Thursday, February 3, 2011


This is a bit of a personal post, so I don't blame you if you become disinterested and opt to read something else. But I thought it would be interesting, at least, to write about this, and I thought it was something that needed to be expressed.

When I was quite young, barely 7 years old, I remember meeting a hero of mine. He was an actor named Jon Pertwee. For those of you who don't know him, he was an incredibly popular actor, and one of his best-known roles was as the Doctor, the third one, in Doctor Who. He was renowned, and appropriately, for being larger than life in his appearances.

I remember being a bit starstruck by just seeing him. There he was, the magnificent man who was a hero of mine, a childhood hero, right there before me. When I met him, he was just as heroic and magnificent as I had seen him be on the screen. In retrospect, I realise now that it could have easily turned out differently. He could have just been presenting a certain facade on-screen that he wasn't able to maintain in person. He could have been terribly rude and disappointing in person. But he was none of those things; he was magnificent and magnanimous, and he maintained my image of him as an amazing superhero. I will never forget meeting him.

The opposite experience was when I contacted Dynamic Pro, the studio founded by Nagai Gou, who was one of my inspirations when I started making comics. Nagai Gou was responsible for pioneering series, controversial series such as Harenchi Gakuen, Devilman, and Mazinger Z. But in recent years, basically since 1990, his work has been far out of the popular eye. Most of the work he's done in the past 20 years has been short bursts, flashes in the pan, and although his work has its fans, most of the time it's under the radar of the mainstream. The manga never last too long. The anime based off them tend to operate on the premise that once upon a time, the title or character was popular. It's sad, but I started to understand when I contacted them.

Ishikawa Ken, Nagai sensei's partner in Dynamic Pro, passed away a few years ago. Since then, Nagai himself has been more or less retired, barely doing any real manga work. I don't blame him. After contacting Dynamic Pro, I can understand why; I contacted them after doing some very strong comic work in Japan and thought that, since internet-based work was gaining popularity at the time, perhaps I could speak to someone and do something for them with some minor characters that were scarcely used even in their own series, and never appeared since. It wouldn't be a great amount of extra work for me, and it would bring Dynamic Pro more acclaim and attention, even if only because it would be an international collaboration. Those are always good for attention.

The response I got was unbelievably rude. I don't remember the man's name who replied to me, although I feel sure I've seen his name somewhere or another. He was incredibly rude and could barely communicate in English, but insisted upon writing in it, despite the fact that I had written him in Japanese. I'm sure he probably thought I didn't understand how rude he was being, since he assumed I hadn't had much experience in communicating in Japanese due to my American email address, but he was very wrong.

It was humiliating and depressing, chiefly because he seemed to think that Dynamic Pro were on a level with Disney, and apparently he had no idea that Dynamic Pro had barely any output to speak of in the past entire decade. As a former fan, it made me feel embarrassed and ashamed for the studio that Nagai Gou had founded, because that was his name, and it was being dragged through the dirt in this way.

Even a cursory flick through web searches makes it perfectly clear how outre Dynamic Pro has become in the Japanese mind, to say nothing of the rest of the world; other than Italy, Nagai sensei's work is all but unknown, and even there it is only embraced in the form of the 70s. I used to wonder why this was so, but now I think I understand: it is the incredible arrogance and egotism of Dynamic Pro's dealing with people. Now that Nagai sensei is mostly retired, Dynamic Pro mainly rides on his coattails. Ishikawa sensei passed away with a respectable following and series of successes, but that and Nagai sensei's past work cannot sustain a studio that feels no need to continue or to innovate.

I used to be an avid fan of Nagai sensei's, but I see no reason to support Dynamic Pro further. They are not Nagai sensei, merely his assistants and embellishers, and it's also clear that they have never really applied their abilities in order to uphold his good name. Is there any reason to maintain a studio if they fail to produce anything at all, and above all that they fail to maintain the respectability of the name of their founder?

So there you have it, my two widely varying experiences with childhood heroes. Jon Pertwee will forever remain a godlike figure amongst men, an unforgettable encounter with stars in my eyes that stayed there, affixed like a cosmic firmament. Dynamic Pro will forever be a disappointment, tinting my respect for Nagai Gou, who formerly occupied a position of great respect and heroism, and who now merely maintains one of pity.

