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Jeez, don't take this personally, but that's a really ugly cover. Which really surprises me because most of the books I've seen associated with your work are brilliantly designed. Well, except for ANIME POSTER ART. I'm sorry but that's a really really bad designed book cover.

Whoever's doing the art direction on your magazine covers is getting paid way too much. Here's a tip: limit the colors of your fonts to one or two colors at the most. I know it's tempting to use every crayon in the box, but when it comes to eye catching design less is more in most cases. And I like Gunbuster, too. But that illo is way WAY too busy. Way too much crap going on behind all that text, no focus, just a lot of noise that distracts the eye.

Honest, if I saw this on the news stand and didn't know you were the EIC I wouldn't even open it to see what was inside. It's that bad looking.

Was this something that was just thrown together by committee or something at the last minute? What goes on here?
-danno!

I don't have final say on the cover design. American standards for graphic design are perilously low. That's all I'm going to say about that.

It could be my standards for graphic design are just too high...

It could be that graphic design is subjective, but yeah, I have high standards too. And as amazing as the layout in my books is, barely anyone ever comments on the design aspects of them, ever.

I've come to accept that most people, especially those who aren't involved in publishing/media, simply don't think about it very much. Not to say that shitty design doesn't affect them on some level, just that there are those who are extremely sensitive to design, and those who don't really care.

*I* comment on the layout in Patrick's books. Anyone would be fortunate to have Izumi Evers on a project--when it came to PULP, what we were trying to say in words, Izumi tried to say with her design work.

It's not just a matter of laying down text and pictures. To make a magazine or book about pop culture means talking about them in a certain way, presenting them in a certain way--otherwise you could just reprint the press release. Especially with visual culture (and J-rock, like all rock, has looks, too), you don't want to just do the picture equivalent of reprinting the PR. You want to engage the material. A design voice is as important as an editorial voice.

But it is probably true that more people care about art than design per se. For example, when I look at artists' alleys these days, I see a fair amount of drawing talent, but rarely anyone who seems as interested in design (Bruce Lewis has always been a prominent exception in this regard).

Even many professionals in manga and anime aren't particularly interested in it. Nobody says they have to be--people are looking first for a drawing or painting style they like, and an interesting design secondarily. You may not miss a good design when it isn't there--but once you see it, you're glad it is there. COWBOY BEBOP and (sometimes) EVANGELION had excellent animation, but both had pure design motifs without which the shows would be less memorable. In manga, Housui Yamazaki is a very talented artist with fine linework, yet titles such as THE KUROSAGI CORPSE DELIVERY SERVICE and MAIL benefitted by bringing in a progressive outside designer, Bunpei Yorifuji, to take an original approach to the covers.

Think that's a busy cover? Go look at CoroCoro comic covers as seen in Schodt's Dreamland Japan. But, I also concur that the green & blue in the bottom left is unnecessary and the design is text-heavy overall. However, since your mag is polybagged, I imagine they're just afraid people will pass it by if they don't have an idea of the content. The big question is why after the sad and pathetic devolution of Animerica from quality mag to a 7 1/2" shell of its former self would Master Macias decide to unleash another anime-heavy mag on an American fandom that is increasingly uninterested in paying for things they can get for free. I appreciate it, of course, but America's tastes have disappointed me before.
/end ramble
---
Most people don't understand art & design, like when people talk about anime and use the word "animation" to describe things unrelated to movement, like character design.

If only there were a magazine of some kind that could educate the masses...

>an American fandom that is increasingly uninterested in paying for things they can get for free.

Like manga, right?

Good art direction can turn a great drawing or painting into something that transcends the original. A good design and layout communicates to the reader as much as the text it supports.

Makes me wanna put together a new zine.
-d!

GUNBUSTER 2 is one of an ever-lengthening list of things where I eventually came around to Patrick's point of view. I do wanna say that I like that particular piece of art used on the cover, the way it tries its best to make Casio look like some kind of burning fiery blood hero. Am I the only one who thinks he's in fact based in Kazuya Tsurumaki himself?

>an American fandom that is increasingly uninterested in paying for things they can get for free.

Like manga, right?
---
I was talking about the articles, actually. Videogame magazines are on a slippery slope, for example, despite massive interest in games, because you can get everything they offer plus demos and HD videos online, free and legit. Sales for some manga & anime might be relatively high, but like Animenation's Ask John says "American consumers just seem to have very narrow taste in anime, and have developed a resistance to effectively supporting anime." Naruto fans might be in the millions in the US, but I'm pretty sure each volume's sales doesn't reflect that.

"The focus of anime in America has shifted away from American fans supporting a small, struggling industry to a perception of the industry existing to satisfy the whims of consumers. The sentiment of anime being a two-way street has given way to a perception of anime being a one-way distributor to consumer product that will exist with or without consumer reciprocation."
http://www.animenation.net/news/askjohn.php?id=1584

You had me until you trotted out "Ask John" for backup...

