Manga and comics have captivated readers worldwide, but which one is better? Which one does the audience like more? In this article, I explore the debate of manga vs comics as I compare their art styles, storytelling techniques, cultural context, and more.
Manga and comics differ not only in their origins but also in their Storytelling formats, art style, and publication methods. While manga hails from Japan, comics have a Western background. Furthermore, both mediums exhibit a wide range of themes and genres, from fantasy and sci-fi to romance and superhero narratives, though manga has a wider range of options like Shonen, Harem, BL, etc.
Are Manga Considered Comics
Manga are simply Japanese Comics but they are entirely different from the American comics you might be familiar with. Everything from the art style, the storytelling, and the characters, to the writers and the publishing methods are different for manga and American comics.
The manga are obviously made in the Japanese language and are translated into English for the Western audience. Plus manga are drawn in black & white, unlike the comics that are made in full color.
Art Style and Visual Appeal
Let’s start with the most obvious difference between manga and comics. If you look at a manga and a comic you would notice that the art style, the coloring, and the visual design are all different. A manga is drawn by hand in black & white coloring while a comic is sometimes drawn by hand but most comic artists use a Wacom or a Surface Pro Pad or something similar. Also, comics are made in color.
Comic artists use color to make their characters and settings look more real, while manga artists use the black & white color to their advantage and focus more on the artistic elements of their drawings by better capturing the facial expressions, the movements, and the atmosphere, giving us manga panels that would make you wonder if they were really drawn by hands.
Plus, a manga’s art style would stay the same throughout its run but the same can’t be said for comics. You could be reading 2 issues of the same comic but each could have a different art style because of different artists working on them.
Manga and comics both have different styles of telling the story starting with the way they are published. Manga are published weekly or monthly in magazines like Shonen Jump with each magazine issue having chapters from multiple manga series like Bleach and Naruto. On the other hand, comics are published in separate issues of roughly 30ish pages.
Another problem with comics is that they’ve been focusing on the same characters, like Spiderman and Iron Man, for decades, building up lore and stories. Let’s say you’ve never read a Spider-Man comic and want to get started but where do you start from? If you pick any random storyline you wouldn’t know what the hell is going on because a bunch of different storylines are connected to each other in one way or another. You would need to read a bunch of other storylines before you can get to the one you want to read.
With Manga, you can just start with the first volume and keep going.
Batman comics began publishing back in 1940 and it’s been over 80 years but the comics are still getting new issues published. All the popular comics like Batman, Superman, and Spider-Man have been going on for a long time but you must have noticed that the characters haven’t aged at all in all those years. Even if the characters haven’t aged, they’ve certainly died, and yet the comics still go on. Why?
Simply because of their popularity. People want to see more of their favorite characters so it doesn’t matter how many times they die, they’ll come back.
This is not the case with Manga unless you’re watching Dragon Ball Z where the characters die and they just bring them back with the dragon balls, but even in Dragon Ball Z, at least the characters go through development like getting older, stronger, and more mature. Goku and Krillin started as just kids training under Master Roshi and now, Goku is a literal god while Krillin is the strongest human. Not to mention my man Vegeta who had one of the best character development in anime history.
Another example is Naruto who went from being the weak kid hated by everyone in the village to becoming the Hokage by the end of the anime.
Character development occurs in comics as well but then, the writers and artists change and undo all the work of the previous writer.
The same comic character can seem a completely different person when writers change. For example, John Byrne’s Superman compared to Grant Morrison’s interpretation of the character. Unlike comics, Manga have a fixed writer who writes the entire story like Masashi Kishimoto who created the Naruto manga from start to finish.
Can you tell how the Super Man comics end or how the Batman comics end? You can’t because they don’t. Comics don’t have a definitive ending. Even if the character dies, the comic would just get a reboot or a revival, or even a story set in a parallel world. The same stories are told over and over without an end in sight.
Manga, unlike comics, have an end. Don’t get me wrong, manga get reboots and revivals as well, like Dragon Ball Z which ended its run back in 1995. The manga had a clear ending but then it was brought back to life in 2015 as Dragon Ball Super, 20 years after the manga had ended. But that is a rare case and most manga end at a certain point and don’t go on 60-80 years like comics do, like Demon Slayer which started in 2016 and ended in 2020 with 23 Volumes.
The first time you pick up a manga, you would be confused because it wouldn’t make sense. That’s because manga are not read like American comics.
Comics are read from left to right while manga are read from right to left. This is because manga are made in Japan and Japanese people read from right to left. Japanese books also start from the right side, unlike Western books that start from left to right.
Most comics people read are superhero comics from Marvel or DC. There are other genres of comics as well like Detective comics but they don’t get as much attention as Superhero comics. So, there’s not much variety when it comes to comics, most of it is just superheroes.
Manga on the other hand has a variety of genres and subgenres. If you’re someone who loves stories with powers, abilities, and amazing fights, then you can read any Shonen manga like Naruto and One Piece.
There are Romance, Comedy, Slice-of-life, Sports, Adventure, Drama, Fantasy, and many more manga genres you can enjoy.
Here are some good manga recommendations for beginners: 10 Best Action Shounen Manga Recommendations.
I honestly prefer reading manga because of the huge variety and the artistic supremacy compared to comics but then again that’s my personal opinion, both of them offer unique experiences and cater to different tastes. Ultimately, the choice between manga and comics depends on personal preferences and interests, so why not explore both and enjoy the best of both worlds?