September 17, 2005

No Blood For OEL

If anyone else asks about "OEL manga," please send them to this page. I'm pretty sure I was the one who started using the term, so I feel that I should at least hold myself responsible and clarify any further issues.

Who invented that buzzword, anyway? and WHY?

Several months ago on the Pseudome forums, Queenie Chan expressed her distaste for the term "Amerimanga." It implied that Americans were the only non-Japanese creators who could adopt the "manga style" into their comics. It certainly wasn't fair to a Chinese-Australian (and occasionally Hong Kong) creator such as herself. Like most creators, she simply likes to make comics, and if manga-inspired techniques happen to creep in, well that's fine. It's all those people who insist on naming things that are making trouble.

*Arguably, there is no specific style to manga, but that's not the point I'm addressing here.

So here's where I started making trouble. When I coined the term "OEL manga" on April 28, 2005, it was because Tokyopop had announced some news for their original homegrown titles, and I had to say something about it, but I didn't really want to call it Amerimanga. (Dramacon was involved, and Svetlana Chmakova is Russian-Canadian.) So I sat there for about five seconds with the following train of thought:

- The most distinctive feature of these comics is that it is similar to manga but is written in English.
- English manga? But that might make some people think it's just, well, ANY manga that's been translated into English.
- Original English manga? Well, that addresses the fact that it's "originally in English," but it might mislead others into thinking it's "manga originally made in England."
- Original English Language manga? OEL manga? Okay, close enough.

So in a fit of typing, I invented a term of convenience that I slapped on there so that I wouldn't have to use the naughty A-word. And then I used it a few more times since it was quite a handy little term and the acronym made it look cool. Then it started making the rounds among other bloggers, creators, editors, and industry professionals, got shortened to "OEL," and became a catch-all term for anything that might be manga-ish, but is not actually from Japan.

Which brings us to here.

I never expected a five-second brain fart to become a linguistic battleground. I just started using it for that particular kind of comics because I didn't like any of the other terms currently going around. If other people find it convenient to use, that's cool, and I encourage them to use it. If other people don't like it, then go make up your own word, and hopefully it'll catch on. (I see that Japan has already done that.) Hey, I'm all for finding another word to describe this movement, because I don't expect OEL to be a permanent fix. You don't see movies being called "talkies" anymore, do you? Or cars being called "horseless carriages"? Similarly, this is just a little patch-in-the-hole word that I invented to talk about something that's really new in comics. I certainly didn't sit in a Thinking Chair for five hours going "HMMM ... I must come up with the PERFECT name for the Western-Eastern comics-manga hybrid ... " No, it was more like, "Crap, I have to blog about this but I must describe it in a way that's technically correct, descriptive, and has no nationalistic overtones! Um ... "

Well if YOU claim to have coined the word, why don't you tells us what it MEANS, Mister Smarty Asse?

Okay.

OEL Manga. (pøop'-on-ä-stîck' cómïcs) [abbr. Original English Language manga.] n. a type of comics (sequential art) that incorporates distinctive elements of manga (comics originating from Japan) but originally scripted in the English language. Often shortened to OEL.

(Side note: "OEL" alone is its own brand of confusion, since ALL comics scripted in English are technically OEL, but that's why you have to understand the implied "manga" that comes after the acronym.)

You're digging yourself into a pretty big hole right there, so please, continue.

"OEL manga" makes no distinctions as to the country of origin, which was the original problem anyway ("Ameri-..."). It makes no distinction as to the official or vernacular languages of the country of origin. It makes no distinction as to the creator's ethnic/national background, previous countries lived in, or current residence (which would have been a nightmare in the case of Hanzo Steinbach). It also makes no distinction as to the format in which the work is distributed. It is only concerned with (1) the original language in which the work was created, which is English, and (2) the artistic approach, which must in some way be similar to manga (which we shall define for now as "sequential art originally scripted in Japanese, by a Japanese creator, in Japan").

It means if you are producing your manga-ish comic-thing in the English language, it is still OEL, even if you are currently residing in Hong Kong or Tokyo or the Moon or Hell (which is in Norway).

