25 November 2006

Stop the Presses

Showing their keen eyes for publishing trends and American youth culture--of twenty years ago--the editors of the New York Times broke the news today of "Graphic Novels' New Readers"!

"For Graphic Novels, a New Frontier," says the headline on the front of the Arts section; "Teenage Girls." Yes, folks, you read it here first (as long as you hadn't read anything else in a long while): teenaged girls read manga.

In fact, the story is simply DC Comics marketing its new effort to publish manga for female readers, this time in partnership with Alloy Entertainment. Close reading reveals that DC tried a similar thing in 2004--but that apparently escaped the notice of the Times.


Anna said...

Doesn't look much like manga to me, at least from the artists announced. One of them has a background in indie comics.

Susan said...

That was a little nutty on the Times' part, wasn' it?

J. L. Bell said...

True, the comics-creators that DC announced in that article don't usually work in the manga style. But the Times didn't seem to draw such a distinction, particularly in its headlines. Its wording implied that editors didn't realize that an entire segment of the comics market has been driven for years by the "teenage girls" market.

eric shanower said...

I despise the misuse of the word manga. Unless the comics in question are produced originally in Japan, then they're not manga, no matter what graphic conventions the work may employ. Lone Wolf and Cub looks and gives a reading experience quite unlike Doraemon,yet they are both manga. Oz, the Manga, despite its title, isn't manga, since it's written and drawn by an American and published by a San Antonio publisher. I would use the term Amerimanga for it.

Eric Shanower

J. L. Bell said...

Thanks for comment, Eric. Looking at your comment here and in your list of recommended graphic novels, I see that you argue that manga is the direct translation of "comics" in Japanese, so by definition all comics produced in Japan, in whatever style, are manga. Whereas you call comics produced in America in styles influenced by Japanese comics are "Amerimanga." And presumably there might also be Francomanga, Italomanga, Canadomanga, etc.

DC's CMX division seems to be importing and translating manga by either definition: Japanese-created comics in the expected style. The new division, Minx, having bested it first obstacle (Andrea Grant), may publish in other styles. And if it publishes work not created in Japan, by your definition those titles would not be manga at all.

I suspect popular usage will determine whether manga sticks or not to mean a particular style or genre. After all, the French write romans that have no connection, besides etymology, with Rome. As with our terms "cartoons," "comics," and "novels," we need to call those creative inventions something; the origins of the terms aren't always apt, but we use them anyway.