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Comic Artists VS Manga Artists: Who Does It Better?

A brief opinion piece analyzing the differences and similarities between the two

A brief opinion piece analyzing the differences and similarities between the two

 
I love it when our users get involved in our community by contributing analytical and really remarkably well written opinion pieces to our site. After having a discussion with one of our users, I managed to convince him to talk about two of his favorite passions and compare them. He gave us the differences and similarities between the art of manga and American comic books. I'm glad he did. While myself and the staff at Comic Vine may not agree with the opinions in this article, we enjoyed it thoroughly and felt it should be shared. I hope you guys enjoy it, I know I did! -B
 
 
This article branched from a forum discussion over the differences in the responsibilities and priorities between US comic artists (though many artists we think of as "US artists" are often from other countries) and Japanese manga artists. On the suggestion of Comic Vine's talented Babs. I have taken what I wrote and turned it to this article. The question posed was, Who has it Harder? Let me get one small fact out there before I start. The title of "manga", as it is known in the US, is pretty much an English creation. In Japan all comics are referred to as manga. In the US the term is used define only Japanese art as a genre. Though this is not a discussion of the differences in what defines the styles and writings of comics and mangas. If I got on that topic this article could wind up looking more like a thesis. I am primarily talking about the artists involved.

For those of us who have mainly grown up with comics like Batman, Superman, X-Men and Iron Man. We have always known a comic to be created by a massive team of artists. Our average comic will have a cast of up to four to five, if not more, on a single book. Writing, pencil work, ink work, and coloring is all done by separate people. That's not even taking into consideration some special effects and text work.
Most manga artists are not just responsible for the pencil work, but inking, and the writing. This can even include the text work. Some series do have a small staff, such as Hiro Mashima's Fairytail; but it's all on the main creator's head if this series succeeds or fails. There are varieties in art styles of manga as there are in US comics. Sometimes people get confused that the styles look the same, because some series have the same creators. For an example, the creator of Love Hina is the creator Negima, Ken Akamatsu. Some manga artists could also be emulating artist they admire. The same as in the US series. There are a lot of artist working now who always looked up to Jim Lee, J. Scott Campbell, and Frank Miller. The first publications of the Gen13 series had a similar appearance to Jim Lee's work.
 

 
 'Death Note'

 'One Piece'
 
 
Allow me to cite some examples of a couple very different series. Death Note looks nothing like One Piece. Soul Eater has no relation in appearance to Fullmetal Alchemist.
To claim the styles in the genre of manga are all the same is like saying Humberto Ramos' art looks just like Chris Bachalo or Joe Madureira . They may share some similarities, but they are vastly different at the heart of it.

 
 
 
  
US comic creators need to put out a new issue once a month, and within a year some series might have several separate artists taking up the slack. This year alone I believe Uncanny X-Men has had five different artists.
Most Japanese mangas are released once a week and produce an average of 16-18 pages per chapter. Throughout the span of a year there may be two to five weeks that get missed due to national holidays or writer's research. There are a few month only series, but those are the minority.

Having only one writer throughout the run of a series does give you a stronger consistent story. To use the examples of One Piece again. Oda has been writing that series for twelve years and going. It could even continue for another five easily. Rarely something is ever said that doesn't get explained sometimes years later. Oda, while writing for the manga, also recently wrote the script for the next movie based on his series.

Gosho Aoyama, creator of my favorite manga, Detective Conan (Case Closed in the US), writes a detailed murder mystery series, in the tradition of Sherlock Holmes. (Fun Fact: His wife is the voice actress of his main character for the anime version of his manga. Though they did recently divorce.) On top of penning the over riding narrative for his characters, and drawing the art. Each case averages three chapters. At least once a month he has a brand new mystery case. How many writers do you think could make a detail murder mystery with the finest details in the evidence to rival any episode of CSI once a month and never, if rarely, repeat the same trick twice? He's been doing it for going on fifteen years so far, week after week.
 
