Rocket Bomber - general fandom

Showing up late to the great Manga/Anime/Scan/Fansub/P2P debate...

filed under , 27 February 2010, 23:18 by

…with a bag of stale pretzels.

You ever been in a situation where a friend of yours was throwing a party, but you had to work until 10 that night and couldn’t make it until well after the shindig was underway, and folks had come, drank, hooked-up, and left before you even made it out to your friend’s place?

And you heard about the awesome jello-shooters, and the single-barrel bourbon, and the imported beer, and it’s all gone by the time you roll up and the only thing that’s left is half a keg of cheap, evil-smelling american lager, a bowl of stale pretzels, and what appears to be the all-male membership of the local uni “Frat Boy Studies Club” losing to the Intramural Beer Pong Team?

Still, a kegger is a kegger even if you’re late, and the only thing to do is start drinking.


My belaboured analogy aside—

There has been a lot of twitter and blog activity around this guy, Nick, and what his half-assed comic book might mean for new publisher Radical, and also what his actions and the vehement reaction on the part of a fraction of manga fans might say about both the alleged plagiarism and other acts of outright theft — like, say… fansubs, scanlations, and things-out-there-pretending-to-be-fansubs-and-scans that are just sleazy, lazy rips of officially licensed product.

Pro Tip: Icarus is not a scanlation group, and [R1 DVD] in a bittorrent filename is theft, straight up.

Deb has the best summary up, and the conversation continues (on twitter and in the comments at and Really, This is a Gift that Keeps on Giving — we could argue free vs artist vs fan vs responsibility vs expectation vs sustainability vs what is wanted vs what is owed vs market factors vs New Media bullshit until the eventual heat death of the universe. There are partisans on all seven (eight? thirteen?) sides willing to argue their points to the bitterest of bitter ends, and nothing happens — and for some, ‘nothing happens’ is exactly what they want: no change at all to the status quo that enables their bad and illegal habits.

Sure, you like manga and anime. You can tell me so on the internet, you can quote Haruhi chapter and verse and can argue the finer points of Gundam Wing vs Macross Frontier. You’re a geek and a nerd and an expert and I’m just a poseur who shouldn’t have an opinion (or be allowed an opinion) because I dirty myself with the actual commerce of manga — since I sell books for a living it should be past obvious that I’ve sold out.

Gods, so much is wrong with our society, internet or otherwise.


For those of you willing to consider the alternate point of view, I have three links for you. Two years ago I started to research fansubs for a column, but I never managed to finish writing it, and now a lot of the points are moot, or superseded, by events that have occurred since. But, my early readings are still valid (or more valid) and I’d like to share:

The Ethics of Fansubbing, credited to ‘dejiko’ at from July 2000. This is an early take from a former fansubber and how things were about to go horribly wrong 10 years ago

I’m not a lawyer, but this guy is: go read “Of Otakus and Fansubs: A Critical Look at Anime Online in Light of Current Issues in Copyright Law” by Jordan S. Hatcher


Ask John @ AnimeNation from March 2008, Does the Anime Industry Deserve Some Blame for the Popularity of Fansubs?


So now I may never write that column, and these are all older links (showing that this is not a new problem by any stretch) but at least the effort wasn’t wasted.

Free Comic Books Day, 2010, part 1.

filed under , 16 February 2010, 14:49 by

So. I’m not sure exactly why stupidity, ignorance, and baseless accusations always end up costing me money, but with the recent news of the Handley sentencing, The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is now in possession of another $100 of mine that I’m hard-put to do without. Honestly: do you know how many comics, how much beer that is?

brief recap of events follows; please keep reading to the end:

ANN, Christopher Handley Pleads Guilty to Possession Charges

ANN, Christopher Handley Sentenced to 6 Months for ‘Obscene’ Manga

RC Harvey at The Comics Journal, Our Nonexistant Liberties

Neil Gaiman, Why defend freedom of icky speech?

David Kravets at Wired’s Threat Level Blog, U.S. Manga Obscenity Conviction Roils Comics World

News @ the CBLDF: Handley Sentenced to Six Months in Prison

and a Google search pulls up so much more.

I’ve posted twice to RocketBomber, once about manga porn generally (including the sticky bit of representations of underage female characters) and more recently re: the loli question,

I just want to read books. All kinds of books. Anything that gets in the way of that is bad, in my opinion. We can question the motives of people who produce works that seemingly encourage Bad People to do Bad Things to children (“Think of the children!”) but I firmly believe that in a free society that encourages free speech, free thought, and free expression we cannot question their works as works. If you can prove a crime, with a real victim, then we can revisit the value of the work.

But Books don’t kill people. People who burn Books kill people. You want to ban something “for the common good”?

I find that to be as abhorrent as the worst, least defensible porn.

And of course, this also cost me $100 back when Handley plead guilty 9 months ago.


Here’s my proposal:

You all know about Free Comic Book Day, right? It’s an annual event, happens to fall on May 1st this year. Free Comic Book Day gets an orgy of online blog coverage (and even a smattering of mainstream journo attention) and rightfully so, because, dude: free comics.

