It may not be apparent at first, but I know there is a strong connection between the fact that so many Americans are driving Japanese cars (and using Japanese electronics of course) and so many Japanese people reading Manga (the Japanese word for comic book) and so few Americans reading comic books anymore. It is my opinion that comic books play a very strong role in the development of imagination because they literally transport one into a completely different reality, into a world which sometimes looks like our world but where anything is possible. And I truly believe that it is the imaginations cultivated by comic books that yield forward thinking, future-minded individuals which produce innovations such as better cars and electronics which push mankind forward. If Americans are driving Japanese cars it is because they are currently emerged in a culture which calls comic book fans nerds and losers, tells the artist he will starve and struggle and calls crazy anyone that does not tow the line.
What about Japan? Well, it is said that over 40% of all printed material in Japan is manga. When you ride the train in Japan you see people of all ages, business professionals as well as young people, reading manga. They show up every week excited for the new manga releases and their entire manga industry far out produces the United States and every other country. It is the number comic book consuming country on planet Earth. Manga artists and writers also significantly out produce their American counter-parts, creating a culture where artists are highly respected and admired. And while American comic book reading continues to slip, Japanese manga sales continue to climb, especially in America and Europe.
To give more understanding of the current American comic book scene, let's examine the title "Batman" by DC Comics, long used as the bar in which to judge all title sales because it is one of the most steady sellers. Well, a typical issue of Batman, released once a month, will usually sell 50,000 to maybe 80,000 copies in the United States. Not the sales figure you were expecting right? In a country of 311 million people you would think the number would be higher. If only 1% of all Americans read comic books that would be 3.1 million people showing up to their local comic book shops each week, but sadly the actual number of comic book readers is tiny. And this from a country that invented the comic book and super heroes. This is from the country that created "The Avengers" and "The Dark Knight" and a slew of Hollywood blockbusters based on comic books.
I'm an American. I drive a Honda. I read comic books but I also read manga. I want to be where imagination is and follow those that nurture and encourage it. We let the automobile slip away from us and the comic book too, but it doesn't mean we couldn't reverse the trend and reclaim our top spot. As I write this Elon Musk at Tesla Motors out in California is building one the greatest electric cars on Earth and great American comic book writers and artists are creating the stories that will be the next big Hollywood blockbuster. Rethink what is happening in our world and figure out how you can play a part in creating a more ideal one: filled with better technologies and better art. Let's make a world where our imaginations are let loose to create so maybe one day there will be less need of doctors and lawyers and more need of artists and writers. After all, nothing heals or helps more than art does.
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I'm David Carus. From overcoming one of the most dangerous cities in the country and graduating from one of the most prestigious colleges in America to leading an educational movement as a teacher and running for Congress at the age of 25, I decided the best hope our world has is through art.