In US comics writers are often contradicting events from the past and other writers. Drama is more often created for the sake of causing drama. A recent example could be what Babs noticed in her review of Justice League: Cry for Justice #2, where she shows Hal Jordan lamenting on his 'friendship' with Bruce Wayne. This kind of thing never really happens in manga. We also have issues with a single character that appears in many books by different writers. If someone can piece together the continuity of characters like Wolverine and Spider-man, who appear in multiple titles throughout a single month; and have it make sense. I will bake you baker's dozen of cookies.
Characters are killed off only to be revived later by another writer. Jean Grey has been killed so many times it's lost all emotional impact it could have. It's now a joke. Death has pretty much no meaning in many US comics. We know in the long running series that eventually someone will revive that character.
In the majority of mangas. When someone dies they normally stay that way. Unless the revival has some meaning in the narrative.
 
 There is the difference shown in how mangas are in black and white and comics are mostly in full, eye popping color. Just because they don't use color in the traditional sense doesn't mean they don't color at all. They do color in a gray scale to create depth. It's not strictly black and white. It still requires time to color. In fact, in some ways it could be more difficult to create depth using a gray scale. With color you can use accent colors to make something pop off the page. This is a small collection of some different series.
 
 

 I'm not trying to brush aside the work that US comics artists do. It just seems short sighted to just brush aside how much a Japanese artist can be responsible for too easily.
Some of the series that are in the US have been going on for well over 60 to 70 years. Mangas have the advantage in the way that those stories are designed to end at some point. US publishers need to keep things going and going. All the while trying to keep a story from getting stale. That can't be easy. ( Blackest Night doing a superb job of that for DC right now.) Often times US publishers will need to trust an entire franchise to a single writer to make a plot people will enjoy over ten to twenty series. Such as with Matt Fraction dealing with Dark Reign. Most of the Marvel comics are in the hands of this one man. That's an incredible responsibility. One trial that isn't faced in Japan.
 

 

 

 Japanese manga artists are only responsible for their own series. There are never any real cross overs. You may have some small crossovers, but they never really ever effect the plots. They are more done for fun.
You also have the issues of balancing the proper teams on a series. Some inkers don't compliment a certain pencil style well, and a bad inking job can kill great pencil work. Not to mention that some US artists across the fields work on many titles at the same time, on top of whatever personal project they could be working on. .
 
The traditions of Japanese manga is not isolated to the island nation of Japan. There are comics that are produced here in the US by US artists that they are the sole artists on a single series or number of them.
Gold Digger #81
US produced manga series called Gold Digger created by Fred Perry(my artistic idol). For well over a decade he has been the sole writer/penciler/inker/colorist/textwork/special effects artist for Gold Digger. I believe the only thing he doesn't do is the editing, and it's a monthly regular series. Not only does he make this series. He also is the creator for his comic series Legacy, and Sky Sharks. Again doing most if not the lions share of the work to produce them. He also does a short series called the Peebo Mangas, which is a spinoff of Gold Digger. He also makes three separate short series on his ART BLOG; Ayane, Northern Edge, and LVL-Up (based upon his adventures of playing Final Fantasy XI online.). It's not like his stuff is low quality. He does some amazing images. I think women readers would enjoy his series. Gold Digger stars mainly a trio of sisters on their adventures. Not only does he draw a lot of sexy cheesecake images. He's also well known for his beefcake for the ladies.
Gold Digger #38 - Stripe
Not only that, but Fred Perry has also been drawing his own animated series of his own creations.
Most of the series published by Antarctic Press are done with a minimal staff.


I think it all eventually comes down to personal preference. Some people like red wine over champagne. Some like orange juice with their pretzels or peanut butter on their apples. It doesn't make any inferior to the rest. It's the same with the art work and the artist. It's alright to like one over the other. If it's what you like then roll with it. My problem has been with people who act as if what they prefer is somehow superior over everything else. We have it in US comics. The way we see people trying to compare Spider-man and Batman to choose who is better. They may have some similarities, but they are vastly different beasts. Yes, I did watch the Feature Video of G-Man -vs- Babs on that similar debate. I'll leave it up to the reader to decide which they like better, but remember that none are really superior to another. They are just different. Which is a good thing. It would be dull if every series was the same. We may all like different things, but we should try and be respectful of each other. Otherwise, we are no better then bickering politicians.

I hope this made sense. I tried to show both sides of the issue. They both have it really hard and deserve a lot of appreciation. I hope you enjoyed the read. Thank you to Babs for the suggestion and the opportunity to write this.
84 Comments
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Posted by AGES

Cool article. 
 
