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Manga Before Flowers – “Manga for Adults” (Part One)

Today’s column will cover a topic near and dear to my heart – manga for adults (but not “Adult manga” if you know what I mean). Adults who read U.S. comics, particularly superhero floppies instead of trades, may have absolutely no idea how to start with respect to manga reading. (For the purposes of this column, I’m going to assume these readers might be curious about trying out manga titles, even though I know many folks are perfectly happy with superhero or indy books and don’t feel the need to look for something different). I suspect folks who have already bought into the trade system – whether they buy superhero trades or indy trades – probably have an easier time testing out manga titles, since in the U.S. manga also operates on the graphic novel or trade system. This column will attempt to explain how the diversity of manga genres developed out of a Japanese system of content delivery that contrasts greatly with the U.S. comic book delivery system.

I’ve recently spoken to a number of people who don’t read manga (or U.S. comics for that matter) but somehow think they know all about it; as far as they are concerned manga (and by association anime) is either cutesy-wootsy or flat-out pornographic. Not, to borrow a phrase from Seinfeld, that there’s anything wrong with that. Either of those “that” to be honest. Readers more familiar with U.S. comics probably think most manga is intended for a youth audience. The second assumption is actually a pretty accurate view of most manga titles published in the U.S.

There is no contesting the fact that the majority of the U.S. manga market is aimed squarely at the teen consumer market. For example, practically all of Viz’s current releases – Viz being the largest manga publisher in the U.S. – are branded as Shonen Jump (“Boy’s Jump”), Shonen Jump Advanced, or Shojo Beat (“Girl’s Beat”). While I’ve enjoyed a ridiculous number of titles about high school life or fantasy titles aimed at the tween set, the overwhelming number of teen-oriented titles available in the U.S. marketplace can exhaust and turn off adult readers. It has gotten to the point that stories that actually venture to cover the collegiate experience, or heaven forbid the workforce experience, go to the top of my pull list even if the title’s premise has yet to fully develop. I’m so desperate for manga that tackles adult experience that I’m often more forgiving of these title’s flaws that I am of flaws in other types of manga genres (I’m looking at you, Tokyopop’s Suppli and CMX’s Venus in Love).

I would argue that this current glut of teen manga titles is why manga has done so well (at least up until this point) in the U.S. U.S. manga publishers like Viz and Tokyopop have smartly marketed youth-oriented texts to young kids and teenagers who might not be interested in continuity-heavy and generally adult-oriented superhero books published by D.C. and Marvel. It is vital not to forget that in the U.S. we are seeing Japanese manga genres that suit the need of our publishing industry and consumers and not necessarily the books that suit the needs of Japanese publishers and consumers. In other words, there is a wide and varied world of Japanese manga targeted to adults that is not published in the U.S. or even when published it tends to fare poorly in terms of sales numbers in spite of its quality (Dark Horse’s Eden: It’s an Endless World being a prime example.)

However, the manga industry can’t survive on teenagers alone if its health as a comic-book form is going to prosper in the U.S. I believe that U.S. comic book publishers have the opposite problem – they need to develop a stronger hook to get younger readers, since their core readership is aging and is also predominately male (a fact that is no shock to the readers of this blog, I’m sure). It should be noted that at my comic book store it is still the superhero titles that drive the business. While trades and indy titles do quite well where I work, it is clearly the superhero floppy that gets the foot traffic going on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Working at the shop on Wednesdays, however, I tend to see one kind of customer – men in their twenties, thirties and forties. That means U.S. comic book publishers aren’t really attempting to lock, or at least haven’t successfully wooed, younger readers, and females in general, into their distribution system from start to finish. I believe that adult female readers are far more likely to buy collected trades if they read superhero books, and in my opinion they are far more likely to read independent graphic novels if they read comics at all. Finally, I suspect that female readers are far more likely to buy these trades at bookstores rather than comic book stores.