Well, I don't think that cover is a total trainwreck, but it is more busy and cluttered than it really needs to be, but I r not an art person so I doubt my comment has any validity...

OTOH I compare it to vintage Terebi Land and other monthly and weekly Japanese mags and....frankly, it looks about the same.

It's easy to be spoiled by '80s Animage and Newtype magazines with the clean text and powerful images.

I am hoping that in this rocky time that content will be king. I would respectfully suggest there needs to be a conference call with the editoral staff of the mag over the cover work.

Here's an insane wacky idea. Put all the busy cover text on a rectangular card like an 'obi' on CDs and books, use the back of the card as another subscription form and just blow it in the bag in the front.

Puts the info out there, allows a more uncluttered cover, doesn't add to the cost by having to print on the bag, and allows an instant way to say "these subs are coming in from issue #3!"

But I r not an art person so there's doubtless MANY MANY reasons that couldn't be done...

My eyes sting whenever I look at the page (maybe I'm allergic to magazine ink or something…?) but the content's still good. I really like the stuff on Kikaider and Gurren-Lagann, where everything seems to be a 70s anime reference I miss from not being Japanese/old enough to have seen it.

The Idolmaster review seemed strangely neutral on such a soul-devouring game, though, and I remember the usually insufferable-long-stream-of-words site Insert Credit had an especially good long stream of words about it (http://www.insertcredit.com/reviews/idolmaster/ ). Maybe the writers somehow switched bodies.

>the content's still good.

Jesus Christ, finally. Thanks!

">the content's still good.

Jesus Christ, finally. Thanks!"

Well, obviously. That was not in dispute.
---
"You had me until you trotted out "Ask John" for backup..."

Well, seeing as much of my foundation knowledge of such things comes from your writing, it's hard to turn the master against himself. I found something close, though.

"[Joseph]: Yeah, I could see a lot of the original readers that came to Pulp for the manga being turned off by all of the unfamiliar ramblings going on, but that was the beauty of it. Do you think it's conceivable, after Pulp is resting in piece, to bust out a full-fledged Asian cinema magazine, or do you consider it more of a pipe dream? It seems the audience is growing, but it might never be enough.

[Patrick]: I passed on your question on directly to Affable Al himself (who sits directly next to me) and here's what he had to say: "Realistically, the answer is no. I don't think an Asian film magazine would have a rat's ass of a chance on newsstands right now, and since there are all these great web sites like Kung Fu Cult Cinema out there why would we even need one now?" I'm inclined to agree with him, but I also like the rich, dreamy flavor of what's in the pipe as well."

For everybody's sake, I hope that pipe lasts.

>Asian film magazine

I strongly believe there's still a place for magazines. Contrary to some views, not everyone is hooked into the 'net, not everyone has a fat pipe and huge harddrive space and is constantly downloading everything they can get their hands on. If 'net awareness' was as major as some wish why hasn't Video on Demand taken off already, why hasn't downloadable content made companies millions of Dollars (Apple and iTunes being an exception)...

Content always wins. The key in this case is how strong a stomache does the publisher have to gut out the shakedown period? From what has been published it seems Ousa is assured a life into 2008 at the very least.

Unique content is the key, provided by unique voices. And there WILL be enough people who have grown tired of what's on Cartoon Network and sitting in their Barnes and Nobel reading all the new manga who will seek to continue their 'drug', that being anime.

And besides, during the long hot summer where there's power outages and brownouts, causing pipes to fail and servers to crash, a magazine looks pretty good. No power required, no connection needed, just light to read by....

The cover is awesome! Diebuster 2 on the cover will sell you mag. That drawing is badass!!!

>Asian film magazine

I said close, damn it, close! Don't make me read through all of your books (which I own, save the posters one) or all the magazines I have with your articles to find something exact. Too many words about too many awesome things, I can't do it! Tairyoku no genkai!

I bow to the master's will! With your magazine, usher in a bright Otaku Paradise to this land dark with fools! Bring forth the birth of the Otaku Tenno! Let Moe Fever flow from the heavens!

I'm off to read some magazines and work on my wiki: http://otakuencyclopedia.pbwiki.com/

< Let Moe Fever flow from the heavens!

No.

Kill the maid. Burn the nekomimi. Purge the big brother.

Well, we gotta keep SOME maids, to serve us tea and gay little cakes and give Patrick the foot massage...

Steve, that is Bunny Wabbit Cake. Hippity hoppity.

"These are adult comic books, Kazuko...Men read them on the train and in the office."

Leave it to Carl to be not only the ONLY person here who listened to the promo, but who also knows his "Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects".

Well, that sample really needs to be the clarion of the seinen movement in the U.S.. I'm surprised it's never made it into Anime Hell.

I'm trying to sell Daryl on the merits of '80s era Charles Bronson. Kinjite is such a goldmine.

