Comic Books Vs. Manga

August 22, 2012 in Miscellaneous, Rants by facade

As usual, this was the summer of comic book films. We had The Avengers, which only increased my ever lasting love for Joss Whedon, The Dark Knight Rises, and The Amazing Spider-Man which blew the original films away with it’s darker tone and the absence of a certain redhead. I’ve been a longtime fan of comic book movies, but I’m new to anime/manga.

Being a die-hard reader I find manga extremely enjoyable. As a reader who usually reads thick fantasy books with small fonts, I can especially appreciate the fact that I can get through a fast paced manga volume within an hour. Another bonus, manga often fills me in with a lot of story that the anime series had carelessly glossed over. Comic book movies gloss over certain aspects of the original stories as well, but this is much more necessary since the comics go on for forever. More on that later.

Readers have heard this question before: Are comic books or manga more enjoyable? Personally, I like manga better and there’s really no contest here…And yes, manga, like anime, plural is just “manga” not “mangas”. Hey! I knew being an English major would come in handy. 😉

Back in the day when I saw the first two X-men movies, belonging to my all time favorite comic book film series, I decided to start trying to get into the comics. I had to get my fix somehow, right? X-men 3 was only just about to be released at the time so I was out of films until then. Let’s start with the original X-men series…you know what, I won’t even talk about it. Just have a look here.

Wait. So let me get this straight. The series started in 1963 and ended last year. 544 issues. So I have to read 40+ years worth of comic books to get the full story. Not only that, but Marvel has released a second series of Uncanny X-men. The first issue came out in January, which screams “We ended the first series for publicity reasons”. God only knows how long that series will last.

Okay, that’s way too much for a first time comic book reader. How about Astonishing X-Men (original series began in 1995), X-Men Forever, New Mutants, Wolverine, or X-Men: First Class? Not to mention the numerous spin-off series and…well, I think I’ve made my point. Marvel is laughing all the way to the bank while my head spins as I try to figure out where to start. It seems silly to me, that the series loses new fans like me to the fact that they’re story lines are long, confusing, and after say, the first 10 years, just plain dumb.

I have friends who are very hardcore fans of comic books and don’t understand my preference for manga. But hey, the world would be boring if we all liked the same stuff. I’ve heard people recommend I look into reading the trade paperbacks instead of individual comic books, which will put about 5 or 6 issues into one edition, but that doesn’t make the amount of reading I have to do any shorter. I honestly tried really hard to get into comic books, but I’m faced with pure ageism! I wasn’t alive when the series started and now I’m paying the price with years and years of catching up to do.

Now let’s look at manga. I’ll go with my favorite series, Death Note.
So, as opposed to the 544 issues I previously mentioned I can get the entire Death Note story is an easy to obtain 12 volumes, saving myself a ton of money if I am a collector. Now, I am extremely cheap so I don’t own Death Note or buy books in general, but the libraries in my area made it easy to borrow all 12 volumes of this incredible story. Libraries have comic books, but I would bet they don’t have every single issue. To put manga in an even better place, it is all too easy to find sites like mangareader where you can read online for free. I had trouble finding sites like that for comic books before ultimately giving up in the end. To add to the advantages, manga has gorgeous artwork. Takeshi Obata is a genius and his genius shows when you look at the cover art for Death Note.

Of course, comic books have nice artwork too, but I think manga usually wins out. I have to point out that comic books, not all but many, have full color pages while manga is always black and white. I would be in manga heaven if Death Note had had full color pages, but the series still has some of the most stunning artwork I’ve ever seen even without color. It doesn’t end with Obata. The ladies of CLAMP are also brilliant. My male friends criticize their “girly” looking males so they may be for the female audience but if you just do some research you can find a manga artist who appeals to you.

So, to sum up, manga has lovely visuals. The characters are beautiful, the covers are lovely. Because the series doesn’t go on for years, manga story lines aren’t guaranteeing to get progressively stupider. Finally, manga gives you the full story. There are manga series that go on for years, but you can read best sellers like Fullmetal Alchemist and Fruits Basket in a nice 27 and 23 volumes, respectively. You get the whole story; beginning, middle, and satisfying end, without having to dedicate your entire life to it. I suppose you could say comic books are for people who only want to read comic books, but not for avid readers like myself.