available to read online, for free, what does the future hold for printed, graphic novels? Are they, like records, going to become the "Buggy Whips" of the next decade?

I don't think so. And this assessment isn't influenced by my personal preference. If there's one thing I've learned, it's that you can't allow your feelings to influence your analysis of a situation, or you'll end up with a worthless conclusion.

When I look at the experience a reader wants and enjoys from printed, graphic novels, the first thing that strikes me is that reading from a computer screen, for fun, is okay now and then. But it tends to get old. Who wants to do all of their pleasure reading at the same desk, and in front of the same computer screen, where they either do their homework or job? Reading your favorite graphic novel should be a relaxing, pleasurable experience. I can't envision a time when a reader won't want to curl up with a book, either on the couch or on the beach. Who wants to be tied to a computer when portability, and sharing books is also part of the experience?

Webcomics are great places to discover new talent. But often, they're truncated snippets of stories, offering only "teasers,"which give you only enough material to make you want to come back for more. And not every author of a webcomic is devoted to reliably updating it. So you run the risk of getting absorbed in a story, which has no ending.

Certainly, a large percentage of graphic novels will be sold as ebooks. The percentage is anyone's guess. No genre will be immune to the conversion. As the demand for more bells and whistles increases, don't doubt for a moment that the graphics will lose their static nature, become partially animated, and even offer a sound track to heighten the suspense at dramatic moments. However, the thing about manga, which is unique to this genre, is that its fans are often purists. They want their books to read right to left, in the Japanese tradition. They want accurate translations. They want it left alone. Something tells me that a good portion of manga fans will be resistant to adulterating the art form by turning it into interactive entertainment. After all, if it becomes too interactive, what have you got? Anime. And manga has never been in danger of being vanquished by anime.

Manga fans also enjoy collecting a shelf full of graphic novels. But perhaps the most persuasive element in my analysis is a subtle one: Drawings on paper have a certain appeal, which graphics in the virtual world do not. Yyes, graphic novels, like everything else in publishing, will change. But my guess is that printed graphic novels will remain a sector of the market for years to come.

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