Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Manga killed the Comic Book Artist

First off, I do not dislike manga in all it's forms. I read some when I lived in Japan and despite it's flaws, I still have a soft spot for old Dragonball cartoons and comics and I think Battle Angel Alita was wonderful sixteen years ago.

For the past week (and for the next three weeks) I have been teaching a series of lectures at the Phoenix Library branches. The lectures/workshops are designed to introduce teens to proper sketching and gesture drawing, basic anatomy and storytelling techniques. Over the course of the last five classes and roughly fifty kids, one, only one, has admitted to reading American style comic books, and many of them, probably about 50% do not read any types of comics.

The breakdown generally goes like this, a 70/30 girls to boy ratio and 99% to 1% manga reader to american comic book reader. They all ask about Fruit Baskets and Naruto and they all draw in a strictly manga style. They also have a hard time understanding what I am trying to teach them, because I don't draw the way they like to draw, even though I reinforce the fact that the rules and guidelines are universal.

At the end of the class I recommend books by Scott McCloud and Will Eisner, and they all ask me if I've read "How to Draw Manga". There is good manga and good manga art out there, but the problem is I don't see any kids out there right now, at least in my neck of the woods, learning how to draw like Jack Kirby, John Buscema, Ron Garney, Ryan Ottley or Eric Canete. They all want to draw gigantic eyes, tear drops on the forehead and spiky hair.

Bottom line, I don't hate manga; but if I'm part of the last generation of comic artists influenced by Kirby, Toth, Lee and Mignola, then we are in sad, sad shape, because I am neither that good nor influential.

Please deposit hate mail and support for the manga art form in the comments section. Here is a recent commission.
*edited to remove a line that makes me sound very rude and conceited, my apologies.


20 comments:

Anonymous said...

interesting. my friend who's also as far as stylistic difference btw male/female girls /boys. superhero comics is full of ideal images that's more of a male aspiration than females'. alot of american super hero comic have characters with big muscles and women with big boobs.. it's unlikely a 13 year old girl woudl want to draw a busty women with big boobs.. very unlikely.

they're still at an awkard age with physicalities the shojo manga's big eyes puts focus on the character's personality / or soul as some would say and off the body. there's a reason why shojo eyes are bigger.

but you'll notice in boy manga nad senein especially there's a bigger emphasis on body. esp. soem of the senein is almost like american comic books. with strong emphasis on physicality... but when i show them to my shojo friends they'd go , "that looks like porn!!" they're uncomfortable with it.. so.

also there's the content. girls are more into stories of friendship , relationship, human interaction. this is really the reaosn they're into shojo. so this all goes back to if this is what they're famiiliar with they'll draw this.

also aside from likes/dislikes boys tend to be better with 3d shapes so they mgiht have easier time with anatomy and physicality that are strongly emphasised in american comics. for girls the flatter art style , aside from they prefer that, it's easier for them to draw. this has been well researched too.

also for girls drawing the body correctly might be not as important as making the character cute by having them dress in cool fashion and have the character be expressive.

anyway, it's no one style is better than the other. it really goes deep into difference of male/female.

i'm an artist who works with kids products often and myself a shojo fangirl so this is what i learn over the years..

just from a very personal viewpoint. as a girl i acutally am pretty frustrated that often i'm asked to draw the boy style.. but of course i myself naturally draw in the more flat girl style and i prefer that..often the art directors who ask me to make the characters more muscular and manly are often men(Lol..) and they tend to be older and not manga readers...

ok this is not a diatrbie agaist men. i love them. but maybe i'm venting my frustrations a bit as a female artist. but alot of what i say is well understood by fangirls.

Anonymous said...

sounds like you have a great gig of teaching kids drawing. you should just let the girls draw what they want to draw. I think it's great to encourage them to express themselves b/c girls more likely than boys are influenced by adult opinions.

alot of times when girls draw they have problems with anatomies, 3-demensionalities for example. maybe you can have them draw in their own styles but help them get better at those things. or you can frames things like " i know you like to draw manga but soemtiems it's good to learn different style cuz you can pick up different tips from it"

i have some friends who teach in art colleges too she too laments the manga phenomenon.

i think it's the hardest but the greatest if there's a teacher who can encourage kids to go after their own style and and they can devleop their own unique style whetehr it be manga, american comic or even their own quirky style.

