Rocket Bomber - general fandom

Set your alarms now: Tokyopop sale at B&N 9/19, 9AM local time.

filed under , 17 September 2011, 19:19 by

edit: less than 3 hours to go — and let me note, we (as in my store) tend to have quite a bit more clearance than will initially fit on the tables, so you *might* not see Tokyopop books right away. It’s OK. Come back later, or be annoying and pester the poor, overworked booksellers until they root through boxes in the back for you — but really, might be better to come back later. Also, all Tokyopop titles are included, so if they were overlooked and left on shelves in the manga section: grab ‘em.

original post follows.

I’ve reviewed my company’s code of business conduct and ethics — hell, I’ve probably read & reviewed it more often than anyone above me in the food chain — I only mention it now because I have some ‘insider information’ [sic] that I *absolutely have to share with the manga fanbase*

Set your alarm now, to wake up before 9AM on Monday.

[figure in local transit times to get to a B&N store @ 9AM]

You want to be first in line at the door this Monday AM — trust me on this — and if you can’t quite make it at 9AM, plan to come in right after work, or during your lunch break if you can swing it.

On Monday morning all Tokyopop titles currently on shelves at ALL Barnes & Noble locations will be put on clearance — starting at 50% off.

I’ll be honest: I doubt these will stick around long enough to be marked down further. Or that they’ll even be there on Tuesday.

You Need To Be At A Barnes & Noble On Monday.

The bad news is, Tokyopop titles will soon transition to out-of-print, ebay, Amazon marketplace, used-but-like-new status this week. But we all knew this was coming, back when Tokyopop suddenly announced they were closing back in April. My own reaction to the news is not only a matter of public record but also the second most popular article I’ve posted to this blog. ever.

The good news is: any T’Pop titles left on shelves at Barnes & Noble are going to be had for the taking—starting at 50% off Monday—and supposing any are left in coming weeks, to be had for much less.

But I’d snap them up sooner rather than wait; folks like me will buy the whole slate not caring what the actual titles are, and will fill in missing volumes off of ebay later.

LotR Extended Cuts in Theaters, coming June

filed under , 11 May 2011, 14:15 by

I get the same PR blasts via email as the rest of you (well, the rest of you bloggers) (actually, I probably get some weirder ones than most) and of course, every PR wonk ends their exhortation the same way,

“We hope you’ll spread the word about [product x] to your readers. Please let us know if there’s anything [blah, blah, blah]”

Typically, these go strait into the trash barely skimmed or entirely unread. However, in this instance I had just emailed a friend of mine about this particular event the day before, and was planning on going myself. It was… odd… to see it show up in mailbox so soon.



Looks like Fathom is doing a LOTR Extended Edition screening on three successive Tuesday nights, June 14, 21, & 28. Click on the links, or on the image below.

Found: Japanese Schoolgirl Confidential

filed under , 26 June 2010, 01:25 by


Japanese Schoolgirl Confidential: How Teenage Girls Made a Nation Cool

Paperback, 192 pages, Kodansha International, isbn 9784770031150

Releases August 1.

from the publisher:

From manga and anime to movies, magazines, video games, advertising and music, Japanese schoolgirls are everywhere. For years, schoolgirls have shown up in internationally popular anime such as Sailor Moon, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, and Blood: The Last Vampire. Films such as Battle Royale inspired Quentin Tarantino to include a fighting schoolgirl in Kill Bill; and recently, Rinko Kikuchi received an Oscar nomination for her role as a schoolgirl in the film Babel. There are schoolgirl characters in video games such as Street Fighter. And the “Japanese Schoolgirl Watch” column in Wired magazine has long kept an eye on the trends emerging among these stylish teens. In effect, the Japanese schoolgirl has all but replaced the “geisha-girl” as Japan’s new female icon.

Brian Ashcraft, the author of Arcade Mania!, and his sidekick, Shoko Ueda, take the reader beneath the surface to discover the secrets of this iconic figure. By talking to Japanese women, including former and current J-pop idols, well-known actresses, models, writers, and artists — along with film directors, historians and marketers — the authors reveal the true story behind Japan’s obsession with schoolgirls and answer such burning questions as:
· Where did the sailor-style uniform come from?
· How did the Japanese schoolgirl develop into a brand that can be used to sell anything from kimchi to insurance?
· Why have Japanese schoolgirls become such a symbol of girl power?
· And, most importantly, why are they so very, very cool?

