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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.
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Posted by inferiorego

Way to go sir, very well written.

Posted by samver1

Very good article.

Posted by Kevin87

Great article. Totally agree with what you said. I love Detective Conan (Case Closed). It such an engrossing series that even being around for 15 years does not feel old and many of the stories hold up really well. Something like Aoyama's long standing run on Detective Conan could never happen in US comics.

Posted by xerox_kitty

I commend you for having the patience to write all of this in great detail!  The differences between East & West are starting to blur, but I rarely hear of mangaka who take as long to produce work as Joe Madureira or J Scott Campbell do ;)   
And you pick up on the one big difference which annoys me, and that's responsibility of an artist/writer over their own titles & characters.  The problems caused by different creative teams just don't happen in manga,  because they're all creator owned.  While there are more & more creator owned series being produced in the West, most of them are from the smaller or imprinted companies.  Something like Uncanny X-Men or Batman has to continue as one long story with rarely-aging characters because of the slow way they're printed once a month, and will sadly continue to have messed up and retconned histories.  Chris Claremont may be passed his prime, but he brought 17 years of stability to the X-Men and I'll always love him for that... 
BTW, this article has been pimped on twitter!  Kudos :)

Posted by Moomin123

I prefere normal comics to manga comics. 
Good article by the way.
Posted by Ellocobruja

Great article!
Posted by damswedon

very good article.
i prefer art to be in black and white or to have simple colours. take Kick Ass personally i think it would have benefited from being in black and white.

Posted by Darkchild

Very nicely done man, i too hate when people lump all manga into one catagory. 

Really cool article man

Posted by NamelessHenchman

Easy. Comic book.

Posted by Noah Kenshiki

Awesome articale man ^^

Posted by Red Rum

Posted by Agent Buttons
@Darkchild said:

Very nicely done man, i too hate when people lump all manga into one catagory. 

Really cool article man


what he said. :)
Posted by FoxxFireArt
Thanks. I do think that it still feels a bit too one sides toward manga artists. US comics I think deserved a bit more attention.

@Red Rum said:

" "

My devArt page is
@Darkchild said:

Very nicely done man, i too hate when people lump all manga into one catagory. 

Really cool article man


Thanks. Most people talk about how all manga looks alike and US comics have more subtle or dramatic differences.
Well, that's because we see it all the time, I think. I bet if you showed some US series in Japan they would make the same claim that it all looks alike.
Posted by Mbecks14

uncomparably comic art. anime and manga have their place but its not as good imo

Posted by xerox_kitty
@FoxxFireArt said:
" @xerox-kitty: 
Thanks. I do think that it still feels a bit too one sides toward manga artists. US comics I think deserved a bit more attention. "
It is a bit, but I agree with you.  In my experience, people who side purely with US comics don't understand just how much more work goes in to create a weekly manga.  They're quicker and therefore advance faster than US comics.  I still love US comics, but there isn't the same variety or pace.  I can't imagine a US publisher coming up with something like Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, which is intensely witty and so fast that sometimes it's hard to keep up with how much humour & information is being thrown about.  But people who just out & out dismiss manga & anime are the kind of people who just think of the Pokemon cartoons.  That's why we need you to educate the masses :D
Posted by FoxxFireArt
I do think I should really thanks Babs for posting my rant here for the mass of the site to see.
Well, Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei is really a comedic social commentary series. They poke fun at real life in a very out there manners.
In a weekly series battles in comics can be far more epic. In a monthly comic a fight can be rushed. Look at what happened in the Uncanny X-Men Exodus boook.
We hardly got to see any of the fights. It went by so fast.
Posted by 04nbod

I prefer comic art. Its much simpler and eye-catching. I also tire of the exaggerations in manga storytelling that the art exccentuates.