While in the U.S. comic book genres have gotten narrower in scope (some genres have been entirely eliminated) since the 1950′s juvenile delinquent scare and creation of the publishers’ self-censoring comic book code, Japanese comics have proliferated in terms of targeting to specific audience markets. While the U.S. has relied upon the floppy system all these years (now supplemented by collected trades), the Japanese publishers developed a manga magazine system (which also is supplemented by a collection similar to a trade called a Tank?bon). The virtues of the magazine system are great – for about 3-4 dollars readers can buy about 200-400 pages of manga on cheap, recyclable paper. These magazines run chapters of different series in each issue, releasing on a monthly, twice monthly, or weekly basis. These magazines are cheaply produced and meant to be thrown away, recycled, what have you. Perhaps what is most important about these magazines is that they are everywhere, at the drugstore, bookstore, magazine stands. I’ve heard it said that you couldn’t avoid manga in Japan even if you wanted to.

If a manga series is deemed popular enough – determined by reader response / feedback – and once enough chapters have been released, individual titles are collected in a small paperback form (that Tank?bon again), which is produced in black and white and is usually around 200 pages long. These cost about 5-6 dollars in Japan. Manga titles can be as long as one tankoubon collection while some reach 50 volumes (the average is probably between 10 and 20 volumes I suspect, but certain genres are more likely to stretch on past 30 volumes while titles from other genres will usually fall under 10 volumes). The magazines are so cheap, though, that there isn’t the obstacle to buying the same content twice (i.e. buying the magazine and the tankoubon) that currently exists in the U.S., considering that $2.99 for 32 pages (albeit in color) can hardly complete with around 300 pages (in black and white with a few color pages, actually intended to be disposable) for about the same cost.

In addition, in Japan there are manga magazines for every market imaginable. Young girls, young boys, teenage girls / boys, college aged women, working women, working men, seniors, housewives – yes, comics targeted to housewives! Manga didn’t start out this diversified, though, it took a few decades for manga publishers to begin to realize that they could follow their readership as it aged. By targeting very specific groups of people, artists working within certain genres (as represented by their titles appearing in specific manga magazines) developed schools of style and narrative conventions to specifically to attract these groups. It should be noted that manga readership is declining in Japan – manga used to be the perfect way to pass the time on public transportation but now with the proliferation of personal electronic devices there are many other distractions to keep people entertained on the train ride into work or school. The question of whether or not manga will make the electronic jump has been debated often in the past year or two, but whether not manga manages to keep up with the times isn’t as important to the U.S. manga market as the fact that there is such diversity of comic content available for licensing due to the structures of the Japanese delivery system. The question remains, though, if children and teen readers will follow manga as it matures in the States, crossover to superhero comics at some point (and some already do), graduate to independent graphic novels, or perhaps manage to incorporate all three types of content into their comic book consumption as I currently do.

It is the potential diversity of Japanese manga I’ve discussed above I hope one day to see reflected on the shelves of U.S. comic book stores and bookshops. While the majority of the U.S. manga market today may be oriented toward the teen reader, there are still plenty of manga titles published in English to excite, astonish and thrill comic book lovers from any culture. Next week, in part two of Manga for Adults, I look forward to recommending stylish and intelligent manga narratives for U.S. comic book readers who may not be familiar with manga, or its varied genres and stylistic conventions. But more about that next week!

*This discussion of Japan’s delivery system for manga was made possible by consulting Paul Gravett’s wonderful text Manga: 60 Years of Japanese Comics (2004). I highly recommend this title if you are interested in learning more about how manga developed in Japan as an art form and a consumer product.

35 Comments

I’m 51 and have been reading comics since 1959.

I do not like manga. I do not like anime. I have tried both, and have no use for either.

I realize I’m not the target audience, and agree that the US comics industry needs to expand its market somehow, but this constant attempt to cram manga our throats just irritates me.

And get off my lawn.

I have a few friends who I’ve gotten into (or back into) comics, and more than once have they literally called me from a comic book store and said, “I’m here at the comic shop – what should I get?” That’s how I feel in the manga section. I have no idea where to even start, esp. since so many of the titles have multiple volumes. My eye can’t differentiate between the manga for teenage boys, the stuff for teenage girls, the stuff for adults, etc. All I’ve really read are some of the old standards: Lone Wolf & Cub, Tezuka, Akira. So I’m glad to see this column to give me some ideas of what to try. And if I don’t like it, I just won’t read any more – no one’s cramming it down my throat.