Kinjite is hard to find now. MGM did a big batch of Bronson reissues back in 2004, including the little seen 'X-15' (with David McLean, James Gregory and Mary Tyler Moore..as much as I love space and the whole 'Right Stuff' thing this is....not...a very good movie. Actually, I think Bronson is supposed to be Neil Armstrong, kinda sorta).

Damn. Now I'm getting the Bronson bug. Have to go back to that Wal*Mart and pick up the two disc 'Once upon a time in the west' they had marked way down...

I still think Black Rain is THE movie to absorb if you want to go to Japan and mingle.

Hey, I have a question now that #2 is out. I sent in the response card from #1 ordering a subscription. Haven't seen any response to that yet, no bill or indication that the card was received, so...do I wait and trust that I'll get a #2 in my mailbox with a bill or buy one off a newsstand as soon as I see it? Would be nice to know, thanks.

I gotta point out that Carl Horn has some damn good graphic design chops, too. A look at any of the Carlfest party flyers shows some great fun design and layout. Good stuff Carl!

Thanks for the compliment, Carl. I'm not sure I deserve it, but I do appreciate it. As Tim points out, you have a chop or two yourself.

The problem with finding good designers is that good design is so hard to teach. Since the advent of desktop publishing, the shelves have been flooded by gigatons of badly-designed crap done in PageMaker or Quark or InDesign. I don't blame Ma and Pa Kettle for their inability to do good design — after all, they are amateurs. I do blame America's art schools for turning out legions of "designers" with poor taste, weak skills, and no clue about design in a historical context. (I learned more about typography from poring over the Letraset catalog as a junior high schooler than I did as a college art student. Just one of the 999 reasons I dropped out.) How can we expect to see good design if nobody is training good designers?

It may be that design is similar to dancing — you either have a knack for it or you don't — but, in any case, we all suffer for the lack of good design education in our schools of art.

As for the cover itself: it's busy, but, as has been pointed out, that's traditional for a manga/anime publication. It looks all right to me — and as long as it sells, I'd stick with the same basic idea for future covers. I'd wrap a magazine in fish guts if it would help cut down on returnables.

>I do blame America's art schools for turning out legions of "designers" with poor taste, weak skills, and no clue about design in a historical context.

Exactly!

I'm always speaking love of the design of the humble Pantone catalog, with its cloth cover and impressed metallic text in that ultra-clean font Marshall McLuhan used in THE MEDIUM IS THE MASSAGE.

Designers would of course differ themselves on theories of design, and whether a good design is the right approach for a particular task ("Eptify. It's what we do to you."). What bothers me more is the lack of will to design in the first place, if you get me. It could be tidy minimalism like that Pantone cover; it could be that crazy-ass shit WIRED would often spend the first eight pages of an issue on, by way of a visual editorial. It might not work out for everyone, but they were coming out swinging, taking seriously the idea of engaging culture rather than only reporting on it.

If the medium is the massage, what does that make the happy ending?

(I'd watch Kinjite provided I could actually like, find it)

"(I'd watch Kinjite provided I could actually like, find it)"

I'll loan you my copy.
-danno!

And Tim didn't compliment Carl's skillz, it was me, danno!

Then again, it's not like I actually bothered to look: I see Kinjite is available on Netflix and at Deep Discount. That's what I get for thinking I could, just this once, stray from the global village. I guess you can't be forever dead to that place even if you cut your hair.

I would say something about Otaku USA except for whatever reason my copy was sent to my old address and the post office didn't forward it, and so it'll be a while before I can actually see the finished product. On the subject of that, I think all of these matters regarding visual design would be neatly resolved simply by putting Golgo 13, Kenshiro, Ryoma Nagare, or John "Sleepy" Estes on the cover of future issues of Otaku USA.

Or hire Bruce Lewis and Carl Horn as the Art Dirctors.
-danno!

Sorry for the mixup, Danno. You were correct to identify Carl's design knack. That depiction of St. Michael riding Buster Machine 3 in his lordly Gunbuster doujin still draws admiring compliments from the gang here in cozy South Davis.

As for being an art director again, まえーむきにけんとうさせてもらいます。。。

Well, my subscription question was answered yesterday when I wandered out to my mailbox and found #2 waiting for me, bundled in a nice thick abuse-cushioning envelope. Glad to know everybody's on the stick. Haven't seen a bill yet, though.

Gripping tales of people's issues arriving the mail (did you really think they wouldn't??) are probably best served by posting in the magazine's official forum.

http://www.otakuusamagazine.com/phpBB3/index.php

I am so sick of people pronouncing manga and MANG GAAH! What is up with that???

I am stoaked that there is a new issue of Otaku USA, more reason to go to Borders today and get it!

BTW I wonder how fast a cam version of the Eva 1.0 movie will be on the internets? I am gonna say within 4 hours..do they even do dvd screeners in jp?

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