Debate and Discussion

Do you have to be Japanese to draw manga?
isukun at 11:13PM, Dec. 1, 2009
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Lone Wolf and Cub doesn't really follow the traditional style, either. Plus I recall Viz bringing over a bunch of underground comics from Japan a few years back. Most of those didn't use the typical “manga style,” either. There is a lot of variety even in the stuff that supposedly does, though. There aren't a lot of similariies between stuff like Azumanga Daioh and Berserk, for instance. Plus some style standards seem more common among particular genres, just like with American comics. Your average four panel manga will use one style, while shounen and shoujo manga each have their own stereotypical art styles which are more common in their genres. You have comedic manga which use more stylized and exaggerated characters and more serious manga that tries to look more realistic. There really isn't any “standard manga style” just like there is no “standard comic style” in the West. What we accept as the standard style is just a minor variation on typical anime art styles from the 80's and 90's mostly used in shounen series from the time. Most real manga-ka (I say real because a manga-ka isn't just someone who draws in an Eastern style as many of the Western otaku seem to think) have more varied styles.

Manga is not a style, it NEVER was. The same is true of anime.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:04PM
Faliat at 4:01AM, Dec. 2, 2009
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Lone Wolf and Cub is Gekiga.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gekiga

It's because that section of Japanese comics exists that I put Mahlaste and Nervewire in the Manga category.

That, and the fact that I draw kids under 13 with exaggerated facial features.

Call that jumped up metal rod a knife?
Watch mine go straight through a kevlar table, and if it dunt do the same to a certain gaixan's skull in my immediate vicinity after, I GET A F*****G REFUND! BUKKO, AH?!

- Rekkiy (NerveWire)
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:25PM
xerjester at 6:11AM, Dec. 2, 2009
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You don't have to convince me. I used the term with tongue-in-cheek aplomb.

I saw what I found to be blanket descriptions of the work coming from Japan, and I wanted to point out those two in particular. After working at ADV Films for 5 years and doing the convention bit for 8, I'm in total agreement over the term “manga” as a descriptive.

Problem being? It's stateside publishing companies perpetuating it more than the fanbase itself. Same with the term Anime. I'm afraid that's just the business truth of the matter. It's a euphemism that has gone into the lexicon as a descriptive.

It's a blanket framework, and I'm afraid that's simply what happens with genre, tyle, etc et al.

See also the use of Techno as genre and description for an entire range of music.
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:52PM
isukun at 9:29AM, Dec. 2, 2009
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It's stateside publishing companies perpetuating it more than the fanbase itself.

I would have to disagree with that. The fan community was using it as a descriptive for a style long before the industry picked up on it and started publishing all their how-to books and Western “manga”. If anything, the industry was just following what the fans were already doing. With anime, I never see industry people categorize Avatar, Teen Titans, Totally Spies, or other such shows as anime. That comes entirely from the fan base as if they need some excuse to watch something that isn't anime apart from the merits of the show, itself. With manga, it's the fans who want to cosider their amateur work as the same thing they are trying to copy. Companies like Tokyopop and Marvel just jumped on the bandwagon for some extra cash, but the Werstern otaku were already pushing the word as a style to justify their own half-assed imitations.

Personally, I think it takes all meaning out of the words manga and anime when you classify anything using any style that shares common elements with any actual comic or animation from Japan as manga and anime. Really, under that usage, all comics and all animation would be manga and anime, making the terms simply synonymous with comics and animation. What's the point of even using borrowed words, then?
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:04PM
xerjester at 10:30AM, Dec. 2, 2009
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The fanbase was using other terms up until the early to mid nineties, and a bit beyond depending on locale; see also japanimation, japtoon, Jump, etc et al. I've worked the industry, and was a fan of it long before I got my break into the booth, so to speak. So, yeah, I'm fairly aware of what was called what and when and where, and the distribution companies were already coining the terms back in the late 80's in smaller media shops with rough-run manga translations alongside Anime laser discs and 2nd-generation VHS tapes. The Western fanbase by and large had little idea of the word “otaku” until early 90's on, save for jet-setting college Anime clubs and video-trade get-togethers. Hell, the duo that would go on to form ADV Films had not even really heard of the word until a year and change into setting up the company. But they had certainly heard “anime” and “manga” tossed about.

Here's the thing I need to stress, Isukun: I'm not arguing with you. It's disambiguation. I agree. Problem is? It's in the lexicon now, and that's how new readers/fans/demographics are introduced to it.

I can walk into any Borders or Barnes n' Noble and find a section labeled “Manga”. This includes creators from outside of Japan.

I can walk into Best Buy and find a section clearly labled “Anime”. This includes in-house titles, independents, and full-on production from Western houses.