I realize I’m not the target audience, and agree that the US comics industry needs to expand its market somehow, but this constant attempt to cram manga our throats just irritates me.

Danielle’s one of six of us, and she’s only — I think — committed to delivering one column a week. The rest of the blog is pretty much all U.S. comics all the time, largely skewed to the mainstream Big Four.

Mileage varies, but honestly I think Danielle’s position here is more along the lines of “overdue real-world acknowledgement of the current state of the comics industry” than “cramming” anything down someone’s throat.

oh CBrown — you are exactly the person I’m speaking to!!! After all, I’ve spent all this time myself figuring out what I liked about manga and why, which is why I spend the majority of this column explaining *why* adults who read U.S. comics might have such a hard time figuring out what to read — because it all seems to scream “not for me!” However, hidden on the manga shelves is a real diversity of subject matter and style. One just has to be pointed in the right direction sometimes…

Hope you can stop by next week once I am able to get more specific about what titles folks might like and *why* they might like them if they read and enjoy U.S. comics.

I’ve been enjoying your column so far, good job!
I ventured into the manga section of my LCS and had no idea what to do. In a panic I grabbed for “Battle Royale” since I’m familiar with it and the first volume was interesting enough, and maybe I’ll pick up volume two the next time I go in, but regardless I look forward to learning about manga from your column and maybe approaching it with a big more know-how next time.

Greg — thanks, you’ve nicely outlined where I’m coming from here.

In general, I’m not trying to assume anything about the readers of this blog except that they like U.S. comics. And if they like comics they must like *good* comics. It just so happens I’m most knowledgeable about good comics that happen to come from Japan. And I enjoy letting other people know about these amazing comic titles that may or may not interest our blog readers. That’s all there really is to my being here (and like you pointed out, I’ll only be standing on this “lawn” once a week.)

For adults- it depends on your taste but I can easily recommend titles like Akira, Gunsmith Cats, Blade Of The Immortal, Planetes, Monster, Yotsuba, Nausicaa Of The Valley Of Wind, Eden, and the works of Osamu Tezuka as titles an adult can enjoy. They all tell compelling and mature storylines that aren’t tailored towards teen/’tween readers. Dark Horse especially does a good job at catering to older readers. I’m 30 and while I enjoy some of the shonen and shoujo books out there like Bleach, I find myself wanting more and more to see manga aimed at my age group. Gutsoon made an effort of it a few years ago but sadly didn’t last very long.

Danielle, I am glad I give your work meaning!

I sure will be back next week.

i agree manga is vast enough for everyone to find something they like, but I would have given suggestions of what to read in this column. Akira and Lone Wolf are adult, and both have had impact on american storytelling

What I see being a huge part of the problem with mainstream North America (being Canadian, I’m including my little frozen wasteland in this) getting into manga is the artwork.
Initially, I hated it. I couldn’t stand looking at the big eyes, speed lines, and what seemed like everyone yelling at everyone else. It was just flat out annoying and I wanted it all “off my lawn”.
Then, I did my research…
I found out why all of what I just mentioned and so much more is used in the artwork of a Japanese comic. Then I began to see how (when used well) can really enhance the story and even bring you into the comic that much more. Now, I can enjoy a Japanese comic for all the little things that are put into it. After that, the only thing that ruins it is poor translation. I realize that’s not an easy thing to do, which just makes my next point more valid to me. If you’re gonna do something, do it right or don’t do it at all…especially when it comes to manga and anime.

Okay, “cramming” was probably the wrong word, but I -am- tired of well-meaning people telling me that I just don’t understand manga and I’ll like them if I just give them a chance.

I’m not trying to troll here. I know you all share an appreciation for a form that I just don’t get on a fundamental level, and for that, more power to you. And if Danielle is here to help you make better choices, good for her and good for you (in all sincerity).

