Saturday, December 11, 2010
So. I was in a liquor store with Tania, carrying my Viz bag covered in popular Shonen Jump manga characters. Over walks one of the employees who strikes up a conversation about how awesome Naruto is, and how he bought sharingan contact lenses, and how he would be a member of the sand village if he were a ninja. And I just nodded and made appropriate comments of interest and wisely chose not to mention that I worked at a publisher. When we were ready to go, I excused myself and said, "Well, keep reading comics!" We were a few paces down the block when the guy came out of the store after us and shouted, "It's not a comic, it's mane-ga! Get it right!"
He butchered the pronunciation. And he brought up an issue that is causing much debate in the industry. "Manga" (mahn-guh) is simply the Japanese word for comic. Just as "manhwa" is the Korean word for comic. But it seems that people are basing their assessment of a work on where it came from rather than its actual quality. There are a number of "manga" fans who view "manhwa" as substandard because it isn't from Japan. And the vast majority of DC/Marvel fans tend to regard Japanese "manga" with similar disdain. I don't have a problem with people calling something a manga or manga-style to differentiate the art styles, but to assume that all Japanese comics are a certain way is wrong, just as assuming all American comics are a certain way is wrong. The different cultures have different ways of storytelling, but one is no more valid than the others, and it's ridiculous to rule out a really great book just because it's "manga." Let's all keep our minds open and embrace the wonderful world of comics, united!
And hey, I read Y the Last Man. It wouldn't kill you to read Death Note.