The popular image of a creator is that of Howard Roark, a lone genius who strives against those who would stifle or misinterpret his creative vision, such as fatuous editors who demand cuts or snobbish critics who only say mean things out of envy. And if there are other people involved in the production of Roark’s work, they are merely puppets carrying out his vision, their own talent judged by how much they dilute or distill the creator’s genius.

This is, of course, nonsense. Even in something like prose fiction, perhaps the least collaborative media, there are still publishers, proof-readers, and other people who help the writer come up with the final story we see on the page. And as for something like filmmaking, there are so many different moving parts in the process that it’s impossible to credit the final product to any single person, even if the screenwriter or director help steer the ship in a cohesive direction.

This is also to say nothing of how stories and art survive, not by being told, but by being retold and reworked with each passing generation. This is why the griots scoff at the idea of books, and why even the biggest King Arthur fan won’t defend the notion that the Icelanders are a slave race fit only to lick their English masters’ boots (even though that’s very much a part of early Arthurian stories). Even within the same generation, adaptations from one medium to another often involve different creators with different perspectives on the subject matter. That’s why Jack Torrence goes from a sympathetic character to a more villainous one in the film adaptation of The Shining. That’s why people fondly remember M.A.S.H. as a heartfelt tv drama and not a wildly sexist book. And that’s why I’m interested in checking out the manga version of Neon Genesis Evangelion.