This year, in addition to the “Free Comic Book Day” promo offered by Diamond and the major pubs, we need to run a parallel CBLDF “Free Comics” fundraiser.

Free as in Beer plus Free as in Speech.

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’ll repeat this post closer to the actual Day (April 15th, tax day, I’m thinking) with another call for funds, and renewed argument that we all need to adopt Free Comic Book Day as both a cause and call to action. And I’ll likely donate another $100 on that day, though I can hardly afford it. How many companies, how many of you, will join me in this?

Heck, I'm willing to go on the record with this, damn the torpedoes.

filed under , 26 January 2010, 21:49 by

Over at Anime Vice, Gia asked the question — “Do you think that lolicon and shotacon (e.g. hand-drawn materials featuring underage— sometimes VERY underage —characters in sexual situations) should be banned?”

And here’s my response:

So. I can point everyone to my ‘defense of porn’ post, again

Unfortunately, I get a lot of mileage out of that link.

Specifically loli and shota porn though? I can’t speak to that. My gut says No.

Make that Hell No, no comics should be banned, ever, ever, unless a real life child was harmed by the artist in the process of creating the work in which case the censorship and/or destruction of that work should be a consequence of conviction for those crimes, along with things like prison and/or some other life-time supervision of the Creep Who Hurt Children.

Art does not hurt children. Drawings of people are not people. Creeps who hurt children will be creeps not matter what we publish, or don’t publish, and the major consideration is not their access to Art but their access to Children.

My head, in opposition to my gut, tells me the issue is more complex than that. And reactions by civilians and the Justified Outrage of the General Public whenever they come across material like this just makes the hobby look bad.

I just want to read books. All kinds of books. Anything that gets in the way of that is bad, in my opinion. We can question the motives of people who produce works that seemingly encourage Bad People to do Bad Things to children (“Think of the children!”) but I firmly believe that in a free society that encourages free speech, free thought, and free expression we cannot question their works as works. If you can prove a crime, with a real victim, then we can revisit the value of the work.

But Books don’t kill people. People who burn Books kill people. You want to ban something “for the common good”?

I find that to be as abhorrent as the worst, least defensible porn.

Can We Fix This?

filed under , 29 September 2009, 16:57 by

Per YouTube, this video only has 116 views. —which is criminal

Can you help me to fix this? It’s simple: I just need you to watch — and maybe link.

OK, so there are at least two other versions of this performance just on YouTube itself (with 20k+ views apiece) but the video embedded above is from the official Tripod channel, so I think they deserve a little love. If you’re really interested, and until Tripod gets their shit together, this link will be quite useful; and this is why you’re interested:

Oh, and this one too:

and it’s 10 years old but I still love this one:

As a favor to me: Can we show a little love for Tripod?

I lost an entire night's productivity to this video.

filed under , 26 September 2009, 20:56 by

More here.

linking to -- Project Rooftop: Look Sharp

filed under , 19 August 2009, 20:07 by

With little fanfare the über-cööl Project Rooftop finally got around to posting the winners to the Wolverine: Look Sharp design contest — first announced close to four months ago. Sheesh. If the results weren’t so freakin’ cool (ref. Batman 2.0) I would have given up ages ago.

As it is, only my random-kinda-weekly-but-really-random spot check pulled this one up; I don’t think I’ve seen it announced on any major site. Granted, they posted it a month ago and I still missed it myself — and I’m a big fan (of PR, not necessarily of Wolverine) but I was looking for something grander than just a blog post on Newsarama announcing this:

The Winners are up for Project Rooftop’s Wolverine: Look Sharp Contest! Woot, woot! Notable not just for the innovative design ideas, but also the extended commentary of the judges, one should not be surprised that it takes three months to go through more than 160 entries, and while we might wish they could post more regularly even with half-assed (for them) filler content (as their one-half-of-one-ass kicks the ass of most other sites, even with one ass tied behind their back — OK, I’ll stop now) one still appreciates the effort and dedication-to-concept exhibited by Project Rooftop, and We’ll Take What We Can Get™.

And really, even if you hate Wolverine it might be worth a look (and even if you really hate Wolverine you still need to go over there for some of the previous contests.)

26 Weeks with Rosetta Stone: Week Zero -- The Unboxing.

filed under , 9 August 2009, 22:46 by

Why devote a whole post just to opening a box?

It’s a tech blog tradition [so go bug them about it] and with a list price of $500, this sucker is a bit more expensive that 90% of all netbooks and smartphones — and there is quite a lot here.

And — If you were considering Rosetta Stone for your have-to-watch-anime-in-the-raw-as-soon-as-it’s-available-need (or whatever you need a foreign language for; go away kid, you’re bothering me) but balked at the price tag (who wouldn’t?) well, maybe it’d help if someone showed you exactly what you get for a half-grand.

As denoted by the image above: this is three levels of Rosetta Stone Japanese (not the level-one-only set they have for $250 bucks — this is the big ante.)

