Manga Madness:

Posted: Tuesday, June 22, 2004
By: Darren Schroeder

Cover of Manga Madness: Creator(s): David Okum
Publishers: Impact Books
From: USA
Price: $19.99(US)

Feel a yearning to draw your own Manga comics? This book promises to help guide through the process, from the basics of character design to page layout and common themes in Manga stories. This is a book firmly aimed at the beginner comic creator who is just starting out with drawing, and by the amount of detail on on characters types it also aims for readers fairly new to Manga. There are detailed explanations of many of the idiosyncrasies of Manga - the big eyes, those weird sound effects and even a guide to the hair colouring. It also gives the reader a brief history of the manga and discusses small press self publishing.

The ordering of things made sense, starting with drawing materials and working on the small details of character drawing, building these up to their use in comics. As with most introduction to drawing books to be read, Manga Madness has to fudge some of the details and assume the reader will fill in the blanks. Take for example drawing hands. It gives us a page of good examples and tells us to practice. The bits about breaking down objects into simple shapes is a sound one, hut perhaps the reader could have been walked through a few examples in more detail.

With each section on a particular character type (Dashing Hero, the kid, Magic Girl...) Okum gives us six drawings showing the stages in constructing the character, from basic outline to finished work. This gives the budding comic creator a good idea of the progression needed to get a good character, but I couldn't find any instructions on what the artist is supposed to get out of these examples - should I copy them? Are they just a visual resource to work off?

There is some discomfort in some circles about the prominence of manga art and how much attention youngsters pay them: They're not real comics! Well, drawing is drawing as far as I'm concerned so if a whole generation of kids take up the pencil and pen in the name of manga I'd be more then happy. It's empowering kids and perhaps some adults to give it a go themselves, building off their enthusiasm for the comics. I remember copying all those pages form Mad Magazine, and it didn't do me any harm. I do have some reservations about how closely David links in some of the stereotypes of manga stories to drawing, which might result in thousands of bland copies of cliched story-lines.

The extra information David adds in about Japanese culture is a positive, giving some context and depth to the manga comics for the readers - did you know May 5 is Children's day in Japan? It suggest that some hard though has gone into the production of the book above and beyond the mechanics of drawing. As you would expect the artwork on display is competent without being too complex - wouldn't want to scare the budding artists off with anything too hard for them to try. The production vales are high - glossy paper throughout with bright colours and crisp layouts. This is a valuable resource which should get a lot of use for the budding comic creator.

In a Word: Yuuyou.

If you have a comment or question about Small Press then feel free to contact me