So in commemoration of the Avengers movie opening tonight, I decided to browse through my old blog and pull up something that is no longer relevant. Note that this was written over six years ago.
Oh, and speaking of American comics… what’s with these Original English Language (OEL) manga that’s been filling up bookshelves in the manga section? Two years ago, I took it for a passing fad, but now every comic-book publisher appears to be releasing their own versions of “Home-Made Japanese”. Some of them steal the Japanese right-to-left format (I see no reason to do this since English should be read left-to-right.) and after reading the shitty stories within some of them I’m beginning to wonder if Americans are just trying to adapt all the wrong aspects of Japanese comics…?
To quote the Shopping Blog on the thankfully-deceased Garnier’s Manga Head advertising campaign, “Looking for a wild new hair style? Garnier suggests a new style based on the popular Japanese Manga comics.” If you’re too new to the manga scene to have missed seeing the L’Oreal line making such beautiful asses of themselves, their “Manga Head” page featured images of poorly drawn dragonball-esque characters, possibly submitted by primary school students all across the United Kingdom, all with one unique characteristic: gravity-defying hair. Accompanying these awful flashy pictures were images of real people imitating the hair style with Garnier’s Fructis Style product.
So there we have it. Clear proof that one of the defining points of manga to the ignorant west are the buoyant hairstyles. There is a bit of truth to this; it would be be nigh impossible to find a manga in any shounen publication that does not make use of the pointy hair, the floating bangs or the middle antennae. However, fans of more true-to-life artist such as Ikegami Ryoichi(MAI THE PSYCHIC GIRL) and Marita Masanori (Rokudenashi Blues, Rookies) know this to be not true. [...] Still, their knowledge doesn’t seem to extend beyond the scope of the hair.
If you were to make a comic and you wanted to call it a manga, but your Japanese vocabulary is very limited and you couldn’t draw a decent manga setting if hell came after you… how else could you affirm its status as a manga? The answer is of course, the eyes. Apparently having the eyes take up more than 40% of the face constitutes any drawn image as an official Japanese character. Sometimes giving them Japanese names like Sora, Tsubasa, Bob and the like makes them all the more authentic.
Big eyes are definitely a Japanese drawing trait, and it wouldn’t be a lie to say that the trend of bigger white:pupil ratio is influencing the drawing styles of many new and upcoming American comic artists. What separates them from the slew of other American manga-artists is that their work is still labeled “comics”.
So where exactly is the fine line drawn? I’m sure it must be the language barrier or in the inking. Maybe it is the Japanese’s heavy usage of tones to create atmosphere and moods, made obsolete in American comics because of our preference of having everything in color, or could it be…
OELs are interestingly enough always about silly relationships, furries, vampires and goths, geeks, all of the above, or about the actual medium itself: Japanese anime and manga. In that sense, I guess there isn’t much differentiating them between their Japanese counterpart. Well, except for one thing….
The OELs are just fucking awful. A futuristic setting with samurais and gunslingers is fine… if you’re Japanese. If you’re an American, you’re better off making a story about Jedis. At least you’re playing on your own field then. It just doesn’t seem right. I used to expect class whenever I read American works, but these OELs are just killing me.
Americans are just too engrossed with making their comic more than just a “comic”, into something called “manga”, that they overcomplicate it with silly American wisdom when what they really need is something nice and simple. They could start off by making a decent story and calling it a comic. [M]any people in America have come to expect their manga to have depth (and pretty art), maybe with a slight scattering of humor throughout every chapter in moderate amounts to prevent it from becoming all serious and no play. The American “manga” I have read either take it too far with the humor, or go nowhere with the depth. It’s overall a bland read, and I sometimes stab myself at night so that I’d never pick up any american OELs again.
Anyways, It’s 6 in the morning and I’ve gotten sleepy. I’ll check back later and this post will seem very retarded in the afternoon.
And I now leave you with a picture.