The Epic

An epic spread from Katsuhiro Otomo's manga "AKIRA"

I recently finished reading AKIRA, the 6-part manga epic by Katsuhiro Otomo. My only inclination to read it was from seeing the film, which is stunning, and that Kanye, of all people, draws inspiration from it. So does Kanye influence what I read? Apparently he does. 

As an illustrator and a child of the 2D Disney era, the film and books clicked on many levels. But one level that I didn't realize was there the whole time was my draw towards the long form epic. Throughout the work, I had made all these connections to Superman, future dystopia and Japan's culture of mass, catastrophic destruction. But it wasn't until I closed the final installment did I realize this was Lord of the Rings! This was Harry Potter! This was Star Wars! Lost! House of Cards! Game of Thrones! You name it! This was another serialized expression of an epic drama.

So this made me question why I'm drawn to these types of stories in the first place.

My first parallel is the journey of life itself. Even though we say the years fly by, your life really feels like one, long, drawn out story, going on and on with twists and turns and an ending that no one knows until you get there. So I think we like to read abbreviated versions of what we personally experience as an ongoing narrative. It gives us comfort. Makes us feel like there will be a meaning to our lives.

These stories can also give meaning to what we don't understand about ourselves yet. The characters within can embody our subtle, subconscious traits that we don't clearly identify on our own in an objective way. So these characters can function as a mirror to our own personalities. And when you can identify those traits and learn something positive or informative about yourself, that's when these stories become valuable.

For the first time I feel a real and urgent need to create longer form artwork. There's value behind the richness when a story is told slowly and in detail. With a marketer's focus being on the consumer's short attention span, we miss out on that a lot today, particularly in advertising.

My hope would be to create a future where people ingest less and less media, making way for a collection of a select few long form stories that have a profound meaning in their lives. And all that ends up being is a quantity vs. quality mission.

Kent St JohnComment