Edited by Tortle

Good analysis.  But one thing to note is that manga has less complex art than US comics.  The figures are typically more symplistic and flatter in manga.  Also, it's much more time consuming to color a page of comics than the manga approach of applying a few monochronous washes of grey.  
Of course, there are exceptions.  I've seen robots in manga that are insanely complex.  I've also seen US comics that have much more simplistic art than manga.  And I'm not saying that simplistic art is necessarily bad.  I'm just saying that if I was going to reproduce a page of a comic myself, it would typically be much easier to do so if that comic was manga.    

Edited by NightFang

This was a good article and i'm a fan of both comic and manga artists.    

Posted by Kashimu

Haha very nice article. 
And, you deviant art is awesome. Code Geass x3

Posted by FoxxFireArt
@Kashimu said:
" Haha very nice article.   And, you deviant art is awesome. Code Geass x3 "
Thank you very kindly.
Glad you like my devArt page. I actually do make X-Men parodies too. I've posted some here.
Posted by CorAutMors

Amen brother! i like both US comics and manga. they both have something the other doesn't and both should be respected.

Posted by dementedtheclown

Magnas Garbage

Posted by FoxxFireArt
@CorAutMors: Thank you. That is pretty much the point I was trying to get across.
Posted by xerox_kitty
@FoxxFireArt: Exactly, you don't get any witty criticism of the world around us from Marvel, DC or Image ;)   
That 'Exodus' issue was rubbish.  From every angle, it was badly written.  This from a guy who's meant to have a good history with a fighting character like Iron Fist, is disappointing.  Its clear to see that there were too many sub-plots and too many characters to handle.  Yet even if it was reduced to a team of 5 or 6 characters I doubt that it would have been a decent fight.  They were stacked up to be Godly, yet they amounted to nothing more than a couple of punches at best.  It was all about the build up, but then the fights themselves were non-existent.  Complete anti-climax. 
I don't expect American comics to have fight scene after fight scene, or weeks/months filled with fighting (like Dragonball Z).  However, Exodus would have benefited from the kind of pacing you get in most modern manga.  Reading other material should help & inspire a writer.  Yet somehow I doubt it would occur to most writers to read some Bleach to get an idea of how to pace a fight, or make it believable that characters can suddenly withstand the kind of beating that would make even John McClane in Die Hard wince.  Hell, even older shoujo like Card Captor Sakura has better pacing in fight scenes than either Messiah War or Utopia.
Posted by FatCobra

Manga artists are better. There action scenes are better. There is a better sense of motion. And best of all, their comics ship on time.

Posted by crazed_h3ro

I'm still not toosure i love them both so much (probably    comics)...<3
Posted by High Revolutionary

 Comic art KILLS manga.  
In every shape, and form imaginable.

Edited by MysterioMaximus

 I find Manga extremely hit or miss. I cannot say I dislike it all, but I dislike the majority. It’s become so clichéd, though I suppose you could say the same with superheroes, though I’d personally say far less as far as the actual art itself is concerned. American superheroes lend themselves far more to stylized interpretation, whereas anime is nothing but that one dogmatic style. One thing I dislike about foreign comics is just that, the absurd style. It’s become so…typical.  Nearly every artist I come by these days does exclusively Japanese Manga…almost defeating the purpose of even being an artist. When your expression ALWAYS conforms to an established look, I’d deem you a poor artist. I admire the cartoonists that tread their own road. People like Tim Sale, someone who has the balls to essentially create his own visualized style in a time when comics are usually either anime or realism. I miss that personal touch that the classic artists like Jack Kirby and Ditko had. It's going extinct, the only proponents today in the mainstream seem to be people like Mike Allred.  The visual originality has almost completely left the anime medium. I cannot even remotely agree that there isn’t a resemblance between nearly all anime artwork. I hardly even bother with the anime artists and their work. I roll my eyes at the staleness. It’s arrogantly deemed by anime enthusiasts as “superior,” but honestly…the staples annoy me. The overly exaggerated features, wonky hair, out of scale weapons, strange cat fetishes, etc. I certainly see a reasonable foundation for the “same general base model” argument. Then there’s that brand of what I call cheap knock-off anime; Americanime! That’s just a pet peeve of mine. When did foreign cartooning ironically become the dominate form of animation in America cartoons? Give me Bruce Timm any damned day – originality, fluidity, and beauty. And yes, I’m aware of Batman: The Animated Series being produced in Japan, but the artwork is strictly Bruce Timm.  So if I’m buying comics, I’m buying American.    

