Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A hit man director? And I explain my blog art, C79 and Touhou Project

“The more you kill, the more you save!” is the competition’s motto with their ‘point scheme’ frequent killing cards in You Shoot, I Shoot, award winning Hong Kong film.

I picked up this DVD gem by accident at the Victoria Library, which means you can reserve by computer anywhere in BC to watch for free. The basic story is of Bart, a hit man who is trying to make ends meet in overcrowded Hong Kong. His wife, besides a penchant for doing his nails while drunk, tries to convince him to go seek jobs. He tries to explain the whole ‘lone gunman’ and ‘samurai’ ideal of the hit man means that he doesn’t do ‘cold calls’ to drum up a hit. Because as he soon finds out, what is worse that a hit man who is running out of money? A hit man who has called every client and done cold calls and is STILL running out of money. Plus he has to avoid his in-laws who are always trying to get him to do free kills over minor disputes with neighbors.

But, through a happy accident (a client who wants the assassination filmed), Bart meets up with Chuen, an assistant director who can’t make the rent and was paid for his last film work with weed. As he says, “I don’t want to be a drug dealer, I want to be a film director.” Well, he is extremely fussy about his film, and starts talking to Bart about ‘lighting’ and time of day, and Bart tells, “I find the best time, is to shoot the person BEFORE the police arrive.” Besides a not so great first job, which Chuen pulls off in post-production editing (after he has called for a ‘reshoot’, then stares are the body and freaks out), the client if happy and all of her rich female friends are happy as now you not only get a hit, but the home movie, professionally edited as well! Chuen even made an animated logo, which is becoming a brand name among the rich female clients, and business booms as they sell watches to cuff links with the logo as the orders for 'hits' and films pile up.
It is simply a fun film, with plenty of humor, as both the hitman Bart and director Chuen seem to be enjoying themselves, much to the anger of the other hitmen. In a new use for lego toys, Chuen works out new ways to make shots and lighting during a kill with Bart (including doing ‘pre-sets’ with lego figures and rooms).
I used viewing this DVD as my reward for finishing my annual doujinshi purchases. And here is the 101 on the use of ‘fan art’ or art doujinshi from japan as well as how it is used on Screw Bronze.

At Screw Bronze, I work to use art and text together to create a combined effect. But also, I want to use the art legally. Because of this, I save money to make an annual purchase of artist produced personal use sold art. Twice a year in Japan, there is a huge convention where thousands of groups called ‘circles’ which can range from one to eight people get together to produce an art book, either in black and white or color. The Japanese paper processing and color production is so far ahead of north America that, for example the mill in Port Angeles is owned by a Japanese company which processes the lumber then ships the paper pulp home for the high end processing: from Washi to thick gloss that matches or exceeds the colors reproduced on Museum quality productions.

Japan likes to buy US mills (and Canadian ones) because a) we are happy to sell them and b) they would rather cut down the trees here, and conserve Japanese trees. The market for creating both art and story booklets and books from 4 pages to 240 pages is so large that most local copy shops have discounts for early submission for printing of 60 to several thousand copies to a 10% or 15% late fee for last minute submissions. Then, with a table stacked with your latest art book, the circle or representative sells at the local Comiket (largest being Tokyo). This is shown in manga and anime like Genshiken, Comic Party to the manga/anime story of two starting artists and the established artists who encourage them on in Doujin Work.
Because Japanese stores do not sell or ship overseas usually, I have to use a ‘service’ which adds another 18% or so to the order. However, the diversity of artists whose non-ISBN single imprints (they don’t reproduce as these are ‘off the gird’ publications), or simply sell you a CD or DVD of art from the last five years to use, or sell you the book and the DVD together. This makes it the affordable way to get great art at a feasible price. I have written two editors of Japanese publishers, to see if the person use of these art books (sometimes known as illustration doujinshi or ‘fan art’) is legal or not. It is legal for personal use, was the reply I got from Japan. Doujinshi, which 99% of the time means stories using legally copyrighted characters, used for erotic or other stories, breaks copyright and is seen more and more from US firms as a code for ‘illegal’ (though it is a tradition about 180 years old in Japan).

