What Is Manga?

Written By: Chris Heilman
Copyrighted 2002

Manga in today’s world is to be considered Japanese Comics. The word manga literally translated means “irresponsible pictures”. Manga or Japanese style comics are considered professional comics. A writer/artist of manga are called Mangaka. As in any culture and hobbies there are fans that wish to be able to create the same high quality work as professional writers and artists, which leads these people to also make manga of their favorite shows or manga. When the amateur writers and artists create manga in this way they are commonly referred to as Doujinshi.

Doujinshi can vary from very high quality to very poor quality. Amateur fans will sometimes be noticed by the original writer/artist or a publication company. This sometimes can result in being hired on by the original artist to help work on the manga series or a new one or it can also get you a job drawing your own original manga and being published.

Manga is a respected form of literature/art form and can be made for any age group. It may vary from young children to students to parents to businessmen to even perverted men and women. In some cases, manga can be considered a predecessor of anime, video games or even live-action films.

Manga is distributed in japan by being printed in a thick phone book size book called a manga magazine. They are very cheap and their circulation is wide-spread. These books come out from weekly to monthly and will contain anywhere from 10-20 works from different writers/artists. Each book that comes out will feature a certain manga and will give it 10-40 pages of just the manga. They will also include one shot and/or very short manga runs. That might have been a little hard to understand so let me sum up a bit. We shall say you have Volume 1 from 10 of your favorite comics. Now you take all of them and compile them into one book. When a manga in this format becomes popular, they will be then reprinted into a “tankou-bon”, also know as a Graphic Novel. The graphic novel is about the same size as a paperback book would be in America and is the compilation of some or all of the volumes of the manga.

For more information check out What are manga and anime editorial by Eri Izawa