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  1. #1
    Astonishing Member mathew101281's Avatar
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    Default Manga is what American comics would have become if Seduction of the Innocent...

    hadnít happen. If you look at the history of comics leading up to the crackdown in the mid 50ís you can tell that genres were diversifying and anthologies in the romance horror and humor categories were beginning to proliferate. Given another 10 or fifteen years I think American comics would have looked more like a color version of what manga.

  2. #2
    Astonishing Member Riv86672's Avatar
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    Guess we dodged a bullet on that one, then.

  3. #3
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    I don't know if I agree with this. In 1954, the publishers had a choice:

    Most stuck with comics largely marketed to kids (with some exceptions) and for those colour comics to get distribution they had to have some kind of approval that pleased parents. Note that this didn't have to be the Comics Code since Dell and Gilberton didn't submit their comics to that authority. Dell published adaptations from other media which had their own gate keepers (all the Disney properties had already been sanitized for young readers), while Gilberton's CLASSICS ILLUSTRATED were promoted in schools by their distributor--the powerful Curtis Circulation--and were revised to meet educational standards.

    But when Bill Gaines felt the heat from the Comics Code, he opted to publish MAD as a black and white magazine, which fell outside the boundaries of the Comics Code. So if publishers wanted to go without the Code, there were ways to do it. Financially, it seemed to make better sense for the big publishers to go after little kids--since these were the people who were buying most of the comics. But lots of publishers sprang up that published comics inside magazines. There were adult magazines for men with some comics content.

    In the late 1950s, Jim Warren would start to publish his magazines and launched titles like EERIE and CREEPY.

    These magazines cost more money--not ten cents but twenty-five cents or more--but since they weren't all aimed at little kids, one assumes that the fathers out there had enough cash in pocket to afford these magazines. Well maybe not my Dad, since we were always scraping to get by, but as a postman he had free access to magazines at work. And my pops loved the pin-up girls.

    There was a certain book and magazine store that I sometimes would go in, back in the 1960s and 1970s, when I was hunting for comic books. And, behind the counter, they had SEX TO SEXTY, which adults could buy (but not kids like me). It was tantalizing to think what comics were inside that magazine with its provocative title.

    And by the 1970s, there were other magazines like NATIONAL LAMPOON and HEAVY METAL.

    It's not like adults were ever short of comics to read for their own tastes. Even among the Code comics, there were lots of war, western, mystery, science fiction, humour, romance comics for more mature consumers.
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  4. #4
    Astonishing Member kjn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mathew101281 View Post
    hadn’t happen. If you look at the history of comics leading up to the crackdown in the mid 50’s you can tell that genres were diversifying and anthologies in the romance horror and humor categories were beginning to proliferate. Given another 10 or fifteen years I think American comics would have looked more like a color version of what manga.
    For all that there is a lot of criticism that can be made against the Comics Code, I think this not only oversimplifies but also uses incorrect assumptions.

    First, comics were not beginning to diversify in the 50s, they were extremely diverse already in the 40s. Here I recommend Saladin Ahmed's How Censors Killed The Weird, Experimental, Progressive Golden Age Of Comics.

    Second, romance continued to be a strong part of American comics up until the mid-70s, and from what I understand it they adapted successfully to the Comics Code. What they couldn't adapt to was the sexual revolution and other cultural changes in the late 60s and early 70s. The role that newspapers and syndication played in the development of American comics shouldn't be underestimated either.

    Third, manga is not the only model for a successful and long-lasting culture of comics. French-speaking comics followed yet another path.
    ęSpeaking generally, it is because of the desire of the tragic poets for the marvellous that so varied and inconsistent an account of Medea has been given outĽ (Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History [4.56.1])

  5. #5
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    Manga (and its links with Japan's animation industry) is a more viable corporate model (compared to Europes BDs) to project soft power. In that they are pretty much successful as we see with the proliferation of Japanese cultural products across the globe and success of comics like Demon Slayer.
    Last edited by Bruce Wayne; 07-20-2021 at 08:00 AM.

  6. #6
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    This also doesn't include many other factors. Manga is very different production wise, not just due to lax censorship rules (even through they do exist) but also because of cultural factors and publication factors.
    Japan has a problem with its worth ethic, most notably, they have a problem of working People to death, and this is a problem you find in a lot of manga.
    US comics have a very diverse load of comics, you can still buy horror, romance and weird comics, just a lot of them are hard to come by and Super hero fiction tends to dominate the market.
    Manga tends to be more auterstic than US comics, so there's a lot more freedom for the writer to do their own thing. This isn't the case all the time. Akira Toriyama has said on many occasions how editors changed the direction of the book for him, there's the infamous example of the Android and Cell saga which is why that went on for so long.

