Slightly disturbing news from the still-young Western manga front. Sad to see that the New Hope of Western comics is determined to be almost as bad, creatively-speaking, as the old industry. Heck, even Marvel & DC now have "creator-participation" contracts, which mean that writers and artists will be compensated if the comic is picked up for TV or film (Warren Ellis's Global Frequency was produced under this type of contract, if I'm remembering right). Not so with Tokyopop, it seems. I'm ambivalent about the Manga Revolution. I have nothing against manga; I've been reading it for years, and I can almost read right-to-left almost as well as reading left-to-right, but it troubles me somewhat. I think my main fear is that the Western comics industry will turn into little more than simply a reprint market for Japanese material. While Tokyopop and others are attempting to create a home-grown market, I'm not convinced that they're going to be a success against the reprinted material (where costs have already been recouped by their initial Japanese printings). I've seen it happen here – in the 1980s, Britain had a decently-sized comics industry, from toy adaptations like Transformers UK to the more adult-themed titles like 2000AD and Crisis. Today, there's hardly anything left; 2000AD creeps along only because a software company bought them, and the only Marvel comics left on the stands are reprints. I'd hate to see America go the same way. My main problem, though, is length. Not wishing to be ungrateful, but most manga comics are just too long! Take Lone Wolf and Cub for example. An excellent book, with beautiful art and almost-perfect storytelling. And it's so cheap! $9.95 for almost 300 pages of story! So, you think about getting the rest. There are 28 books in the Lone Wolf and Cub series. That's almost 8,500 pages. And I think that's just a little too much. I prefer stories that are more manageable; Eagle and Milk Squad are a little simplistic (Eagle is a political drama about the first Japanese-American candidate for President of America, but it suffers from trite dialogue and too much melodrama, and comes off very badly when you compare it to The West Wing), but are entertaining manga that only take four or five volumes to tell a complete story. But these seem to be the exception rather than the norm. Still, I don't want to be too negative; 20th Century Boys is the best thing I've read so far in 2005 (although, there's still a whole bunch of Grant Morrison stuff to come). I just don't think that importing manga wholesale from Japan is going to solve all our problems.