Bani Garu: Geeks


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Finally getting some traction! Keep it coming!

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And so TIL that the term “otaku” only came into use relatively recently. Good to know.

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its been in use since the mid-80’s, though generally it was used judgmentally. First time I came across it was when a photo of some people in my Anime fan club (based out of Fort Worth TX) accompanied an article in a Japanese Anime magazine. The title of the article was “American Otaku”, and this was…1986 IIRC. It was probably at least a year or so before we got someone to explain what the word meant.

I really really like this, can’t wait for the next installment!


Gainax brought the word to general American anime fan use with “Otaku no Video.” “Otaku” was not a word they said or used around me when I worked for them.

Otaku trivia: Otaku is actually a pronoun. Japanese geeks went around calling each other - more or less - the equivalent of “thou.” So non-geeks started calling them the “thous.”

Is there an easy way to click from one page of Bani Gyaru to the next? I have no idea how many pages I’ve missed, if any, and I love this story, but the Prev button doesn’t work!

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I’ll fix it


Great strip, Lea!

Just read the last thread–I’ll concur that the manga style was not embraced at that time. I can think of maybe two comics that were done back then by U.S. creators that were moderately successful and were Manga influenced–Ninja High School which was self-published, and Shuriken, both by men, and both during the black and white boom in the mid 80s. By 89 the black and white boom had busted and that was that. Eclipse had minor success with a few Japanese imports. Akira was at first an isolated success. There were no digest-sized manga. Few anime had been translated, and a lot of anime fans still watched anime with fan subs and plot summaries.

Now I may have some of that wrong, but that’s my memory of it.

As for how women were treated in the comics industry then? See: Colleen Doran’s blog. She goes into it pretty extensively. It’s gotten better, but not by much. And if Tess Fowler and Mari Naomi’s recent confessions are any indication, we have a long way to go.

Creator-ownership outside of self-publishing was a rare thing indeed, particularly in genre comics–in other words, 99.9% of the industry, and by 1989, you’d have to be a little nuts to want to self-publish.So I could easily see how Lea’s chances were shitty to nil. And it’s not like she gave up. It’s a testament to her persistence that she stuck with it long enough to have the success that she has.

I don’t know anything about Gainax–this hasn’t interfered with my enjoyment of the strip, though a few details about what they do and what fans make of them might be helpful to folks like me. But I imagine that’s yet to come. I haven’t had any problem with the continuity. I like the hand-lettering here! I wish the whole strip were lettered this way!

Looking forward to more.

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actually… you can reference almost the entire Antarctic Press catalog from that time period (though some of their titles jumped back and forth between Antarctic Press and Eternity), and it was almost entirely “Manga Influenced”. Enternity also had several other Anime/Manga influenced titles…including picking up the license for ROBOTECH post COMICO, and they did a run of what amounts to CAPTAIN HARLOCK fan-fiction when someone finally noticed they had no legal rights to the property.
I would also contend that the “Black and White Bubble” had not yet burst by 1989. It would still be until the mid-90’s when digital colorization services began to become cheap enough that small press outfits could afford it. And its not like there were all that many 4 color web-press’s operating that could print a color comic, and had reasonable access to the distribution chain, I know by 92 it was down to Ronalds in Canada. We had Bremmer in San Antonio but they only did color covers and black and whites and their early attempts at digitization we’re pretty awful… just ask Terry Moore about what they did to his photo ready cover paintings before he moved Strangers in Paradise to Image…anyways… B&W independents were still a big deal up through the mid-90’s… you might have heard of a few.

Creator Ownership was , and I know I’m beating a dead horse here…really not a rare thing at all either. the majority of the titles I was shipping in 89 that didn’t have “Marvel” or DarkHorse" or “DC” somewhere in the indica were probably black and white creator owned titles (only some self published). that probably only represents 15% or so of the titles I shipped, but it did happen. unless we want to talk about Circulation numbers as a mark of “Rarity”, and even then the numbers were much lower even on major titles than most people would realize. * my memory is a little fuzzy… but since I was seeing everything that came through that warehouse every week for a few years at that time period, and I was personally reading 80-100 titles per week, most of them indy comics, I do think I have some standing to back my claims

It is a shame though that Lea didn’t have more success at the time period in getting her ideas picked up. “TEJAS” was a brilliant idea, and among other things, it was decades ahead of its time “SteamPunk” wise.