I was advised to use the term ‘fan art’ by the art publishing editors of ISBN books instead of ‘illustrated doujinshi’ due to this misconception. To confuse the issue further, some artists, namely Tony (who does erotic art) and Redjuice do reproduce their doujinshi, to make a full career out of it. Even famous artists in the industry, like Ito at last year’s Sakura-con signed both her ISBN and fully ‘legal’ art book from the art of her two animes, but also signed with great pleasure her ‘art doujinshi’ which had drawings of her interpretation from Evangelion (a licensed product). Many professional artists, who got their start with art doujinshi like to produce doujinshi and show up at the conventions as it is lucrative (the books often cost the same price as art books, but are only 20-30 pages long), and a giant fan base.

Art doujinshi does cost more, from 500 yen ($6.95) to over 3,000 yen ($40+) per book, which is published from the tiny A5, to B5 and A4 size and may come with clear folders, a DVD of the artists art or postcards. The higher price is because of the higher print costs, the low amounts (a few hundred copies), that they are not available in stores, due to no ISBN or distributor (the money goes right to the artist), and that when they are gone they are gone. Plus, they are doing art, from 'moe' girls, to fantasy, to urban environments, and just slices of life, they draw the aspects that 'professional artists' are not doing as much of.

This people who follow favorite artists will pay large amounts, over $500 for a single original art doujinshi book. Artist like Tinkle manipulate this, as she has a habit of printing a book but not making any announcement, and only having it for sale on that day. Tony, who is exporting his doujinshi to AnimeBooks, Akadot and other stores in the West is a bit of a lie, as he either has published thousands upon thousands of each book, or keeps reprinting them. Ebay often cracks down on people selling doujinshi assuming the art is illegal, which under the current art agreement it is not.

I often wonder why Tony doesn’t just get an ISBN and sell on Amazon? It is probably because he can charge $45 for a 30 page book at smaller online stores for those who already collect his work. If he did get an ISBN and distributor he would lose control of both the profits and where his work was sold. Sadly, these one to four top name artists are making it even harder for the thousands of small circles, some of which may only get together and produce a single 28 page art doujinshi before their university days end and the circle disbands.

I, once I get the book shipped from Japan (for the most part, sight unseen except for 1-4 pages), I take photographes of the pages and art for personal use. The photographs I take ARE under copyright then, to me, so my photograph of the art on the blog (photo, then cropped) should stop that image from being legally misused. In the case of a DVD of the art sold instead of a book, I use and crop those images for personal, no-profit use, and mix them with other pictures I take on trips or of various locations or items of interest (like my lunch!). For over a year, I wrote in email, both in English and Japanese to the artists to ask for limited, non-profit use, using the reverse formula (“If I don’t hear from you in 6 months, I will take that to be assent for a non-profit personal single use”) taught to me in the copyright class for teachers. I have never had an artists or a musician say no (for images or using their song in those music video’s I make - indeed, they want to see the video).

The comiket finished at the new year, and only after it is over, does 1 or 2 shops carry some of the items sold there. Finding and selecting the clean under 18+ art, which resides amoung a lot of 18+ images, is the hard part (the comiket is a place where males and females go to get good erotic material for personal interests – the joke of the comiket is the horror of having your bag fall and all your secrets spill out and if you WANT anyone to help you pick them up). Then creating a master list, and then limiting the list to what is in stock and what can be afforded.That is what the last four days was about, including working through the night so that I would not forget the things I had seen during the day. The 22 selected items were sent with links to the Japanese service buyer, two were sold out, and replaced with items off the ‘substitute list’. All this to get the quality and diversity of pictures on Screw Bronze. So now you know where the ‘fun money’ goes....well that, manga and pocky.

Some of the things I am looking forward to getting, once they are shipped (I don’t think I can afford Air Mail, boo hoo) is the Black Rock Shooter 40+ page art story by the group/circle White Dutura. It has an urban/goth and steam punk style mixed with some rock and roll. Goto-P, a favorite artist of mine, who doesn’t produce a lot of commercial work in art books put out Bambina in Italia, where each page shows the places in Italy while the drawing shows the ‘Goto-P vision’, like Pompeii here.
The diversity of style and viewpoint are some of the things which bring me back again and again to doujinshi artists. While some artists are known and raise prices accordingly (like Garden Blue, whose $25 small 20+ page book wasn’t something I could afford this time), I try to find a few new artists each time to mix in among the known. The circle Serendipity didn’t start until five months ago, and so their first printing, a 12 page tiny A5 color book named Espoir for $6.95 looks to have some great art (if a little small). Garnet, a small circle who started last year did Project 2, another work on the ‘Touhou Project’. The Touhou project which started as a doujinshi game, is where artists use the characters from the game in their own art in different ways. By now, literally hundreds to thousands of doujinshi artists have made ‘Touhou Project’ doujinshi’s, while other circles ONLY make them. The characters, due to being in a doujinshi game, are open for use by any artist, and what started small as an in-joke is now almost 40% or more of the art produced for the comiket. If, you as an artist want to give the Touhou Project a try, there are compilations, of 80 pages or so, of the best from various artists, so please, email me and I will try to recommend an affordable book to give you ideas.

