Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Katie Huang's new con is now called SMASH which is a cool title but I'm getting a bit confused and whilst its easy to criticise when things are at the early stages, its important to pick these things apart before 'disasters' occur down the line.

I don't get the point of not being an Artist-Centric convention - from what i can tell, SMASH was borne from the costly expense of having an artist alley table at Animania and to a lesser degree the expense of entry. Admirable - and whilst i doubt the organisers of Animania are basking in the warm rays of Thailand out of con season - i do think its close minded and short-term thinking to have Artist Alley subsidise con costs. So moves for cheaper AA tables is awesome.

However, i'm assuming that by not being artistic-centric its going to be a regular con with dealers, screenings and cosplay. Besides cheaper entry cost what is going to seperate this con from the already established and supported (in terms of dealers) Animania?
I was hoping this would be more Comiket than a regular Pop Culture Convention. It seems, at this early point, that SMASH is trying to go in direct competition with an established convention instead of filling in a gap in the market - an endevour fraught with danger, especially when there is no budget.
And on the note that this will be manga/anime con and not Western comic like Supanova seems a bit restrictive. Besides the fact that Supanova is pretty manga heavy - (this might confuse the organisers at times) - but at least half the exhibitors and dealers are manga related - only the majority of guests come from western pop culture, is about market.
With such a cheap entry price it will be all about volume - getting people through the door and sure cheap entry will help but closing off the con to part of the market/audience because of some notion of west/east style and genre "differences" seems to be work against profitability. Plus will someone be inspecting comics for a level of mangasence?
"Eyes are too small - denied!""Not enough panty shots - denied!"" "Too many panels per page - denied!"
To quote a wiseman "manga is japanese for comics"
Also as a pseudo-publisher/australian fanboy - regular anime/manga cons centred around dealers, screenings and to a lesser degree cosplay seem to just enforce the Japan-centric nature of manga. The idea that unless its from Japan - it just doesn't count isn't too helpful for australian creators of manga/comics. Having a heavy emphasis on local work would maybe change this concept for the betterment of everyone.

but its early days


Komala said...

I felt kind of guilty over posting about it on PF after seeing those new entries, but I asked her about it this morning to find out what her reasoning was. From what she explained to me, she did it to make sure the people pledging their support knew what kind of event it was shaping up to be and to make sure that support wasn't half-hearted.

I'll read any kind of comic and I love meeting other people who feel the same way, but as far as the buying public goes it's probably realistic to assume that most people are stuck in one genre and like it that way.

I'll point Katie this-a-way next time I see her online... maybe she can clarify things a bit!

Mark Selan said...

Don't feel guilty - its all early days and i think some criticism can be healthy. At least this dialogue will make it clear for everyone and we can all move forward.

And yeah, i'll read anything and comic people are the best kind of people, even the mouthj breathing green lantern reading kids.
But its a matter of exposure - showing thatlocal comics are just as good or even better than the import stuff - even if they have to be held down and forced to read.

Anonymous said...

Hey mark, I read this and I agree. It's sorta strange.

I think oztaku guy Avi or whoever was trying to organize all the manga artists to sit next to each other in a row in artists alley at supanova this year or something as the "manga" portion or "manga alley" I think. When I read that, it struck me as bit odd, and if I had never met avi and were the extremely cynical sort, it almost seems a little elitist with a sense that people who draw manga shouldn't hobnob on the con-floor with any other art style/discipline, which is really not what it's all about, it's all about getting together and diggin' each other's work and keeping it diverse, as you say manga is japanese for COMICS, ha ha.

So yeah, it's looking like a bit of a disquieting trend is going on here and it can only be detrimental in the long run rather than positive if it gets out of hand like in those extreme yet funny cases that you pointed out.

Constructive criticism and dialouge is important in these matters and should be encouraged.


your fan


Katie Huang said...

Thank you Mark, for putting so much thought into the convention and I really appreciate it.

However, I'd say making the convention artist-centric isn't a very good idea in terms of attracting the crowds.

Due to my background, our convention cannot be helped but being a lot more artist-focused than Animania, However if we want to make the convention completely artist-centric(Like Doujicon), it means we have to take away all the vendors and cosplay competition that attracts the most crowd in the anime genre.and the amount of comic-art interested crowd won't match the amount we lose on the general anime fans. anime-fans won't come since they feel the convention is not catered to them. The reality is that only around 30% of Animania fans show up at Supanova.

For some reason that I cannot understand the anime fans just don't show up at a comic-manga convention like Supanova and think Animania is "the only con".If all the anime fans are willing to go to Supanova, I wouldn't need to go through so much trouble to make a con. I'd rather sit back at home and do my comics!

To me the matter is as simple as "Animania is too expensive, I'll just go to Supanova", and if everyone thinks like me, Animania will be forced to lower its price because thay are competing with Supanova and Supanova is much bigger and cheaper and better.

SMASH-Sydney Manga and Anime SHow is to provide an alternative to anime fans that think Animania is too expensive, by making it artist centric, we'll lose the original target group we are aiming for.

I perfectly agree with you saying "Manga is just the Japanese word for Comics", but sadly the group I'm trying to target don't think that way (for some weird reason).

I hope this makes our identity clear to you.

Mark Selan said...

LFW - I think its doubly odd when really there aren't that many artists that don't have a little bit of manga in their art, but then again 'manga' art is so wide and varied quite honestly its a bullshit label. I wish i was smart and could google up a Ozcomics thread where Avi talks about manga art and its characteristics and it was stuff like 'panels per page' and 'eye size' - so i tebnd to take his opinion with a grain of salt and a roll of my eyes.
but thanks - your fan - Mark

Katie - I really like the idea and started to ponder, because that's what i do. i think my problem is that i forget not everyone loves australian comics and their creators as much as me.
I think having a regular anime-con doesn't necessarily mean that it can't have a large emphasis on Artist alley. i think my main point is without offering something different you are going to have problems competing with Animacon without money. Looking at your resources - you have access to artists, it might involve some convincing but its a matter of how to use that resource to would entice people to come visit. Off the top of my head Artists get free tables if they provide 1 hour of their time providing free sketches to patrons (patrons get a free sketch on entry) - sure its a bit 'kids get free face painting' but their is a reason why fairs offer face painting. Its a matter of offering something different.

a different Mark said...

Normally I'm not really a commenter but that really is a can o' worms post there. Damn, there are a few fine points brought up.

The lack of definition of the manga genre is old hat but always gets people fired up, myself included. A friend commented recently that some of work looked manga influenced and I was surprised. I think the comment was more due to that person's increased exposure to a large variety manga rather than the art itself. The line between manga and western comic-art is becoming increasingly blurred.

Trying to convince low population density cultures (Oz) to attend conventions is the barrier that makes artist-centric cons infeasible. Perhaps it will occur in the future but maybe it needs a few years to occur. Doujicon felt like a flop for non-manga artists. The crowd was disinterested and the artists looked unlively and bored due to the lack of attention. I'd love to see a solution to the problem but don't have one myself.