It also means that if you reside in an English-speaking country like Singapore, but are producing your manga-ish comic-thing in a vernacular language like Chinese or Malay, you are NOT producing OEL manga, because it's not originally in English. Similarly, manga-styled European works like Yonen Buzz (originally in German), Monster Allergy and W.I.T.C.H. (both originally in Italian) would not qualify as OEL. In fact I'm sure that the Germans and Italians already have their own words for it.

If you run a webcomic in English that contains manga elements, that's OEL manga. If you graffiti an Azumanga Daioh-esque 4-panel strip on the side of a bridge, you've just made OEL manga. If you create manga-ish comic-things on a grain of rice and sell them at a crafts fair, feel free to stick "OEL manga" on the signboard.

"OEL manga" is NOT a marketing ploy. It was not invented by a company to sell more of their stuff to manga fans. In fact I'm still yet to see English-language companies using it in their press releases. It was invented by me, because I didn't know what else to call it, and somehow it got around the English-speaking fandom and now we're using it until a better description comes along.

As for Japan, well, they can call it whatever they like. As I said before, I'm all for finding another word to describe this movement. If Japanese speakers find "OEL manga" confusing and even insulting, then I'm sorry. I had no idea that it would make it as far as Japan. I originally thought that the only people using the word would be me and some of the other English-speaking comics bloggers, and then it would die out and stop being cool because everyone decided that it sounded dumb. It was only ever intended for use in the English language. If "Nissei/Nisei/Nise Comi" is what works for Japanese speakers, then please, continue using that and forget about OEL. I hear that France has "nouvelle manga." Every language has specific terms for genres and styles, and it would be silly to tell international readers "You have to call it POOP ON A STICK COMICS or else!!!" when they might already have something like "Mist auf einem Stock."

You idiot, manga is Japanese-language comics made by Japanese creators in Japan. The definition above even says so. How can you call it OEL manga? That's a contradiction.

No it's not. "OEL manga" is not the same as "manga." It contains three extra capital letters and a space. (Okay, that was facetious, I admit.) It's saying that, although manga is a uniquely Japanese artform, it has certain characteristics that comic artists of other cultures can use, and when an English-speaking creator uses those characteristics, it becomes "OEL manga."

No one is trying to say that "OEL manga" = "manga" (at least, I'm not). It is its own unique and evolving form of comics. That is why there is a unique term for it. It just so happens that one of the words in that term also describes another form of comics. It's like how "Classical" refers to a form of Western music that flourished between about 1750 to 1820, but "neo-Classical" refers to a form of Western music between 1915 and 1940 that attempted to capture the original Classical style. (I wonder if Prokofiev ever got yelled at: "You can't call it Classical! It's 1916 for God's sake!")

Manga is comics. Manga is comics. Manga is comics. IT'S ALL JUST COMICS!

Right, and if I said that Steady Beat was the same thing as WorldWatch, I know that at least two people would kick me in the face: Rivkah and Chuck Austen.

It's human nature to label things into different categories. That's how we identify objects and ideas that are different from each other, even if they might fall under one, bigger classification. "This is a pen." "I am a boy." Are you going to tell me to stop being human?

What's this I hear about MIC (manga-influenced comics)?

A term coined by the folks at AnimeonDVD.com to take the mick out of OEL proponents (pun intended). Actually no, they do have their reasons, but I think they would do a better job of explaining it than me trying to do it second-hand.

OELMIC?

Olmecs.

I hear that Mike Schwark and Ron Kaulfersch also like "Neo Genesis Pseudonga."

32 Comments:

Eclipse said...

This post has been removed by the author.

8:18 PM  
Eclipse said...

Nice one.

8:19 PM  
Rivkah Greulich said...

Pata, I think you should contact Mirriam-Webster's dictionary and have them add "OEL" and "OEL manga" to the dictionary so there's no longer room for debate. ^_~

I'm sure in spite of this post, though, people will continue to argue over it's meaning forevermore anyway. You know the people I pay attention to? The publishers. They're the one's who call the final shots, and to them, it's either "manga" or "graphic novels." "OEL" (or "oel manga" whichever) is a useful term for those of us who need to make a distinction.