About the Authors

BRIAN ASHCRAFT is the author of Arcade Mania! published by Kodansha International, and is Contributing Editor to Wired magazine, where he regularly writes the “Japanese Schoolgirl Watch” column. He also contributes to Kotaku, one of the world’s most widely-read blogs, and has written for such publications as Metropolis, Popular Science, Ready Made and Otaku USA.

SHOKO UEDA has been the research assistant for the “Japanese Schoolgirl Watch” column, and draws on her own experiences as a former Japanese schoolgirl. This is her first book.

submitted without further commentary.


Caption this photo:

filed under , 17 June 2010, 16:48 by

“Sorry kids; I haven’t been here in a while… back in my day this place was all porn theatres, strip clubs, and hookers as far as the eye could see.”

Note: not really a caption contest. I just wanted to post that.

I was very skeptical about a smurfs movie, and even moreso when I heard it was a live-action/CGI mix. BUT:

Neil Patrick Harris and Hank Azaria are two of the live-action actors; Jonathan Winters, Alan Cumming, George Lopez, Fred Armisen, John Oliver, Paul Reubens, & Wolfgang puckin’ Puck, among others, are voicing various smurfs.

Still don’t know if I’m going to see it, but damn, they have my interest now.

You got $20 this week? I've a recommendation.

filed under , 6 May 2010, 22:19 by


I’ll lead with the news report I first read.

CEO: Bang Zoom to Cease Anime Dubbing in 2011 Without Fan Support
President Eric P. Sherman cites fans watching fansubs, not buying DVDs

…and of course everyone else & their kid brother [i.e. most manga&anime bloggers] have linked to it.

key quote:

Anime is going to die.

Unless YOU change. Right now. Stop stealing. If you have committed theft, robbery, shop-lifting, or just “downloading some stuff through torrent reactor,” then just stop doing it — now. You probably wouldn’t go into a supermarket and put a package of swiss cheese under your shirt and walk out without paying. Nor would you walk into Best Buy and try to walk out with Guitar Hero, bypassing the cash register. Why? Is it because you might get caught? Or are there other issues, such as standards of morality, that dictate how you live your life.

The net, for all it’s charms, is also a dark and dangerous place. When you’re navigating it, you need to ask yourself this question: Is this right, just because it is so easy? You need to understand that quality entertainment costs a lot to create. And if there is no one paying for this content, it just won’t be made anymore. If no one bought tickets to a Lady Ga Ga show, she would not do the tour. That’s just how it works. For some reason, people don’t mind stealing their anime. I’m here to tell you flat out: This is wrong. You are doing something bad. And you need to stop it.

[emphasis Sherman’s.]

Again, So.

I’ve an excellent suggestion, one that will educate you about the process while simultaneously adding some black ink to Bang Zoom! Entertainment’s bottom line. Consider this to be a pledge drive of sorts, with it’s own very special “Thank You Gift” in the form of a DVD well worth the $20.

Go. Buy this DVD.

I’m not selling you a pig in a poke: you can go preview the first five chapters right now at Crunchyroll

Not only will your purchase benefit Bang Zoom! — a company that has recently, publicly noted they could use a bit more commerce — but you will also be in possession of one of the best recent documentaries on the production of American anime localizations, and if enough of us buy this first volume, it might prompt Bang Zoom! to release the next two planned DVDs in the series — I can only assume they are sitting on hours of interview footage and are waiting until it’s economically viable to do another DVD release. (these things cost money)

From their FAQ: “There are no other DVDs available anywhere in the world like this that we know of.”

Damn straight.

If nothing else, you need to see Lance Henriksen [yes, Bishop from Aliens and from the ’96-99 Fox show Millennium] talk about voice acting, and how it’s different from other aspects of the craft.

See, this is where it’s easy to make a difference:

Buy a DVD you know you want anyway. Prove that you’re an intellectual, reflective fan who is interested in the process (or interested in becoming part of that process as there really is no other tutorial available on how to become an anime dub VA) and simultaneously inject some capital directly into one of the few companies that produce quality dubs.