Anonymous said...

part of my first comment got cut off for some reason.. but anyway. what i said was i suspect the manga thing b/c you have more girls and than boys in your class.

ryan cody said...

Developing personal style is great and I do encourage that, but first the fundamentals need to be learned and foundation must be established. Anatomy is universal whether you are drawing in an American, traditional style, or manga style. You must know the rules to properly break them, and you must learn to walk before you can run.

I also think that comic artists like Pia Guerra and Amanda Conner (as well as most working female artists) would take offense to the comments that girls have a hard time drawing anatomy. That's essentially saying it's harder for them to do because they are female? That's ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ryan and co.

I'm a male artist from the U.K. I'm also a big manga/anime since 1989. I agree with you Ryan, that it helps more if know the basics of anatomical drawing as a base, regardless of your gender in order to progress.

How do i know this? Because when I was young and stupid, I learned the hard way. I failed my U.K Art course, because of too much manga focus, and had to spend another year to get that grade back. I was always advised by my art teacher, and I failed to listen, when it mattered most. Young kids will draw what they want in the end, but if they want to learn, they must listen, digest and understand. If not, get rid of them.

On the flip side of the arguement, I think there's a general problem with american comics, as is the unwillingness by many to accept and learn from what manga does well, whereas manga can do what american comics do and much more besides. Too much focus on super heroes is what's killing it slowly, especially with young readers, along with the way comics are sold, formatted etc.

When the likes of Marvel or DC can push out a comic with the depth of Kaiji Kawaguchi's Eagle to the masses, then that would change things a lot. Unfortunately, there's this culture of denial because change will upset fans, who just want superheroes. The only real real rage against the machine, tends to be smaller indie works.

When the big american comic publishers break this mold and diversify more, things will change and younger readers will take interest in them. That's perhaps also the day, I buy more of them over manga about doctors, lawyers and politics etc (well, maybe). Hey, you'd be surprised what can be fun in a comic if done well, I just wish Marvel etc would see that.

My advice to you as a teacher is, there are ways to meet your pupils halfway. For instance, if you want them to focus on realistic art, use a good manga alternative like Ryuichi Ikegami or Takehiko Inoue's works to encourage them, as its still manga (therefore they can't whine or complain) but in a realistic life drawn style, closer to american comics, that they can learn from. You can build on this with life drawing etc, and soon they'll see where you are coming from.

To this day, I still love to draw in a manga style, because of all the things it can be artwise, but I know that I can also do other types of art besides, if needed.

As for female artists, I can't speak for them, but we should all try to learn the basics. Its great to encourage them in their own styles, but what's the point of attending classes if you don't want a teachers wise guidance. To be a good artist takes a lot of eating humble pie and not always getting your way. Its not always about wants, like kids think, but needs in order to progress.

I hope you'll consider those ideas to help you. Try, try again.

Anonymous said...

i agree kids should learn the basics. that's my whole point.. you can help them with that.

but all i'm saying is it's very well researched that girls and boys (in general now. there are exceptions of coursee) have different esthetics that appeal to them. and they're gonna want to draw the esthetics they like.

that's all..

the best way is to ask your female students what they like and show you. you'd be suprised what i mentioned is not too off the mark.

i read alot of american comics too. esp. underground stuff. i have a huge collection of that.. aside from reading manga. for example i love blue mondays and i have like 10 vol of hernandez brothers.

anyway, you should just do like the other commenter says , meet your student half way. just b/c what they like is not what you like doesn't mean it doesn't have values...

on a different note i wouldn't recommend ryuichi ikegami, though alot of older girls or adult women like it. it's prob. not that appropriate for teens or younger kids.. it's quite mysogenistic.

but i think takehiko inoues' work is great. and his characters are immensly well-drawn.

you should also check out vampire knight. i don't like the story(not a vampire/goth fan) but it's one of the most popular manga right now. alot of fangirls consider it (in their opinion) very well drawn. so that'd give you an idea what some girls think well-drawn comic look like.

it's not the most inventive style in my opionion but i can see why it does well.

personally one of my fav is honey and clover. the anatomy is completly off but that's really beside the point and not the focus of the manga if you read it. in fact it would be a bad manga if the anatomy is too accurate..

it's like hernandez brother's work.. you really don't care the character proportion is off. part of the charm is the exaggerated cartoony style..

anyway.. i'll stop posting after all this is your blog..lol.