I just feel sometimes (and from other sites, admittedly; not this one) that it’s like Brussels sprouts or spinach or tofu; that I’m told I must like them because someone else really does.

I tried em; I don’t like em.

[...] [Analysis] Danielle Leigh examines the potential for adult-oriented manga in the United States. [...]

I get that you’re not trying to troll, Dave, but as you said yourself, we are not (and specifically, Danielle is not) who is irking you on the topic, so it just seemed weird to see you express your irritation at us.

[...] Danielle Leigh posts her second column at Comics Should Be Good, this one about manga for adults (as opposed to, you know, “adult manga”). It’s a nice introduction to the Japanese system as well, for those who are new to the field. [...]

Here from Manga Blog…As a woman in her 20s, I’m decidedly NOT the target market for U.S. comics. However, I did read a lot of comics as a kid– everything from the Sunday funnies to the superhero stuff. Unfortunately, I grew tired of never-ending storylines and weekly snippets of stories.

What Japanese comics has provided me with– outside of storylines I can relate to– is an ending to stories. Yes, stories can end! They can have arcs in between and some, like Inuyasha and Naruto (which are kids comics), never seem to end, but for the most part, manga comes full circle and puts an end to the story. They also contain a satisfying page count that leaves me wanting more, but not necessarily as “ravenously” as I did with comic books.

For those interested in manga (and I understand if you don’t; my husband only cares about U.S. comics), there is plenty to pick from, with art forms outside of the “big eyes, little mouth” genre. And, don’t worry, I haven’t completely forgotten comic books– I still enjoy a good graphic novel from time to time.

I sort of want to punch whoever turned falling magazine and tankoubon sales figures into the mantra that “manga readership is declining in Japan;” yes, it is, but in the same way one might say “our tsunamis have been getting smaller lately.” It’s still one hell of a big wave.

Neat! As someone with no experience with manga, I’ll be sure to catch the rest, Danielle.

I would like to quote Harvey Pekar from Our Movie Year, though (p. 160-161): “I was under the impression that Japanese comics, or manga, were about a vast range of subjects and that a lot of them were aimed at adults, but when we were in a comic store I said…
‘Just about all of these books look like they’re aimed at kids, where is the alternative or adult stuff?’
‘There’s practically none of it. In fact there’s only one book in this entire store I’d recommend you get. It’s about the only underground comic in the place.’
‘Wow. That’s a bummer. I had been led to believe that Japan was a comicbook fan’s heaven, that there was a great variety of stuff done here.’
‘No, just about all of this stuff is meant for kids.’
Later she introduced me to one of the relatively few alternative comic book artists in Japan and he corroborated what she’d told me.
‘I have a hard time getting published here.’”

Chloe F. — that is good to know, since manga is really “my” corner of comicbook-dom, the one I feel most at home at, I, of course, like to hear that stories of its demise/decline are being greatly exaggerated.

Lorena — thanks for chiming in. I think you and I are really on the same page concerning manga’s appeal. Not only do stories *end* but they are often the vision of ONE author, who serves as both writer and artist. (Not all manga titles have one primary author its true, but the majority of titles I read do happen to have one single vision helming the title).

I can understand the intimidatation at the manga aisle at the sheer volume of titles, and certainly there are more focused at youths over adults. A lot of the big-box retailers shy away from shrink-wrapped, or Mature or 18+ labels, so some of the best titles from adults are even more hidden.

What I have enjoyed recently are the large-volume one-shots we have been seeing more of in the last year. I think these are great intros to great comics that don’t ask for a lifetime commitment. TEKKON KINKREET, MW, APOLLO’S SONG, ODE TO KIRIHITO are all 400+ page volumes are reletively reasonable prices and are all excellent adult-oriented stories.

BATTLE ROYALE is being rereleased in a similar format, and is a violent psychological tale asking “Could you kill your best friend?”

The aforementioned EDEN is a serious post-apoc take that is beautifully done and markedly adult.

MPD-PSYCHO is an uncensored riddle of an enigma about a killer cop with a nose for finding the bad guys…though sometimes it’s his reflection.

