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Calling All Asian Media Supporters... Giant Robot Needs Your Help!

Logo handmade by Bannister Column by Scott Green
Few subjects can fire up genre fans' interest like news of a Hollywood adaptation of Asian media. Whether its derision (Dragon Ball), antipathy (Oldboy) or support (various mecha franchises), the notion of feeding an Asian favorite into the American film process has proven to be a provocative prospect. The reasons for this are evident. My domains on AICN are Japanese comics and Japanese animation, and what I've always said is the appeal of these subjects is that they offer a distinctive perspective, presented in a distinctive style. That applies to the broader topic of Asian media that has attracted North American interest. Whether it's Park Chan-wook's Old Boy or Junko Mizuno's vision of grotesque cuteness, Asian media has offered plenty of works of attention commanding distinctiveness with plenty of reason to possess a strong opinion about the prospect of it being reprocessed. Since 1994, one of the most eye opening and insightful outlets for information on Asian and Asian American popular culture has been the bi-monthly magazine Giant Robot. To be honest, as with the New Yorker, I've gotten busy and backlogged and let my subscription run out a few times, but the highly recommended resource is one that I've always found to be valuably eye opening. The most recent issue 63 alone featured Hong Kong film god John Woo, Katamari Damacy creator Keita Takahashi, Pro skateboarder Kenny Anderson, actor Nick Cheung, Indie filmmaker from the Philippines Ana Agabin, Indie crime writer Leonard Chang, and Hong Kong art filmmaker Yonfan. I'd like to think that these are the kind of subjects that excite AICN readers.
Unfortunately, Giant Robot has not escaped the pressures cracking the print industry. I don't think you'll find a more addicted digital media junky than me. Decorum be damned, if I have nothing better to do, I'll pull out my phone and start browsing RSS feeds. At the same time, I'd argue that digital media rarely matches print in depth and can't compare in graphic design. Cases in which it has been able to support the kind of writer who've made a career in print have been rare. Even if online ventures weren't also facing difficulties, the loss of an outstanding print magazine is unlikely to be compensated for by the addition anything online. As such, when a outlet like Giant Robot says there on the precipice, it deserves notice. So, allow me to direct your attention to Giant Robot's fundraiser. THE MAGAZINE For more than 15 years, Giant Robot has been documenting, promoting, and growing Asian and Asian American popular culture. Although a lot has changed since 1994, and there’s more immediate access to interesting stuff from around the world than ever, most of it is still crap and Giant Robot is as relevant as ever. Not only do we share what we think is the most interesting, compelling, or just plain cool aspects of Asian pop culture, but we also shape it and affect how readers in America and other countries perceive Asian, Asian American, independent, and underdog culture. Our distinctive editorial voice and clear sense of purpose has earned a loyal readership that includes academics and punks; old-school Asian activists and new-school bloggers; art fans, moviegoers, music listeners, comic readers, and food fiends; and Asians and non-Asians alike. And as the publication has evolved into a glossy magazine with a dedicated national following (with international distribution as well), so has the company’s business model. The unprofitable process of magazine publishing was bolstered with a series of like-minded retail outlets. After offering mail order and online sales, we went on to open locations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York City. Our galleries and shops have not only provided a means of support for a horde of up-and-coming artists and indie businesses, but led the way for a generation of boutique/art gallery hybrids. THE MOMENT While diversification allowed Giant Robot to escape the fate suffered by many of our indie publishing peers in the second half of the ‘00s, 2009 was brutal. In addition to several distributors cutting out small press or folding altogether, paper has become more expensive and postage has skyrocketed exponentially. And while there has also been the support of loyal advertisers, the middle class of supporters has dropped, creating peaks and valleys in income that force us to live issue to issue. Complicating matters, store revenues and art show sales have suffered along with the economy, depriving the magazine of resources that allowed it to operate freely and thrive without the benefit or constraints of being part of a large publishing house. Reducing pages, going from bimonthly to quarterly, or becoming an online entity are not options, and our editorial and production staff of two full-timers and two part-timers (intact since issue 18) is already as lean as can be. And so, we are taking a series of actions with the intention of not only outlasting the economic downturn but becoming an even tighter operation with an improved publication. These steps include improving the content, explore printing and distribution options, and evolving with technology. We are also seeking help from friends. THE MESSAGE Although the idea of a Giant Robot Foundation is not new (a non-tax-deductible donation form has been included with subscription renewal notices for years now), this particular online campaign is. We believe that there are multiple generations artists, designers, bands, filmmakers, and travelers, as well as fans, students, and supporters of interesting culture who believe in what we do and want Giant Robot magazine to continue on its path without sacrificing quality, quantity, or independence. We have done the math, and an infusion of $60,000 (hopefully more) will ensure another year of full, unfettered operation with no strings attached to a shifting media paradigm, advertising climate, sketchy distributors, and the economy—each of which we are not ignoring but addressing straight-on. In concert with the other measures (not to mention the realignment and recovery of our shops), we feel that Giant Robot’s future and its continuing impact of society will be secure. If you have been affected or inspired by Giant Robot—perhaps even featured in the pages of the magazine—please help however you can. All support, both through finances and spreading the word, will be appreciated and make a difference.

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  • Feb. 8, 2010, 9:35 a.m. CST

    did i make it?

    by tiltandflip

  • Feb. 8, 2010, 9:36 a.m. CST


    by tiltandflip

  • Feb. 8, 2010, 10:03 a.m. CST


    by Manchinko

  • Feb. 8, 2010, 10:14 a.m. CST


    by Anything But Tangerines

    they need, I don't know, GIANT ROBOTS in their magazine instead of just a bunch of slanty eyes looking at you. could give them an unexpected audience.