We can rail, we can gnash our teeth, and we can decry it, but the simple truth of the matter is that there are enough unifying features to Japanese comics and Japanese animation to where they've earned genre monikers. It's part of the publishing rhetoric, now, and while the companies were jumping on the bandwagon or not, THEY hold the credit to introducing it into the collective descriptive vocabulary.

I used the music metaphor earlier, because it's just an appropriate correlation. You use or misuse a word long enough, or in a large enough group for long enough, and it finds a home in the amoeba that is the English language. For better or worse.

I've gone far afield though, so I'll address the OP's question: Do you have to be Japanese to draw manga?

Within current definition, no. You don't have to be Japanese to draw “manga”. The corollary there is, of course, that every big-name manga-ka out there got their chops with the basics based off of Western art school distilled lessons, mostly from the European set.

Draw what makes you happy, and learn something new about your craft every day.
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:52PM
isukun at 11:16AM, Dec. 2, 2009
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But they had certainly heard “anime” and “manga” tossed about.

I think we're talking about different things here. Anime and manga were certinly in use back then, but they were used to refer to works specifically from Japan until about the late 90's when fan groups decided they wanted in on the creative process and applied the term to a style.

As for the Best Buy and Barnes and Noble categorization, those frequently vary from store to store depending on how the staff interpret the words. I've been in Best Buys where the anime section has domestic animation, but I've also been in stores where the same domestic animation is only available in the TV or family section and the anime section is exclusively shows from Japan. I wouldn't really consider that represenative of how the industry interprets he words as we're really only seeing the subjective opinion of an employee at Best Buy.

Within current definition, no.

There would be no debate if that were true. That's the problem, though. The current definition is ambiguous at best. There is only one definition that is universally accepted in the West and that is “comics from Japan.” No matter what style it is presented in, a comic from Japan will always be classified as manga.

The debate is mostly over whether or not we should tack on comics that use a stereotypical Eastern style to the category, as well. That is not a universally accepted definition of the word, though, reguardless of what you see at Barnes and Noble.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:04PM
xerjester at 1:25PM, Dec. 2, 2009
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It's not ambiguous- it's accepted as genre within the publishing stream and all adherent facilities. Sorry, I really can't argue this at the point in the game. I worked in the industry, at Mallets ETC, then Dementia7Studios, and finally at ADV Films, and saw the blanket term taking hold at conventions, both purely business AND fan oriented, and the term is simply cemented in. You don't have to like it. you don't have to agree. I'm afraid that's just the sad truth of the matter.

Again - I do not disagree with you, but you're stuck on what you feel, opinion on, and what you hold up as what you see to be misinterpretation at best and an excuse by amateurs to pawn of shoddy work at worst. Your work was pegged as it, and you took offense. I agree with your problem. If you want to rail and keep up the combative shtick- feel free. I'm going to say this one last time: I agree with you. Too many use it as an excuse, and the word was appropriated. What I won't debate is how the word is currently used. I don't care how select demographics use it. I care and know how the industry uses it, whether I like it or agree with it or not.

Dakrhorse, Marvel, Tokyopop, DC - all have stipulations which you can look up with governing guidelines concerning what they will consider for their various “manga lines”. It's distilled and touches on a lot of stylistic stereotypes, but they felt that the were prevalent enough to set them aside as “genre-specific”.

Does that mean all Japanese comics fall into those bulleted lists? Of course not. That's silly. But hey- it's a silly ol' business. Same with how the stores I mentioned chalk up the media. I'm glad you found differences in the stores near you. I'd rather not have in pinned on me with how corporate stores choose to advertise certain works.

And no, given the myriad of non-japanese creators churning out “manga” by was of a multitude of publishers, there is not only “one definition that is universally accepted”. Were that true, the publishers would not be slapping the label on said works and collections. No amount of pontificating or letters to the editor is going to change that at this stage of the game. Marketing or no, it's the phrase that pays and has now been accepted in terms of genre.

Sorry, again, I agree with your problems on the matter- it doesn't change how it's sold and categorized. I sympathize, i feel you, and I agree especially on people just using the term to classify their work to be part of something they think is cool and oh-so-popular. I have to stress that- I AGREE WITH YOU. What I can not budge on is what's the fact of the matter these days. I was a paid part of the machine that helped push it along. Manga is considered a genre these days, albeit a really silly one.

By definition of publishers and how the layman public is introduced to it, my statement holds true: you don't have to be Japanese to turn out a “manga”.



last edited on July 14, 2011 4:52PM
isukun at 3:22PM, Dec. 3, 2009
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And no, given the myriad of non-japanese creators churning out “manga” by was of a multitude of publishers, there is not only “one definition that is universally accepted”.

