Saturday, September 1, 2007

If Manga is Comics, Than Is Alan Moore Still the Best Writer?

Okay, there's manga fans and American comic fans who would have you, YOU!!! believe that they are two completely different forms of entertainment. One's from Japan and other parts of Asia and ones from America. Well, actually, Western Hemisphere and Europe. Both have different influences and both are read differently(left to right vs. right to left) but these differences mean nothing. Because both are sequential artwork, graphic literature, or just pretty pictures with words to tell a story. In short, they're both comic books. They are until someone can give me a better reason then the fact manga is from Japan, or they're is a different art style(come on, what the the hell does that have to do with anything? Last I checked Bryan Hitch draws differently then JH Williams) or read right-to-left.

I bring this up because for years now comic book fans have bene told Alan Moore is the best comic book writer ever! Well, seeing as Manga is comics, I have to say this and I know a bunch of you people are going to be pissed off...

Alan Moore being the best writer is very debatable in this day and age. In short, no, he is not the best writer in comics.

Think about it, when Moore did V for Vendetta, Watchmen, etc. manga was lucky to even be published in this country. Was it even? Let's be honest, the critics who have proclaimed him the greatest and his many fans probably didn't, and may still not, read manga. So how do you compare a man who probably is one of the best English speaking comic writers to hundreds if not thousands of creators in a country where sequential art is more a part of everyday life? You can't. I do not accept that Alan Moore is a better writer than, I don't know, Kazuo Koike. I mean, that man did write Lone Wolf & Cub one of the most popular manga in the world and huge in Japan. Amongst other properties like Crying Freeman. Now, I never read anything by Kazuo so I can't say he's a better writer but I'm sure if you polled Japan, and let's be honest a lot of Japanese people read manga, who would you would win?

To be the best writer your influence has to transcend boundaries. Now, most manga creators are cartoonists so maybe it's unfair to compare Moore to a lot of manga creators, but since they all work in a form graphic literature I think you can take a cartoonists work from the story telling standpoint and compare it to Moore. Honestly, I don't read much manga, but if the anime adaptations I've seen of manga is any indication, there are lots of good writers in the mix. The ability to mix and match genres. Pacing, characterizations, story development, etc. Now, Moore can be better than all these creators as far as writing goes and I'm sure DC has translated several of his works oversea but I have this serious doubt that he's heralded there as he is over here.

So who gives him competition? I'm sure long time manga readers, historians, or people who work in the craft would sight Osamu Tezuka. The godfather of manga invented the style and crafted dozens of titles that made manga an important part of Japanese culture and influenced everyone after him. Now, with mangas boom outside Japan, his influence reaches farther than any comic creator, possibly ever. Not only in manga but animation as well.

Now, I'm just saying, as a writer maybe Moore is the best but I think that it's a different period now then it was when he started being called that so we should start comparing his works to the works of the great Japanese creators. Right now the best selling graphic literature is manga. An art form that has been around for centuries(yes, manga apparently dates back to the 1700s. In a very early form). So I think this is a debate that should be made. Whose the best in japan? Are they better than Alan Moore?

This random thought that was not well thought out and at all intellectual was brought to you by me, Carl Towns, who provably has read more Alan Moore comics than any manga artist. I just wait for the anime and movie adaptations myself.


David Bird said...

When I read, 'To be the best writer your influence has to transcend boundaries.' I thought, what about Frank Miller? He isn't my first choice, but I know he has been a great influence in America and Japan.

Posting from Manila, BTW. I bought an hour to checkmy bank acct, etc and I am spending the rest of the time checking out the usual places.

addison said...

Haha weird. I'd have assumed David would have not posted anything until he got back home.

Onto your entry. As a person who grew up in Asia but outside of Japan, you're probably underestimating Alan Moore. Frank Miller may be the more recognizable name but that's because of Hollywood.

Purely as a writer, Moore reigns supreme in comics. Followed by Gaiman in terms of popularity. You can ask Gaiman himself when you see him in a convention on how surprised he was at how well known they are here.

The comparisons to full blown cartoonists is faulty logic, simply for the fact that even here, we simply dont perceive them in the same light.

Most of your points had been faulty assumptions, not even supported by minimal research. Well at least that's how it looks like from this manga fan of 18 years and American comics fan of 23 years and BD fan of 12 years, that also lives in Asia.

addison said...

Haha I'm a Grant Morrison guy myself.