Anonymous said...

anyway, it really depends on what you're trying to teach them. they have no business drawing manga if it's supposed to be , like , an anatomy class.. for example.

but i've also been in art school in a class where we're supposed to develop our own style. in that case the prof . prob. won't like it if everyone all starts to draw manga..

that'd be completely wrong..

ok i'll stop.

ryan cody said...

Thanks for the comments guys, a quick general reply....

I don't dislike manga, but a quick search of "manga pages" on deviantart.com will prove my point about how badly and non-fundamental most young artist's work is. The workshop I teach is not called or advertised as "Learn to draw better manga" or "manga drawing for teens", it's called Comic Art and Sequential Storytelling and covers the basics of anatomy, storytelling and sketching/gesture drawing, which is universal in all types of comic art. For male or female, and is designed to be easily understandable for all kids over the age of 12. My children are much younger and they understand it. So I don't think it's a manga vs. american comic problem, it's a manga vs. basic drawing skills and anatomy problem.

Also, the phrase;

"personally one of my fav is honey and clover. the anatomy is completly off but that's really beside the point"

is completely incomprehensible to me, but maybe it's just the old man comic lover in me.

ryan cody said...

Feel free to post though, I like the discussion that's being generated.

Anonymous said...

any way.. lol. you need to read it..

honey and clover type of manga. to see my point.

it's a style that works for that type of story.

on the other hand i love things like watchman too.

and i also love ikegami's sanctuary which is ultra violent..



and i love simpsons and south park too. which has no anatomy to speak of. but who doesn't love them!

and i'm a girl.

but my fav is still shojo. b/c it speaks to me. the type of story and content and everything. just as a man superhero prob. speaks to you more when you're a boy. it's the same idea..

anyway. it's more than anatomy . it's different esthetics/content/story that appeal to different genders. general speaking, again.

but i agree with the other poster, just b/c they like it more doesn't mean you shouldn't teach them what they don't know or don't like to do.

it's all good in the long run.

Anonymous said...

I'm a girl, and I like to draw in the manga style...So I guess I should drop something here.

First off, about anatomy. I agree that it's universal, and it helps add movement and uniqueness to your art if you study different styles, (real-life, American, and manga, ect) and play with it to get what you like best and helps you express what you want most. I know an OEL creator who loves manga, messed around with it a lot, and is now interested in the American art to grow as a creator. Yet she still loves manga very very much, because she grew up with it, and the stories appeal to her a lot more. There's more choices out there if you're reading manga to read whatever you're into.

I think there's ARE reasons why more kids are interested in drawing manga, and why so many girls like manga.

The American comic industry is very male-dominated, and the art puts a lot of emphasis upon the body, especially for females. Girls aren't attracted to that. They might like the stories (Many many girls are Naruto and Death Note fans, and yeah, those stories aren't "girl stuff", if there's such a thing, so it's not necessarily the story that they don't like.) but most do not want to stare at girls like that. I mean, it's fine once in awhile, but when ALL the women look like that is when I draw the line. I can't help but feel uncomfortable. And a note to all the American comic creators who asks why they don't appeal to females, take a look at shounen. In the best ones with a huge female fanbase, the women aren't flat, their curves aren't non-existent, but there is less emphasizes on it. It's still there, but it's more realistic, and there's less fanservice, making women very comfortable with the character. And they're actually treated AS characters, human before woman. I guess any male who happens to pick up shoujo manga and see all the bishounens can complain like me about the totally unrealistic style. But at least THERE, the guys are feminine instead. And even then, it won't matter, because manga caters to such wide tastes and men can look somewhere else.

