Here Comes the Backlog

A column article, Mission: Professional by: Steven Savage

Do you remember when manga didn't occupy multiple shelves in your local bookstores? Me, I have trouble remembering it because it's been so long – and I'm an old geek.

Manga, and its relatives such as manhwa, seem to be increasingly popular and available in many bookstores. Of course, if you consider it, comics are relatively easy to translate and export - you just need the art and the right interpreter. In an age of e-comics it's even easier because you don't have to make a physical copy.

Now, think of all the manga, manhwa, and other comics out there in the world that aren't available in the US (or your country of residence). Think of the huge backlog out there because comics are a very popular form of art, entertainment, and communication. Think of all the stuff that could be over here.

Think about how technology makes it easier.

Now, ask yourself what that means for comics and for your professional ambitions if they involve comics or media. Ask yourself what it means when a world of comics can go beyond their native country and native language with a good interpreter and some graphic magic. 

Me? I'm not sure what this means in its entirety. I'm not sure what comics out there may have universal appeal, or appeal over here (or were you are). My lack of knowledge actual makes me curious, as well as a bit nervous. Thus, I bring it up as something future, in media professionals–and current ones–should keep in mind.

It's something intriguing to speculate about. For all we know, out there in some other country, perhaps even one we don't associate with comics and comic books, the next hit could be waiting to be translated. Something classic could be a new discovery in other countries–or something new is about to become the hot new thing and blow us all away. We just don't know.

With an increasingly globalized world, with the technology to translate and deliver media quickly, the next, kit, the next cultural crossover can come from anywhere at any time. And we'll probably be caught flat–footed by it.

(Though having written this, at least we can say we suspected it. Sort of.)

So the backlog is out there. It can be translated and distributed fast and effectively. What happens?

Maybe it's time for modern comic professionals to be a bit nervous about that possibility. Maybe those of us working in comics and related profession need to look over shoulders a bit more, follow the news a bit more carefully and ask questions of what property out there in the world could suddenly surprise us.

Or maybe, of course, if we can figure out what it is we might be able to take advantage of it...

The Backlog is there, in the world. We're not sure how big, but we know it's there and it can be brought out. Let's make that part of our plans if it affects our careers...


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