Two manga.
One DVD. (in fact, you get one DVD in this deal)
5 Starbucks.
3 Fast Food dinners.
24 beers, or two bottles (or one box) of wine.
Crap advertised on late-nite TV.
A single hardcover book.
116 packs of ramen. (OK, so this comparison is a little harsh)

Still: Can we find $20 in our budget this week for the best and indeed only documentary on the American Anime business? You owe it to yourself to own this DVD, and if nothing else, a spike in sales would shut Eric Sherman up.

Whether you like or hate him, it has to be worth the money, right?

Rocket Bomber Special: Ten Levels of Fandom

filed under , 3 May 2010, 21:33 by

Level I: Obscure Fandoms

definition: there are too many obscure fandoms to count — as many as stars in the sky, books in the bookstore, or videos at the near-extinct local rental place.

poster boy: To pick my own? Atlanta’s now defunct Beer Garten (not a typo, and not the proper-Deutsch “Atlanta Bier Garten” or proper-English “Atlanta Beer Garden” but the-owners-obviously-don’t-know-German-but-they-might-have-seen-it-once “Beer Garten”) (and link – “I will likely mourn the Beer Garten until the day I die.”)

- the thing about level 1 fandoms is that no one has ever really heard of them, past a very small handful of fans. This is, in fact, their defining characteristic. This does not make these fandoms any less rabid.

Level II: One-Shot Fandoms

definition: we’ve all heard of it, it was kind-of-a-big-thing once but then died six months later.

poster boy: The Black Hole

- at level 2, the property gets nation-wide exposure, a big budget, and a major push by a corporation, and usually makes quite a bit of money. The memories linger long after the project leaves the limelight — or really, any kind of relevancy — eventually it becomes just another component of the overall nostalgia-compost of a generation’s collective memory.

Level III: Wholly Owned Fandoms

definition: you know that one movie, with the sequels? an established corporate-owned property that is popular, and has ‘fans’, but doesn’t inspire or encourage fan participation or secondary works

poster boy: The Mighty Ducks

- obviously, I’m being hipster-ironic when I pick the Mighty Ducks as a fandom — but there are always the Anaheim Ducks — I’ll remind you, an actual NHL franchise — to prove that some ‘jokes’ get deadly serious before you can even finish off your PBR Tallboy. The actual level of fan ‘participation’ in level 3 fandoms is questionable, but someone, somewhere with a PR budget is still pushing this thing. That is not to say that if you happen to like a wholly-owned fandom, you’re in the wrong; obviously, someone has to like it or the whole thing fails.

Level IV: Established Fandoms

definition: A solid property that is enjoyed by many; one with a long half-life that takes quite some time to taper off, and that merits and survives the occasional reboot.

poster boys: James Bond, Dr. Who

- there are a number of properties that are popular, well known, and when the owners deign to make new product, manage to capture both the media spotlight and enthusiasm of the established fan base. We all enjoy the occasional Bond film, but there isn’t a large fanbase writing Bond fanfic. (Please don’t mention Dr. Who fanfic) (I asked nicely. please)

Established fandoms usually rule a given media (TV or Film) without necessarily making the jump to others — there are derivative works, but these are usually considered inferior or lacking in some way, and fans revert to the original medium – especially when the designated corporate parent releases a new version of the same old show an exciting ‘reboot’ of the property in it’s original medium.

Tron, with the new ‘Legacy’ release, is graduating from a level 2 direct to a level 4. (And I can’t wait for the new movie)

Level V: Massively Popular Established Fandoms

definition: A property that manages to be successful across multiple media, while also engendering massive fan participation. Please note: sometimes a level 4 is more successful, financially, than a level 5 — but while we merely consume the former, we obsess over the latter.

Poster boy: Joss Whedon

- Kevin Smith might merit a 4.5: we like his movies and forgive the rest, or we follow his comics writing career because, hey, he made those Jay & Silent Bob movies (and there’s all that comic stuff in Chasing Amy) — but there was never a synergy between the two to set his fandom on fire.