I think that might just be the core of manga's success... Most people know of "shounen, shoujo", but there are many mangas out there that blur the lines. Some shoujo have high adventure, some shounen are very romantic... I've seen some men go crazy over Nana (actually, josei) and women go crazy over Naruto, so let me stress again, it's not all about gender. Girls or guys, they like what they like, and manga covers almost all of the bases. There are more mature mangas for the women crowd, the men crowd, senseless comedic crowd, and even the "deep-thinking" crowd. There are wide range of art styles to choose from as well. They have some similarities, but can branch out into hundreds of directions.

And speaking of art, has it ever occurred to you there might be a reason as to why more kids want to draw manga? They like to READ manga, for one. People want to be a part of what they like and read. And manga is simply more available in both America and Japan (it's considered an art form all over Japan. American comics in America? Not so much), and appeals to more people (note my argument up there). I do respect American comics, but it's just not as available mainstream, and you can't pretend many women read American comics. And I seriously think manga is more approachable, art-wise.

I don't think that means it's degraded or anything. Some manga are very detailed, with lots of backgrounds, but usually, manga looks a lot less complicated. They leave more to the reader to fill in, and cut off any excess stuff unless it serves a purpose, like build mood, ect. Sometimes they go overboard, but to my eyes, manga is much more approachable. Kids can just pick up a pen, and literally draw. They doodle, ect. It might look horrible at first. It's not necessarily easier to master. But it's more APPROACHABLE. And many manga creators don't have formal training. They just DRAW, gauge by their eyes and their favorite mangas, and learn as they draw. So actually, you don't really NEED to get formal training or anatomy. You can experiment yourself. And lots of mangakas do this, and succeed.

American comics' arts are intimidating to me, which might be the reason it doesn't succeed.

And whereas there's a large variety of genres that might encourage readers to draw whatever they like in manga, people still mostly know of American comics as superhero comics. And I think a large percentage of American comic IS superhero comic. Manga, on the other hand, isn't shoujo, shounen dominated. There's josei, seinen, general, yaoi, yuri, shoujo-ai, shounen-ai, and they all cover a huge range of topics within. They are radically different, so present more opportunities. And in those genres, there are more genres, like fantasy, romance, school life, slice-of-life, ect. It presents more opportunities to draw whatever you like to a kid then if there were pretty much only superhero comics for you to draw.

This being said, I really do respect American comics. But it DOES NOT APPEAL TO ME. And I think that's just the core of it. In the end, it doesn't appeal to me. The stories, the art, ect. Some art is good, some stories are good, it just doesn't fit my personal tastes. Maybe that's what it boils down to.

Anonymous said...

Is this a manga thing? Before manga wasn't there an army of young artists cloning the Image artists, trying to learn by copying exaggerated stylings rather than fundamentals?

I think many of the best professional Japanese manga artists do have decent technical skills in understanding anatomy, drawing the figure from different, (often extreme) angles, tonal rendering, composition, line, perspective, and drapery. But what makes their art so formidable is their ability to abstract their design so flexibly, creating an approach that is both suggestive of reality but able to bend it for narrative purposes to communicate action and emotion.

Which is ironic for a couple reasons:

1) because the style is so successful many young artists focus on that alone, neglecting the fundamentals that pull it off

2) Those young artists become so focused on a homogenized look that their art can be rather inflexible, relying on stiff imitation.



But no one really learns the way you're SUPPOSED to learn. As someone else pointed out, the more dedicated critical artists, who seek to improve will eventually come around, if not in the time frame of your class. But they will be able to look back at what you tried to tell them at least with a new appreciation in hindsight.

Kirby, Mignola, Toth? Well, I know that Mignola at least seems to have a following but isn't it a bit much to expect a bunch of teens to be instant connoisseurs of the medium? In order to look past style to appreciate the formal skills you need to be at a level that from the sound of things, these kids have not reached. Might as well toss Tezuka in there. But again, maybe some day they might recall the names and give it a second look.

