View Full Version : Comics vs. Manga

The Red Badger
March 10th, 2003, 09:46 PM
Here's something I've been wondering about for awhile. Japanese products have become in vogue in recent years (blame Pokemon) and, as a byproduct, so has manga. Lots of people here read manga (or so it would appear). But. . . where does that leave American comics?

American comics received a critical blow in recent years with the loss of the newsstand audience. Once the spinner racks were removed from most venues, it became increasingly more difficult to catch new readers. Maybe we'll see this trend reverse with the recent deal struck with Borders bringing back the spinner rack, but it's too early to tell.

But, if comics have trouble reaching new audiences, then so should manga. At least, monthly manga. Yet, it doesn't. It flourishes. I suspect, though, that where manga has penetrated the market is at Barnes & Noble and Borders in graphic novel (or tankouban, if you prefer) form. Yet, even this is still mystifying because the manga is kept right alongside all of the American comics graphic novels.

So, the topic of discussion is: Comic books vs. Manga. Do you read manga? If so, do you also read comics? If not, why? Why does one appeal to you and the other not?

As a separate issue, does *anyone* read comics? It seems that Superman, Batman, et al are fading from the public consciousness.

March 10th, 2003, 09:57 PM
I read some manga. I read Shonen Jump, which includes Naruto, Shaman King, Sandland, Dragonball Z, YuYu Hakusho, and Yu-Gi-Oh. I also read CardCaptor Sakura. They're cute.

At my library once, I read some comic book. I don't remember, but it instantly turned me off. I found that the artwork at times had too much details, and was always so serious. (I don't go for the serious bit, that's just me.) There didn't seem to be many different depths or angles for the artwork. Characters emotions were not really portrayed that well, and on average, it was hard to understand what was going on. Obviously,not all comics are like that. I don't have much to base my opinion on since I've only read one Superman-like comic thing. ;)

I find manga to be more rounded-off. And the art of CardCaptor Sakura is absolutely adorable. Sakura and Tomoyo are so darned cute! And Li and Eriol. Yay! Preeeeetty cards! Sooooo pretty! Tomoyo makes Sakura the best outfits. But Yukito and Touya are abnormally tall. Go,master of the Clow! *stops ranting about Cardcaptor Sakura and brilliance of Clamp*

Slagar the Cruel
March 10th, 2003, 10:34 PM
Hmm... I think part of the reason my mangas are so popular is that only the best ones get brought over. We're getting all of the classic japanese comics from over the course of about 50 years, all at around the same time, so it's going to seem like mangas are, in general, a superior genre.

Personally, I don't have much of a preference. Both sides have shown that they can yeild great things. The trick is not to mistake the medium for the content. For example, a lot of American comic take themselves to seriously and seem to think it necessary to shatter their character's spine and show them gushing blood. I don't like that. But compared to some mangas, that's rather tame. :eek: In terms of art... manga's usually more stylistic, but I think comic art is overall better. Maybe it's just the color.

I've snagged the occasional comic/manga here and again, but I don't really collect much of anything from either comic worlds. I get one series regularly - only because I've been getting it since it first started up, and I'm hoping that it will eventually crawl out of the rut it's been in for the past couple years.

March 11th, 2003, 08:24 AM
Sadly the only american comics i've read are the sunday comics in the newspaper every week. On the the other hand i'm reading various magna online or if i actually get enough money i buy some off the inernet. Since i don't really know what amercian comics are i can't really compare them to magna though.

Baby Rollo
March 11th, 2003, 02:02 PM
I love American Comics. My favorites are the Sunday Comics like Foxtrot, Non-Sequitiur, Doonsebury, Dilbert, Jump Start, and a lot of others. If you're talking about comic books, then my favorite is Spawn.

March 11th, 2003, 02:36 PM
Comics, as in comic strips? I thought you meant like comic books. I love comic strips in their own way. My favorites are Ziggy, Zits, Peanuts, Beetle Bailey, and Hagar the Horrible.

Lord Servone
March 11th, 2003, 03:59 PM
They are talking about comic books....
I used to read American comic books...only American comic books. I used to read Deadpool, Spider-man, and Daredevil (before he became popular, I might add) before cancelling my subscriptions due to lack of my interest...
I don't like how much Japanese cartoons are being brought over to the American market...its ok in small quanities but like what Fox is doing, only having about 2 or 3 American cartoons in their programing....that's ridiculous! I'll stop ranting about that and get back to comic books... I never really read any Manga...I prefer American comics. I already said that and I stand by that statement.