 I think it`s a matter personal preferences like some people like samurais, ninjas, supernatural, futuristic, etc stories with the characters drawn with big eyes, different hair and with more anime like coloring (when colored). 
 And other people like superheros and aliens stories with characters drawn with very detailed bodies and different sometimes brighter or sometimes darker coloring.
Posted by ARMIV

Neither genre trumps the other,but I happen to think that either style works better for specific characters.

Posted by Nahero

i never pitting them against eachother i love comics and manga as equally great concepts that make everyone happy

Posted by KasadyCarnage

Comic artists
Posted by FoxxFireArt
@godlen said:
" Really great article you got there! I'll see what I can do to get it posted up on anime vice.  "
Thanks. It is up on AnimeVice. I've heard it's also been linked to on other sites. It's quite exciting.
Posted by xerox_kitty
@MysterioMaximus said:
"@xerox-kitty said:

Hiroaki Samura's Blade of the Immortal
...and yet they still have those silly eyes and goofy shaped heads. Hmm...and showing all those pictures of American comic are proves one thing; It's not dogmatic. It's open to many different styles. Anime is one lone style. Psst! Face fact... "

Blade of the Immortal doesn't have goofy shaoed bodies because Hiroaki Samura draws anatomy more accurately than most comic art published in the west.  Face what fact? That you're blind?  Yeah, I can see that thanks.  
 
Manga & anime are just as (if not more) diverse than the American stuff you're brought up on.  You're just blinkered to one genre because you don't know anything about it.  "Face fact...". 
 
I'm not saying it's better.  I'm saying that too many people are ignorant to the diversity out there because all they can think of is Sailor Moon and Pokemon.
Posted by Maverick7

I personally think that some manga art is better if it was colorized.
Posted by Omega-level Supreme

FoxxFireArt... I'm going to let you have your moment, but Babs reports the best stories of all time, the best stories of all time!
Posted by FoxxFireArt
@Omega-level Supreme said:
" FoxxFireArt... I'm going to let you have your moment, but Babs reports the best stories of all time, the best stories of all time! "
Well,.........how generous of you to allow me this moment.
Posted by Fleonix

When it comes down the Line.......I love my X-men as much as my BLEACH........... And my Marvel Zombies to my Highschool of the Dead..........  Each is differently Unique, that's what makes each thing I pick up to read, special.......

Posted by Nisk5

Manga sucks
Posted by Meizzner

i love my manga just as much as comics

Posted by Aronmorales
@Meizzner said:
" i love my manga just as much as comics "
Couldn't have said it better myself.
Posted by Varient

I'm a fan of both,.. but as time has gone by I find my self leaning toward Manga,... probably because of the corruption of Gold Digger, (now I'm a lifelong fan), but I'm being pushed by the reduction of quality (my opinion) of the main American comic companies.
 
This was a great article That I don't belief leaned too much toward the manga side simply because manga is under represented in western comics.
 
Peace.

Edited by kenshiroo
@FoxxFireArt

First of all I congratulate you for your good exemplification and comparative synthesis about the development of both publications (Comic artist and Manga artist).

In my opinion I think the manga artists better exploit the introspective side of his characters, with stronger and violent psychological elements, full of vicissitudes and situations that it may be identifiable even in our everyday lives or daily life in some respects (birth and eld) also developed substantially in their scripts very strong arguments based on Japanese mythology, totemic and animistic beliefs and spiritual, political, historical aspects and features mainly structured in the ideal model of society within the idiosyncrasy and Japanese identity ( Samurai code of Bushido, for example). All these elements add spice analytical categories in the relationship between man and nature and culture/society, but with visual and aesthetic features very sharp or inspired in actors from the Occident (Europe and USA especially ) for commercial purposes worldwide For example, DBZ, Hokuto no Ken, Rouronin Kenshin, Naruto, Inuyasha, Cobra, Death Note, etc. However I think unattractive the monochrome manga. =(  

I think more visually and attractive the American comics at the drawing, aesthetics and beauty archetype (perfect silhouettes and Venusian and Dionysians bodies as the Best Greek style), however, I think simply to develop the basic feelings of the characters between opposite pairs categories: love and hate, good and bad without giving a philosophical and existential level deeper (except the X-men that addresses the topic of social exclusion and xenophobia “mutant” in world of intolerance and acceptance) into individual behavior and thoughts of their characters and overwhelming hyper subrealism that are unattainable even remaining without emotion in someones of their characters due the greatest superpower and the translocation of abstract concepts like death as your good mentioned in my opinion let show a little one superficial side to them, a little monotonous and trite, of course not all the comics but most of them.

