Manga-ka Jiro Kuwata wrote and drew the original manga, but you'd need to do a little digging to figure that out. There is no credit whatsoever for him on the cover, instead relegating his name to the interior flap... even if we accept that Kidd et al. played a very important role in designing and presenting this book to an American audience, I'm not sure how that justifies the de facto usurping of authorship here, or the diminishment of the role played by the actual creator of these materials, without whom Kidd and friends would have had nothing to compile, edit, and claim as their own. For shame.
First, Bat-Manga is not just about the work of Mr. Kuwata, although that of course makes up the bulk of the book. Rather, it is about chronicling the phenomenon—however short-lived—of Batman in Japan in 1966. To that end, the book itself as an act of pop-culture reconnaissance is entirely the product of Saul Ferris, Geoff Spear, and myself. Mr. Kuwata is prominently mentioned on the front flap (as is translator Anne Ishii) and on the back cover, so it’s not like we’re trying to deny him any credit. I would not have made the considerable effort to track him down, interview, and photograph him if that were the case. It is worth noting that before we took it upon ourselves to do this, NO ONE had any interested in collecting this material for reprinting, least of Shonen King (and they still don’t—Bat-manga has amazingly failed to find a Japanese publisher). But I would put forth the analogy: when Ken Burns made his documentary on the Civil War, the subsequent book had his name, and his writer Geoffrey Ward, on the front. It did not have the names General Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, or Abraham Lincoln, or any contemporary historians that Burns interviewed. That may sound like a stretch, but it’s the same situation. We took it upon ourselves to put this project together because of our love for this material. We spent far more of our own money amassing everything then we’ll ever see out of sales of the book; and without going into details, any money we did get as an advance went right back to Mr. Kuwata, who was thrilled to get it. As he is thrilled with the book—I’ve heard nothing but compliments and thanks from him. So that’s what I have to say. In this culture of blogger-snark I’m sure this is just the equivalent of painting an even larger target on my forehead, but I can’t just say nothing.
If this were a straight-up reprint, along the lines of what Vertical is doing with Tezuka’s work or D+Q is doing with Tatsumi, yeah, the author’s name should be front and centre. But this? These comics are being given equal consideration with toy photos, costumes, magazine covers, and other various ephemera. Chip Kidd, Geoff Spear, and Saul Ferris have opted to cover the phenomenon of Batman in Japan, with the comics being given the most weight in the collection. You can argue that the focus is different than you might prefer, but on the book’s own merits I think the consideration given to all parties is fair. As is the compensation, by all accounts.
Kidd's wrong. The selling point of this book, to this buyer, was never Japanese Batman Halloween costumes... That's not to say there's not a lot of amusing, crazy, funny stuff to be found in the wild world of licensed and unlicensed merchandise and tat, but my interest in it is low enough to not need it on my LJ Friends Page, and I don't like the way Kidd frames it. The selling point was JIRO KUWATA BATMAN COMICS. But to see the shoddy way the comics are presented, to know that a properly restored reprint would have been a million times more preferable, to see bloggers I respect raise a reasonable eyebrow over the issue of credit, and to see the "artist" respond by being such a complete and utter heel in his e-mail to Mautner... well, I have an obligation to my local comic shop to actually pay for the material that I requested he order, but that's not a mistake I'm going to make with Chip Kidd again.