"Comics Are Dead! Long Live Manga?"

Let me tell you about "Sequencial Art". At universities "Sequencial Art is the new term that is replacing "comics" for a couple of years now. Why is that? Comics have changed. And the image of comics has changed, too. But while at art-colleges students learn "Sequencial Art" as the new term, the international comic-fan is more and more referring to "Manga", the japanese word for comic, no matter which country the manga´s from.

In no other country of the world manga are as important as in Japan. If you ask someone in Germany about "comics", you would usually get an answer like "comics are for kids". In the USA most people would refer to superheros from Marvel or DC. And in England, they might refer to the funnies - comic strips that are added to the daily newspaper. At the same time, being asked about manga, most people would say "That´s those japanese comics with the schoolgirls having oversized eyes!" But manga have changed on an international level: you get sophisticated graphic novels that are used as scripts for feature length movies, user´s manuals for cars, manuals for weapons, cooking books or even surgery instructions as manga. Almost every information that can be transported with words can be transported with pictures aswell.

The japanese are far ahead in that discipline. No other country is printing that many drawn stories, their editions being more numerous than daily papers. One of the most successful books of all times for example is Akira Toriyama`s "Dragonball", a manga that was printed over 50 million times! You can get manga for everyone. For kids, for teens, for adults, for elderly people. You get them for males, for females and for both sexes. There is no subject that is not covered by manga - for all purposes. "Porn" manga alone ("hentai" or "ecchi") builds over 10% of the overall market.

You see: "comic strip" or "comic" in short is an obsolete term. Drawn stories are not neccessarily funny anymore and have developed into far more than only a strip containing nothing but a few panels. That´s why your international "comic-fan" from yesterday might prefer the word "manga" today, calling himself a "manga otaku", even if she or he is French or Italian. Fabulous classic comic strips like Bill Watterson´s "Calvin & Hobbes" could be called a manga today, just like Marvel´s Superman or Disney´s Mickey Mouse. German artist Ralf Koenig´s great "Gay Comics" would become German "yaoi-"(gay) or "shonen-ai-"(boy-love) manga.

If you are in doubt, check out the latest palette of products by Walt Disney Productions -specifically "Kingdom Hearts". You might be surprised to see Goofy and Donald with Cloud and Tifa from Japanese video game classic "Final Fantasy VII"... a typical crossover and successful attempt to mix eastern and western manga-culture. Well, it´s a matter of taste, of course ^^

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