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MANGA: Sixty Years Of Japanese Comics

A Review By: Fabrice Piault

The following review by Fabrice Piault appeared in Livres Hebdo on October 6 2005.

Manga for idiots:
The highly illustrated and instructive panorama of Japanese comics written by Paul Gravett, one of the best British specialists, hits the mark amid the genre’s massive explosion.
Manga, what’s that? Translated into French only a year after its appearance in Britain, this beautiful book by Paul Gravett should prevent fans of Franco-Belgian comics, as well as publishers, booksellers and librarians disoriented by the irruption in France of Japanese comics on a huge scale, for coming across as idiots about them in the future. Numerous magazines have already devoted special features on manga. Manga: Sixty Years of Japanese Comics is neither the first nor the last book dedicated to a genre which makes up the prime force expanding this sector today. But this highly illustrated panorama, written by a British journalist and historian recognised as one of the best specialists on comics, stands out for its instructive qualities.

Paul Gravett places manga within Japanese pictorial traditions as well as in relation to Western comics, analysing their techniques and underlining their importance in contemporary publishing and daily life in Japan. Above all, after having shown the key role immediately after the Second World War of the founding father of manga, Osamu Tezuka, often called ‘the Japanese Hergé’, he presents the creative waves, publishing trends, and different categories of authors, famous or underground, supported by their artwork.

Sometimes the manga pages are presented in their initial versions in Japanese. Often they are translated but… in English, as the publisher unfortunately has not replaced the English versions of the original editions with their existing French versions, mostly from Glénat, Tonkam, Vertige Graphic, Kana, Asuka, Pika, J’ai lu, Casterman/Sakka, Delcourt, Soleil and even Albin Michel, among others. At least these translations are mentioned in the captions. Perhaps they will do more in a future edition?

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1001 Comics  You Must Read Before You Die edited by Paul Gravett

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