Long time Batman scribe and the co-creator of Bane Chuck Dixon recently explained why Japanese manga is wiping the floor with American comics.
Dixon recently uploaded his 65th episode of Ask Chuck Dixon to his YouTube channel where Ricardo Garcia asked him, “What is your theory/thoughts on why Manga is wiping the floor with American comics?”
Dixon answered, “It’s not too hard to figure out, really. There’s a lot of dedication, passion, and craft in manga comics. And that’s missing, almost entirely, from the Big Two.”
He elaborated, “Marvel and DC still run the store here. They still are the market leaders. And unfortunately, there is no variety there. There’s nothing really different. There’s not something for everybody the way there is in manga.”
Dixon then touted the artwork in manga, “It’s not hard to see. The artwork is attractive. It’s different. It’s engaging. It’s interesting. It’s varied. So there’s a lot of reasons to like manga.”
“And not a whole lot of reasons to like what’s out now. Because what’s out now, for the Big Two, is, for the most part, poorly crafted. There’s a few exceptions, but for the most part, it’s poorly crafted, poorly conceived, there’s an obvious political agenda to everything, and there’s no variety.”
Dixon then expanded on the variety Japanese manga has, “In Japanese manga there’s golf comics. There’s not one comic about golf. There’s multiple comics about golf.”
He continued, “And I’ve made reference on these videos to one of my favorite mangas is about fishing. It’s just about fishing. It’s not about vampires fishing on another planet or witches fishing or fishing after a zombie apocalypse. This is about guys fishing. Surf casting and whatever. Fishing from boats, fishing on the shore, fishing from the banks of rivers, and the stories are fascinating, and beautifully drawn, and beautifully realized.”
He then contrasted that with American comics, “But here, what do we get? We get superheroes and poorly done superheroes. There really isn’t anything else at the mainstream companies. It’s superheroes, superheroes, superheroes. And they are all avatars for the writers’ political agenda. And they’re kind of tiresome. They’re not particularly well drawn. They’re not particularly well-realized.”
Dixon then questioned, “Why would you want to read this crap if you had a choice of reading a genre that you prefer be it horror, or mystery, or espionage, or golf? When there’s only one flavor in American comics, of course Japanese comics are going to win the day.”
He went on, “The biggest problem here is that all I see American comic book creators, the people in the mainstream do, is complain about manga. Well, why don’t you learn from manga. Why don’t you look at what manga is doing and do that?”
Dixon then offered a solution for American comics to compete, “And I don’t mean draw people with huge eyes and lots of speed lines. I mean do more varied stories. Do more complex stories. Put more effort into the artwork. Put more effort into the craft. Change the format, for god’s sakes. Stop doing the little folio comics and look at what manga does. These big fat telephone books. Comics released weekly. Things like that. Just change the formula. Look what manga is doing. Why is manga successful? Try to copy that.”
However, he hedged, “Of course if they tried to copy it, just like they did in the 90s here in the United States, they just get it all wrong. They don’t know what they are doing. And they have no interest. They’re just going to complain about it. As if that’s going to get them anymore readers.”
Dixon then lamented, “So it’s sad. It’s a sad state of affairs. But everybody saw it coming. It had to happen. There has to be winners and losers. As the American comic book sales fall something has to replace it and manga is right there. It’s popular. I know my kids know kids who read manga. They don’t know anybody who reads American comics.
“And the kids that my kids know who read manga are just casual readers. They’re not fans. They’re not geeks. They’re not going to conventions. They just like reading manga. They like reading it on their phone. They like reading it in books. And there you go. I don’t see the mainstream, the Big Two, ever catching up. Although there are alternatives,” he concluded.
What do you make of Dixon’s explanation? Did he hit the nail on the head?