Comic Book Survey

November 24th, 2009 by | Tags: , ,

Heidi MacDonald has the details on a new survey for comics readers, masterminded by Megan Milliken. A bit of cut-n-paste:

I am a University of Chicago graduate student conducting research on comic book readership. I’m interested in demographic trends of comic book readers as well as the medium’s effect on readers’ consumption of other cultural goods and participation in civic activities. I’m motivated to do this research first and foremost because I am an avid comic book fan who has derived a great deal of pleasure and inspiration from both the content itself and the community. I’m interested in how comic books have impacted readers and hope to see what it is about a comic book that keeps a reader coming back month after month. That said I have two surveys (the first is for under 18 respondents, and the other is for respondents that are 18 and over) that I have assembled. It is intended for comic book readers as well as non-comic book readers as I would like to compare responses between these two groups (so please pass it along to the norms as well).

If you’re 18 and over, click here. If you’re not 18, learn to speak when spoken to and click this one. There’s nothing NSFW in the 18+ one– I took it and it had questions about salary and education. I assume the 18 and under one asks about toys or Justin Timberlake or whatever.

One major minor quibble: manga’s been around in the US since the ’80s, at this point. There have been several fairly high profile releases. One of the best comics out in the US this year is from Japan.

Can we stop pretending that manga is a genre? Over the past six months, I’ve bought 1800 pages of historical fiction manga (Vagabond), 600 pages of science fiction manga (20th Century Boys), and 400 pages of slice of life manga (Yotsuba&!). The only thing those books have in common is country of origin and format.

Manga = comics, I don’t know how to put it plainer than that. The differences between Japanese manga and American comics, at this point, are semantic at best.

Manga = comics. Treat it like that.

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8 comments to “Comic Book Survey”


    That’s really all I had to say

  2. Beat with me, the terms a little more limited in english.

    Mangas are all comics books for me but not “comics”. Being a native french speaker and living in Québec, there’s a lot of franco-belgian comics and mangas imported from France(France loving japanese culture). So I say comics for US comics, “bandes dessinées”(BDs) for franco-belgian comic books and manga for well, manga. I mostly read US comics myself. I see them as a different genre of comic books but not of literature, only of comic books.

    Each type of comic book is a different experience for me. I’ve tried reading franco-belgian but I really have difficulty in being kept interested, the art style and themes often do not interest me. The format, the themes, the art, the panels, it’s all different. I’m sorry but I see them all as a different genre.

    In the end anyway, they’re all graphic literature.

  3. @Olivier: My problem mainly stems from viewing manga as a genre, and then placing it alongside romance, historical fiction, science fiction, and other comics.

    I could see, and sometimes support (depending on which way the wind blows) looking at manga as a different medium than American comics, but looking at it as its own genre seems like a mistake.

    I’ve only read a few BD, with my favorite so far being Sky Doll out of Soleil. I would never list “Superheroes, romance, and French comics” as being genres. It seems more accurate to either include manga/BD by listing genres of their own (Romance (BD), Romance (Manga), Romance (US)) or eschew country of origin based classifications.

    At a basic level, American comics are to Japanese comics as American movies are to Japanese movies. Boiled down to their most basic component parts, they are the same. They’ve evolved in different and distinct ways in some areas, but sequential art is sequential art, you know? One’s just as good as the other.

  4. And not two minutes after I post, I come across this interview where Helen McCarthy says:

    Do you think it’s significant that we still call manga “manga” rather than just comics?

    I think it’s only important semantically to people like me who are interested in history. I don’t think it’s a stylistic description because there are too many different styles of comics embraced in the word manga. I find it very annoying when people say “I’m doing manga but it’s English.” We have a perfectly good word for comics in English, which is “comics,” and I don’t see why anyone should be ashamed of the terms in their own language that describe what they’re doing.

    I can kind of understand where it comes from though, in that I think an awful lot of young people, particularly women, have felt that for a long time Western comics in the American mold haven’t really described their experience or talked to them. They want to consciously reject comics; therefore they say “I’m doing manga”.

    Interesting stuff.

  5. In the Uk we have loads of comic shops selling primarily US imports and you can get a limited number of UK titles (Like 2000AD and er… Viz?)and some monthly US reprint anthologies at the newsagents. I always find it strange that the comic shops don’t really champion British books or have any European translations to speak of. I guess we have Heavy Metal (Metal Hurlant), but that really does just seem to be naked barbarianesses riding hover bikes! The only times I see European books are when they’ve been translated and imported from the states.

    Incidently if anyone is in London and speaks french, they’ve got loads of french comic albums in Oxfam in Crouch End.

  6. Loads of Manga from Tokyo Pop in most big bookstores too. I never see anyone buying/reading them though.

  7. “Can we stop pretending that manga is a genre? ”


    on a forum I was on I once stumbled upon a nearly 100 page thread debating if SAO was even a comic since it was korean. people overthink too much.

  8. American comics are chocolate ice cream, mangas are vanilla ice cream. Both are ice cream, but they have different flavors. Incidentally, bandes dessinees can be strawberry, because food metaphors are like Neapolitan ice cream: they make me hungry.