Though I haven’t read many graphic novels, I have always been drawn to manga. I think the art was what I found most notable; large eyes and defined facial outlines were the subject of several doodles as a ten year old. I realize we’ve moved past Akira and manga in general, but it stimulated some very interesting discussions, and I couldn’t help but compare the style and production of American graphic novels to manga.
I’d like to point out the obvious artistic differences. Manga is known for expressive, round-eyed characters. I learned that this style was influenced by Osamu Tezuka, who is known as the Japanese equivalent of Walt Disney. Tezuka’s wide-eyed style became one of the main characteristics of anime/manga because of how easily emotion is expressed. American comics are often drawn a bit more realistically, with exaggerated builds.
Another interesting detail I found is that the creator, artist, and writer of a manga are often the same person. If they decide to stop producing work, it cannot be continued by someone else. This is a stark contrast to American comics; many well-known series are produced by more than one person. The name of the comic is often sold, so the team of writers or artists can change.
I think the comparison (and possibly competition?) between American and Japanese graphic novels is an interesting topic. Though both use sequential images to tell a story, I’ve noticed their differences are much easier to come by than their similarities.