What you’ll find inside:

translation: buncha discs, cheap headset.

Back Cover, more ad copy —

Note: I didn’t pay $500 bucks (and these were actually $550 dollars like, last month) but I didn’t manage to save more than $50 off list price even with my ‘connections’ — Rosetta Stone is expensive. I could’ve saved up to $75 buying online, but in this case I chose to forgo the additional discount as we had a copy in the store and I could take it home Saturday night; no need to wait on UPS to ship it to me.

After cutting through the strategically placed clear packing tape, and navigating not one but two slip cases, we get to the inner sanctum of the software box.

And from there we discover Rosetta-chan likes tea, traditional Yukata, and extraneous packaging.

Stealthily fishing into Rosetta’s yukata, we can actually put our hands on the goods; in this case, the actual program, a smidge of documentation, and a whole lot of audio CDs:

First up is the actual, much vaunted, RS software itself: it looks like there is a base install CD, along with data CDs for each of the three levels (next week I’ll cover the installation process and first impressions; right now we’re still just opening up the box)

For each level of the program, there are 4 audio CDs:

[these are actually different images, one for each level of the program]

[each of these images is actually three times this size; open ‘em in a new tab to see some detail]

If one believes the ad copy on the back of the box, the audio CDs are meant to reinforce the Rosetta Stone computer lessons. We’ll be looking into that.

All the software and audio media comes with a user’s guide (which I haven’t read and probably won’t read) a quick start guide (which I haven’t read and might not read depending on how easy it is to install the software) and a sticker — a sticker one can place on one’s laptop to clarify to the general public that one isn’t crazy, one is merely trying to learn correct pronunciation of a foreign language using the clunky, provided USB headset

If one spends less than $500, I’m guessing you don’t get a $15 headset mic and you’re on your own for ye ol’ speech recognition functionality in Rosetta Stone [edit 12-Aug-09: see the comments, a Rosetta Stone employee assures us the headset comes in all RS packages, regardless of level] (I have a USB mic; I’ll verify if one needs the proprietary headset to use this feature) but as I’ve already bought the set — here it is:

So. 12 audio CDs, 4 data CDs, the headset, and assorted docs.

Rosetta Stone Japanese; levels 1, 2 , & 3 — trackball, laptop, manga, and beer not included —

And so the experiment begins; I’ll keep you posted.

This isn't a link blog, part II

filed under , 3 July 2009, 20:07 by

Costco + Japan = Oh My Gods why aren’t I living in Japan?

My poor fevered brains conjure up images of buying 12-packs of figurines, whole pallets of anime on DVD (“Hi. Can I borrow that forklift?”) and not just ramen by the case (we buy that here) but actual edible ramen, authentic even, by the case.

I had no idea there was even a single Costco in Japan. This renders my world view null, void, and moot. I need… I need a few minutes. I may need months.

Does Costco Japan sell Eroge? Can I buy a Peach Princess multi-pak or something? The mind boggles…

This isn't a link blog, part I

filed under , 24 June 2009, 15:03 by

Dana Blankenhorn on Steve Jobs: “For daring to steal fire from the Gods, it is said, Prometheus was chained to a rock and sentenced to having his liver pecked out by birds.”

Geeks are prime, and easy, targets. Be careful, my brothers & sisters: they are gunning for our tech.

Cary Tennis @ Salon: “We are the music makers, we are the dreamers of dreams.”


Wait. What the hell is the Splash Page, why is it affiliated with MTV (you lost all cred with the fan base when you cancelled Daria, nerfwads) and given that there are many, many blogs who were reporting on the rumours a full month in advance, and at least two sites had the full story the day before, what the hell makes this an ‘exclusive’?

Oh, the ‘exclusive’ is that Fraggle Rock will be the first Henson property to see ink. (Tokyopop’s Labyrinth and Dark Crystal, Marvel’s ’80s efforts, and the recent — and excellent — Boom Studio’s Muppets aside.)

This is so far from an ‘exclusive’ I can only imagine that the only site that could get away with it is one that caters to the most casual of comic fans who are really only interested in the movies — who have never bought an actual book and who waste their days watching the worst in reality programming on basic cable…

Oh. hi, MTV, didn’t know you were listening.

The ‘journalism’ involved is even lower than my lax standards, which is especially galling given that fact that someone is paid to update their site, and I’m only giving this the merit of a link because I love Fraggle Rock, I love Henson (I consider Jim to be my third parent, and a small part of my soul died on 16 May, 1990) and just about anything that advances the Fraggle/Muppet cause has to be good news.

Don’t bother to click the MTV link, go read about it here. — and, um, if I was able to find a second, nearly identical story posted to a different website on the same day (and if timestamps are to be believed, 40 minutes before your article) what, exactly, makes your report exclusive, MTV? Hm?

aside: ooooo… Farscape Comics… [*homeresque gargle*]

and not so much an aside, but the music has been running though my head for the past three days reading all these fraggle articles

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