Actually, yes there is. For something to be universally accepted, it means everyone must agree on it. Not all publishers have the same criteria for classifying work as manga. Just because some of the more mainstream publishers are looking to cash in on the manga craze by labeling their own work as manga, that doesn't mean EVERYBODY considers domestic work in that style to be manga. There is no debate over whether work from Japan is manga and it doesn't matter what style that work is in. That's what it means for something to be universally accepted. Not all stores and publishers use the same criteria to determine if something is manga and the fan community is certainly not in agreement over whether domestic work can be “manga” or just “manga style”.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:04PM
xerjester at 5:40PM, Dec. 3, 2009
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“Actually, yes there is. For something to be universally accepted, it means everyone must agree on it. Not all publishers have the same criteria for classifying work as manga. Just because some of the more mainstream publishers are looking to cash in on the manga craze by labeling their own work as manga, that doesn't mean EVERYBODY considers domestic work in that style to be manga”

If one group is calling it one way, and another is calling it another way, then no, it's not one definition that is universally accepted- so not really understanding why you're arguing the point other than to be combative.

So, in the sake of brevity, I'll point out a few things, and bow out, because you don't seem hip to doing more than arguing, and I've already stressed that I agree with you on the points you first brought up (yet you don't appear willing to acknowledge that).

1.The publishers aforementioned use criteria. Period. End of story. There's no debate there. Sorry.
2. No, all stores do not list qualifiers, the larger bulk of the ones I have been to/worked with throughout the states do.
3. I WORKED IN THE INDUSTRY - and at business conventions, new investors, retailers and distributors were introduced to a manga GENRE.

You seem to want to fight to protect some sacrament in the word, or out of anger for your work being called as such, or out of spite to the kiddies picking up “How to draw manga” books and going to town. You imply disparities where none exist, you point out a broad view of some group calling it one way or another when I'm sitting here having played the field inside the belly of the beast and know otherwise.

So. You're arguing for the sake of arguing, seemingly, to protect a word or ideal that's already mutated. Have fun with that. Ignore where I agreed with you and supported you. I'll continue to sit back and watch the natural progression of the word-as-genre, the same with techno, the same with “that anime style”, and you can have a fine time being combative for seemingly no reason BUT to be so.

I've got no beef with you. Have fun picking apart semantics. And, sincerely, I still love Bhag.

Huh. Guess I wasn't so brief after all. My opinion stands, is corroborated, and I'm afraid I'll say it one last time by way of MY ANSWER to the OP: No. You don't have to be Japanese.

Horns up, kids.
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:52PM
isukun at 6:44PM, Dec. 3, 2009
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We'll have to agree to disagree on that issue, then. I don't feel the Western industry has that big of an impact on anime and manga culture, anyway.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:04PM
Orin J Master at 8:14PM, Dec. 3, 2009
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it sure does want to think it does though.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:22PM
isukun at 10:56PM, Dec. 3, 2009
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I won't debate that.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:04PM
Crimsonskystudio at 2:42AM, Dec. 4, 2009
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You don't have to be Japanese to draw Manga, just to get it published.

But Manga is actually a mixture of Japanese traditional wood block prints and Dr.Tezuka's inspiration of Walt Disney and The 20's and 30's American animation and comics (like the funnie's).
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:49AM
Faliat at 2:48AM, Dec. 4, 2009
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I think this guy seems to have been doing well…




Anyway, Japanese culture as a whole is actually highly interested in America. Or at least they think it's like it's movies. It's why their kids and young people are walking around in hip hop gear and think black people are awesome.

Call that jumped up metal rod a knife?
Watch mine go straight through a kevlar table, and if it dunt do the same to a certain gaixan's skull in my immediate vicinity after, I GET A F*****G REFUND! BUKKO, AH?!

- Rekkiy (NerveWire)
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:25PM
xerjester at 7:12AM, Dec. 4, 2009
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Orin J Master
it sure does want to think it does though.

Given the working relationship of Japanese Houses and American Distribution/ADR companies- that's a really unfair statement. Moreover, see also the Japanese PM's press release in 2006, 07, and 08 referring to the loss in revenue stream due to a two-front piracy battle (Indonesia/China and online filesharing) and the plea to support the American companies, who at the hieght of the industry in 2005 accounted for 70-80 percent of the total profit for the original Japanese animation teams/ comics publishers. Jump's coordination with Funimation in particular is cited on this.

Sorry to pop in again - but the comment was a little to close to the vein of “hur hur hur stupid western companies ruining mah imports” that I hear from Elitists at cons. The kind that wait in long autograph lines to spit on American voiceactors and directors. If it wasn't, then I truly apologize.