8:56 PM  
Anonymous said...

The problem with the term isn't really the "OEL" part -- it's the manga part. In your definition, you have "manga" as meaning comics from Japan. So OEL manga, is, logically, comics from Japan written in the English language. Except that's not what you mean by it.

9:28 PM  
Anonymous said...

There is a magazine in South Africa called LO Magazine that used the term "Neo-Manga."

9:54 PM  
Queenie Chan said...

Hey!! So YOU coined the term "OEL manga"! Well, I'm glad to be part of this momentous piece of online history. It seems to have brought you a great deal of trouble, but it's worth it if you've invented a new term.

Personally, I go around telling people I draw graphic novels. However, the term OEL manga seems to have stuck amongst certain circles and spread quickly there. As for whether in 5 year's time we're going to see the term "OEL manga" still around, will probably depend on how well OEL manga does as a whole. *LOL*

And am I the only one who thinks "MIC" is not a bad term? Since we have the comics version of "The Babysitter's Club" now, I think we can begin to reclaim the word "comics" again without great embaressment.

12:57 AM  
Pata said...

Anonymous #1 -- I have already addressed that problem under the "but that's a contradiction" section.

The word "manga" BY ITSELF means "Japanese-language comics made by Japanese creators in Japan," but when used within the term "OEL manga," it no longer retains that exact meaning because it is no longer by itself. You must now consider the full eight letters and space as the word in question, rather than the five letters at the end.

As explained in the example I gave, "Classical" means a form of music from around 1750-1820 that is focused on balance and clarity. But in "neo-Classical," it's clear that the music is no longer from the 1750-1820 period, but it still has the musical characteristics of the original Classical style. Likewise, "OEL manga" retains artistic characteristics of actual "manga" while not actually being from Japan.

3:25 AM  
Pata said...

Rivkah:

I'm not trying to stop the debate, I'm just trying to setup a foundation for it so that people will quit shooting verbal gunfire aimlessly about this phenomenon. Now they can aim it at me. It's kind of like how, people in the 17th century had a vague idea of how stuff moves but it wasn't until Newton dropped the Princpia Mathematica on everyone that they could really start arguing about physics. Except on a much crappier scale in my case. Basically, if anyone wants to talk about what OEL is, they can use my writing as a primary source for future discussion.

I agree that publishers call the shots (and I can see why you might have that viewpoint ^_~), but it's the readers who decide where the shots land. Publishers can call things what they like, but readers should be free to do that too, as they're the end-users of all these products.

Queenie:

I'm glad you're able to call it just graphic novels. Unfortunately, I felt a need to tell things apart from ... other things, and somehow that brought a whole lot of accountability upon myself. I seriously wish that everyone had just dropped the term a few weeks after it first started appearing, and said that I was stupid for using it in the first place, and then we wouldn't be having this problem.

I don't have a problem with the word MIC itself -- it does make technical sense to me -- but the circumstances behind which it was devised just rub me the wrong way.

6:26 PM  
Queenie Chan said...

No worries, man!!! You've made online history!!

And I DO like the term "OEL Manga" - wouldn't use it otherwise. I'm just saying that it's too soon to know whether term is concrete or not.

11:30 PM  
Jon said...

There are other ways to look at it.

We would have a continuum rather than just an opposition. Now, obviously comics are generally multi-modal (to take Neil’s sense of the term) in which we have an interaction of text and image, so we can have translated manga where the visuals are in Japnese VL while the text is in American English (with sound effects being somewhere in between). Or US superhero comics translated into Japanese, where the VL is still American VL while the text is Japanese. And obviously, with the Pidgen, even further distinctions can be made.

Looking at things in this way–it can make sense that we make a distinction between comics (which are generally in American VL) and manga (which are generally in Japanese VL), or we can talk about American manga (which could be a shorthand for “American[English text language] manga[Japanese VL]”).

3:37 AM  
Anonymous said...