There are many different ways to address fans, whether in a professional capacity or otherwise. And it makes all the difference in the world.

I just thought I might share this with you, as it's important to me and something that tends to come to mind. I'm sure many have had similar experiences. Above all, I hope that it can be informative and interesting to you, and perhaps educational too, in the way you comport yourself when dealing with your own fans and those who regard you highly.


  1. It is just awful how sometimes people fail to appreciate those that helped them achieve what they have.

    For any creative person the fans truly are the ones to help us get where we need to be or feel we have achieved what we want to.

    I once wrote to a publisher and gushed to them, I ended up getting two free books of them. That was sheer awesome, not as much a fan now since I've collected as many books as I can afford to haha
    Another time I contacted an author directly and she was so nice...

    I seem to have luck when it comes to people I find to be my heroes.

    I even ended up visiting one and had the time of my life!

    I know people can be spurned however, it is awful when that does happen. Bad impressions last a lifetime and unfortunately it is hard to disassociate people from the people they end up working for.

    Better to have a dozen well meaning and close fans, than thousands that you are more likely to let down when they have no input in a sense.
    Though... in the other... bring on the thousands that will buy things! hahaha

    I'm joking saying that... but.. others I suppose take it as literal.

  2. You're very right in so many ways! And your comments are so sweet, thank you!

    I think that as long as you have enough fans that can support your work, it's better to have them there and know that you can rely on them than it is having legions of fans that will drop you like a hot potato when the next best thing comes along. Then you're left to struggle, usually unsuccessfully, to try and find something to win them back. With mangaka over time, it often seems to be that they will have a hit series, then flounder about for years once the series is over or the public got tired of it (or both) until they end up going back to their former hit and making a zombie out of it in a desperate attempt to recapture that success.

    That's pretty much the story of what Dynamic Pro are doing with Nagai sensei's work. Except it's not a case of the creator himself doing it, it's a case of completely unrelated people attempting to do it for their own gratification. And that really bothers me.

    When you have dedicated fans who will actually support you, and want to do can't start getting a god complex or something, especially when you haven't done anything to warrant it! It's truly tragic, especially in the Dynamic Pro situation; I had barely even mentioned anything when he started his tirade, and this person had nothing to do with anything creative the studio had put out...clearly just a pencil-pusher. It's infuriating when people who aren't actually a part of the output cop an attitude as if they are.

    And honestly, why put a contact address if you don't want to be contacted? It seems like a waste of time, and it only makes enemies of the people who were once dedicated fans and supporters. I will never really understand that approach to dealing with fans. I just don't think it's right.

    The whole situation was just so boggling and so bizarre. Even with the cultural difference, it was incomprehensible. I'm familiar enough with Japanese people and dealing with them to know, but this was just...this was the kind of garbage you hear about happening in the 70s or something. Certainly not in this generation.

    I suppose, though, after so many good, positive meetings with figures I admired, there was bound to be one that went poorly. Not that I actually even got to contact Nagai sensei directly, which is a shame. I wanted to tell him how much I had enjoyed his work.

    It's just a shame that things are like that sometimes. It makes me think, which is why I felt it would be worthwhile to talk about it here. It's something worth thinking about, especially to creative people and those who actually do have to think about how they deal with fans and friends.

    In this day and age where celebrities of even the slightest, most inconsequential kind are elevated to some sort of entitled, separated caste, it bears thinking about whether this is really a creative passion, or a job, or simply some kind of bizarre superiority fantasy.

    Or whether it's someone thinking himself great simply by association. It's like when people are linked to celebrities by marriage or blood, and people somehow associate them with the good feelings or bad feelings they have for that celebrity. Association simply does not make a person great. If they were not the ones who worked for that greatness, no amount of blood or sex in the world will bestow it upon them.

    But enough rambling, this is self-indulgent enough as it is. :) Thank you for commenting, and thank you for reading!

  3. Oh indulge! Trust me, this is your blog, and at least to me you are making a lot of sense.

  4. This post is a little distressing for me, being something of a Dynamic Pro fanboy. I know the company's been resting on their laurels for a while now, something I'm quite critical of, but that kind of unprofessionalism really hurts the image I have of them.

    I just hope it doesn't reflect Nagai and the late Ishikawa's actual views... everything I've read from them in interviews and notes made them seem super-humble and overall great guys.