The thing is this: its not about who influenced what, who has the power, or who drives the revenue. Japanese production houses have ALWAYS been grateful to American and Canadian companies for getting this stuff out there, and give carte blanche on anything but the content itself. Hell, post 2003 there were some companies who insisted on cut-and-paste instead if mirror-image translations, and I say good on them.

My point? Let's not wax anti-western when these western companies were started by fans to help Japanese comic publishers and animation houses get their work out there and give them a new market to curb the rampant black market they were already dealing with.
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:52PM
isukun at 11:55AM, Dec. 4, 2009
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but the comment was a little to close to the vein of “hur hur hur stupid western companies ruining mah imports” that I hear from Elitists at cons.

I don't think that's really what they were trying to say. I see distribution companies in the US take one of two stances when it comes to the anime/manga community. Some companies consider themselves the prototypical fans that represent the community and others simply see themselves as providers to the community. The latter are more true to the nature of the industry in the West.

Yes, companies do provide some financial support to the publishers overseas, but when it comes to influencing how fans think in the West, 2chan has a bigger impact on fan culture than companies like ADV.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:04PM
Zang at 12:37PM, Jan. 3, 2010
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you know I've never really put much thought into that… I always thought of manga or anime as a style that for some reason, Japanese people can draw really good.
Heart Wielders, my comic
a comment would be nice :)
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:54PM
WilliamFeist at 12:07PM, Feb. 23, 2010
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Manga means to tell a story through pictures. I remember reading that definition in how to draw manga vol. 1 when i was like 13 years old lol. cowboy beebop made me wanna make comics.
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:50PM
isukun at 4:49PM, Feb. 23, 2010
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I wouldn't rely on “How to Draw Manga” for a reliable definition of the word.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:05PM
WilliamFeist at 4:59PM, Feb. 23, 2010
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Bad mouth it all you want I loved that book when i was young. And in hindsight I don't think I really learned a damned thing from it that's actually stuck with me.

That said, I do believe the book is put out by a university in japan that specializes in the medium.
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:50PM
isukun at 2:17AM, Feb. 24, 2010
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Doesn't matter. Their definition is most definitely wrong. And, no, they aren't published or even put together by a school. The publisher runs a site called Manga University, but admits on the site that they are not a school and they only chose the name to emphasize the educational nature of their publications.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:05PM
pato at 7:27PM, Feb. 24, 2010
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Ok, Americans draw cartoon, Japaneses draw Manga, and Mexicans like me? What kind of thing I'm doing? Tacos? LOL
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:41PM
isukun at 12:39AM, Feb. 25, 2010
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It depends on how you classify things in your native tongue. In English, “cartoon” doesn't imply any particular nationality, so we wouldn't say Americans draw cartoons. Anime and manga would still be considered cartoons under the English definition, the reverse is not true. Mexican comics aren't as big an industry in the US, so we don't usually distinguish between them and other comics.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:05PM
Alseymoure at 12:01AM, March 25, 2010
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Syndactyly
And I also think it's funny when people say, “Americans draw cartoons, Japanese people draw anime/manga,” because anime/manga is a type of cartoon.



Me too. I mean, if those people are right… since I'm not American, nor Japanese… how should people call comics made in my country?

Guess I'll have to think of a name. Lemme see… I'm gonna call them… Barry!
“Please read my barry! Wohoo!”

…but seriously. I really believe that calling a comic that looks, and tells a story with the same techniques used in a manga… something else rather than manga, is just plain weird. Telling a foreign artist that he can't draw manga, ever, because he's failed in life by being born non-japanese is not very nice, is it? Maybe the term ‘manga’ was originally only for comics made in Japan, but I think it's healthy to accept that meaning of the word has changed a long, long time ago.

last edited on July 14, 2011 10:49AM
JamariLaw at 12:16AM, March 25, 2010
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I dont know if it was mentioned all ready, but Avatars done by Korean animators.

As far as Manga being exclusive to Japanese, Stan Sakai is Japanese-American and he does a very American Comic book by using very Japanese inspired art and storytelling.

In my opinion Manga is only defined by the combination of storytelling and art styles more than just the art style alone.

www.drunkduck.com/surrenderman
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:07PM
GameCargo at 11:56AM, March 25, 2010
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Do you have to be Japanese to draw manga..hm..no. It's just an art style. Personally, I like reading manga drawn by Japanese and American. In the end, it just has to be unique and it can't copy the same stereotypes you'll find in common manga. Black Lagoon is a personal favorite of mine because of the action and salty language but I believe the series was made in japan first.
Going through motions while I get my head straight.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:32PM
Hawk at 2:04PM, March 25, 2010
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I'm thinking of locking this thread. It keeps coming back, when depending on how you look at it, it's either unanswerable or was answered in the first several posts.

EDIT: Nah, I'm locking it.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:47PM

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