The circle Garnet focuses on the Touhou Project only and as you can see in this picture, compares the green world of nature and the shrine, bringing the spiritual and physical together opposed to the ‘alternate’ world of the giant city, which most Japanese (and North American’s live in).

I hope that and the other pictures in this blog give you a taste of pictures to come and also explains that yes, again, in another area, I may spent way too much effort. But much like the postcards, it has to be the best, and it takes time but I like to think the results are worth it. With art doujinshi, I can spend a few hours selecting the ‘right’ pictures for the ‘right’ emotions in the blog post, no matter how 'gritty'.
I wrote this to let you know what I was doing, but also to let people know that I take all effort to legally bring enjoyable blogs to them. I do not ‘rip’ images from artists, or from the net. And while doing that might take extra effort, and time (and wow, am I exhausted), it seems the best things in life from a good cup of tea to a relationship all require effort and time.


tinarussell said...

Yaaaay, I’m glad to know where the art on your blog comes from. It’s fabulous and awe-inspiring, and always fits the mood and makes me want to live. It’s really one of the major things that drew me into this blog (another one being, of course, seeing that I could apply to get a pretty postcard from from a lady who already seems to know just what I like).

SharonMV said...

I've often wondered how you find such perfect art to go with your blogs. I like hearing about the circles and the comiket convention. it seems a great way for customers & fans to gain access to the work of many young and new artists as well those with more of a reputation.
I knew you were concerned with copyright and using art legally. When I did needlework, sometimes I'd use patterns or designs created by professional designers. If you purchased the design, you could stitch it and then sell the original pattern if you wished to. But copying the design & sharing it with others is against copyright.

I love Japanese paper! I've been working with some washi paper the last few days. So beautiful! I tend to use it only in small amounts as it seems precious. I am concerned though, that they are buying mills here & cutting down our trees in the US & Canada.

Vanessa said...

I love the art on your blog. I'm glad you shared where you got it from. :D

I snuck out of the house to go the library to check my mail and read your blog. I'm doing better, no hospital this time which is a plus. :) I hope to be back to work soon.

Lorna, Bob and Liam said...

Explanation of the art on your blog? Very cool. Movie review? Very compelling... we'll be getting it.

Thanks, as always, for broadening our horizons, Beth!

Bonnie said...

Ah, I came home after a 3 week trip and found a postcard. An excellent thing to come home to.

I was in Salt Lake City, visiting my parents. We drove out to Antelpe Island and saw porcupines climbing trees! I thought of you and your affection for squirrels.

The porcupines are just so darn cute in real life. They look, honestly, very cuddly. I wanted to pick one up and cuddle it. The distance between the quills make them look fluffy. Very cute!

wendryn said...

I'm glad to know where the art comes from! I'm also happy that it is all legal and that musicians like seeing what you do with their work.

I think we're going to have to track down that movie. :)

Neil said...

It's nice to know that you're not breaking copyright with your images; but I never thought that you would.

However, as beautiful as Japanese paper is, I worry about our forests. I don't want to lose the nice paper or the trees. Hmmm, what to do?

Love and zen hugs,

Lene Andersen said...

a hitman cold calling clients? that's a whole new level of marketing. I wonder if they'd do commercials?

thanks for such a wonderfully detailed explanation of how you use the article blogs. I've learned so much about art, Japanese art and Japanese culture from you.

Elizabeth McClung said...

