Manga – Where It All Began
Your parents probably think that comic books started back in the 1930s and 1940s with Superman and Batman.
While true comic books have been around for less than one hundred years, Japanese artists have been producing illustrated books for centuries. Today, Japanese comic books and graphic novels are referred to as “manga.”
The famous Japanese artist Hokusai (he lived from 1760 until 1849) coined the term manga in 1815 when he referred to some of his comic sketches as “man” (which means whimsical or careless) “ga” (which means drawings). He was just sketching – and “manga” was born.
(By the way – let’s go back to Superman for a second. I’m willing to bet you don’t read Superman comics… but did you know that collectors pay over $150,000 for Action Comics #1, where Superman first appeared? You may not read Superman, but I’m guessing you wouldn’t mind owning that one.)
In the United States, a lot of people – mostly adults -think comic books, graphic novels, and animation are only for kids. That’s not true in Japan – comics and animation are as popular and widely accepted as books or movies. (That’s also why some Japanese comics are as violent and sexually-oriented as they are. Some series are written and illustrated specifically for adults, not for kids or teenagers.) Also unlike in the U.S., Japanese comics and animation often tell stories about “real” or “normal” people, not just about super heroes or super villains.
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