The difference between "neo-classical" and "OEL manga" is that neo-classical doesn't have a space in it; I propose, therefore,
"OEL-manga".
- Galen (different anonymous person).

8:06 AM  
Anonymous said...

If you're using the word "manga" to mean something completely different than it was originally used for, then you may as well come up with a new name like "glork" or repurpose an existing word like "cheese".

But hey, western creators want to be seen as merely imitaors for some nebulous "japanese style," that whatever. You'd think they'd want to emphaize what makes them unique rather than point out what the elemets they are mimicing from someone else.

11:11 AM  
Adam Arnold said...

It's not that the creators are mimicing the style, but rather drawing in a style they feel comfortable using. You are assuming there is a "manga-style," but there isn't. It's a fictional concept that sprang up because companies and retailers have to figure out a way to best classify these types of works.

But you also can't keep using the term "Westerner" when describing OEL Manga. There are just as many Eastern creators in this field as well.

If you want to put a hyphen in OEL-Manga, then go ahead. It just looks really stupid as you've then make it read as "Original English-Language-Manga."

Seriously though, you aren't going to see a company use this term in marketing as you have to explain what it means. You don't have to explain what "manga" is to the average consumer now. They know what that is. Tell them "OEL" or "MIC" and they just look at you dumbfounded.

1:42 PM  
Bryan Lee O'Malley said...

Post-punk. Post-modernism. Post-manga.

3:43 PM  
John said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems like those who do "OEL manga" have an aversion to the term "comics" because of what they think of when they hear said term.

Comic strip artists draw in very different styles. But they're just comics.

American comicbooks come in varieties of artisitc styles. But they're all just comics.

European comicbooks come in different styles - different from American books and different from other European books. But they're usually just comics (maybe "foreign comics.")

These are all forms of sequential art, and the style of a strip like Peanuts is just as different from an issue of Batman or Spider-Man or something by Moebius, but it's all commonly just called "comics."

Why is there the need to label a book/comic/graphic novel done in a manga style as manga and not as a comic? Marketing. Right now, comics and cartoons from Japan are especially hot. So using the Japanese term for comics to sell a comic is a wise marketing move, even if that comic isn't actually from Japan. Sure, it looks like it might be from Japan, but it's not.

I don't think there's really a solution to this. It seems many people making "OEL manga" today do not read many "OEL comics", and they don't like the idea of how they draw being lumped in with what they think is the definition of "comics." It also seems that people who make "OEL manga" have only been exposed to two types of comics: superhero comics and manga. But there is much more to comics than just superheros, and maybe when they come to realize this they'll learn they don't have to say their comics are manga just to differentiate them from other comics. Whether they like it or not, no matter what they call it, they are making comics.

7:45 PM  
Svetlana said...

Hey, Pata, I linked to your entry in the OEL discussion on The Engine. Just FYI :3

Also: COME UP WITH A BETTER TERM NEXT TIME, YOU SLACKER, OMG!!11!1!1 (Disclaimer: LOL)

Son of Also: I love the title of this entry XD

8:56 PM  
magamura said...

My problem with OEL manga is not the manga part, as it was clearly explained in your post.

My problem is with the English part. I just don't really see the difference the manga-influenced work of an English-speaking author, and a German one, for example. The phenomenon is the same: a work inspired by manga. The OEL doesn't include these German, etc. artist, while they are doing the same. (Nouvelle manga is a little bit different. It seems to have two roots: BD and manga. OEL is "just" manga.)

Foreign manga? Gaikokujin manga? Gaijinmanga? Gaiman? (;)) Gaiga?

9:59 PM  
Simon Jones said...

My personal aversion to using the term manga to describe anything but Japanese comics is not malice or contempt for non-Japanese creators or a slam on their artistic skills, but rather because it assigns false qualifiers to manga that it is either a visual style, a specific story pacing, a publication format, or even the trademark domain of certain publishers. I've been a centrist on this issue until the day I got into a argument at a bookstore with two highschool kids on whether or not the great Crayon no Shinchan is a manga...no joke. A real manga, a huge hit in its native country, which shares absolutely *none* of the qualities that so many posts on so many forums list as intrinsic elements of manga...no continual story line. No dynamic pacing or line/tone effects. No big eyes.