I’m familiar with some of that stuff, yes, I know Antarctic press published Manga based work, and yes you’re beating a dead horse.

By “end of the black and white boom” I don’t mean that black and white titles were no long being printed or selling, I mean the black and white boom when everybody and their brother was self-publishing their own Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle knockoff. After that it was no longer a boom, it was just a small part of the industry, as you say, represented by much lower numbers, and the bar of entry became higher.

The point was simply: it was a competitive environment where few creator-owned manga-influenced books thrived. And I mean thrived, not existed.

It was even harder if you were a a female creator.

Everything else is hairsplitting and you wasting your time taking up space on this thread that should belong to people talking about Lea’s strip. And now I am no longer listening to you because I am no longer interested.

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On what scale do we use to judge weather or not an artists work was valued “less” based on gender versus the quality of the product produced?

I’ve just been wondering where the line is between the very real issues of misogyny (that still exists) and what would be considered commercially viable properties by publishers? Or where the line is between “the old boys club”, and and a persons difficulty’s in successfully networking in the industry due to say… personality conflicts?

so far as TMNT knock offs… I recall exactly 2. can you name a few others to fill in my memory gaps?

Mod Edit: Removed unnecessary snark

I’m enjoying this series quite a lot; I was a comic book store dogsbody during this era and was the resident Jr Otaku. The first run Viz stuff, Ninja High School (The World shall be saved by Steam!), DarkHorse…all of it made such a huge impression. Then a few years later I went to Japan for a cultural exchange…and I was hooked.

I had a Lum T-shirt…and wore it proudly. Big pink heart and all.


Loving this series, Lea. Don’t let the mansplaining jerks grind you down. Looking forward to the next installment!


it’s been nearly 30 years, but there were a glut of parodies of TMNT comics in the 80’s, which was discussed by pros and in the trades as the B&W boom, referring to all the books attempting to capitalize on the TMNT “formula”. I’m surprised you didn’t see them in the warehouse where you worked.
A friend of my husband’s who lived in Los Angeles bought a copy of all of the parody titles he could find, sure that one of them was going to be the new TMNT #1 and he’d make a fortune off it. I don’t have copies of the Comics Buyers Guide or Friendly Frank’s catalog or Westfield’s subscription service order form from back in the day, but someone who did or owned a store at that time could tell you how many more than a handful there were.
the wikipedia article only discusses 4 parody titles, but there were many others.
from they are discussing Mirage’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1984-1993 years
“The success also led to a black and white comics boom in the mid-1980s, wherein other small publishers put out animal-based parody books hoping to make a quick profit. Among them, the Adolescent Radioactive Black Belt Hamsters, the Cold-Blooded Chameleon Commandos, the Pre-Teen Dirty-Gene Kung Fu Kangaroos, and the Karate Kreatures were obvious parodies of TMNT. Most of them were sold to comic shops in large numbers, but failed to catch on with readers. This speculation led to financial problems with both comic shops and distributors, contributing to a sales collapse in 1986–87.”

aha! thank you. i could recall The Hamsters and the Kangaroos specifically. knew there were others, just couldnt bring them to mind. (someone once tried to claim “Karate Pig, Ninja Flounder, and Kung Fu Monkey” was in that boat, but since it was a Chinese wushu comic retelling of “Journey to the West” I have to disagree)

anyways, thanx.

I recall a dealer in 1986 asking $75 for Albedo. I recall many retailers asking considerable amounts over cover price on b & w books–all hoping for a jackpot. In reality, they were gamblers and not very good ones.

Some other funny animal parody titles: Boris the Bear and Fish Police.

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Independently confirmed among professionals working in comics in the 1980’s: 1987 was the bust year. There were self-published b&w titles after that, but the days of making money were OVER.

Moderator note: Let’s keep our posts from being rude and stay on topic.

My memories of geekdom in the '80s are different. I don’t remember anyone being into anime as early as 1989. Akira had only just been released, AnimeCon hadn’t happened yet, and none of the big distribution of movies or comics was really underway. I’m sure there were people into it, but I can’t imagine you’d see a lot of anime cosplay, or see that much emphasis on manga.
Then again, maybe I’m just referencing my own circle of geekdom in the '80s. I saw Trekkers, LOTR fans, D&D players, wargamers, sci-fi fans, ren faire types, etc., but didn’t really see anime start to get big at cons until the '90s at least.
But then again, maybe that’s just me.