Neil and Sharon: I agree that the US and Canada should preserve our trees, and perhaps be more like Japan, whose religious beliefs are combined with nature so to preserve the land is the duty of the people. I think the US thinks there is so much, always so much that they actually passed a law to open up more of the beautiful redwoods to logging. Who wouldn't want to buy beams like that, and Japan, which has the world's largest wooden structure (a shrine at Nara, where I fed the deer), sees as valuable what we do not. I guess maybe we should appreciate the value of it more. Because I love trees and wood, and don't understand why British Columbia treats the lumber and water and other resources like a giant garage sale, instead of like a trustee for the next generations. Sorry if that is too much an answer.

Elizabeth McClung said...

The art here costs, and when it seems so many do the easy thing, it is hard to have to work so hard and save to pay for art that I can legally use in a personal blog. But at the end of life, I want to be the same as I was looking at a long future - a person to whom the principles matter (and researching art law and usage is not an easy go, I can assure you. Since almost every photo I take technicallly could be in breach - since the clothes I wear, the glasses, even my wheelchair is 'trademarked' and techincally, someone could sue because I don't have special authorization to take the photo of me in a hospital bed (which is also trademarked) - welcome to art law!).

Elizabeth McClung said...

Vanessa: I am glad you are not in the hospital and that you like the art. As I have more problems with my dyslexia and visual and mental word recognition, often the visual is what I can remember and relate to - and I hope that the art carries the meaning through.

Lorna: I recommend the film, if you can get it through the library (I think it is a bit cult on Amazon).

Bonnie: I would have liked to see porcipines climbing trees.

Wendryn: I was surprised that the muscians answered and said it was okay to use this song or that song (I still have about 3 or 4 songs I can use, so I have to get my butt going to make some more videos - I have some footage Linda took of me in a seizure, but some things are private, and it hurts me to watch, knowing I am not having seizures with my legs anymore because the electrical bursts aren't getting down there).

Lene: thanks, I think people like the pictures, and since it takes up a significant amount of time (the photos when the arrive, the sorting, the downloading, etc), I wanted people to understand that, but also that they too can get doujinshi art if they wish (it rises in value over time - I gave a couple of 'new' groups I found as gifts and one has gone up to about $50 in value, though only 16 pages, and another the same - maybe this will help Linda get some savings or pay the bills when I go).

JaneB said...

Well, that sounds like fun... tiring, and typically EFM-obsessed with doing things Right and going the extra mile, but fun. I hope you let us know when the package of new art arrives for you to drool over!

Bonnie said...

I recieved your gift package (soap and a 3-D flower bouquet) and thank you very much!

Elizabeth McClung said...

Bonnie - thanks, I guess...but I can't quite figure out the connection to the hit man movie. My email is: mpshiel at hotmail.com - cheers and I am glad you loved the presents more than any others and wanted every person who reads here to know that.

Kate J said...

Really interesting! I've always enjoyed the wide variety of art that you put on your blog, and it's great to know where it all comes from. What a lot of work and effort you go to... I'm sure much appreciated by everyone who follows Screw Bronze. It's certainly opened my eyes to the huge range of art from Japan. Thanks for educating me!

Talking of Japan, I saw the film Grave of the Fireflies at the weekend. Yes I know it's a 20-year old movie but I never saw it before. Amazing. One of the best films about war I've seen, for sure.
Happy new year, sorry I didn't wish you it sooner.
Love & peace

boycottamericanwomen said...

Why American men should boycott American women


I am an American man, and I have decided to boycott American women. In a nutshell, American women are the most likely to cheat on you, to divorce you, to get fat, to steal half of your money in the divorce courts, don't know how to cook or clean, don't want to have children, etc. Therefore, what intelligent man would want to get involved with American women?

American women are generally immature, selfish, extremely arrogant and self-centered, mentally unstable, irresponsible, and highly unchaste. The behavior of most American women is utterly disgusting, to say the least.

This blog is my attempt to explain why I feel American women are inferior to foreign women (non-American women), and why American men should boycott American women, and date/marry only foreign (non-American) women.


Elizabeth McClung said...

and coco for cocoa puffs

Sue said...

Elizabeth, I have always loved the pictures on your blog and wondered where you got them. At first I thought that you created them all yourself, but you never mentioned drawing, so I began to think they came from somewhere else, and I had no idea where. I've always been amazed at how appropriate the images are to the text and began to sense that you spend an inordinate amount of time creating posts that are both thought-provoking and enjoyable. I'm a blogger too and try not to run afoul of copyright law by crediting any sources I use, though I know it's more complicated than that. Best wishes for 2011.