In its application, OEL manga creates more problems than it solves by perpetuating these myths. How much of a comic must be influenced by manga to qualify as OEL manga? Must it always look like whichever shounen or shoujo manga that is most popular at the time, at the expense of the myriad of other manga released (such as Crayon)? What of paneling and pacing? These are elements that many American creators have been incorportating into their comics, even before the emergence of Tokyopop...in fact one would be hard-pressed to find works not in some way influenced by manga, whether the creators realizes it. Does that make their works manga as well?

Actually, I'm quite fond of Bryan's term Post-Manga (wow, hello Mal.) It describes a movement, a period (such as Gold or Silver age), rather than the end commercial product, and I find it quite fitting as this is definitely the first wave of artists to emerge after the Tokyopop explosion. It works as a purely academic term...you've got my vote.

10:43 PM  
Anonymous said...

Why do you guys care so much about the name? Why does having the name manga or not bother everyone? If certain people in the Anime/Manga community don't like OEL Manga than end of conversation. All this bickering does nothing. To tell you truth even I'm starting to get annoyed by this whole OEL Manga "movement" because whenever I see a forum topic that's all there is. And I know i'm not alone on this because that's how it was at AnimeonDVD manga forum until they started removing all topics on OEL Manga to Off-topic.

I bought the Rising Stars of Manga books, I was a regular lurker at Pseudome.net, and know one of winners of RSOM in real life. I think OEL Manga is something that has great potential. But way you guys are advertising yourselves and antagonizing Anime/Manga community is not something I can support.

10:48 PM  
Anonymous said...

The online anime/manga community IS the problem. They go crying wolf whenever someone edits a damn book. It makes me want to gag.

The same goes for the damn super-hero comic community always freaking out about how manga is stealing their luster. It's like the whole blogosphere has become some type of plague breeding like-minded sheepeople.

WHATEVER!!!

11:15 PM  
Anonymous said...

No, the anime/manga community isn't the problem. YOUR the problem. You sound like the type of person that has a love/hate complex and would be married to a wifebeater. If someone is antagonistic towards you stay the hell away from him/her. OEL Manga will exist with or without the anime/manga community. A nuclear explosion can't stop the influence of manga/anime in artists around the world. Who cares if a group of people don't like OEL Manga. I've turned my back on superhero comics and never looked back and we're both happy. So quit crying and grow up.

Have you guys even considered what anime/manga community think? They're entitled to their opinion just as much as you and if they don't like OEL Manga then they don't have to. There a dozen reasons why they like anime/manga and some of them you can't recreate. If they like comic books that only come out of Japan then what the hell is wrong with that. Do you bash all college students that choose one major over another? As long as their reason isn't based on false assumptions or racist.

While your deciding which label suits you the best the better writer/artist will only be concerned with 2 labels, shit and great. Alfred Hitchcock made thriller/action movies, but in the eyes of film history he is and will one of greatest directors that's ever lived. Alan Moore made Watchmen considered a great comic book even by The Comics Journal, the biggest superhero comic bashers in print and on the internet. So go right ahead and continue worrying about anime/manga community and what label that would be best suited to market your comics to them.

12:33 AM  
Adam Arnold said...

Okay, you two need to chill out. Go take a time out.

Manga, Manhwa, Manhua and these "original series" are all being put out by the same companies and being marketed towards the same crowd. The only difference is that some of them fall outside of the sphere of influence of such sites as AnimeonDVD because it wasn't published in or simultaneously in Japan first. That's it. That's they're only requirement. It doesn't matter if Stuart Levy/DJ Milky wrote the OEL Manga title Princess Ai in English and then translated it into Japanese and had an Asian/Japanese artist draw the book...it was published in Japan first and is considered manga by them.

No amount of new terms is going to get web sites or they're users thing any differently about covering your works even if they are published by a manga publisher. It just isn't going to happen. Some new site has to come along that is going to be devoted to this "original manga."

