Forgive me if this post is disjointed. It can be difficult for me to express in words something I feel personally strong about. Tonight I have thoughts on a certain issue, and if I wait and edit this entry over and over to make it sound pretty, I'll never get around to posting it at all. I'm just going to dive in.
One of my favorite webcomics posted an example page of the infinity of expressions available for portraying expressions
. The art is amazing and the mini-comics are hilarious, but her introduction really bothers me. Especially the picture of two of her characters with generic anime-style expressions on paper stapled over their faces like masks.
To be fair, she does shake her finger at an equal number of Western comic style facial conventions. Now that's out of the way, let's move on to what bothers me.
Manga-style art has generated so much resentment in artist circles outside of Asia, and to me it all boils down to three main reasons:
1. Manga is now popular with kids and teens, who usually can't draw ANYTHING very well. Due to that aforementioned popularity, it IS seen everywhere drawn rather badly. Viewers are jaded.
2. Manga styled character art is like any non-photorealistic style of character art: it uses lines to express features, body language, and emotion. The problem is that the style choses to emphasize and portray those things in an unfamiliar way. Manga's roots are Japanese, and Japan has a different set of body language and cultural behavior. Non-Japanese readers have to learn how to read manga-style art in more than just the right-to-left manner. (Sweatdrop, anyone?)
3. Manga almost always has to be created at a ridiculous rate. It is a highly competitive career field, and an artist has to crank out pages FAST. Drawing fast means cutting corners, means using expression shortcuts, means sacrificing certain areas of comics art seen usually as indispensable in a non-manga style, such as full color and super-detailed backgrounds.
I suppose there's also a #4: Some people just don't like how it looks. And that's fine. After all, I don't like how most American comic art looks. To each their own.
The artist of that expressions example page states drawing with those manga and comic conventions isn't a "style", and thus is isn't a good excuse for not learning how to draw properly. To this I say both YES and NO.
Any form of non-photorealistic caricature IS a style, a shorthand for expression emotion. But that shorthand is not an excuse to not learn how to realistically draw the human face and figure, I agree with the anti-manga-style-crowd on that. However, how an artist chooses to portray that knowledge is indeed their own choice.
artist's own style is very western-animation and comics influenced. Squash and stretch, extremely mobile faces, tons of detail. She has chosen to draw in this way. It works for her, she's comfortable with it, and it has earned her readers.
Now let me draw an important parallel. You know how manga-style art is popular these days? It works for those artists, they are comfortable with it, and it has earned them readers.
However an artist interprets their characters into drawn form, it all comes down to their personal skill, not how they chose to showcase that skill. Natsume's Book of Friends
is a very simply-drawn manga and pretty much Lackadaisy
's opposite in drawing style. Even with the stark lack of detail in Natsume
when I compare the two side-by-side, I see as wide a range of emotions and subtlety expressed in any Natsume
book as I do in any book of Lackadaisy
, and with a greater economy of line. This is due to one thing: the artist's skill.
There. Now I think I can go to sleep.