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.