TRANSLUCENT looks like a shojo-romance title, but it centainly has adult appeal in it’s humor and honesty.

PARASYTE’s 80s stylings make its horror (and humor) that much creepier…

GYO is a two-volume beach-based horror thriller where the rotting stink-lines seem to come right off the page.

UZAMAKI’s three volume re-release wraps up this week, and is one of the most original horror titles ever. Imagine being freaked out by…spirals. A small coastal town in Japan experiences it.

And those are just a few adult-oriented manga off the top of my head…

Manga and comics don’t need to be like Republicans vs Democrats. You CAN enjoy both (I do!) without betraying the other.

First of all, terrific work on the entries so far, Danielle. I’m looking forward to more.

And just to add some recommendation’s to John’s list of great stuff for grown-ups:

SEXY VOICE AND ROBO (Viz): A phone-book sized collection of terrific stories about a girl who uses her considerable smarts to meddle in the lives of strangers, sometimes at the request of a retired yakuza.

ANTIQUE BAKERY (DMP): Gorgeous stuff about the lives and loves of the employees of an upscale pastry shop and their customers.

THE KUROSAGI CORPSE DELIVERY SERVICE (Dark Horse): Unemployable students from a Buddhist college help the deceased reach their final resting places. Episodic and wonderfully creepy/funny.

OHIKKOSHI (Dark Horse): A varied collection of short stories in a decidedly altcomix vein.

TANPENSHU (Dark Horse): Another varied collection of short stories, this one by the creator of EDEN. I can only really recommend the first volume. The second is eaten up by a long mobster story, and I don’t think those are anywhere near the creator’s strong suit.

NANA (Viz): Sexy soap opera about artsy twenty-somethings, beautifully drawn but still crudely funny.

I’d also recommend just about anything published by Fanfare/Ponent Mon, though it’s difficult to find. THE WALKING MAN, KINDERBOOK and JAPAN AS VIEWED BY 17 CREATORS are my particular favorites.

Whew! David Welsh, John Thomas and Andrew Collins have really offered geat suggestions for adult manga which I will shamefully crib as I begin putting together my list for next week’s column (with credit where credit is due, of course!)

There are really so many good titles that can be considered for “adults” that this may turn into a three part column….which is not at all a bad thing as far as I’m concerned!

Danielle Leigh -

I meant to leave you a comment on your first blog entry because your teenage Sailor Moon to manga experience was very similar to my teenage American superhero cartoons (mainly Batman:TAS, X-Men and Superman:TAS) to comics experience. But I always knew something was lacking because there weren’t nearly enough Cyclops/Jean/Wolverine-like angsty stories to keep me a fully content superhero fan. Anyway, welcome! I’m very much enjoyed your first two entries.

In regards to this current column: It’s funny, just today I was speaking with a coworker who has a 13 year-old daughter who’s been getting into manga pretty heavily lately. My co-worker doesn’t know much about these comics or their genres, but she does monitor what her daughter is reading because I suspect, from what she describes, that her daughter is getting her hands on some more adult-oriented manga. I described to her the very little I knew about manga and its various genres, but I don’t think I explained it very well. But yay, fortunately I have this column to share with her tomorrow.

I’m also one of those almost exclusive U.S. comics readers who’s become more curious about manga due to some of the discussions of fellow CBR posters. So, this column of yours is perfect. I look forward to what you have to say next week.

[...] Why can’t we all just get along? At Shuchaku East, Chloe has a measured response to some snark that popped up in comments to Danielle Leigh’s column at CBR. [...]

[...] Shrinkwrapped Filed under: Dark Horse, Linkblogging, Quick Comic Comments — davidpwelsh @ 8:53 am I was working on a long-ish piece, and it was going pretty well. I took a quick break to do some blog hopping and noticed that Danielle Leigh had done a terrific job covering almost exactly the same material in her column at Comics Should Be Good. So it’s back to the keyboard. [...]

