The thrill of the new
Andrew Edwards here.
My experience with Manga is limited. Until recently, I think I held quite a negative view of it, and subscribed to the view that is was limited in terms of art style (impossibly wide eyed characters) and subject matter (immature cutesy-ness or overly violence). Yet this assumption was subconscious, one I’d barely formulated – and I’d never really read any Manga (except for a translation of Barefoot Gen some 15 years ago, which I’d enjoyed but hadn’t revisted, and had largely forgotten about).
And then I read Ode to Kirihito by Osamu Tezuka, the father of Manga, thanks to a copy loaned to me by Dan Berry (thanks again Dan!), senior lecturer on the BA Illustration for Graphic Novels at Glyndwr University, Wrexham (see links below). I read this huge tome and I was blown away. It was amazing stuff. It’s the story of a doctor fighting a disease which deforms people’s appearance, leading them to look distinctly dog-like. Like all good art it challenged my preconceptions and I wanted to know more. So I’ve spent some time reading Paul Gravett’s Manga – Sixty Years of Manga this week. Like all of Mr Gravett’s book it’s a very accessible guide, both clearly written with wonderful illustrations.
You have to admire the influence of Manga in Japan, if only for the fact that it accounts for around 40% of all print publications, which is astonishing. Gravett’s book has allowed me to become acquainted with, and then immersed in, a whole new comics culture, something I haven’t really had the pleasure of since I first discovered UK comics (aged 5) and American comics (aged 11 or 12). It’s taught me to read more widely in the medium. Now I just need to make a start on the Franco-Belgian stuff…