You also should be aware that the attitude of the teacher might affect their willingness. If you really approach it as a Fundamentals vs. manga thing or "art I like" vs. "those damn kids and their crazy big eyes" where what you are presenting is something opposed to what excites them then why are they going to listen to you? If you can't approach them along the terms of what they like, they'll be dismissive of what you're trying to teach them. But if you take some stuff they like and attempt analyze it and demonstrate how this artist uses composition, or panel transition, or their understanding of form or some other fundamental to pull off what they do it can probably reach them better than shoving artists you like down their throats. And you really need to make the effort to understand how manga artists approach storytelling as well, and take a survey of manga beyond, "I used to like DBZ and Alita." It would be especially hard to relate this stuff to shojou without a decent understanding of how shojou works. YOU have to understand how these fundamentals apply to the goals and techniques of manga before you can explain it to others.

This isn't about you or your regret over whether or not future artists will be inspired by Kirby. It's not about helping them be the cartoonists you want them to be. It's about understanding what they want to be and helping them with that. And I don't mean that in some new age, let them do what they want sense. I mean that you need to find a way to better relate fundamentals to what they want to do. Most beginner artists are looking for some easy formula. You need to subtly impress upon them that for all artists, manga included, drawing is a constant process and not a formula. You need to find a way to impress upon them that they will have a leg up on other manga artists if they put in the work on this stuff. Maybe find ways to push them out of their comfort zone by making them draw some subject or story (in manga if they like) that can't be pulled off by formula alone and then point out to them how much better the results could be with some fundamental knowledge. To me critiquing is key. Show them enough times subtle changes that might strengthen their work (position this figure here, change that angle, adjust these objects better in perspective) and after a while they'll start to appreciate the principles that those suggestions are made on.

But come on, you say that this isn't about American art VS. Manga but just look at your post:
"but the problem is I don't see any kids out there right now, at least in my neck of the woods, learning how to draw like Jack Kirby, John Buscema, Ron Garney, Ryan Ottley or Eric Canete. They all want to draw gigantic eyes, tear drops on the forehead and spiky hair.."

If you don't make the effort to take a close, open minded look at what they like how can you expect the same from them?

rory said...

This is great, you've really got some comments going on this thread! I too have been tutoring a young art student and he is very much a Manga fan. I can't help but wonder if it had been more available when I was a kid, if I wouldn't be more of a fan today? I love a lot of manga influenced Anime, but there's little manga I've really liked enough to continue buying.
I think you are right in just trying to teach the basics, they can be applied to any drawing style. And I sympathize with you, I'm constantly loaning out trades to him, to let him see how awesome some of the great American artists are. Sometimes he digs it, sometimes not...but I'm sure that will change as he grows. I wasn't crazy about some of the more stylized artists as a kid, I liked the Perez and Byrne stuff best. As I got older, I realized the brilliance of Mignola, Miller, and yes, even Kirby (I thought his 70's stuff was just ugly as a kid!)

Good luck with the courses, sounds like the kids might have some things to teach you, as well :)

Anonymous said...

I've a mouthful to say on this matter, formerly being an aspiring illustrator as well as also being a lifelong fan of both comic books and manga/anime (even back when they were know to me as "those cartoons that looked different from the others") whose interest in both has gone through lapsed periods at one time or another.

Firstly, in regards to classroom interests from a student perspective, I know where you're coming from. Although not specialized course, it was my Art 1 class in my freshman high school year which destroyed the aspirations I've held throughout my youth. Having learned so much and gaining appropriate support from my instructors and peers during my middle school years allowed me to win a regional award back in the 8th grade (beating out even high school and college aged entrants). With many possibilities in mind, I entered high school convinced that my life as illustrator would truly begin.

