Manga, or Japanese comic books, have been becoming more popular every year within regions outside it’s point of origin. Every time I go to my favorite book store I see kids sprawled out in the manga section reading shoujo, shounen – even Americanized comics – all with similar artwork and depth. Being a graphic novel fan myself, I should be feeling pretty depressed. No one reads graphic books anymore. The background stories are too long and too hard to find, the artwork is too 1970s, and the issues are simply far too short. But I’m not. Why? Because manga was widely inspired by American graphics and cartooning.
After World War II, American occupied Japan, bringing graphic novels with them. Japanese traveled to the U.S. to support peace, and saw Disney. One man in particular was truly inspired, and his name was Osamu Tezuka, also known as the “creator of Manga” and “god of anime”, and creator of “Astro Boy”, the first manga and anime, which is still immensely popular today. But the manga art style can also be tracked through past, complex histories of Japanese artwork, even if Disney helped pull in the full picture. So I suppose when I see everyone reading manga and leaving the graphic novel section empty, I shouldn’t be too worried. Sooner or later, the two clashing comic styles will find a balance, I say. What goes around comes back around.