But I loved the social-behavioral explorations made by artists from Marvel and DC Comics about the forces that transcend or are far beyond human comprehension as well as their ambivalent relations with the beings (mutants, people) in our earthly paradise in the Marvel or DC Universe. In my opinion the best series are developed by Marvel in X-men and WW & Batman in Dc.
 

Finally I totally agree with you none of these comics is superior to another, both are rich in substance and philosophical content and feed the fantasies, feelings, identity and dreams of many people including me of course . ^____^  good job!

Posted by Son_of_Magnus

It really depends Comic artists are better at making more realistic and physically logical drawings while manga is good at broad casting emotion I like both but like comic art a little better Manga has to much weird sh#t as well sometimes so it is usually pick or miss while comics I enjoy way more of what they draw

Posted by Bio Guyver

Manga.

Posted by Aceofcard

I prefer comic art.    
Posted by Shadowdoggy

Comics win for me 
manga is beautiful, but it's so stylized that it ends up being a little limited 
Comics (esp in recent years) are more open to artist interpretation and allow more artistic freedom and expression
Posted by AMS

Both.
Posted by Death Certificate

equal in my opinion.

Posted by Jnr6Lil

I like Comics AND mANGA BUT THEY GOT TWO DIFFERENT STYLES.
Posted by slacker the hacker

all depends whos drawing

Edited by stambo42

This reminds me of a problem facing the music industry- sometime in the mid 60s, between Dylan and the Beatles, we got the idea that if a singer wasn't writing and playing their music themselves, the music lacked artistic merit. The whole approach of Motown, where folks specialized in what they were good at got lost and pictured as archaic. Most singer songwriters can't match the vocal quality of Motown, or even more so earlier popular singers who worked on standards with professional bands. Opera singers don't have time to compose Operas... they're busy just keeping their chops in shape.

While American comics certainly suffer from lack of cohesion and direction... and might be compared to soap operas with explosions and muscles, in terms of illustration quality there is just generally more care taken. I can't get over the profound deadness in most Anime. The convention of reducing the face to a flat shell just robs the stuff of humanity for me. If this is the result of time constraints... it's not worth it for me. There are exceptions, of course, but they remain exceptions. It would be nice to get the best of both worlds.

Edited by turoksonofstone

Chinese Comics don't exist? Or are they Manga???? Jademan comics for instance had art that in ways was better than Manga and the US styles.

Posted by SupermanJohnathanKentJr

I know I'm two years late but thanks for teaching me so much more about manga. I had no clue.

Posted by AbstractMind

@foxxfireart: I'm not gonna lie, this article is old. That said, it's great. But one thing not many people know, the japanese guy who basically defined manga was actually borrowing his style from (shock!) american cartoons. When people say that manga/anime characters have large eyes etc, that's just because things like Mickey Mouse were drawn that way.

And if people keep ignoring the difference between anime and manga (Anime is Animated), I'll blow a fuse.

But don't think that I'm a severe manga fan. When I was younger, I did enjoy just about any comic I could get my hands on. It's just that as I got older, my taste matured with me.

Keep writing great stuff!

Edited by Nerx

@foxxfireart: Good read, its just funny how looking back at these articles most negative commenters are just plebeians who mostly focus on tropes on shonen or shoujo works.

Posted by sarahmint

"In US comics writers are often contradicting events from the past and other writers."

That is the biggest pet peeve I have and what made me drop my favorite series X-Men.

Stuck with manga after that with the exception of a rare graphic novel like Sandman or Maus.

Posted by ThatGuyWithHeadPhones

Bout a year ago I probably would have said " manga no contest" but after getting a more in-depth look at comic art, I feel bout the same on them.

Posted by Wolverine08

Equal.

Posted by Mekboy

They're very different good/bad in their own ways.

Edited by dagmar_merrill

Comics 10/10.

Posted by flashback0180

^Hahaha no