The Fall Of American Comics?
January 2, 2007 12:06pm CST
I've been reading a lot of articles recently on the rise in popularity of Japanese manga here in America. In the past five years, the sales have skyrocketed, outselling both American comics and Japanese Anime DVDs. Most consumer experts and comic critics attribute the sudden surge in popularity to one thing: girls ages 11 - 18. It's a market that's been largely ignored by American comics industries, but that manga targets with a passion. The reasoning is that these Japanese comics are more character driven with characters young women can relate to - ordinary high school and middle school girls who worry about boys, sports and grades. Mundane? Maybe, but definitely reaching an audience. And the more action/adventure series are catching on with teenage boys as well. In my local bookstore, the manga section is three times as big as the comic section. Even the comic stores are carrying manga. So what do you think? Is manga really a threat to American comics? Have we grown tired of the same old super heroes and villians? Or is manga just a fad that will pass out in a few years?
• United States
2 Jan 07
I owned and ran a comic shop back in the eighties and nineties and manga comics were picking up steam even then. The fact is many of the top industry artist and writers of American comics have been fans of them. You are right that their main point is they were first to perfect the character driven storylines.
• United States
2 Jan 07
True manga in Japan, even the comics directed towards pre-teen and teenage girls is filled with rape and violence one minute and then shows the girls shopping for new outfits the next. While I was in Japan, the taxicab drivers would read manga while waiting for a passenger and it is just seen as normal, not perverted. But as an outsider, it bothered me. I just thought it was f-ed up. So when I first read your question I kinda had a flashback. Knowing that the US would not allow this content to be sold to minors I was able to take a step back and think that whether it will be a phase or not is hard to tell. A lot of the fashion seen on teens today were out years before in Japan. I don't mean the kimono-style shirts but seemingly American styles were out in the Japanese department stores before they ever hit the stores in the US, so the comics could blend into our society and stay for years. Plus people think manga is exotic, just like sushi is fashionable and karaoke is the new past-time. I don't think it will go away any time soon. Except for Calvin and Hobbes I always thought our comics were boring so maybe this is a good thing.
• United States
2 Jan 07
Well, even the manga that's showing up in mainstream America is true manga. Deathnote, School Rumble, Ouran Host Club, Absolute Boyfriend, Escaflowne, etc etc. There's a difference between ecchi/hentai/guro and shounen/shoujo manga. It's the shounen and shoujo that's mostly getting translated - though there are a few ecchi series' that are coming over, with warning labels and 'not for sale to under 18' stickers on them. I don't have any issue with the ecchi and hentai stuff - I own a few hentai DVDs myself, the Urotsukidoji series for example. I'm not really into the stuff that's all rape and violence, but they're both valid and prevalent fantasies that get a 'taboo' label here in the Northwest. Fantasy is healthy, as long as it stays fantasy. Personally, I don't think it's a fad. Manga is filling an open niche that has needed filling for a very long time. Manga has real people that can be related to. Not super heroes and genius scientists and people that are unbelievable. I love American comics, but from a marketing standpoint, manga reaches a much larger audience and has more variety in stories and themes.
12 Jan 07
where i live, it used to be really difficult for me to buy manga. the better stores stocked about 10 different series at most. this was about 10 years ago. now in the last 5 years or so, the wall space that these manga take up is incredible! and it`s now so popular that there are american, korean and chinese comics following the manga style! for the most part they look kinda cheesey, but i`m sure their content is just as valid as the japanese manga geared toward the target audience you mentioned. i had a friend in china a while ago, and i guess she was pretty innovative to me, since she was chinese doing manga style books. i found her work to be just as good as japanese books out at the time (the shoujo stuff). but now everybody is doing it! i even have a mylot friend who is indonesian and really wants to be a mangaka. her stuff is just as beautiful as the`so-called real thing. it is real ;) but i don`t know if this is a fad or not. maybe it`s here to stay! ;)
10 Jan 07
I felt that main stream manga, particularly manga for women (shoujo I think?) is something we do need and it will not just be a fad. I mean, when I first read card captor sakura (and the manga is way better than the anime), I realised that you could have a comic story where a girl is actually the main focus, have magic, fantasy and unique, likeable characters. Manga is pretty interesting reading and a real change of pace. Its not a question of it just being a new exotic thing - I wouldn't read a manga with a poor story no matter how much I appreciate Japan. Its just starting to become something big in India, but we dont' get nearly as much access to manga here as we'd like.
14 Jan 07
i think the audience now are more searching for a new and more broad storyline.. unlike in the old heroes and villains in manga the story doenst just portray the action or adventure but as well as the normal life of the charcter wich become one way to reach the mass audience. and i think the manga series now has a more deeper story and contains alot of scientifical and investigative scenario wich makes it more interesting.