    By the way, I'm not a fan of the CCA either, it stopped creative works for being released due to its own conservative sensibilities. The best things comics did was drop it.

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    Manga started out as picture books and have a long history in Japan. But what we call Manga here--the comic book style--seems to have developed post-war with Allied soldiers bringing American comic books to Japan and then the Manga publishers copying that style.

    The reason why these kinds of comics did so well in Japan--comics that appeal to different genders, different ages that have enough consumers to stay around--is probably because it's an island with a large population and an extensive railroad system. The train stations sold books and magazines; people used the train every day and read on the train between stops; every gender and age had to use the train all the time.

    Where else in the world does this happen? Well in Britain. Another island, they had an extensive rail system, news agents in the stations and lots of commuters to read THE BEANO and other comics. Likewise in most of Europe, the train is more common and people spend more time in train stations. So there's a better chance of selling comics to a wider variety of readers.

    The United States is too spread out. In most parts of the country, people only use the train on special occasions. Distribution costs more money, because it's such a big country and it's harder for small publishers to get into these markets.

    Now on the island of Manhattan, if there were publications just for New Yorkers, sold at newsstands in subway stations and train stations--there was enough of a population to sustain those publishers and the distribution could be contained to a small area. So I wouldn't be surprised if there were some publications that did very well just in Manhattan and the surrounding area, back in the 1950s.

    Of course, now it's different. Bored commuters have a lot of other things to do on the train--they don't need to buy newspapers, magazines and books.
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  8. #8
    Ultimate Member Mister Mets's Avatar
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    The bigger problem is how long it took graphic novels to take off.

    You're not going to be able to have more complex narratives without the ability to start at the beginning.

    We might have a different industry if Kurtzman's The Jungle Book had taken off in 1959.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Kelly View Post
    Manga started out as picture books and have a long history in Japan. But what we call Manga here--the comic book style--seems to have developed post-war with Allied soldiers bringing American comic books to Japan and then the Manga publishers copying that style.

    The reason why these kinds of comics did so well in Japan--comics that appeal to different genders, different ages that have enough consumers to stay around--is probably because it's an island with a large population and an extensive railroad system. The train stations sold books and magazines; people used the train every day and read on the train between stops; every gender and age had to use the train all the time.

    Where else in the world does this happen? Well in Britain. Another island, they had an extensive rail system, news agents in the stations and lots of commuters to read THE BEANO and other comics. Likewise in most of Europe, the train is more common and people spend more time in train stations. So there's a better chance of selling comics to a wider variety of readers.

    The United States is too spread out. In most parts of the country, people only use the train on special occasions. Distribution costs more money, because it's such a big country and it's harder for small publishers to get into these markets.

    Now on the island of Manhattan, if there were publications just for New Yorkers, sold at newsstands in subway stations and train stations--there was enough of a population to sustain those publishers and the distribution could be contained to a small area. So I wouldn't be surprised if there were some publications that did very well just in Manhattan and the surrounding area, back in the 1950s.

    Of course, now it's different. Bored commuters have a lot of other things to do on the train--they don't need to buy newspapers, magazines and books.
    That's an interesting point about how one niche leads to big changes in a major artform. America's much more of a car culture, so there are more opportunities for reading, and more opportunities for talk radio.
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  9. #9
    Loony Scott Taylor's Avatar
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    Are you kidding? Manga is about the most non-diverse, formulaic comic book crap on earth. The CCA did everyone a big favor by existing. Suddenly someone could "rebel" and make a comic book that was forbidden fruit. In reality the CCA wasn't even paying close attention, that stamp was mostly just a way to pacify angsty parental units who also couldn't be bothered to actually pay attention. I know, I lived through a lot of the CCA time period and it was a joke.

    Count yourself lucky we didn't end up with the homogenized fake rebellion tentacle sex show
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Taylor View Post
    Are you kidding? Manga is about the most non-diverse, formulaic comic book crap on earth. The CCA did everyone a big favor by existing. Suddenly someone could "rebel" and make a comic book that was forbidden fruit. In reality the CCA wasn't even paying close attention, that stamp was mostly just a way to pacify angsty parental units who also couldn't be bothered to actually pay attention. I know, I lived through a lot of the CCA time period and it was a joke.