  • Feb. 8, 2010, 10:18 a.m. CST

    It's sad

    by kafka07

    A lot of great print is going the way of the dodo. My advice to Giant Robot would be to try to adapt. Maybe release of lot of news/articles/art on their website. It might be a lot easier to get sponsors online these days. And then try to use some of that money to print periodically.

  • Feb. 8, 2010, 10:25 a.m. CST


    by JamesT

    Good luck on the magazine, but I thought this was related to a Johnny Sokko movie.

  • Feb. 8, 2010, 10:33 a.m. CST

    Waaa! You give money - we love you long time...Auto-mo-bile!!

    by Vulcan_CSC_Rep

    Maybe this was meant to be, let them go on to other outlets. Perhaps other companies and industries (and the public) will be better served by the synergy these rag men bring with them. Lord knows the porn industry needs some life. Let this rag fall by the way side, just like all the other niche publications.

  • Feb. 8, 2010, 10:45 a.m. CST

    I'll be donating

    by zendavis

    in the form of getting a two year subscription.

  • Feb. 8, 2010, 10:47 a.m. CST

    And on a sidenote -

    by zendavis

    A lot of you guys are using racism as a crutch for humor - when in reality you've said nothing funny at all.

  • Feb. 8, 2010, 10:51 a.m. CST

    Zendavisss isss right- SSSSTOP IT!!!

    by Vulcan_CSC_Rep

  • Feb. 8, 2010, 12:11 p.m. CST

    Print is not dead

    by skiprat1

    In fact if anything, I think the reverse is true. No-one knows how to translate the magazine experience to a digital format, and there are no industry standards yet in place to guide people. It's a great time for innovation in digital magazine layout and production - which is what my company specializes in - but we've been surprised by a couple of our digital only publications actually being reverse-engineered to print editions due to advertiser demands. So it's not all doom and gloom basically.

  • Feb. 8, 2010, 12:37 p.m. CST

    On a sidenote - Racism can be funny.

    by zendavis

    You guys just suck at pulling it off.

  • Feb. 8, 2010, 2:54 p.m. CST

    no idiots

    by happyboy

    if you haven't ever even seen the mag (and those posting obviously haven't) why would you post platitudes about changing formats and going online. different publications have different suitability to media. for example Life magazine could not have existed in any other form than print. you simply would not get the same impact of the pictures online nor would TV have captured that snapshot of america feel iconic to Life. something like TMZ could never go into newprint and will fail on TV since it relies on live video and TV does not update quick enough. Giant Robot has a distinct design sensibility that's particular to print, it's influenced by Jap pop magazines and it's much like holding a comic book in your hand, it would not translate to online, you'd have to entirely redesign thematically, which would in fact make it an entirely different thing. Zendavis, dont sweat the racism, the kid posting is 14 years old at the bottom of the socio-economic spectrum working part time at Burger King (soon to be full time in 2 years), what is sad is that .0001% of the Japanese American population could donate 50cents each and keep this magazine afloat but Asians are apathetic about their own culture. If like .000000001% of Asian Americans who gave to Haiti also dug in and gave for this cause it'd have stayed afloat. (and yes this magazine is indeed going down... if not this year in a year or 2)

  • Feb. 8, 2010, 4:23 p.m. CST

    Sooo what Happy Boy is saying is that....

    by Vulcan_CSC_Rep

    There's sooo many Asians here that they could easily keep this horrible magazine afloat. By the way TMZ is doing just fine on TV, and yes this magazine will and should go the way of the dinosaur. Unless you voted for Palin, in which case, you don't believe in dinosaurs. ....And since we're on the subject of AVATAR- Scully's brother 'died for the paper in his wallet' on a planet 'where there is no more green'....hmmm they must have used imitation trees for the paper.

  • Feb. 8, 2010, 6:09 p.m. CST

    Johnny Sokko...

    by Flexfill

    is still crying for Giant Robot.

  • Feb. 8, 2010, 10:41 p.m. CST

    Don't let some idiots fool you, "Oldboy" adaptation would have b

    by Proman1984

    And a lot of people actually said so. Spielberg's Oldboy would have been hardcore gritty greatness.

  • Feb. 9, 2010, 12:54 a.m. CST

    Why Not Make A "Giant Robot" Movie As A Fund Raiser?

    by Media Messiah

    Profits from DVDs Sales and Rentals, Premium Cable, Pay-Per-View, Basic Cable, and Broadcast Television, as well as any Product Tie-ins, and Product Placement...are all great profit streams that will never dry-up. Just do a film, and keep the budget down, and people will buy what they have to sell, which is the film--and the profits can be treated like a donation to the magazine, and or, financial underwriting to keep it afloat.

  • Feb. 10, 2010, 6:12 a.m. CST

    Giant Robot died for me when they went into retail

    by meltendo

    I quit buying the mag when Giant Robot stopped doing stories about cool Pop culture and became a mag to push their wares or hipster stuff. Quick notes: --The mag was a blast when it covered really great pop stuff coming out of Asia. Then it seemed like every issue and cover was about artists. The worst part is they would also sell books/art/stuff in their stores from the artists they covered. Not exactly cool. Would they bother to do stories on stuff that wasn't in their stores? --It got too hipster. The issues that you show in your photos (which I have many of) dealt with really fun stuff: from popular actors to reviews of the best instant noodles. Then it seemed every issue became an "I'm cooler than you" diatribe covering hipster-centric subjects. I am looking forward to their booth at Comic Con but the magazine has been a non-purchase for me for years. I just couldn't trust them editorially when their own store seemed to be the focus.