Comic Books & Manga
I have a deep interest in comic books.
I first started to collect comics when I was about thirteen, and I first started to think about writing -- and later, drawing -- comics when I was fifteen. And when I was eighteen, I was first exposed to Japanese animation and, through that, Japanese comics... manga. I have a collection of over 16,000 comic books, around a two-thousand of which are manga. What can I say... I read a LOT.
For those of you unfamiliar with American comic books, allow me a moment to describe both the comics and the American market for them.
Very few Americans read comic books. Most comic books -- about 75% -- in the United States are produced by just two big companies: Marvel Comics and DC Comics. These two companies have been producing comic books in America since 1943, and they set the standards.
The standard comic book from Marvel or DC is just 32 pages, in color, eight pages of which are ads. These are published monthly, and cost around $1.75 each! [The standard Japanese manga is 300 pages, published weekly, and costs around 250yen... about $2.00 US! Of course, they're all black and white... but no one's perfect.]
The Marvel and DC companies own the rights to their characters, not the individual comic book creators. This means that popular characters never die as long as they can still sell, and that it is not unusual for the writer, artist, or both to be changed from time to time while the character goes on forever. Marvel's best known comics -- Spider-Man, X-Men, and the Fantastic Four -- have been in constant publication since the 1960's, and DC Comic's well-known Batman and Superman comics have been running since the 1930's! [If you're an American comic fan and are wondering why I'm pointing this out, consider: in Japan, characters are usually owned by their individual creators... and this means that stories and characters live only as long as those creators want them to, usually (companies and money can still extend the life of a storyline). But this means that instead of single characters with comics that last forty years and cross over into dozens of other comics -- like in America -- storylines tend to more compact and individualized, with a greater range of story genres and more of a real danger of the hero dying occasionally. It's a different form of storytelling entirely.]
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