Posted by Aronmorales

I don't think it's fair to say one art style is better, but I do think it's fitting to say some art styles fit other things better.

Posted by reaper2923

Comic art easily beats Manga

Posted by Sparda

Very nicely written article. I like how informative it is, and I appreciated the insight you gave into the manga industry with it. I learned some things that I didn't know.
That being said, I prefer all comic art I've seen to manga art (and I have seen a lot, I just don't read a lot). It's just preference-I'm not a big fan of the exagerrated stuff that goes into some mangas. I will acknowledge that some are damn beautiful, though.

Posted by TheOmegaMan
@High Revolutionary said:
" Comic art KILLS manga.    In every shape, and form imaginable. "

Posted by TheRichestManinTown

"Fred Perry (my artistic idol)" and then I stopped caring, the U.S. does gray scale work too bucko!

Posted by Aronmorales

I wonder if this was posted on Animevice...

Posted by FoxxFireArt
@Aronmorales said:
" I wonder if this was posted on Animevice... "

I need to write this up and post it as a blog on AnimeVice. Though i don't know if it will get front page attention as it did here..
@TheRichestManinTown said:
" "Fred Perry (my artistic idol)" and then I stopped caring, the U.S. does gray scale work too bucko! "
I never said they didn't,.....Sport.
The lions share of US publications are in color. While the vast majority of manga are done in gray scale.
Posted by RichardManhunter
Comic Art is Much Better than Manga... Comic Ruless
Posted by Bruce Vain

Well done FoxFire
Posted by Media_Master

nice article
I vote for comic art though

Posted by Alaric

very good points, its amazing how the "manga" style gets so generalized many don't bother to note the amazing artistic differences there are.

Posted by Kastiel

Manga art. I simply enjoy the simplicity of it so to speak and there are very different styles by far, but it depends on how you look at it.

Posted by zombietag

manga just seems so repetative. so much manga uses the same style over and over again, and that kinda bugs me. american comics seem to have less cliches with the art and expressions and i like that a lot better

Posted by ryanwh
I only like drawings when they're in color and clearly trace-overs of bodybuilders and nude models.
Posted by xerox_kitty
@ryanwh said:

" I only like drawings when they're in color and clearly trace-overs of bodybuilders and nude models. "

You're Greg Land? :p
Posted by Incredible Hulk-Prime

I enjoyed reading this.It's awsome story.
Posted by jeangreyemmafrost

mangga artist sucks
cause sometimes they make the character look weird and had big eyes or breasts that realy sucks

Posted by xerox_kitty
@jeangreyemmafrost: Yes, because US comic art is all uniform and perfectly proportioned in the way that they present realistic human beings... 

Manga artists have as many different styles and genres as US comic artists, which means that it isn't all wide-eyed panty-flashing big-breasted sailor-uniform wearing school girls & giant mecha.

 Hiroaki Samura's Blade of the Immortal
Posted by MysterioMaximus
@xerox-kitty said:
" @jeangreyemmafrost: Yes, because US comic art is all uniform and perfectly proportioned in the way that they present realistic human beings... 

Manga artists have as many different styles and genres as US comic artists, which means that it isn't all wide-eyed panty-flashing big-breasted sailor-uniform wearing school girls & giant mecha.

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...
Edited by SilverGalford

well the manga is much poser than the american comic , most of the time , the manga only focus on the physical appearance and just that and sometimes ,the manga is very pervert ,  but most of the time  american comics  focus on the story .and that's great.
Posted by godlen

Really great article you got there! I'll see what I can do to get it posted up on anime vice. 

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