Anyone who’s seen my book collection over the years would see that if has evolved from an ever growing collection of Star Trek and Science Fiction novels, to a now rapidly growing collection of manga. I still love sci-fi and fantasy too, but now I’m getting my fill of these via manga and anime. And even better, there’s an even richer diversity of other genres that I’m enjoying via manga. Indeed, for me, manga has been a gateway to many strange new worlds and places I’ve never been before. So it was with great interest that I read 12 Reasons Why Manga is Not a Gateway Drug to Western Comics. I found this excellent analysis of why the manga boom is not likely to raise the fortunes of American comics while perusing articles at When Fangirls Attack. To boil down Barb Lien-Cooper’s analysis, the worlds of manga and western comics are just too different, particularly with respect to the roles of women as authors, fans, and characters. This takes an ironic twist given that in many respects the roles and opportunities available to women in Japan are not only behind those in the U.S., but also China. But in the worlds of manga and anime, this is not the case, and with the growing international popularity of these media, perhaps there will be some leverage to change things back home.
I never really got into American comics. When I was younger, I read mostly comedies like Archie and some Disney based stuff. Then later The Avengers were a favorite. But by the time I went to highschool, I was finished with comics and reading science fiction. Then for a brief period in the 80’s I got hooked on Batman via some really good graphic novels that came out during that time. I loved the art and the very mature nature of the stories. I would probably have kept buying them if it wasn’t so hard to find the stuff. At the time there was only one place I knew of that I could easily get to for graphic novels and even that was a hassle. This is in contrast to today where chains like Borders carry most of what I’m looking for and of course everything else can be ordered from Amazon.
I’m firmly in the manga camp now, having come over via anime. There’s a lot to see and I’ve met some very interesting people, so I think I’ll stay for a while.