Just to prove that I'm really back, BAM! Two posts in one day. I can't remember when was the last time THAT happened.
My hotspot topic for today was triggered by a forum post (click on the title for the link). The thread topic was "Manga Versus Everyone Else". As you can guess, it certainly lead to a great deal of discussion... well you can read the topic for yourself. (Don't worry, almost everyone was pretty civil in the discussion.)
Anyway, post discussion, there's something about that discussion that's been really irking me , and I have a shrewd suspicion similar discussions are probably going on everywhere else, I might as well talk about it here.
Is it just me, or are comics being split into, or at least perceived as a few two narrow categories nowadays? You have the traditional comics, which is usually taken to mean the american (and european) super-hero/newspaper humour comics...
...and then you have 'the new japanese wave of comics'. Manga.
Much has been said about Manga. That it will rejuvenate the comics industry. That it will destroy it. I don't care for any of those discussions. I'm sure most of you are sick of all that by now.
What I'm curious is why Manga is being treated as a genre? Maybe it's just my ignorance speaking, but isn't it more of a style? A different style of art? Yes. A different style of storytelling? Yes. A different style of printing and distribution? Yes?
But a genre? Doesn't a genre relate to the type actual content and not just the presentation of the content? Isn't a manga about superheroes technically a super-hero comic?
Yet Manga is considered a genre. Look at the bookshelves in the stores. Oh hell... Let's look at a couple of case studies on the web.
To be fair, categorising all those comics must be a pain, but I can't help but wonder with categories like Gaming /Mature / Fantasy / Sci-Fi why is there one specifically for 'Manga'? Isn't it more relevant to dock the manga according to whether the story is 'fantasy' or 'sci-fi'?
I thought The Park and Barb Show's take on manga was quite interesting. The last part is particularly true, and I'm sure we all know of people who 'do' manga because they think it's going to be more popular or somehow 'better'. Or certain shows who ape the manga/anime look to make it more palatable to the 'modern day audiences' *cough*teentitans*cough*.
Personally I thought the reason good manga is good is not because it was manga, but because... you know... the story was good. Personally, all the mangas I've liked so far I've liked because the subject matter was different. The genres the stories are based on are varied and in most cases, new and refreshing to me. Not because they're drawn with big eyes and small mouths (In fact I'm not a big fan of the manga art style. I like certain mangas despite their art style, because the stories are good, not because they are drawn in a certain way).
Think about it. When I think of traditional american comics, the first thing that jumps to mind is spandex-covered superheroes and/or Tolkien-esque fantasy comics with a motley bunch of heroes on a quest. Next comes humour and slice-of-life comics like Garfield or Calvin and Hobbes or Dilbert and all that stuff.
But when I think manga, no single genre dominates the style. Giant mechas in space? Modern day witches and enchanted swords? Samurai and nuns with guns? There doesn't seem to be a limit to the possibilites of what genre you set your story in.
You know, maybe what we readers really want in comics is new stories in different genres, not new ways of drawing same old goddamn stories.
So let's stop treating manga as a genre already, people. It's not even comparing apples and oranges.
It's comparing the apples and the bloody crate the apples came in.