(Weekly comics digest)
You may or may not be aware of this, but the medium of comics has something of an image problem in this country. The popular perception of a comics reader is basically Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons: an overweight and deeply unattractive social inadequate, male, emotionally retarded, who probably still lives with his Mum. This appalling negative stereotype is all the more tragic for its sheer wrong-headedess; the average comics reader is in fact a lot more like your ever-loving blue-eyed reviewer: a suave sexy motherfucker who could kick your ass without breaking a sweat, and still lives with his Mum. It is a source of great consternation amongst the suave sexy motherfucker community that we seem to be stuck with this regrettable cultural ghettoisation. An example that is often held up by way of contrast is that of Japan, where comics are read by all sections of society from salaryman to schoolgirl, and in massive numbers. I have grown up with this shining mythical image of a tube train in Japan with all the passengers reading comics openly, without fear of social exclusion or reprisal sarcasm. And I have always wanted to be on that train, to be one of those passengers.
I was enormously happy then to be able to tick one box off the 'lifelong dream' list when I boarded a train back to my hotel on the Ginza line, clutching the copy of Young Jump I had recently bought at the station shop from a very nice newsagent man who had seemed awfully concerned and had gone out of his way to make clear to me that the comic I was buying was, you know, in Japanese.
I am pleased to report that there were indeed salarymen, schoolgirls and indeed old ladies sitting reading comics. And, taking Young Jump as an example (it seemed a fairly popular choice), I can offer the following TOP FIVE reasons why comics in Japan enjoy such fantastic success compared to the anglo-american varieties.
1) They're CHEAP!
2) They're BIG and FAT!
3) They're VARIED!
4) They're FUCKING UNBELIEVABLY WELL DRAWN!
5) They have TITS IN!
Anyway. One lifelong dream down. Now I just need to win the DMC world championships, attain the power of flight, meet Thelonious Monk and persuade Kitty Pryde to stop being a fictional character and come out for a drink. But where to start?