Joss exceeds level 4; not just because he’s done movies, comics, and TV – but beacuse he inspires buffistas, whedonites, and browncoats… and he can do musicals, too. All That, And Yet: Whedon isn’t Rowling, or even Lucas. I couldn’t even say authoritatively that everyone knows his name. It’s a big niche, but still a niche

Level VI: Corporate Fandoms

definition: typically founded in the 60s or 70s (or a legacy property from the 20s or 30s) it’s an iconic character we all know, and often love, but which for whatever reason never quite lives up to its full potential

Poster boy: Superman

- these get by and coast (often for years) on the strength of their history and the decades-long library. Eventually, someone at corporate remembers they own the damn thing, and they think to reintroduce it to new audiences while simultaneously tapping the established fanbase and soaking them for a few bucks.

With a little work, it’s possible to push a level 6 to a level 7 — for a time. Superman did that in the 80s, following the 1978 film (and at least two sequels; yeah there were others but after Sup3 did you really care?) and maybe building up to the ‘Death of Superman’ arc in the DC comics in what, 1992? [I forget the exact year] but Supes was a thing and then over. [Smallville was it’s own thing and is also now, largely over]

Obviously the charater and property remain, but it’s hard to keep this going at higher levels no matter how ‘popular’ the character. Eventually, you lose steam and some other property comes along to capture the imagination of the general public.

We know the official product and look forward to new instalments, but we know each chapter might in fact be the last — and if it is, well, the corpus stands as a complete work.

Level VII: Corporate Tent-Pole Fandoms

definition: It’s the big summer movie event, or the one show everyone watches on Friday night.

Poster boy: Iron Man

- In 2009, Watchmen managed to vault from a level 2 fandom all the way up to level seven, based on a movie trailer shown at San Diego CCI and the collective nerdgasm that followed on the web. Level 7 is a transitory state; either a property peaks here before falling back into relative-fan-obscurity, or this is just a stepping stone on the way up to greater things. And it’s odd: this is almost always related to a big summer movie release — one could argue that X-Files, Buffy, and the new Battlestar Galactica hit level 7 based on their respective TV shows [in the early 90s, late 90s, and aughts, respectively] so the movies aren’t the only route to level 7 status — but a big-budget Hollywood movie really helps.

The vast majority of tent-pole fans are as ephemeral as the morning fog. They gather around a major release because it’s new and shiny, but they aren’t the sort who hang around for years, waiting for the next instalment in the franchise. They will have already moved on.

Level VIII: Corporate Wet-Dream Fandoms

definition: An established series in one medium which spawns multiple spin-offs in other media, plus licensing for toys, t-shirts, crappy board games, lunch boxes, and a world of other, cheap, imported crap.

Poster boys: Pokemon, Star Wars, Star Trek, Harry Potter, and—at least for now—Batman, Spider-man, and [*sigh*] Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight books —and in a large sense, the DC and Marvel universes when taken as a whole moreso than the sum of their parts.

- these series pay the bills. It’s like winning the lottery for some companies/creators: milk it for all it’s worth, occasonally repackage it, and ride the gravy train for life. Yes, we’re looking at you, Lucas.

A solid, established level 8 will even survive poorly-conceived and badly executed extensions of the brand [once again, we’re looking at you, George] The thing is, there is enough other stuff involved that the series will continue on, and even the bad decisions and awkward story choices can be made to fit, and occasionally, be made to shine.

I don’t know if corporations employ professional turd-polishers or if turd-polishing is just another function of writers and editorial — but rather than refute anything or admit any past mistake, they’ll take the most convoluted premises or basically bad writing and somehow work it into continuity, lest the admission of a mis-step somehow devalue the whole franchise.

[and yes, I was also thinking of Marvel & DC, but mostly Marvel, when I wrote that last sentence]

Level IX: Permafandoms.

definition: At some point, your back catalog is so good that you can stop making anything new — or you can even make derivative things that detract from the original, and the fans don’t care.

poster boy: Mickey Mouse, Mario. Star Wars and Star Trek are so close, but not quite here yet. Some comic book characters/franchises might also rate a level 9, if they weren’t continuously retconned and rebooted; it’s hard to know which version we’re talking about so there isn’t a single ‘comic’ to talk about.