Unfortunately this was during the zenith era of Pokemon and Dragon Ball Z. This HS Art 1 class was a disaster on all fronts, literally everybody else was churning out manga type illustrations while receiving the best support from the teacher, while I diligently portrayed people and the world the as seen from my own eyes, even if it meant I took somewhat longer than everyone else (I never submitted anything unless I've felt I've done all I could). My teacher expressed concerns in my works neither being completed in an efficient pace nor being "unique" like the other students, that entire year I came out learning nothing at all from her. Attempts in sharing my sketchbook and gathering help from even the nicest of my peers would result in conversations going like:

Peer: "Yeah I filled up my sketchbook quicker than I thought I would. I did this one while waiting at my bus stop, this one at lunch... Let me look through your book... Hey you know what you're doing! But why have done so few?"
Me: "Well... that first one took about 11 hours in total, that one I've spent a week on, and this one still isn't actually finished."
Peer: "Well, I know you also like anime, why don't you draw in anime style instead. It's what helps me finish much faster."

Ugh! So, because anime/manga became big I was expected to emulate that since I was known to be a fan. After my interim grading period I gave up, only things I did from thereon was show up and did nothing knowing I was going to flunk out anyways. I gave up on my aspirations and tried to move on. In retrospect, as an adult now, I should not have wussed out like I did, but I still consider how it just felt like it was me against everyone else at the time.

As anime and manga fan also, even I have trouble connecting with other fans. I grew up watching Astro Boy, Robotech/Macross, Speed Racer, and Voltron alongside the potpourri of Marvel and Disney animated offerings. Some of my favorite Japanese artists are among the most unique ones such as Leiji Matsumoto, Mutsumi Inomata, Shinkiro, Yoshitaka Amano, Yoji Shinkawa, and yes even Akira Toriyama (I have Dr Slump and Dragon Quest to also thank). The latest generations of manga and anime fans came into things due to finding a different appeal in it all than what my generation saw.

The style of anime itself appeals to this new generation because they view it as either edgy or cute, or both. The anime I grew up with came from an industry which, at that time, was in turn strongly influenced by western media be it films and comic books. As lifelong comic book fan I can say that I was certainly feeling and seeing it.

Another thing that seems to attract the contemporary generation of anime fans to that particular style is the fact that is now a seemingly unified style, and it can be seen just about anywhere. The contemporary generation's initial complaint about stuff such as Galaxy Railways and even One Piece is that they found the character designs to be unappealing. In a kind of way, I don't blame those sorts of fans. We're pretty much entering a time where the current up and coming generation of future fans already finds themselves accustomed to spiky hair and shiny eyes since traits like those are more often finding their way into domestic produced media. Each passing generation is finding themselves exposed to less diverse styles, and it'll continue to get worse for a number of reasons, some of which include:

-Remember the days of commonly finding comic books on grocery and drug store shelves? The closest possible thing that can be found in those such places would be Shonen Jump. It's the only thing that can grab the attention of the youthful because it's the only periodical that is right there for them.
-Broadcast networks failed everybody, even anime licensors themselves. The once plentiful syndication blocks are no longer used to attract the kid audience, everyone is now expected to enjoy either judge/court shows or paid programming. The barren bit of hope for interested parties would be the overly cramped and competitive Saturday blocks. Where do young audiences go nowadays when even the cable networks won't dare to compete with "the sponge"...
-The internet. There's mountains full of anime "free" for the raiding. As internet mentality goes, only the latest and greatest must be pursued by the bored youths. Those not initially interested are still like to be draw in to anime, its presence can be seen everywhere. I can't think of on message board out there where there aren't people with Naruto and Haruhi avatars, going on about how everything anime/manga related is either the best or the worst ever.

All that in mind, I don't blame new generations of fans for jumping into anime the way they do. It's pretty much the only thing around for them.

Despite the reduced presence of comics books and related art, there's still hope, aside from the Hollywood films, as there's plenty of dormant fans around for instance. These are the same folks who cleaned retail shelves by picking up video games such as X-Men Legends and Marvel Ultimate Alliance. Plenty of people I know who've grown up reading comics and collecting cards and later drifted still want to care. Many of the latent ones drifted because of either growing inaccessibility to related mediums or they just couldn't hold interest.