    Count yourself lucky we didn't end up with the homogenized fake rebellion tentacle sex show
    interesting response. what manga have you actually read? it's a pretty diverse medium. at LEAST as diverse as what we have in the United States, if not more so. probably no more than 10-15% of manga ever gets translated into English.

  11. #11
    Astonishing Member CSTowle's Avatar
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    While I'd disagree that it's not diverse in terms of topics/genres, I'd agree that like US superhero comics the vast majority of manga follows a few popular themes and has a lot of tropes that (if you're not a fan and accept them coming in) can be jarring or stick out to non-manga fans. We don't notice the same tropes (or notice them and gloss over them because of familiarity and acceptance) in our Western superhero comics, but we have the same things.

    As a person who never really got into manga, a few things that stick out to me (in a bad way) include:

    1. Weird unrealistic poses, usually involving standing in an odd position, tilting of the head in a particular way, winking, hand gestures, and use of cigarettes or some substitute to make someone look "cool" (probably most jarring as you don't see that much these days in the US). In fairness you could say the same about odd poses in superhero comics, but again I've been reading those since I was 5 so it's harder to notice/less jarring and most of those involve women posing to look attractive (I guess?).

    2. The use of certain symbols to indicate emotion, like the sweat drop in nervousness, the nosebleed for arousal, the little cross on the head to indicate stress/frustration. I get what they're going for, but because I didn't grow up with these things they bump me from the story.

    3. The amount of female characters who are clearly meant to be under 18 but are never the less heavily sexualized, often with cartoonishly large breasts. Again maybe a cultural difference, coming from the Puritanical US, but rubs me the wrong way and way more common than in Western comics. Though again, our superhero comics clearly and blatantly sexualize the female heroes. I just believe when Jubilee or Kitty Pryde are depicted with watermelon sized breasts and their rear ends facing the same direction as their faces that's because of bad artists drawing everyone in the same way, a bug rather than a feature.

    4. Many of the stories are naturally about Japanese-cultural themes like Samurai/Ninja/martial artists, and I don't give a f##k about any of that. Of all the Asian cultures I'm probably least interested in Japan's, probably because I've seen it done already so many times. The same could easily be said by someone else of seeing yet another Batman/Superman style story and I get that, just trying to articulate what bores me about the vast majority of manga.

    5. While the genres are pretty diverse (especially when compared to the superhero market of the Big 2, less so with Image/Dark Horse/etc.) the art style generally isn't and because they're drawing/writing larger volumes you can see how the art is stretched out "for the trade" (which again, has been adopted across most of the mainstream Western superhero stuff now as well). I don't see as large a difference between manga artist's styles as I do Western comic artists. Rob Liefeld vs Frank Quitely vs Bill Sienkiewicz vs Frank Miller vs Todd McFarlane. Those differences may exist, and it may be because we rarely get to see fringier stuff here in the States and are stuck with the more popular (and thus homogenized) manga that I don't come across it. But if all one were getting out of Western superhero comics was book after book in the style of Rob Liefeld (and for a brief period in the early '90s, that seemed like an easy thing to do) I could see them being turned off from them as I am for most manga/anime (don't get me started on the voice acting on anime).

    Again, an outsider's perspective and one of admittedly little experience beyond what you'd find on the shelf at a Barnes & Noble. Just trying to give my two cents on why I don't think the topic's suggestion would necessarily be a good thing for US comic fans. I would say I'm much more interested in what's coming out from the Images of the world in Western comics than what Marvel or DC are doing, as much love and emotional attachment as I have to/for the characters I grew up on.
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  12. #12
    Loony Scott Taylor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Totoro Man View Post
    interesting response. what manga have you actually read? it's a pretty diverse medium. at LEAST as diverse as what we have in the United States, if not more so. probably no more than 10-15% of manga ever gets translated into English.
    Diverse in terms of storylines? I agree it covers a broad territory in that respect. Not much for different cultures or races, though, unless you count made up ones. As to how many I have read - more than I wish I had!
    Last edited by Scott Taylor; 07-21-2021 at 09:22 AM.
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  13. #13
    Astonishing Member Timothy Hunter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CSTowle View Post
    While I'd disagree that it's not diverse in terms of topics/genres, I'd agree that like US superhero comics the vast majority of manga follows a few popular themes and has a lot of tropes that (if you're not a fan and accept them coming in) can be jarring or stick out to non-manga fans. We don't notice the same tropes (or notice them and gloss over them because of familiarity and acceptance) in our Western superhero comics, but we have the same things.