- no, really, what was the last good ‘Mickey’ — I’m thinking the Sorcerer’s Apprentice short in Fantasia and that was in 1940, dammit and honestly, the Disney shorts with Mick aren’t that good — so, um, Walt was the best salesman ever? Or we just give Walt & Mick a pass because it’s Disney and he was one of the first things on TV? Is that all it takes? Are we so enamored of the theme parks? …damn.

Other properties spike at level 9, but don’t stay long: Christopher Reeve’s Superman; Tim Burton’s Batman (with Jack Nicholson’s Joker); or Heath Ledger’s Joker in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight.

If you consider a single week, one news cycle, hell: a lot of properties seem to hit level 9 and all claim they’ll stay there, but it never quite works out that way. The vast majority of fans have too short an attention span.

Level X. Myth and Legend.

defintion: see appropriate academic resources.

poster boy: Homer. Virgil. Dante. Shakespeare. Dickens. Twain.

- at this point, your characters are famous world-wide. Their very names can be shorthand for a definining characteristic, or a summary of their major struggles. Everyone knows — but the copyright has expired, so everyone and anyone can propogate, re-write, remix, of otherwise use these iconic characters. This is a good thing, for humanity and the Humanities. This is a bad thing for corporations, as there are few ways to monetize it [though Disney has been appropriating and monetizing the public domain since 1938. bastards]

All companies aspire to properties that are iconic — but stop just short of the ultimate, public-domain, universally known myths, legends, and icons. They’ll make them look just like a level 10, but they don’t really want to be there because level 10 is Greek Myth (or Egyptian, or Mayan, or Norse, or Celtic, or Zoroastrian) and while they’d very much like to take on the trappings of universal myth, they won’t quite go that far as there is no money in it.


Comics fandom almost always follow the major media release, else it’s just a level 2.

Manga fandom, when we can coat-tail on an anime release, usually peaks at a level 4 (unless it’s Mario or Pokemon or Final Fantasy – which tap the gamer fan base) but is more often just a level 1 fandom. [sucks. I know. I’m right there with you guys.]

Anime fandom defaults at level 2, and seldom rises above level 3 — unless there is a cable broadcast, or a game. We love to consume Japanese content, but games and (occasionally) DVDs are the only major ways we express that love. Pokemon is an obvious outlier.

I think fans were much better about buying DVDs historically than they have been in the last 3 to 5 years. We must remember though: anime, and manga, and to an extent even mainstream games of Japanese origin (Final Fantasy included) are just a niche in the overall American market.

Obviously, something like Pokemon or whatever is on prime time cable or Saturday morning network TV & is going to get a boost. In a new digital age, where there is no ‘prime time’ or ‘cable’ or ‘network’ for that matter I’m not sure how we’ll introduce anime to new generations

The trick, if I can call it a trick, is getting even a small percentage to buy, whether they’re at a level one or level seven fandom.

Free Comic Book Day: May Day Revolt.

filed under , 28 April 2010, 16:34 by


I’d like to start by mentioning Free Comic Book Day is a fabulous thing, and at least in concept is genius — actual implementation varies from year to year but it’s a great event that has my full support.


That said:

I’m making good on a previous threat

It won’t take much. Every blogger just needs to include a blurb for the CBLDF in any post reporting on the Free Comic Book Day. I’m hoping we can even get some cool graphics going (soviet-era-style propoganda posters, ironic or otherwise, would be great) so maybe it’d end up as little more than posting a button & a link at the bottom of any Free Comic Book Day report. (On top of whatever other promotion my fellow bloggers feel like giving this initiative)

I didn’t wait until May to make another donation to the CBLDF; they already have another hundred of my hard earned dollars. But I’ll be back in April to remind everyone of this drive and with a special challenge:

DC, Marvel, Dark Horse, Image, Tokyopop, Viz; Random House, Hachette, Penguin, HarperCollins, Macmillan, and Simon & Schuster: I’m an unknown blogger with $100 — but I’ve put that c-note where my values lie. Can you match me? Just $100, I’m not asking for more. $100 to help protect your retailer partners, your customers, and yourselves. $100 out of your massive PR budgets to show even a token acknowlegement to the concerns of your fans, and to promote both free speech and the future of the comics industry.