I wouldn't blame them either way. As a burnt out comic book fan I was not liking the way comics were beginning to turn out: "it's super edgy, with plotlines jumping schools of sharks and paralleling real life political current events." I don't mind comics being created with such points in mind, but when seemingly every comic book (especially long established ones) goes nonstop into these sort of traits people are going to give up, declare the era they love to be over, and move far away.

There's more I can touch on, if I continue on I'll just hit myself for never giving in to writing a full-fledged lecture.

Anonymous said...

Most of your pupils are females, if not for the presence of manga in the USA, are you sure so many of your students would have been female?

I think this is often overlooked when people complain of manga taking away readers from comics.

The majority of manga readers are people (mostly females) who would never have become readers of American comics anyway (except maybe of Archie Comics) so manga is creating a new readership for sequential art, all those teenage girls would have never became Marvel fans anyway, let us not kid ourselves.

The average female is not interested in comic books because she associates them with geeky boys and thinks there is nothing of interest for her in them.

And the US comic industry actually proves her right with its very rare attempts to reach out outside of male demographics.

While in Japan, there are comics created just for girls, with artstyles and stories that appeal to girls and even the mangas for boys are not a boys' only club unlike in the US. Series like Naruto are basically the Japanese equivalent of superheroes, yet nobody bats an eyelid at a girl reading boys' manga, and some manga magazines for boys and mens have as much as 40% of female readers. Unlike in the US with superhero comics.





The US comics industry (I mean mainly the publisher of superhero stuff) sees itself as a boy's club and has trouble reaching out for female readers, and there is a dearth of women working in the field, unlike manga, where there are just as many female authors as males, actually I once read that in Japan the ratio is 60/40 in favor of women.

Cartooning is actually one area where Japan is ahead when it comes to opportunities for women.

So manga is making girls, who otherwise would never have been interested in sequential art, want to draw comics.

PS: I am not a native English speaker, I did my best to write in good English but I apologize if my message ysounds awkyard.

Ungeheier said...

Dang Ryan! Look at all these comments! =)

What's the next topic to flamebait people? ;)

heh. Im only kidding. It's a little odd to see so many 'Anon' posts though.

Benjamin Hall said...

Sweet Jimbob Crow there's a lot of long thought-out comments here.

Allow me to toss in my two cents.

There will always be great illuistrators because people love to create and drawing the the fastest form of creation.

Those that are new to art get easily sucked into to styles that are easy to emulate or have a formula to them.

I think this is why the manga style is popular among many beginners, much like early Jim Lee was popular when we were kids. There is a pattern to it that seems easy to replicate.

Whether or not they are replicating it with the finesse of the people they are emulating is something else... but it's an easy place to start.

As I progressed as an artist my taste in more complex styles evolved at the same time I felt I could assimilate them.

That's my theory at least.

Anonymous said...

i agreed with the girl who said. that tehre wouldn't be alot of girls in your class if not for popularity of manga shojo. it's just shojo has the type of subject matter and art style that appeals to girls.

let's just be honost. there's no market nor will to create manga for girls in comics prior to import of shojo manga. and really, while some do , MOST girls don't like american superhero comics.. let's not kid ourselves..

i think maybe if you want to teach super hero type of art you can specify your class to be super hero comics..

but if it's a general comic class as you mentioned you might get alot of shojo-loving girls who want to draw nothing but shojo. shojo manga to them is liek what superhero comics is to a fanboy. so you get the picture..

and since it's a general comics it shouldn't bother you so much they want to draw in shojo style. since you can tell a story no matterh what style you draw really.

as a teacher , it's not fun to get students who all want to draw the same but you should also respect their interests and hopefully not thwart their early interest in art. it's always better to have kids be interested than not.

i just don't think american comic book industry should look at popularity of manga as a negative thing. i can see it's temporarily negative to american creators and publishers. but it provides a great opportunity for the industry to learn and mature, in terms of expanding their market and readers.

i think american comics might start to be finally appeal to both sexes prob. in a few years. when you start to get young kids both boys and girls who want to create comics in their voice. before shojo manga you might only have boys now you'll have a whole new generation of girls who mgiht want to creat their own thing, as proven by the nubmers of girls in your class.

