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More Attack Of The Webcomic Clichés!

April 9th, 2008

( Cliche’s In Anime and Manga. Stereotypical trash to avoid. )

So I found this forum post. I cringed while reading it. For example, we have this amazingly mind-numbing statement:

mongoose: “Personally I think it seems like the guy who wrote this thing has either seen a total of about five anime. …. American comics have just as many, if not more really dreadful female stereotypes in them. Ever read any X-men comics?”

[gag!] The irony of that statement is strong enough to kill a horse. Mongoose criticizes someone for having a narrow view of anime and yet to him/her, “Superhero Comics” = “American Comics”…. as if the entire Underground/Alternative/Indie comic scene never existed. Oy, these kids…

Anyways, I’d thought I’d give these guys a piece of my mind. Sure the original conversation took place some two years ago, so I’m really not interested in attacking them personally, only the ideas they vocalized… because even if they wizened up in that time I’m sure others are forming the similar thoughts, and I’m interested in stamping that shit out. So without further ado…

Skullbie: “…what’s your most hated Manga stereotype?”
— Manga. :3

mongoose: “Personally I think it seems like the guy who wrote this thing has either seen a total of about five anime. …. American comics have just as many, if not more really dreadful female stereotypes in them. Ever read any X-men comics?”
— OK, are you serious? Superhero comics do not equal American comics. I don’t disagree with your statement, if only you amended it to where you’re not lumping everything ever written in the American Underground/Alternative/Indie comics scene since the 1960’s in with Superheroes. Furthermore, so what if Superhero comics are rife with their own set if clichés? You’re only merely shifting the blame; quite an important logical fallacy. It’s like all the folks who are say “Yeah but China and India creates MORE air pollution than America!”, as if mentioning that makes the amount of air pollution America creates acceptable for us to ignore. Please.

mongoose: “Basically most comics are written for and by men. Not a lot I can do about that.”
— Read more independent works, outside of the realm of mainstream manga and comics. You’ll see how that world is not… well, shitty.

Kraust: “My own manga…”
— I still cringe at the idea that non-Japanese folk calling their work “manga”. If Kraust is Japanese then s/he obviously gets a pass. Otherwise, stop. Non-Japanese calling their work “manga” is a cliché within writing circles. The irony of this I’m sure that some of the same people who claim to be drawing “manga” criticize others who draw comics reading right-to-left, emulating the way manga is read. … Another bad cliché writers pull is when someone points out that a particular element of their work is clichéic, but their reply is “oops, I guess it is! But mine is different because…” Seriously, fess up to it and don’t make excuses. Honestly, if someone points out that something of mine is a cliché, I’ll admit it. I mean, c’mon, Emo Kim and “Goth Girl” Shea Marerra are clichés… I’d like to think that it’s intentional and that plan on playing with your (the reader’s) expectations. But until then, they’re clichés.

lord_null: “It is one thing to not like a style, it is another to assume it is out of perversion or laziness.”
— I dunno…. Scott McCloud made a pretty good point once about this. Every artist end up emulating those who have inspired them. I’m guilty of marrying the styles of Yukito Kishiro and Jeffrey Brown into my work. On the other hand, if all you do is taste only one style (like you taste only one kind of fruit), you wouldn’t know if what you’re eating is fresh or stale. You need to branch out. … Mangaphiles who stick with the Manga-styles won’t adapt other styles or try other things, so when the proverbial ship sinks, it takes everyone with them. In that sense, people who stick with the manga-style DO do it mostly out of laziness.

lord_null: “Gone are the days when a giant robot or sexy cat girl were all that was required to make a series successful. Now an author must have a compelling plot, sympathetic characters, and a unique perspective to succeede.”
— Oh my God. You did not just say that. [slight pause] Can ANYONE give me a time when NOT having a compelling plot, etc, was NOT necessary to create a truly amazing series? Are you telling me that GREAT WRITING is a 21st Century creation? [face palm]