Martin the Warrior
March 11th, 2003, 07:09 PM
I've collected comics for roughly ten years now and have developed quite a sizable collection in the process. I've sampled a bit of everything, but my primary interest has always been with three characters: Superman, Batman, and Spider-Man.

To date, I contend that Kingdom Come (by Mark Waid and Alex Ross) is the greatest piece of illustrated fiction ever created (and this encompasses all forms of comics and manga). So, my preference will always lie with American comics. That said, I do enjoy manga from time to time. Akira by Katsuhiro Otomo and Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind by Hayao Miyazaki are great examples of what's good about the genre and others, like Dragon Ball by Akira Toriyama are great, fun reads.

The primary difference between the US market and the Japanese market, however, is that the Japanese are decidedly more creator-oriented. Dragon Ball ran only so long as Toriyama chose to write and draw it (the anime is a different story), Akira was Otomo's story and no one else's. Manga traditionally has a start, middle, and end. Once the story is told, oftentimes that's it. Occasionally work will continue into other arcs, as happened with the afore-mentioned Dragon Ball, Sailor Moon, and is currently happening with the likes of One Piece. However, in all of these instances the title has always been handled by one person: the creator. When the creator chooses to end their story, then the story is ended. I'll admit, as a writer I find this approach appealing.

The US market, by contrast, is character-driven. Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, Daredevil, the X-Men.... all have changed hands so many times that the original run is virtually forgotten (the one exception, possibly, being Stan Lee's run of Spider-Man). Nobody save devoted fans really remember Jerry Siegal and Joe Shuster's work on Superman, nor Bob Kane's rendition of Batman. Those eras are lost to the annals of history. The characters, though, live on. And, while from a creative standpoint this, perhaps, isn't very appealing, it presents more opportunities for storytelling-- varied storytelling-- than manga does. Try to imagine a Batman without Frank Miller's Year One or The Dark Knight Returns. Perhaps Superman without John Byrne's Man of Steel or Dan Jurgen's, Karl Kesel's, Louise Simonson's, and Roger Stern's Death of Superman. These stories were possible because the characters were timeless and weren't restricted to the vision of one man. This gives the characters very long shelf-life, as opposed to manga characters who will be only fondly remembered (maybe forgotten) once their run is complete.

That's the key difference between the two markets. Perhaps my preference for American comics comes from the fact that I value characters slightly more than creators or perhaps it's because Superman is one of the greatest mythological figures ever created. Who's to say?

In any case, I read and enjoy both, but I'm far more likely to suggest someone try out Brian Michael Bendis' Ultimate Spider-Man (you can read the entire series for free at www.marvel.com, BTW. ;)) than I am Katsuhiro Otomo's Akira.

Now, to respond to a few people...

Daredevil (before he became popular, I might add)

Is that pre-movie, pre-Kevin Smith, or pre-Frank Miller?

like what Fox is doing, only having about 2 or 3 American cartoons in their programing....that's ridiculous!

Well, the fault technically lies with 4Kids. Fox pulled the plug on their children's programming division late-last year and have simply been "leasing" their Saturday morning timeslots to a third party-- in this case, 4Kids (better known as the people who brought us Pokémon). It is much easier to produce a cartoon when all you need to do is record a new voice-track, however. It saves you the trouble of animating. So, I can see the appeal. I just wish 4Kids was targeting better series.

For example, a lot of American comic take themselves to seriously and seem to think it necessary to shatter their character's spine and show them gushing blood.

To be fair, I've never encountered that in my years of collecting. Sounds more like a certain Calvin & Hobbes strip.

I get one series regularly - only because I've been getting it since it first started up, and I'm hoping that it will eventually crawl out of the rut it's been in for the past couple years.

So much for the title-character's purported speed, huh? ;)

Baby Rollo
March 11th, 2003, 09:14 PM
For example, a lot of American comic take themselves to seriously and seem to think it necessary to shatter their character's spine and show them gushing blood.

Sounds a lot like a Spawn comic. Or an episode of the animated series.