and dont worry. even though they start copying manga style if they're true blue artist and have the talent and desire to become pro they'll invariably develope their own style. it's a natural developement.

i think it's extremly exciting to see so many girls who're interestedd in comics(or manga).

finally instead of a dwindling industry you're gaining a whole new audience.

doesn't mean it's the death of super hero comics. they'll alwyas be that. but now you'll have girl comics, comics for kids, comics for men, comics for women , comics for working professionals, comics for slackers, comics for housewives, etc etc. just like in japan..

they have a comic for everyone of every taste. i look forward to this day where we also have the same vaiety here in the states.

i look forward to the day also when alot of women can be employed in comic book industry b/c their provide an unique voice..

it also sounds like you might have less exposure to newer manga. if you're still teaching that class you might earn lots of brownie points with the kids if you read a couple of popular manga yourself maybe?? not to say you need to cater to their taste. but wouldn't it be intersting as a teacher to understand why your students are so passionate about something??

here's a few shojos you can prob. start with, i try to recommend the ones more suitalbe for younger girls since your kids sound young..

--fruits basket(this one was the number #1 selling shojo in the past few years, right there pretty close to naruto. every single fangirl knows this one), this is a good one to read for story-telling ability of the mangaka(manga artist) esp. in later volumns. the earlier volumns are ok. but the later volumnes the manga artist really became a master in story telling in terms of plot developments and amazing pacings of layouts and compositions to tell the story. since this seems to be one of the topics you teach(sequential story telling) you should not miss this one. jsut try to get thru the early volumns so you can get to the later ones..

interesting the manga artist is not considered great in her art style but her story content and her story telling abiilty is often what ppl love about her work.

in the height of the popularity surrounding a major plot twist, the most popular forum of this manga was exploding with more than 100 mssgs a day.. lol. so you know how thsese girls feel about this..lol

--sugar sugar runes(this one is very cute for younger kids, a typical magical girls genre but with edgier art), personally since i'm older i prefer her titles written for adults, they're master pieces.. but this one is more suitalbe for kids.

--ouran high school host club. you should check out the anime. it's the all time fav of alot of girls

--azumanga daioh

--boys over flowers

there are numerous others but i have to get back to work, lol.. i try to pick the ones that are more suitalbe for young girls and would not be offensive to their parents.. should you find yourselves in the positions of making recommendations to them...lol.

anyway. you should enjoy your class and think of this as a opportunity to peak into the mind of ppl you normally don't think about..

Michael said...

Hi! This is my first visit to your blog. I came across while researching for an article on the comic book industry: http://www.unitedliberty.org/articles/american-automakers-could-learn-from-marvel-comics

Anonymous said...

Im a female comic artist that was a heavy manga reader in middle school and highschool then graduated to american comics because of Witchblade and Cry for Dawn.

Now because Ive been on both sides of the streets and drawn both ways. And the first commenter who said its harder for women to draw anatomy than it is for men, is not true. Ive seen men who draw just as flat simply because they never studied anatomy or had taken a life drawing course.

And as for Ryan wondering about art style and such related to the late American greats. Its not the art style particularly but the stories are just not geared towards girls or women. Which is fine because until recently 'comic books' have been mainly a male hobby. Which I believe Manga has helped spur more readers to read manga which brings them to the comic book store and exposes them to both.
Anyways I wish someone would tell writers to focus a little bit more on the emotions and depth of the characters to gain the interest of women readers more, instead of constantly fighting. Or even read a bit of manga and take bits of obscurity and randomeness to add to the stories. Variety is the spice of life. And for gods sake its so hard to get into reading super hero books because you literally have to go back to the 1940s and start reading to get what the hell is going on in the books today. Please big 2 learn how to END a series and come up with a new story! You can only ride the same dead horse for so long.
But yes no matter what style you draw you need the fundamentals. In a way the struggle between which is better 'american' or 'manga' stlyes is a bit like politics or religion it gets people in a hissy fit on which is better.

Wow ok im getting off of my soap box.