Rome wasn't built in a day and I highly doubt anyone is going to come up with a term that anyone will be happy with. And even if we did, people could still call it comics or "Amerimanga" or anything else. You call something "webmanga" and someone will come right up to you and call it a "webcomic." It's just how the world works.

Trust me, because I say this from experience, the more you let this debate drag on, the worse it reflects on yourself, your work, your company and your fellow creators. Keep on beating the OEL drum all you like, but just remember that the same people you are pissing off are the same ones that you are supposed to be impressing.

4:10 AM  
Adam Arnold said...

Minor correction:

"No amount of new terms are going to get web sites or their users to think any differently about covering your works even if they are published by a manga publisher."

4:12 AM  
John said...

Is BONE a superhero comic? No. But does it go by anything other than "a comic"? The collections might go by "graphic novels", but neither term describes its place of origin or its content other than that it's a form of sequential art.

BONE didn't need a new term to make it different from what other books and styles of art were (and are) prevalent in the comics industry. Sure, BONE is funny, but you can't call it just a humor book as there is a lot of drama in it. It's cartoony, but a lot of backgrounds Jeff Smith draws can be quite realistic. It's similar in style to some newspaper strips, but it's not "set-up - punchline" in form (not always, anyway.) BONE is different from any superhero comic, just like any OEL manga is different from any superhero comic.

Insisting that manga-influenced comics be marketed as manga only accentuates the perception that "comics means American comics--American comics are superhero comics--superhero comics are bad, ergo American comics are bad--manga is not an American term, hence manga is not comics, therefore manga is good." I'll say it again, it's marketing. "Kids don't buy comics, but if we say it's manga and they think it might be from Japan, they'll eat it up!" That's not to say OEL manga is different from other comics. It is, but so is BONE.

What would books like BONE, TIN-TIN, or SPIDER-MAN be labeled as in Japan? Do they call them "manga"? "Manga from America? From Europe? Non-Japanese manga?" One thing that seems for sure is that they call books created by non-Japanese that are labeled in any way "manga" a phrase the equivalent of "Comics trying to fool us into thinking they're from Japan."

Now, I'm not saying that if you're not Japanese you shouldn't draw in a manga style. Heck, I've got some manga influences in my work here and there, but it's far from anything that could be labeled "OEL manga." But I also don't do superhero comics, even though that's what I grew up with. What I do, and ANYONE who draws in sequential form, is comics.

6:46 AM  
Illi said...

Ehehe, how about English Pseudo-Manga

You don't run into the problem with it not technically being manga, but then again I guess some people might be offended by the whole 'fake' connotations of the word

5:17 PM  
Adam Arnold said...

Well, Seven Seas originally had the term "World Manga," but we dropped that...and now I see that VIZ has their first OEL title coming out and it's called "1 World Manga."

Guess we should've continued using it!

6:14 PM  
Anonymous said...

OEL manga is kinda lumpy as a term, but I've yet to see anything better and I don't have any brilliant suggestions myself.
I heard that someone was trying to popularize the term "nisei-manga," apparently since they heard the term "nisei" as applied to second generation Japanese born in America. Reasonably clever, except for one huge problem--it sounds almost exactly like "nise-manga," which would translate punningly as "fake manga" in Japanese.
Ouch.
Unless they were being double-plus clever....
--Toren

10:07 PM  
Lea Hernandez said...

Yay! OEL not a marketing term invented by anyone! YAY!

I like it. I like it far better than any permutation of "Ameri----."
As I said well over ten years ago, when someone first floated "amerimanga" at me, "That sounds like a primate."
I also never like "faux manga" (fuck that very much) or "psuedomanga" (which is plain insulting.

6:17 AM  
Meredith said...

I'll just keep using "manga", "comic", "manga-syle comics" when I feel like it... Which word I use often depends which group of people I'm talking to.

What am I supposed to call a manga influenced French comic? To me it's the same thing as OEL but I can't call it that.

6:59 PM  
Ed said...