Lord Servone
March 11th, 2003, 11:05 PM
I read Daredevil for a long time... I read it before Kevin Smith had his turn at it (perhaps writing the greatest Daredevil story I've ever read)...I think I started reading Daredevil with or shortly after the Fall From Grace story arch...
But what I was referring to in terms of him becoming popular is the movie. Now everyone knows who the man without fear is...though, I guess, he was never as obscure a character as say Blade was...

March 12th, 2003, 12:20 PM
Let's see, basically the only American comics I read are the ones on the Sunday papers. The only type of manga I'm subscribing to is Shonen Jump, which still didn't arrive.... *sigh* From what I know, their senior editor died and according to customer service, its coming on March 26, which is ridiculously late. Come on, I'm sick, and I'd like something comforting other than everything that's due this month! Oh, and I bought the first volume of Hikaru no Go at a Chinese bookstore, and was going to buy the second, but they ran out, so I've asked my dad to see if he can find Hunter x Hunter.

March 13th, 2003, 08:38 AM
I like American comics much better then Manga; I guess the art style and story plots of Manga do not appeal to me. However, the only comic book I read regularly is "Sonic the Hedgehog," though I sometimes take a look at other Archie titles and "the Simpson's." Also, I like to read the Sunday comics especially "Peanuts" and "Garfield."

March 13th, 2003, 02:14 PM
Me, I've read a LOT of Spider-Man comics. Pre-movie and after. MY favorite being Ultimate Spider-Man. And as for manga, don't even get me started on how many I've read...

Martin the Warrior
March 13th, 2003, 03:09 PM
How far back "pre-movie", Darkhood?

I'd personally put J.M. Straczynski's ASM run on par with Ultimate, too. ;)

March 13th, 2003, 04:17 PM
I don't read comics but I have read a few mangas before. they were all Inuyasha. I'd like to try Dragon Ball Z mangas if I can find them. Wonder what they're like.

Red Draco
March 13th, 2003, 11:22 PM
Oh boy. Well, I'm going to be honest with myself and all of you. I don't like anime very much, but I like western cartoons. On the other hand, I adore manga and dislike many western comics (excluding Preacher).

I'm sure there are lots of nice American comics out there, but I frankly don't feel like sorting through billions of X Men and Batman spin offs to find them. My husband tried to get me to read "X Men Unlimited", a graphic novel (I think I even got the name wrong), and I hated it. The art was nifty, but it was boring, cliche, and the dialoge, which was supposed to be tuff, was laughable. Mainly because instead of swear words, we got "@%*$&." Where am I, grade school? Not that a comic needs swearing to be cool. Far from it. But either come up with a witty substitute or say nothing at all. "@%*$&", etc, is just lame.

That's another beef I have with American comics. The writing is lame most of the time. Part of the reason I like Preacher is because the writing, despite being unecessarily graphic on occasion, is excellent. In fact, the series' main story is weak, but I don't mind at all because the scene-to-scene writing is really something else and brings the characters to life.

Manga is like that all the time. It's free, it's flowing, it's not afraid to say what it means.

One major factor that sways me in manga vs. comics: price. 4 bucks (Canadian) lands you a dinky 30 to 50 page comic book that you can polish off in twenty minutes. 6 bucks will get you a copy of Shonen Jump, a big thick phone book full of manga stories. So it's in black and white. Big deal.

There are plenty of lovely American series, I know (once I have money to spend more freely, I want to net some copies of "Bone"), but I've always been more of a manga fan.

March 14th, 2003, 04:43 PM
How far back "pre-movie", Darkhood?
About a couple months. I started reading cause my dad had a bunch of comics for it though. I recently read a really kewl one... can't remember the name though.

Martin the Warrior
March 14th, 2003, 10:29 PM
I frankly don't feel like sorting through billions of X Men and Batman spin offs to find them.

Been there, done that. ;) My solution was simple: drop everything X-Men and focus only on two of the Bat-titles (four if you want to count Robin and Nightwing). It's worked well for me. You'll get some bad runs along with the good, but in recent years, Greg Rucka and Ed Brubaker have delivered some great stories. I think they're the closest the comics have ever come to emulating the style of the animated series. And, while Rucka was recently replaced with Jeph Loeb (another talented writer, whose stories are more super-hero flavored than detective), Brubaker continues to deliver.