You can donate $100 to the CBLDF in my name, or in Christopher Handley’s name, or under your own aegis; and I hope you donate more but $100 is the challenge. Can you match my commitment? And if you can’t, I wish you’d tell us why.

I’d like to challenge every fan and blogger to donate today, dammit to the CBLDF. “Free Comics” means more than just a once yearly industry promotion. “Free Comics” is not a corporate sponsored promotion. “Free Comics” shouldn’t be a gimmick or slogan or me-first-grab-fest.

Free Speech and Free Comics for All

I put my money where my mouth is: I myself donated an additional $100 to the CBLDF just 45 minutes ago. I hope my most recent hundred bucks pays directly for an amicus brief to the Supreme Court on any of the IP and Censorship issues that will no doubt soon be considered, given recent rulings.

My 2010 challenge now sits at $200: I’ve given that much this year just so far and I Dare all publishers [and any fans or bloggers who are also game] to match me at this level.


No one submitted any images; I was forced to ‘shop my own propaganda posters.
(All images released under a non-commercial CC license; so please share.)
(And I like to once again encourage others to make their own)

source image:

source image:

source image:

Not May Day Soviet, but worth including:

source image:

And not ‘free comics’ but I saw the source and had to add it:

source image:

[and I’d love to see a whole slate of similar “women make/read comics” posters; I’ll be happy to post-&-link to any submitted to me]

1 May is also May Day, a day-of-note for revolutionaries the world over. I’m quite pleased to make my call for increased reader freedom on the same date. Free Comic Book Day, quite honestly, should be more than a promotion-and-giveaway: let’s all take a minute to consider that Free Comics Day should also be a day to celebrate Freedom in Comics.


Here’s the donation button again: please consider giving money to the CBLDF to keep Comics Free.


Fan Service?

filed under , 12 April 2010, 12:30 by


High School Students? Check.
Plaid Skirts? Check.
After-school Club? Check.
Panty Shot? Check and check.

Ah, yes, let’s look at this latest anime promo art:

Rolling Stone "Glee" Cover

Special bonus: Teacher in a track suit. (no shinai, though)

Wizard World Americano

filed under , 7 April 2010, 11:11 by

Wizard CEO Gareb Shamus is pleased to announce the new Wizard World Starbucks™, a 2011 initiative where Wizard will hold a mini-convention in each and every Starbucks® Cofffee location across the U.S. and internationally.

“We feel fans shouldn’t have to drive to a city center, just to have the Comic Con experience. We think by focusing on the basics of the modern fan convention—crowding, waiting in lines, missing the things you really want to see, and of course spending lots of money on things you don’t need—we should be able to water-down and dilute the con experience to the point where any fan can be annoyed for a single half-hour on a Saturday afternoon. We’re in the business of bringing the magic to everyone!”

Shamus plans to run Wizard World Starbucks™ each year, from 2011 onwards, on the first Saturday in May, unless Diamond moves Free Comics Book Day to another date, in which case, “We plan to dynamically counter-program WWS on any weekend that might otherwise be a fan event. Only by dividing the fan base can we conquer the mainstream.”

[/satire, obviously. …I hope.]
[originally posted, by myself, as a comment on Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources in response to the news that Wizard plans to double the number of its ‘Comic Cons’]

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Yes, all the links are broken.

On June 1, 2015 (after 6 years and 11 months) I needed to relaunch/restart this blog, or at least rekindle my interest in maintaining and updating it.

Rather than delete and discard the whole thing, I instead moved the blog -- database, cms, files, archives, and all -- to this subdomain. When you encounter broken links (and you will encounter broken links) just change the URL in the address bar from to

I know this is inconvenient, and for that I apologise. In addition to breaking tens of thousands of links, this also adversely affects the blog visibility on search engines -- but that, I'm willing to live with. Between the Wayback Machine at and my own half-hearted preservation efforts (which you are currently reading) I feel nothing has been lost, though you may have to dig a bit harder for it.

As always, thank you for reading. Writing version 1.0 of Rocket Bomber was a blast. For those that would like to follow me on the 2.0 - I'll see you back on the main site.



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