Comic Books Vs. Manga

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.

  • Cely_belly

    I do not get comic books >.<  How can people not like mangas!? lol  

    I can understand why people enjoy comic books and the endless stories although I find a well developed story much more gratifying.  But to each their own I guess.

    • paperfl0wers

       Totally agree 😉 but comic book movies are a whole different story. They’re really great.

      • Cely_belly

        Agreed :)

  • Efwhnfn

    i found comic books more enjoyable as the writing and dialogue is better and they are more inter connected and the story arcs just have a huge pay off thanks to intelligent design 

    • paperfl0wers

      The writing in comic books is, normally, better. Manga can have really awkward translations. Of course, this isn’t true for every manga and every comic book but tends to be the case. But I think the manga stories are much more conclusive and satisfying and normally just plain better.

  • thecrossingfield

    Depends on the reader of course. In fact manga and comic books are just different ways of just writing/drawings of basic cartoon pictures. It’s the story that matters not the form of how it’s written.

    • paperfl0wers

      Eh, yes and no. I think it’s true that it is just a different way of writing/drawing a story. I happen to like the anime art better, but I really wish the pages were colored like comic books. The black and white shading for manga looks pretty cheap. I think the stories are noticeably different, though.

  • ASDF123

    Holy hell, don’t know where to start. The bias seems to be incredibly strong with this one. First off, if you want to talk about long, confusing, and overall, really dumb storylines, look no further than Manga’s, as the majority of their plots consist of archetypal characters in archetypal situations against archetypal villains. And the artwork? It is almost consistently the same across the entire spectrum, where-as comics have extremely differing styles (Compare Dark Knight Returns with Batman Year 100). I could list at least 2 dozen graphic novels/Trade Paperbacks with better storylines and better artwork than anything the entire spectrum of manga has to offer:

    Daredevil: Born Again

    Dark Knight Returns

    Batman Year One

    Batman The Killing Joke

    All-Star Superman

    Batman Long Halloween

    Batman Dark Victory

    Batman The Man Who Laughs



    V For Vendetta

    Knightfall Parts 1-4

    Sandman The Dream Hunters

    Sin City


    The list literally goes on and on, meanwhile you have a select few examples of true literary quality manga’s that aren’t sexist, cliche’d, pretentious, or just plain dumb (I don’t really care what you say, BLEACH is definitively a perfect example of style over substance, and that style is re-used over and over again to the point of exhaustion).

    So lets sum this up, you claim manga has lovely visuals? So do comics, even more lovely visuals considering they are almost always in full color which adds to the depth and characterization, the reason they don’t color most manga is because it’s simply cheaper.

    Lovely characters? For the most part, no, they don’t have lovely characters, their characters are practically just like every other, meanwhile in the entire Justice League, you don’t have a single character with a familiar personality, each of them has their own unique traits and behaviors that make them resemble something beyond caricatures of themselves, but actual beings with lives and personalities. And that’s exactly what manga characters ARE, caricatures, most of the time. Very, very, very rarely do anime characters ever resemble anything even close to an actual human being, or, an actual character, to be more broad.

    “Because the series doesn’t go on for years, manga story lines aren’t guaranteeing to get progressively stupider”

    Right, you claim to have majored in English, yet don’t even realize that “stupider” isn’t even a proper word. Aside from that, first off, manga’s are on average, around 250 pages, give or take 50, so seeing as a manga which is somewhat popular, like Deathnote, goes on for about 12 volumes, that adds up to 3,000 pages. Now take a series like The Flash, a moderately popular superhero, if you take his individual storylines, like The Flash: Rebirth, which is only 6 issues, that adds up to about 190 pages. Guess that means you’re pretty terrible at math, huh? And don’t give me that bullshit of “oh, well, that’s not ALL the issues”, you don’t need to read ALL the issues to get a complete story, since if you include alternate universes, crossovers, and re-vamps, you would get an uncountable amount of issues for any given superhero. If you want to talk “primary storyline” before they became separated by re-writes in the plot or re-vamps, then the line can be drawn relatively anywhere, and becomes unreliable, so you CANNOT simply take a character such as lets say, Superman, and pigeon-hole him into definitively belonging to a 904 issue long story arc, since that’s dumb and simple-minded, as the amount of re-writes and story-arc’s that have occurred are so vast and wide that they do not belong to one single storyline, they belong to many storylines, so your entire summary of how comics get “dumber” is not only flawed, but wrong, both since individual story-arc’s are separate of other story-arcs (though often involving continuity for the primary purpose of connecting them within the same universe) and that these individual story-arc’s have varying amounts of quality for their writing, so they can be better or worse than previous story-arcs.

  • Dunk Johnson

    Both comic book and manga are entertaining and popular so i can’t judge single one best . I have a great experience of designing both these . One major factor that is language translation it attracts the viewer .