I started using the term Neo-Manga to differentiate between the titles being produced by companies like Tokyopop and EigoManga. I felt that although the art work might look Japanese (or manga style), it doesn't contain the cultural content of original manga and therefor cannot be called manga. It would be lying to your readers. When I read manga, I expect certain humour, certain values, etc. which you won't find in non-Japanese manga. It doesn't matter that manga just means comics or graphic novels in Japan. Manga was "given" as a commercial product to the Westerner and he has therefor defined it as something that comes from Japan.

To name it after a country or language would limit the term to a region and cut out certain countries and languages. What about manga then created in Germany or France?

To say, you can't use the term "manga" in this "different" style is debateble. Manga origin lies in early American cartoon art as stated by the father of Manga, Osamu Tetzuka. Now the art form is going back to the West... and thats why I called it Neo-Manga.

3:39 PM  
Rachel N. said...

I for one am growing weary of having my comics lumped in with manga because of the big eyes I draw.

I first started drawing big sparkly eyes back in ye golden Sailor Moon years (1994-95ish) and have been drawing my characters like so ever since. I've learned a lot from Japanese comics, and for a long time I've identified my art with the term "manga."

But, now my world is falling apart. I am having a terminology crisis! "Manga" means "comics" in Japanese, but it has become a synonym for Japanese comics. I am American. How can I say that I draw manga, when I am drawing American comics? It doesn't make sense after a point.

Because of my characters' big, shining eyes, my artwork has been referred to as "trendy." (In spite of my 10+ years of drawing this way.) As an example, once a more traditional comicker complained to me about how hard it was for them to find a publisher while it must be super easy for me because my art is so "trendy!" But, it's not easier. It's harder. There are people drawing big sparkling eyes everywhere. Japan, Korea, Canada, France, America... And although Japanese comics are hot right now, Japanese-looking comics are meeting a somewhat less vigorous welcome, at least where some hard-core fans of Japanese comics are concerned. Although the larger American comics publishers are experimenting with big-eyed art, I still wonder if they are lumping all things big-eyed into the "OEL Manga" category. Is a publisher less likely to take a chance on a new title if it has "mixed origin" art?

I love what I do. I love what I draw. It's really not at all like what I started drawing. But, now... I just don't know if I want to call it "manga" anymore. I mean, when it comes down to it, I draw comics. The only thing that seperates my artwork from the more traditional American comickers' is that I studied the styles and techniques of Japan, and it seeped into my art. I bet that a lot of traditional comic artists have also studied the way of Japanese comic-making but have kept their original, realistic styles while retaining some of the less noticeable conventions of Japanese art (like layout and pacing). Could you call their work "manga" (or OEL Manga or Amerimanga or whatever) as well? Is all this just about the size of a character's eyes and the use of sporadic sweat drops (which are actually showing up in traditional books now)? Is my work being judged not by how good or bad the story is (which is what comics are all about), but by how true to form my characters' eyes are?

Well, if people start calling my comics "OEL Manga," I'll know who to blame ;)

5:13 PM  
Snowdrop-X-Angel said...

I think that manga is not just about the look. It's about the stories as well. I think that many of us can agree that we're really fond of the school girl, magical girl, etc. types of stories. If you're going to be a 'manga' author -- and I don't care WHAT nationality you are -- the story should be good. I can't get myself to look at American comics because not only are they driving me away with their Barbie doll/Ken doll impressions, but the stories are all so similar that they've become generic. The characters are too perfect and don't deal with real life problems. I'd rather read a story about a school girl -- or even a school BOY -- who falls in love or fails to do her/his homework or something along those lines because it's specific to that character. American comics, or rather, the ones I've seen, I should say, have like, this super awesomeness character who has all the powers in the world but when they come up against a 'problem' they deal with it in about 2 seconds. In manga, it takes, sometimes, whole books to solve the problem. American comics, in my opinion, don't deal with reality, it's pretty illusionary. I think manga is more real-to-life with it's stories, and the artistry is certainly more aesthetically correct in many aspects.

Btw, this is Snowdrop-X-Angel from Pseudome. ^__~v

4:58 PM  

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