I took my first real foray into manga in 2007. Before that, I'd read the First Comics highly Americanized versions of Lone Wolf and Cub and seen a handful of (again, largely Americanized) anime movies and shows, but that was pretty much it. Several years on now and I still know far, far less about manga than I'd like. More than I did back in 2007, certainly, but I still have a lot to learn.
I've also been trying to get more knowledgeable about European comics. I'd read a number of them as a teenager, but generally without the knowledge that they were in fact created on the other side of an ocean. Still lots to learn.
Same with Canadian comics. And Australian ones. And Indian ones. And...
One of the reasons I first looked at those Lone Wolf issues back in the day was because the covers were by Frank Miller. (Bear in mind that this was 1987, shortly after his Dark Knight Returns blew everyone's socks off.) I recall reading somewhere that Miller was happy to do the covers because he had seen some of those stories before and they were very influential on his Daredevil run.
And I think that's an interesting notion. That Miller's work on Daredevil and Dark Knight looked revolutionary to American audiences because it had a Japanese influence that most people in the States hadn't seen in any capacity. When you distill that idea down even further, that's basically what creativity is: putting together two or more ideas that no one has before. Miller took elements of Japanese manga and merged them into an American superhero story.
I don't say that to diminish Miller's achievements on those works. He understood the power of Goseki Kojima's art style/storytelling, and figured out how to adapt some of those elements to what was essentially the Jack Kirby method of storytelling. Not an easy task, certainly a creative one, and Miller was able to execute on that very well.
And that's why I try to see what's going on (and has gone on) in comics beyond those created in the U.S. You never know when/where something really cool and useful will come up, or in what capacity. Different cultures approach problems (like storytelling) in different ways, and they could well have ideas and methods unique to their culture. And those might be perfectly valid and usable in my own work. Even though I don't actually write comics themselves.
The more you know, the more you're able to make those connections no one else is making.
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