Is Manga a Passing Fad?, by Robert Greenberger
That was my first reaction when I read USA Today’s story regarding Manga’s loosening grip on readers in
After all, we lived through it in
- Cable television was introduced and began snaking through the country, suddenly captivating television watchers and keeping them watching with extra channels, premium movies and so on.
- At much the same time, the first home video games were also capturing peoples’ attention. I still remember being fascinated playing Pong on the playroom television and then flipping to watch an uncut movie on HBO.
- The rise of the direct sales distribution system for comic books, which began an evolution away from readers finding comics at the local stationary shop and towards hole-in-the-wall outlets that sold comics and related stuff.
An avalanche of alternatives sprang from those days, and people suddenly had more and more choices on how to use their free time and spare cash. Society was also discovering new ways to keep kids active, so suddenly there were all new manner of diversions mixed in with increased athletics (when I was a kid, we had Little League, now it’s soccer, Little League, lacrosse, Pop Warner football, etc.). Again, free time for casual reading of books or a stack of comics, was diminished.
When the internet and e-mail was introduced in the 1980s, things snowballed at much the same time the comic shops finally gained a nationwide presence.
Apparently, the same thing has finally hit Japanese culture but their diversions are cutting edge. Rather than read comics on the subway to work or school, former Manga readers are now obsessed with their multi-function cellphones.
A global question seems to be, how to translate comic books and comic strips to the small screen available on a cellphone. Several mobile companies have been experimenting but no “magic bullet” has been found.
The article also quotes readers as saying they are tired of the stories, characters and premises, feeling they are all blending together. So, as the Manga tsunami continues to wash through American bookstores, one has to wonder how long before domestic readers also feel the same sense of ennui and stop reading the latest from Tokyopop or Viz?
And what will follow?