Well, it might be Blog@Newsarama’s anniversary week, but Point/Counterpoint is a much newer column, so here it’s business as usual.
The Manga Jouhou forum has posted a translation of an article by Yoshikazu Hayashida about what makes the globalization of Japanese comics successful.
American comic magazines typically serialize only one or a few works, while Japanese magazines serialize ten or more works in their thick phone book-like volumes. This has had the following effect: Japanese magazines need to serialize only a small number of strong works to boost their sales. With the rest, they can adopt new writers and experiment with new manga. Through trial and error, a brilliant new work may be born, and it can become one of the strong works that support their sales. In this way, Japanese comics have always been aggressive, dynamic and exciting. Comic writers and publishers have been sensitive to trends and transferred them into comic pages. Thanks to the lure of big money, many talented people who might have become actors or authors chose to become comic writers, creating fascinating comics.
At Yet Another Comics Blog, Dave Carter agrees with some of Mr. Hayashida’s essay, but points out areas where he feels it is flat out wrong when it comes to American comics.
Hayashida makes the common mistake that American Comics = Super-heroes. They’re not. Outside of comic specialty shops, they’re not even in the majority.
Oddly, it was the exact same historical market conditions that led to the slimming and ghetoization of American comics which also led to the small-press and self-publishing movement. This movement has led not only to greater creative control and ownership, but also to great creativity and experimentation. I would argue that the past 30 years has seen at least as much experimentation and creativity in North American comics as in Japanese Manga (though admittedly my knowledge of the underground and art-manga movements is spotty at best).
So what do you think?