HOW ARE THESE DIFFERENT?
What's to compare? Aren't these 2 books just different children of the SAME medium?
Recently, I came across an article entitled MANGA VS COMICS… I know. I know... What’s weird– there are a ton of articles just like this out there… All comparing Manga to American Comic Books.
Truth be told, I am not in agreement with most of their content. First off, let’s make this clear– Manga MEANS Comic, okay? Second, why are people bothering to compare these?
Most people in the CCW Nation know me as Mike F. I’m a proudly confessed Manga, Video Game and Comic Book fanatic… And clearly, I have passionate thoughts on these subjects.
Here are statements made from one of the articles mentioned above (I have added a few of my own thoughts as well):
“American comics are all capes.”
“American comics are all about prolonging a dead franchise.”
Everyone knows American comics are all about retconning. (Unless you’re Geoff Johns, of course… But that’s completely different post.)
ANIME LEADS TO MANGA
I watched anime for years– never once venturing into comics. Turned out to be a good thing too. I wouldn’t have had the first clue where to start.
My first ever experience with comics was with a Manga book. And like many people– like the articles I so strongly disagree with now… At the time, I just assumed that American comics were only about superheroes.
A challenging tale that highlights the difference between lust and true love
The first manga I ever read was Chobits– by the 4 female mangakas CLAMP. I loved this unique story about a robotic female (called a persocom) named Chii whose vagina holds her on/off switch. The internal chip is located there so if someone makes love to her– the chip inside turns her off and wipes her memories.
When Hideki— the horniest of horn dogs (the subject of his vast porn collection is a focus in the first few volumes)– discovers a completely wiped Chii in the trash, he can’t believe his good luck and takes her home… Eventually falling in love.
But he doesn’t want to risk the possibility of Chii losing her memories again… So he resigns himself to never having sex with the woman he loves for the rest of his life. It’s a charming story about virginity… And the line between common lust and pure love.
The female artists of CLAMP created a challenging premise that moved me and really made me think. I’d never been exposed to a story like this before. The panel placement, the clever jokes, the stunning artwork. Chobits became an instant favorite of mine and spawned my love for comics. Wanting to experience more, I searched extensively until I found other great Manga titles like Gunsmith Cats and Battle Angel Alita.
And then, again, I was content to stay exactly where I was. Years and years would pass before I would come across an American comic book that would change me forever. That book was WE3— a small masterpiece written by oft-praised Scottish comic messiah Grant Morrison.
As good as it gets
When I first saw this book on Amazon, I thought, “Hmmm… What in the world could this be about?”
What a joy it was to read– watching 3 captured animals used by the government attempt to escape back home. I literally shouted “Yes!” at the end of the first issue– when WE1 says: “We go home, home now.” Completely arrested by the spirit of the comic’s overall story, I became hooked on Morrison’s other comics work. This eventually led to my reading Green Lantern, Batman and Superman.
Not too long after that, I began reading Marvel comics too. By then, I was well into all type of comic book genres.
Which leads me back to my original question: WHY ARE PEOPLE SO INTENT ON COMPARING MANGA TO COMIC BOOKS?
Yes, Marvel and DC comics can get lost in their prolonged continuity and yes, Manga can get ridiculous with its “cute” or KAWAII random sense of humor… But why compare two things that are basically the same? Vertigo, Image— even Marvel’s Icon imprint– publish plenty of non-superhero related comics from such great writers as Brian Vaughn and Ed Brubaker… But no one is foolish enough to say those books aren’t comics.
- The current Akira Reprint Series
Japanese comic legend Katshuiro Otomo (creator of AKIRA) has stated he found inspiration in some DC comics… And felt delighted when given the chance to write a short 8-page Batman story in the BATMAN: Black and White limited series.
Even more frustrating: The people commenting on this article all wrote things that proved they were as ignorant as the article’s authors.
My roommate is from Japan and was a comic reader back in the day. She confirmed the similarities for me. She even felt it foolish to compare Manga and American comics– as they are, again, the same thing.
As you can tell, I love the comics of America and Japan. Even France, the UK and other countries have some great titles.
But I feel no need to compare these two genres because really– it’s just wasting my time. Time better spent reading great books like 20th Century Boys or Daredevil and not noticing any difference.
— Mike F is a citizen of the CCW*TV Nation— a regular poster on the CCW*TV Companion Blog. He reads comics because he wants to and obviously couldn’t care less if a comic was in color or black and white. While normally we would say a Guest Columnist’s views are exclusively his or her own… We totally agree with everything he’s written.