What's up with manga? A comics fan's deep dive
"Bakuman" is written by Tsugumi Ohba and drawn by Takeshi Obata.
March 29th, 2012
02:17 PM ET

What's up with manga? A comics fan's deep dive

Editor's note: Christian Sager is the creator of "Think of the Children" and "Border Crossings." He has also written essays about the comics industry, punk subculture and national identity.

Why do readers of American comics often ignore Japanese manga? Vice-versa, what is so different about American comics that turns off manga readers? The stories in both styles are told in the same medium but for some reason their audiences rarely overlap.

As a reader of American comics I can offer one possible answer: If I wanted to try something new like manga, I would have no idea where to begin. The manga shelves at the book store are intimidatingly packed. How can I know I’m starting with the right manga for me?

My CNN Geek Out! colleague Colette Bennett is a manga expert. I asked her to compare and contrast these two different comics styles in order to find the starting points where curious readers could jump into something outside of their comfort zone.

In preparation for this discussion, I dived in headfirst and read more than 1,000 pages of manga to get a better sense for its stylistic differences. Then, Bennett and I discussed production, pacing, storytelling diversity, themes, regulation of sex and violence, and the economic struggles of both industries. FULL POST

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Filed under: Comic Longbox • Otaku
Spider-Man makes an 'Ultimate' return to animation
A still from the upcoming "Ultimate Spider-Man" cartoon.
March 29th, 2012
12:28 PM ET

Spider-Man makes an 'Ultimate' return to animation

Editor's note: Erika D. Peterman is a Florida-based writer and editor, and the co-creator of the comics blog Girls-Gone-Geek.com.

He’s been Amazing, Spectacular and Unlimited, but the nerdiest hero in comics is going Ultimate for a return to cartoon form.

“Ultimate Spider-Man” premieres Sunday, April 1 (11 a.m. EST), leading Marvel’s new programming block on Disney XD. The lineup includes new animated shorts and the second season of “The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes,” as well as a real-life look at the art and science of superheroes.

It’s not just a Marvel thing. In March, DC Nation launched its own programming block on Cartoon Network. Along with the “Young Justice” and “Green Lantern” cartoons, there are lighthearted short films done in a variety of animation styles, including claymation.

With “The Amazing Spider-Man” live-action film coming to theaters this summer, Peter Parker is having a big year on screens large and small.

“Ultimate Spider-Man” takes its name from the long-running comic book series by writer Brian Michael Bendis, who has written every issue since it debuted in 2000 and serves as the series’ consulting producer/writer. Peter Parker, voiced by Drake Bell, even sports a hairdo similar to the one created by original comic book artist Mark Bagley. The comic currently goes by the name “Ultimate Comics Spider-Man,” in which a new character named Miles Morales has taken up the mantle following Peter Parker’s controversial death last year.

The character has had several cartoon incarnations over the past four decades, most recently in “The Spectacular Spider-Man” animated series that ran from 2008 to 2009. As in this summer’s feature film, Parker is in high school, but “Ultimate Spider-Man” doesn’t dwell on his origin story or his adjustment to becoming a superhero. FULL POST