nibbles: “Hmm… I certainly *hope* my manga isn’t a stereotype. I guess it’s a good sign that people have said they wouldn’t consider my comic a manga though. …. It doesn’t read backwards. It doesn’t have extremely huge eyes. No panty shots. No fanservice. Strong female characters. Only one bishounen (later in the story). One child catgirl that isn’t a sex object, merely a magical curiosity (also late in the story). A little innuendo, and puns. One big-ass sword though (Berserk inspiration, Cloud can bite me), that’s a sterotype.”
— This is exactly what I’m talking about. A writer/artist admits to a cliche but makes all kinds of excuses as to why THEIR take on it is totally different. Face it, if you have a catgirl and big-ass sword, you’re dealing in clichedom. OOOH OK so you have only ONE. And it was inspired by THAT anime/manga series and not the OTHER one. Gotcha. [rolls eyes]


I need to find more of these kinds of posts. That was fun.

2 Responses to “More Attack Of The Webcomic Clichés!”

  1. Pete sezzzzz:

    Jumping in on this late, but hey, it’s fashionably late. *looks at clothes* Okay, it’s not fashionable, either.

    Anyhoo. I’m to the point where I’m feeling extremely close-minded about anything slightly anime-ish on the web anymore. And I hate saying that because I’m a very open-minded person. But the deluge of – and you totally called it – non-Japanese folks creating so-called “manga” is sickening. It’s jumping on a bandwagon. If you’re really serious about doing comics and really serious about making a living from it, then come up with your own style. Be inspired by anime (and it hurts me to have to say that) but don’t copy it.

    And for the record, any non-manga style comics that utilize manga conventions (i.e. giant tear drop, kitten face, sound effects that tell what’s happening like “falls down”) should be ignored. That sort of thing degrades the artwork. It’s not a style choice, it’s lazy artwork. Learn how to draw facial expressions. Learn how to draw action. LEARN HOW TO DRAW.

    Okay, I’m getting off my soap box now. I need to use it for a laundry basket now.

  2. mayor of moose river sezzzzz:

    PETE: As much as I enjoy plenty of anime/manga pop-Japanese titles, I too am completely wary of any non-Japanese comic series done up in the pop-Japanese style. Yes, that means you too, Adam Warren. You’re right, it is jumping on the bandwagon; it’s to the point where adopting the pop-Japanese style is no longer “edgy” or “unique”… it’s no longer a rebellion against Superheroes’ “bland” and “pressed out of a mold” style. It has become the new “bland” style that artists need to break free from.

    I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t inspired by Japanese artists. Some of them, like Yukito Kishiro and Yoshihiro Tatsumi, have been a great inspiration to me. And yes, it’s natural for artists to emulate those who have inspired them. To which, I’d give anyone a pass who draws in the pop-Japanese style but use it as a stepping stone to perfecting their own unique style. Case in point, my friend Jen (who created Mystic Revolution) is on that very path…. at least I observe it as much. But to those who start with the pop-Japanese style and stay there…. no passes are handed out from me, no lenience will given against my scorn. If their goal is to fit in with the rest of the junk, to be a part of the norm and not stand out in any way… so be it. Who am I to argue against artist intent? But I will bet some good money that they will never be known as anything apart from “oh, it’s just another fake pop-Japanese piece of trash that everyone can ignore”.

    As for the the “non-manga style comics that utilize manga conventions” thing, I wouldn’t go so far as to say they should be ignored. If done properly and written well, I believe those works could be a great representation of East-West unity… this coming from a Half-White, Half-Korean fella. 😉 For example, Korean-American artist Derek Kirk Kim has a unique style but also uses the animeish water drop thing among others. On the other hand, I would agree that if anyone uses it as a crutch of sorts to compensate for their inability to draw, as opposed to a method to invoke that Eastern sensibility in a Western comic (like what Derek Kirk Kim does), they should stop drawing immediate and reevaluate their abilities. It merely falls into the same category as saying “it was a cold and stormy night” versus drawing said cold and stormy night… the artist is “telling instead of showing” within a visual medium, which is a big time FAIL for a comic artist.

    That’s what I gots to say. And please, by all means, get back ON your soap box! I love deep, intelligent discussions about the art of comicmaking…. I really don’t/can’t get enough of it. (^_^)

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Moose River
by Philippe Van Lieu
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