Maybe this is a bit old, but quick! Before the manga craze dies down like so many people have predicted time-and-time-again over the past seven years let’s take a look at the feature Wired magazine did on manga last year.
Maybe it’s a little late to the party after all, as we pointed out, manga has been big for a while, consistently taking prime slots on the USA Today booklists and earning its own section in large chain bookstores like Barnes and Noble and Borders but to their credit, they don’t do a half-assed job of it, showing a comprehensive understanding of Japan, comics, and manga itself.
There’s a great article about manga culture in Japan, explaining the ubiquity of manga and how it feeds into other industries like film and television. But it’s the complimentary manga that we’re going to take a look at, since that’s our expertise here.
You have a choice of reading the manga in Flash, or downloading it directly from their site, but the latter is not recommended, because true-to-format, the manga reads from right-to-left, a fact that was not taken into account when the PDF was assembled. So you have to scroll to the bottom and work your way up, which makes the whole thing almost unreadable. The Flash application is marginally better, where you use your mouse to “turn the page,” but you have to literally drag the page over just like a real comic, which is pretentious and annoying (and sometimes buggy). If we wanted the feel of paper, we could have bought the actual issue of the magazine.
As for the comic itself, it’s actually pretty good. The writer shows a thorough understanding of the manga market in both Japan and the United States, even taking the time to interview various industry figures, giving the whole piece a credibility that even many major news outlets who report on manga lack. There’s also a good understanding of the American comic market, which means the piece avoids the usual finger-pointing and conceit that plagues articles written by insiders (usually fans) who think of the American market as “crappy superhero books.”
Maybe they need their own special online manga to explain American comics. Now wouldn’t that be the ultimate cultural exchange?