The easiest way to find the good ones, though, is to concentrate on who's doing the writing (and asking around is a good way to find out who's good these days and who's not). The Preacher was Garth Ennis, if I'm not mistaken, so odds are you'd enjoy other Ennis projects. (Or was Preacher Grant Morrison? Honestly, Morrison, Millar, and Ennis run together in my head for some reason.) A good place for weekly reviews, I've found, is http://www.thefourthrail.com/ if you're ever in the mood to give something a try.

(once I have money to spend more freely, I want to net some copies of "Bone")

There's a blast from the past. I always enjoyed Bone. I never got to see much more of it than was printed in a few magazines, but I always found the story intriguing and the characters fun. I had an old 'net friend who was nuts about the book and would tell me about it. I'm sorry to say, though, I never did get around to buying the graphic novel and I haven't seen it on the shelf for the last few years.

March 15th, 2003, 11:51 AM
I agree with Draco; price is an issue in the popularity of manga. For the same price, you can get one hundred, two hundred, or even three hundred action-packed pages of manga, while you can only get about 40 pages in western comic (or even some manga that aren't a part of a manga anthology (sp?)). Still, when it comes to graphic novels, I feel that they're overpriced.... I can get the same one in Chinese (if available) or Japanese for half the price!

Martin the Warrior
March 15th, 2003, 10:10 PM
Well, it should be noted that Shonen Jump is an exception, not a rule. Manga, in the United States (and I would assume this applies to Canada as well), exists in three forms: graphic novels, individual issues, anthologies.

Now, Shonen Jump would be classified as an anthology and, no doubt about it, it's a great deal. However, to my knowledge there are only three such anthology publications in the US-- Jump, Animerica Extra, and Raijin Comics. If you guys know of another one, feel free to correct me. Given that anthologies aren't the primary method of distributing manga in the US, even moreso since Jump has only been around for four issues, crediting them with manga's success in the US is incorrect, in my opinion.

The second method of manga distribution is individual issues. Having tried out plenty of manga in this format on my trips to the comic shop, I can tell you that they cost just as much as regular comics for the same amount of volume.

The final-- and most popular-- method of distribution is graphic novels. Traditionally manga is released in 300-400 page books that cost $15-$20 apiece. Some-- like the Akira phonebooks-- are more expensive in the $25-$30 range, while others-- Lone Wolf and Cub and the forthcoming Dragon Ball releases-- come in cheaper at $8-$10. Again, this is roughly on par with US graphic novels, many of which can be bought for $10-$20, a few of which are in the $25-$30 range. Marvel Comics Essential line is especially economical reprinting 20 issues (roughly) in black and white phonebooks for a mere $12-$15. You can also still pick up The Death of Superman (seven issues collected) for $5.

So, my point is that, while comparing Shonen Jump's value to a regular comic may favor manga, in the larger picture manga and US comics cost roughly the same.

Oh, and MoonShadow, although I'm sure I've mentioned this before-- in anime circles it's generally accepted that if a manga/anime is in Chinese then it's a bootleg. Stinks, I know.

March 15th, 2003, 11:29 PM
like the Akira phonebooks-- are more expensive in the $25-$30 range
*feels lucky his library has all six of 'em*

Martin the Warrior
March 16th, 2003, 06:22 PM
I think they're worth owning, myself. ;)

March 17th, 2003, 02:59 PM
Oh, and MoonShadow, although I'm sure I've mentioned this before-- in anime circles it's generally accepted that if a manga/anime is in Chinese then it's a bootleg. Stinks, I know. :( There's still chance it isn't a bootleg, isn't there, because it does say in the back that the translation rights were arranged with the company (spelling something like shuesi....) and stuff like that.... Anyway, I know that bootlegging is really bad in China, but I've heard that it's been going down lately.

The Red Badger
March 17th, 2003, 08:03 PM
Beats me about manga, but I know for a fact that the copyright text is still printed on bootleg CDs. So. . . it's shooting in the dark, I guess. Your choice if a few bucks is worth the risk of getting a bootleg. :redsy

March 18th, 2003, 11:52 AM
I would go for it. I mean, once you get it, if anyone cathes you, you could say that you didn't know it was bootleg, and it wouldn't be lying.