    As a person who never really got into manga, a few things that stick out to me (in a bad way) include:

    1. Weird unrealistic poses, usually involving standing in an odd position, tilting of the head in a particular way, winking, hand gestures, and use of cigarettes or some substitute to make someone look "cool" (probably most jarring as you don't see that much these days in the US). In fairness you could say the same about odd poses in superhero comics, but again I've been reading those since I was 5 so it's harder to notice/less jarring and most of those involve women posing to look attractive (I guess?).

    2. The use of certain symbols to indicate emotion, like the sweat drop in nervousness, the nosebleed for arousal, the little cross on the head to indicate stress/frustration. I get what they're going for, but because I didn't grow up with these things they bump me from the story.

    3. The amount of female characters who are clearly meant to be under 18 but are never the less heavily sexualized, often with cartoonishly large breasts. Again maybe a cultural difference, coming from the Puritanical US, but rubs me the wrong way and way more common than in Western comics. Though again, our superhero comics clearly and blatantly sexualize the female heroes. I just believe when Jubilee or Kitty Pryde are depicted with watermelon sized breasts and their rear ends facing the same direction as their faces that's because of bad artists drawing everyone in the same way, a bug rather than a feature.

    4. Many of the stories are naturally about Japanese-cultural themes like Samurai/Ninja/martial artists, and I don't give a f##k about any of that. Of all the Asian cultures I'm probably least interested in Japan's, probably because I've seen it done already so many times. The same could easily be said by someone else of seeing yet another Batman/Superman style story and I get that, just trying to articulate what bores me about the vast majority of manga.

    5. While the genres are pretty diverse (especially when compared to the superhero market of the Big 2, less so with Image/Dark Horse/etc.) the art style generally isn't and because they're drawing/writing larger volumes you can see how the art is stretched out "for the trade" (which again, has been adopted across most of the mainstream Western superhero stuff now as well). I don't see as large a difference between manga artist's styles as I do Western comic artists. Rob Liefeld vs Frank Quitely vs Bill Sienkiewicz vs Frank Miller vs Todd McFarlane. Those differences may exist, and it may be because we rarely get to see fringier stuff here in the States and are stuck with the more popular (and thus homogenized) manga that I don't come across it. But if all one were getting out of Western superhero comics was book after book in the style of Rob Liefeld (and for a brief period in the early '90s, that seemed like an easy thing to do) I could see them being turned off from them as I am for most manga/anime (don't get me started on the voice acting on anime).

    Again, an outsider's perspective and one of admittedly little experience beyond what you'd find on the shelf at a Barnes & Noble. Just trying to give my two cents on why I don't think the topic's suggestion would necessarily be a good thing for US comic fans. I would say I'm much more interested in what's coming out from the Images of the world in Western comics than what Marvel or DC are doing, as much love and emotional attachment as I have to/for the characters I grew up on.
    I agree with all of these criticisms, but the dealbreaker for me is the size of Manga compared to American comics. You can have something brilliant and beautiful like Naoki Urasawa's Pluto or Hayao Miyazaki's Nausicca and the size of the book would be only a little taller than a smart phone.

    That's why I like the early American manga reprints from the 80s and 90s, even if they are flipped, because they are the size of Western comics.

  14. #14
    Astonishing Member CSTowle's Avatar
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    I'd imagine that's probably something to do with keeping the costs down and making them portable, but when I was delving into manga more regularly I liked the old Viz reprints of Ranma and the like in the comic book sized format.
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  15. #15
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    I don't mind the smaller page size. If the artists know they are producing pages for that size, they can make the adjustment.

    In 1950, Arnold Drake, Leslie Waller and Matt Baker put out a "picture novel" for St. John Publishing which was called IT RHYMES WITH LUST. This was half-size, in black and white, over a hundred pages. It was supposed to launch a whole line of mass market paperbacks of this style. I feel like if that had produced big sales (maybe if a larger publisher had done it), then more of this kind of book could have been produced. The size makes it easy to carry on a commute. And the content is geared to adult readers.
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