Simon Jones who is blogless

February 21, 2008 at 7:30 pm

I think the issue, which was brought to mind by the Pekar excerpt, is that some people are equating ‘Highbrow’ with it being for Adults. The thing is, though, is that Manga is populist. It’s market driven. It sells to it’s niches. But they’re big, broad demographic niches and it gives those niches what they actually want. And it turns out that what adults actually want is pretty much what they want out of non-manga mass media. So you get sex and violence and head splodey and airport book plots and so on. Underground/avant garde style cartoonists have trouble getting published for the same reason the small indie director has trouble getting his surrealist docudrama made. But I think when more of the ‘adult’ comics reach western shores, I don’t thinkl people will be getting what they’re expecting.

Great column, Danielle. There is a mind-boggling and ever-growing body of manga created to appeal to adults of all tastes, but only the tiniest fraction sees the light of day in the Anglophone world. Glad to see Andrew mentioned Nausicaa, if only because I translated the latter half of it. (^o^)

I’ve been beating this drum all over the place, but I think one barrier to increasing sales of manga to adults is the wretched quality of translations today. Publishers initially started hiring still-in-college otaku (manga/anime geeks) with little qualification because they would work for peanuts, and it was another way to cut prices and thereby reach younger readers. (Most manga translators these days get paid a third or less what I was paid Back In The Day.) Today they have big enough print runs that they don’t need to do this sort of corner-cutting, but they continue to anyway because few readers complain, and, well, they’re greedy and stingy. But they’ve painted themselves into a corner. While teens don’t care if the translations are well-done (or even reasonably accurate), adults, whether they are conscious of it or not, are going to be turned off by a poor translation. So, brilliant adult-oriented manga, such as _Nodame Cantabile_, don’t sell nearly as well as they should, because they’ve been ruined by horrible translators.

And, yeah, the idea that manga are waning because magazine sales, which were absurdly high in the early 1990s, are now floundering is just wishful thinking on the part of those who just wish manga would “get off their lawn” and disappear. Manga magazines and books continue to account for a third of all commercial publications in Japan (excluding newspapers, which are floundering even more), and this in a country where per capita sales of print publications remain extraordinarily high. American comic book publishers break out the champagne when a title sells 100,000 copies. Manga publishers begin to *panic* when sales of a magazine *fall below* 100,000, and a handful of manga magazines continue to sell well over a million copies per issue. (_Shonen Jump_ and _Shonen Magazine_ are still in the four million range.)

I don’t read a lot of youth manga, but I believe the quality of translations has increased dramatically over the past decade. The fall in salary is likely proportional to the flooding of the market in the early 90s.

People, like me, who translate full time need to show they can cut it before getting work. The publishers I have worked with solicit from a pool of talent, and shoddy work isn’t tolerated.

Of the handful of J-E translators I have met and talk to regularly, all are college graduates, several have passed JLP-1 and none of them are “in-college” or “otaku”. Most of us like translating manga and fiction not because we are otaku, but because it’s a lot more fun and intereting than cell phone manuals and city government homepages.

The revulsion of manga by US comic fans is really a non-issue. The lawn that is the American comic market is virutally insignificant compared to the ocean-like prairie of the manga continent. I’m not saying this to spite the US industry, which I also have affections for, but I seriously doubt the population of comic fans here registers much of a blimp on the radar scope of the manga publishing giants in Japan.

That said, I do share the desire to introduce to friends and strangers many, many powerful manga and gekiga titles that had lit up mental nova inside my head (Tomorrow Joe, Ron, Pheonix, Touch, Black Jack, Human Crossroad, Berserk, Yawara, Legend of Bari Bari, Slam Dunk, Dragon Head, Dr. Slump …. the list goes on and on). It’s only human nature to try to influence others. But paradoxically, I have little inclination to “convert” those who despise manga. May be they had already made up their mind, or may be they tried it and still found it lacking… afterall, there have been just as many sad manga titles I still lament for my lost innocence and the murdered trees… either way, how these comic fans came to their conlusion is unimportant. In the end, each individual manga title, or gekiga, manhwa, manhua, bande dessinée, or comic book, stands on its own merit, and no amount of vituperation, or popularity for that matter, will change that.