Martin the Warrior
March 18th, 2003, 10:35 PM
So, in your view, Darkhood, it's only illegal if you get caught? :rolleyes:

Anyway, it's hard to say, MoonShadow. It could be licensed or it could be they're just reprinting a license like Reds mentioned. All one can say for certain is that it pays to be very cautious around Chinese imports. I, personally, stick to either importing directly from Japan (via reliable stores) or buying domestically. That's what I'd advise others to do, too. But, ultimately, what you do with your money is up to you.

March 18th, 2003, 11:24 PM
I, personally, stick to either importing directly from Japan (via reliable stores) or buying domestically.

Martin, you can read Japanese? I did not you know you could import English manga from Japan.

Red Draco
March 19th, 2003, 09:39 AM
Ennis wrote Preacher. And I would like to get into his other stuff more, but frankly, it's all the same! I tried a bit of "Just a Pilgrim," and its main character was just an alternation of the Saint of Killers. As any Preacher fan will tell you, the Saint of Killers ... cannot ... be ... duplicated. Maybe I need to read more (I'm sure of it, in fact), but I'm not keen on spending the money to confirm it.

I'm good friends with a girl named Lex, who is a stunning artist and works for Nelvana (she did some background work for Redwall, although not much). She has an awesome story idea called "Widerstand," which I've written a few chapters for. It would make an incredible comic, but she doesn't like drawing comics. Very unfortunate.

Her page, which has samples of her art and Widerstand, is at:


Tell me you aren't impressed. ;)

March 19th, 2003, 12:09 PM
AHHH! THAT'S TOOOOOOO GOOD! *has heart attack* She's awesome! She's good at many different styles, and at proportions and angles. And background! Lots of artists are perfect at drawing but can't draw a background to save their lives. I love her work! :D

*laughs hysterically* To jab it with a rake... Or not to jab it with a rake...

Ugh. I dropped scone crums (yes, we bought blueberry scones) in my keyboard.

March 21st, 2003, 06:33 PM
Woah... she's good.

On the topic of bootlegs, I don't know if this will make a difference, but the manga is really from Taiwan. I get them from stores in Flushing, NY, where it's priced at $5 each, one of which is a big Taiwanese bookstore. The other one's just a manga-specialized store I guess. :\ The manga I buy are ones that aren't availlable in English yet, which would be Hunter x Hunter and Hikaru no Go, so I can't buy the English translations, though I hope they'll be published in Shonen Jump one day.

Martin the Warrior
March 21st, 2003, 07:43 PM
Martin, you can read Japanese? I did not you know you could import English manga from Japan.

I can understand a little Romanized Japanese, but I can't read kanji, no. While I don't usually import manga, there are many sites out there that specialize in providing text-file translations of manga making it easier to follow the story (if a bit cumbersome).

I generally stick to importing CD's, however.

Tell me you aren't impressed. ;)

I would, but I'd be lying. She's good.

but the manga is really from Taiwan.

I don't know if that would make a difference as the general rule of thumb is if the language is Chinese, it's probably a bootleg. Of course, there's always a chance... it all comes back to it being your choice whether or not to risk it.

though I hope they'll be published in Shonen Jump one day.

Boy, I sure wouldn't. Anything that goes into Shonen Jump would progress at a snail's pace. At its current pace, DBZ will take roughly four and a half years to complete in Jump. One Piece will take approx. ten years just to hit where Japan is now (and the series is still running over there). If Kenshin were to start next issue, it would take roughly eleven years for its full run to be shown. Jump is an economical way to get a variety of manga but is a lousy way to get a single manga brought over in a timely fashion.

I'd much prefer to see manga brought over in tankouban form released monthly or bi-monthly (hardly an impossible task, as Lone Wolf & Cub proved). For instance, by contrast, both Kenshin and One Piece could be completed in four years bi-monthly (just over two monthly). Something to consider.

March 22nd, 2003, 05:58 AM
Whoa. thtas a long time, now that I think about it. And she is good. Wow. 5 out of 5 stars.

March 22nd, 2003, 12:40 PM
Yeah, Shonen Jump is releasing manga chapters at a really slow pace.... It's a bit scary to when you imagine JoJo's Bizarre Adventure being published in there....

March 23rd, 2003, 11:17 AM
How long is Jojo's? I read an article in Newtype about it. The game is coming out too. I might start geting interested in it.

Martin the Warrior
March 23rd, 2003, 02:54 PM
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure began in 1987 and has over 76 volumes, from what I've heard. By contrast, Kenshin has 28 and Dragon Ball has 42.