Comics: Happy Valentines Day!

Western Comics from Kings' Comics

Happy Valentines Day, folks!

Onward, into the deep. A couple of days ago, my colleague showed me the Marvel app on his iPhone 6. Rather than a full page at once, the app scrolled around each of the panels, delivering the comic storyline in perhaps what could be considered as an interactive format. Rather than seeing the page as a whole, you could drill down into each individual aspect. It also meant that the comic was much easier to read on a small screen, as you can imagine.

I’ve read a lot of manga on my iPhone 5 screen, and it’s a pain a lot of the time as I have to scroll up and down in order to take in the detail of the pages, thus if the same approach were to be applied with manga, I don’t feel that it would be a similar experience.

This presents an interesting difference between Western comics and Japanese manga, where drilling into each panel would effectively result in there being something lost, in my opinion. Manga sometimes functions as a whole page, or even as a whole two page spread, and together works to create flow and nuances. Flow is extremely important to manga artists, according to Bakuman and Sekaiichi Hatsukoi, both manga/publishing industry related manga.

Additionally, manga artists use a variety of panel forms, not limited to rectangles or squares that I’ve mostly seen in Western comics. The lines are a little more detailed in different ways, Western comics preferring bolder lines and colours, whereas manga is more delicate and stylised. Not only that, but various series can often be drawn by multiple artists, whereas it’s more common in Japan for one artist to work solely on one series for a long time - some of them becoming their life works if you consider works like Naruto or One Piece.

I’ve only just finished reading a ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ comic, which is only one example of Western comics. One publication does not always represent the whole. Regardless I find these differences fascinating, as well as the various attempts of artists in the past to bridge this gap between the two. Am I wrong?