History of Manga, Index

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What follows here is based on a series of posts I wrote on my main Three Steps Over Japan blog.  My intent is to put everything into a slightly more logical order, but in summary form.  I'll include links to the specific posts where available if you want more detail regarding a given subject.  The images used here are for review purposes only.  All copyrights belong to their owners.  The text is copyright Curtis H. Hoffmann, 2010 (c) unless otherwise stated.  Do not copy or distribute without express permission of the author.  --  Curtis Hoffmann, (2010).

Introduction The start of our search
1000 to 1500 AD The rise of story telling scrolls
  Kamishibai  
1500 to 1600 AD The revitalization of han-ga
  E-maki  
  Hanga  
1600 to 1700 AD Ukiyo-e and the first newspapers
  E-maki  
  Hanga  
  Newspapers  
1700 to 1800 AD Printed books and the coining of "manga"
  E-maki  
  Ukiyo-e and Manga  
  Kusazoshi  
  Newspapers  
1800 to 1900 AD The growth of magazines and newspapers
  E-maki  
  Manga  
  Kusazoshi  
  Magazines  
  Newspapers  
  General Comments  
1900's "Manga" as caricature
  Kamishibai  
  Manga  
  Books  
  Magazines  
  Newspapers  
  General Comments  
1910's Shin-hanga and continued growth
  Kamishibai  
  Shin-hanga  
  Books  
  Magazines  
  Newspapers  
1920's Return of kamishibai, rise of shojo illustrators and U.S. cartoons enter Japanese newspapers
  Kamishibai  
  Books  
  Magazines  
  Newspapers  
1930's Norakuro, Kurumi-chan and the death of entertainment
  Kamishibai  
  Books  
  Magazines  
  Newspapers  
  General Comments  
1940's   Rebirth of entertainment, Tezuka arrives, Manga Shonen
  Kamishibai  
  Books  
  Magazines  
  Newspapers  
1950's Tokiwa-sou, rise of the weekly boy's magazines, "manga" as kid's comics
  Kamishibai  
  Books  
  Magazines  
  Newspapers  
  General Comments  
1960's Growth in weekly magazines, gekiga, Garo
  Magazines  

  
     

Introduction

I decided to start this series as a way to pull together all the information I'd gathered from various museum exhibits I'd visited, and galleries dedicated to individual artists.  A lot of the additional information I wanted wasn't available in English online, so I referenced the Japanese wikipedia entries where available, and other Japanese sites as needed.  The following pages are not going to be complete, but you'll at least get a slightly better understanding of manga this way (I hope.  Maybe.  Nah, probably not..  Who am I kidding?)

First, we have to ask the question, "what is manga?"  There's no one answer, and a lot depends on the time frame we ask about.  The word "manga" itself originated as an alternative form of woodblock prints to ukiyo-e in the late 1790's.  It then took on various meanings over time.  Generally, American fans want to hold to "Japanese comics for a Japanese audience", and really dislike having to use the word "comic" in the definition.  Japanese audiences usually mix "manga", "anime" and "comics" interchangeably.  And in the last few years, South Korean artists have been running their stories in the Japanese manga magazines, while some works have been commissioned specifically for release in the U.S.  So, it's really not just "Japanese comics for a Japanese audience" anymore.

Konnichiwa Sensei The Crater Black Humor Tensai Bakabon

There's no one "manga style" either.  If we compare Hideko Mizuno's "Konnichiwa Sensei" to Tezuka's "The Crater" and Fujio A Fujiko's "Black Humor" to Fujio Akatsuka's "Tensai Bakabon", we can see that there's little commonality between the art or the plotlines.  We can draw a distinction between yonkoma (4-panel gag strips) and serialized stories, and between stories or gags aimed at boys, girls, men and women, for the most part.  But because manga can be about anything - love, hate, golf, pachinko, business, cooking, getting a job, starting up a company, going to school, or even horror stories - there's no one blanket definition that we can rely on.

Instead, it may make more sense to go back through Japanese history, and see how it got us to where we are now.

Jomon pottery figure, from the wiki entry, used for review purposes only. Yayoi bronze mirror, from the wiki entry, used for review purposes only.


If we start at the beginning, we have tomb drawings, pottery and a variety of statues.  The Jomon era spans from 15,000 BCE to 500 BCE, and the art from this period largely includes pottery and clay figures.  Occasionally, historical, horror or SF manga will use representations of the Jomon figures in their stories.  Yayoi ran from 500 BCE to 300 AD, and introduced new pottery styles, and the start of rice paddy cultivation.  There's not a lot for me to work with here, so we'll fast-forward a bit.  Mainly, the period up to the 700's AD consists of technologies and art techniques that are imported from China and Korea, and then adapted to local use.

One such technology was woodblock printing (han-ga).  According to the wiki entry, this form of printing arrived from China in the 700's, and consisted of carving inverse text into the woodblock, applying ink and then pressing the block onto paper.  The first known case of Japanese woodblock printing was the commissioning of little pagodas to be distributed to the temples around Japan, with printed pieces of paper containing Buddhist texts on them, in 761.  By the 11th century, Buddhist temples in Japan were printing their own materials, which included Buddhist texts and images.

  

 

 

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