for me i’m the opposite of soem of the commenter here. i don’t usually visit this blog this is my first time.
good article a pretty good overview of publishing pattern of manga..

i’m an avid manga readers. i think it’s true alto of manga has big eyes etc. but big eyes or not. the most important thing i love about manga is the fact the character’s outter and inner emotions are expressed shown. And big eyes, SD(super-deform), or other stylized exaggerated expressions/poses are all part of achiving this expressiveness. it makes the overrall effect funnier, more exaggerated, or more heartfelt or more extreme. this is one of the good points of manga. character emotions are expressively delineated.

another thing that differentiates manga is the pacing and the complex visual story-telling style. manga is creaetd more like a story board. rather than a static narrative style. in most cases the dialogues are short. a tankuban with 200 pages sometimes can be finished in 30 min. but you’re flipping thru the pictures as fast as watching a movie.. it makes for compelling story-telling.

so, along the same line. alot of american comics are very simple in visual story telling. each panel is about the same size and sometimes the words in bubbles are extremly long.. it’s more linear in story telling and not alot of attention is paid to pacing.

there are exceptions to the rule, ie.frank miller. i own a few of his GNs. but this is a general impression i ahve after flipping thru alot of comics over the years.

also comics are not as expressive as manga in character expressions.. often comic book artist are more interested in creating tight and highly rendered professional drawings than telling a story thru simple stylization of characters. you don’t get to see the character’s inner emotions. i dont’ feel as much for the character as i would reading manga.

and superhero comics pretty much i just stay away from. partly b/c first of all, as a girl, superhero plots just dont’ interest me. also most superhero are masked. . and the most expressive part of a person, the face, is hidden away. i donno.. i just kinda don’t want to read a book where the main charcter will be expressionless thru out.. just doesn’t make me want to read it…it’s kinda boring..

i think as an art form, for comics/or manga, exaggerattion and stylized expressions are really one of the biggest selling point. If youre just trying to portray ppl’s face/expression as they are realistically in life. then as an artform it wouldn’t be very successful b/c nothing can compete with teh complexity and subtities of human face. so maybe it’s better to watch a film? but b/c manga often has alot of exaggerated expressions and it often shows the characters’s inner emotions alot(you can’t see this in real life!) so it makes it very interesting to read. cuz it provides this other dimension that real life doesn/t

i do used to read soem comics and actually own a huge collection of underground comics from the 90′s which is what i used to read in high school and college. but after i got into manga it’s just really hard to go back to regular comics..

also though male is the more targeted reader for manga/anime but relaly part of the sucess for the proliferation of manga is also it fulfill a gap in the market–female readers. this used to baffle me alot.. girls in general read more than boys. yet there’s no comics created for girls until manga came to US. ppl used to say there’s no market.. but now we all know it’s a chicken and egg thing if you flood the market they’ll come and also girls prefer to shop at regular bookstores, etc..

any way, i hope i’m not offending any one just want to say why i prefer manga more.. i think its not a manga vs comics thing. it’s more like there’s certain elements in manga that makes me like it. the plots i like(more of interest to female readers) , the expressiveness, the pacing, etc.

also comics are not as expressive as manga in character expressions.. often comic book artist are more interested in creating tight and highly rendered professional drawings than telling a story thru simple stylization of characters.

Well, MOST comics. Folks like R. Crumb or Humberto Ramos are more expressive/cartoony and many of my favorite artists (Dave Sim, Jaime Hernandez, Chynna Clugston Major) switch back and forth between realistic and cartoony in the same story.

Although you’re mostly right about the predominant style in mainstream, superhero-y comics.

your right about the artists you mentioned.. i have most of them in my collections. those are the ones i read when i was in college.. :). hernandez brothers are the type of alternative comics i used to read b4 manga.. acutally there are some avant garde manga that are very similar to hernandez brothers. ambye that’s why i like them.

[...] Manga Before Flowers, Part 1 [Comics Should Be Good] Manga Before Flowers, Part 2 [Comics Should Be Good] [...]

[...] consider a manga-style comic book version such as Dan Pink did with Johnny Bunko, along with a video trailer, [...]

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Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.

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