Today I spent a few hours in the afternoon in a mall in the Chicago area. I wandered around and even bought some new shoes while waiting on others. I was astonished by the fact that practically all of the retailers are the same names as when I was a kid in Michigan.
Claires (where I got my ears pierced when I was 15 while my parents were out of town) Wilsons, Spencers, all of the places kids buy posters and t-shirts and books and shoes were the same. They had the same almost dangerous skull t-shirt in the window display, the “I want to look older” girls outfits, all intermingled with the same toothless geriatrics hiding in the air conditioning like some waiting room before dying.
One thing did change that I saw, which was the content of the bookstore. In a Walden books I found 9 shelving units worth of Manga. 4 times the size of the fiction and literature sections. Though the content was toned down from the often violet and pornographic Manga of Japan; the easy to read, fast paced style was intact. Upon asking the manager if this was local (only for this store) she said that all of the Waldens had at least this big a Manga selection and that corporate wanted them to be bigger because of the demand.
Will this badly drawn comic book style become the literature of my daughter’s generation? The form itself could potentially produce artists of great measure (much as english comics did in the 1990s and american in the 1960s) Yet something seems wrong when we have to scale back classic literature to accommodate this disposable entertainment.