What are the primary differences between Japanese Manga (Comics) and American Comics?
There is a big difference in art styles between Manga, which is more stylized (exaggerated) and American comics, which tend to be more “realistic”. There are also quite a few serious differences between the two types of comics. Some of the differences, just to mention a few of them are the cost, creation, diverse audience and genres, presentation and even size.
The creation of Manga as well as its presentation is quite different than American Comics. Manga is printed in black-and-white format while American comics are the majority of the time in full color. Also, when you look at a graphic novel or Manga you will notice a difference in the size. Manga is frequently smaller than traditional American comic books, usually digest-size and roughly half to one-third the size of American comics. But where the American comics are generally thin like a small magazine, running about 32 pages, Manga comic books are thick and can be hundreds of pages in length!
In page count, Manga is quite similar to graphic novels, which are often just collections of the ongoing American comics. But unlike American graphic novels, which are usually just a collection of monthly comics in a single unified story or story arc, Manga books are often apart of an even bigger story and a complete Manga storyline can run thousands of pages.
Another difference between traditional American comics is that mainstream American comics are often created in a sort of assembly-line fashion. They have a writer (story), a penciler (initial sketch), inker (uses a pen to ink over the sketch), letterer (adds dialog) and a colorist (colors the inked sketch). Most Manga books are done by a single creator, who combines all those chores (except coloring).
Also Manga story lines usually move at a much quicker pace. Due to the high page count, one reads a Manga book at an accelerated pace. Manga books almost always have fewer panels and less dialogue (rambling) per page than American comic books. The price for Manga is also more than the average comic book and a bit more than a standard paperback novel, the small size of Manga and black-and-white printing rather than full color keeps the cost down. The lack color is made up when you consider the story development that it’ll have with the amount of pages it has.
In Japan, Manga is not viewed as just for kids unlike the American stereotype. There pretty much is a Manga for everyone. With that being stated there are three main genres in Japanese Manga: Shonen Manga (boy’s comics), Shojo Manga (girl’s comics) and Hentai (adult comics).
Shonen Manga is pretty much comics that are primarily action and/or adventure geared. If you’d like to view some examples of that genre, I’d recommend “Bleach” and/or “Full Metal Alchemist”. Shojo Manga is for the opposite sex; they are often about relationships and/or love interests. Please note that even though a particular genre is geared towards a certain audience it’s not limited to just that audience (unless otherwise stated). Finally Hentai Manga, I won’t delve much into this since it is primarily for adults and NOT suitable for children (just to be safe in case a child is reading this). Anyways, Hentai Manga is sometimes sexually explicit and/or adult-themed. In other words, do not purchase this for your child.
Next time someone asks you what the difference is between Manga and [American] comics, you can surprise them with your knowledge.