Every once in a while you hear or read some alarmist story about how some genre of media is having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad influence on impressionable youth, or whatever. Comic books rot your brain, Sunday-morning cartoons make you violent, video games desensitize you to death, newspaper comics impair your ability to function in society, science fiction magazines are introducing our children to bestiality and drug use and…
You get the idea.
I tend to think this is generally really stupid. Playing video games and watching classic Hanna-Barbera cartoons didn’t make me a vitriolic curmudgeon. (Going to a high school full of vapid, empty-headed dumbasses made me a vitriolic curmudgeon. Probably.)
That being said, I recently… oh man, this is really hard to say… I recently… did something…solely because I was inspired by manga.
There. I’ve admitted it. Hi, my name is Nemo de Monet, and I…
…for a few brief moments forgot that I completely suck at absolutely everything that I do.
It’s like this: When I was in school, I took a lot of art classes. I did this, unlike most people, not because I’m any good at art, but because it was, very cynically, no less useless-and slightly less stressful-than any of the other things I could have been learning at the time, never to use again once I graduated.
I’ve found, in “the real world”, the ability to calculate the vanishing-point in a picture exactly as useful as the ability to solve for X in some artificially complicated equation.
I used to draw, now and then, and even paint, a very little bit, for a couple years after I graduated. Then I filled up my sketchbook, and just… never really did anything artistic or creative, ever again. It was no real hardship, seeing as I sucked, but, still…
Well, recently I was reading two manga series that involve art schools (I have no idea why) – GA: Geijutsuka Art Design Class and Sunshine Sketch (a/k/a Hidamari Sketch). They’re fun. They’re entertaining.
They… made me kind of nostalgic for the good old days when I used to draw and doodle and crap like that.
So, I tracked down the first book on drawing my mother ever gave me, bought a sketchbook and some pencils (and tried to buy an eraser, but that’s a story for another day), and had this blissful bit of childhood nostalgia going for, like… ten, maybe fifteen seconds.
I still suck really really badly at art, and a dozen years of disuse have not improved what few skills I might have had in that area. And Mark Kistler’s Draw Squad is still a stupid, patronizing, vaguely frustrating introduction to pedantic crap I learned in grade school and still remember. (About five minutes after opening it, I was reminded why I sold my original copy, years and years and years ago.)
Yep. I went back to drawing and doodling because those two manga made it look cool.
I’m so embarrassed.
Obviously, I’m not “young” anymore, and I like to think I’m not particularly impressionable. So it’s kind of weird to think that I’ve been cruelly and subtly influenced and manipulated by something I’ve read – especially because I think this is the first time this has ever happened to me.
Reading fantasy novels didn’t make me pagan. Reading cyberpunk had no effect on my love/hate relationship with computers. Reading Rubyfruit Jungle didn’t make me a lesbian. Watching Azumanga Daioh didn’t make me want to visit Okinawa. Watching City Hunter didn’t make me want to solve all my relationship problems with a two-ton mallet. But you read a couple of volumes about art, and…
Well, it’s not like I took up methamphetamine use, or whatever. (Though being high as a kite would at least partially justify my complete inability to draw…) But I’m now a believer in the horrible and dangerous influence of Japanese media. I’d write my congressperson and demand these things come with warning labels, at a minimum, but… eh. That sounds like effort. Wait, did I really just write that? Oh, God, I’m turning into a hikikomori NEET with no artistic talent! I’m in despair!
Tomorrow: The riveting saga of how I tried to buy an eraser, and failed. It’s more exciting than it sounds, I promise!