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Manga – Comics Made In Japan.

The word ‘manga’ (漫画, マンガ)  was invented in 1814 by a famous artist Hokusai (self-portret below).

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He used two Chinese hieroglyphs – “man” (“sloppy”) and “go” (“Image”) to describe his funny drawings – meaning grotesque, strange or funny pictures. However, Manga-like sketches existed in Japan thousand years before Hokusai. According to Will Eisner, the first medieval Japanese scrolls can be considered to be the first mango samples, in which the pictures were interspersed with the text. Early rolls (such as the rollout of the 12th century in the 1st picture or the rollout of the 13th century in the next picture below) were only meant for the elite, and only later have they gone to the masses.

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In the late 18th century throbbing consumer culture of the middle class urban population produced the manga-like entertainment that was more mainstream. Printed on wooden tablets stories with narration, dialogue and images quickly erased the line between text and pictures. Just like the manga, they were portraying humor, drama, fantasy and even pornography. Due to the fact that in the late 19th century Japan was aggressively invaded by Western culture and technology, ‘Manga’ appeared as a hybrid of Japanese and Western satirical publications. And in the first half of the 20th century, Japanese and American comics were approximately similar in style and popularity till the Japanese had flourished wildly, crowding out the U.S.’s ‘Mango’.

Anime – from animation.

There’s one particular artist – Osamu Tezuka (https://www.facebook.com/fanpage.tezuka) – who is responsible for all the modern manga industry, and even considered to be “God of Manga’. The most famous Tezuka’s creation ‘Mighty Atom’, is well known around the world, and even has an animated version titles “Astro-Boy’ or ‘Star-Boy’, which was running in USA in 1960 («Star Boy”). In his autobiography, Tezuka said, than his manga is different from the work of predecessors:

“Most of the manga was drawn in two-dimensional projection, as a play on stage. Cast out on the left and right, and play in the center. I realized that there is no way to make a psychological impression in this way, and I was trying to incorporate “cinematic” tricks of the German and French films my student years. I juggled with the close-ups and different angles of view and tried to use a lot of pictures or even a few pages to catch the true dynamics of the movements and facial expressions that were previously limited to a single panel (“Panel” – a picture in the comic – shareable.) My Work eventually began to exceed 1,000 pages. The potential of the manga – it’s more than just humor, using themes of tears, sorrow, anger and hatred, I was creating stories that do not always have a happy ending … ”

After creating a four-panel manga for newspapers, Tezuka had made his debut in 1947 with the comic book ‘New Treasure Island’ («New Treasure Island”), the history that was published as akanon («red book” – picture below), a cheap comic book, named so because of gaudily-bright red ink on the cover. Akahon was a small niche of modest entertainment for children, who lived a difficult life of poverty in postwar Japan.

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“New Treasure Island” had abruptly turned all the manga upside down when it sold 400,000 copies. Tezuka moved to squalid apartment building in Tokyo just to be closer to the publishers, and quickly produced several aspiring manga artists, some of whom had even moved into the same house. Innovations of Tezuka’s manga had transformed the entire market: the children could not stop reading his manga even when they went to high school, and then to College.

Manga is Not a Fruit. Enter ‘Social Kingdom’ Now! – Comics Sketches Competition

Are you comics artist dreaming of your picture making history of Manga? This day has come.

Back in May,  Japan has launched online contest “Social Kingdom” for mass drawing of manga based on the series of Hara Yasuhisa “Kingdom” (http://www.tenmanga.com/book/KINGDOM.html)  . The project is devoted to the future adaptation of the popular historical manga, consisting of 26 volumes. Anybody registered with Twitter or Facebook can take a part in the drawing. Winners will be awarded prizes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hff24zBWKws

All 1153 pages of manga are displayed at the project’s site. The available pages, for which no one had started drawing yet, have only text with no images on them. Anybody who wants to participate, can choose any empty page and reserve it for 24 hours, in which period the drawing has to be made and picture uploaded. Participants are free to choose whether to paint on paper or using graphics editors, in color or black and white.

This Manga is a story of two boys living in an era of 500 year of war. Despite the fact that both of them are slaves, they seek to fulfill their dream of becoming “World’s Greatest Generals”.( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingdom_(manga) )

Famous Japanese mangaka artists such as Takehiki Inoue (Vagabond) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Takehiko_Inoue) and Hirohiki Araki (JoJo’s Bizarree Adventure) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hirohiko_Arakiare ) are among other well known artists, who also taking part in this project, making their own illustrations.

Participants and spectators of the contest can vote for their favorite pictures, Most popular authors of the works will receive a specially made prize – “Tankobon” (a book of manga).

The winner of the first price will receive a magnified image of his drawings in a frame with  the manga author Yasuhisa Hara’s signature, as well as a bag of rice from his home prefecture of Saga.

To vote for the participants, as well as to monitor possible rating on this page, access by selecting the middle button on the bottom row.

Take part in the competition on the official site – http://socialkingdom.jp/

Hurry up! The contest will only run until August 1st,  2012.

Russian Billionaire Prokhorov is Cooking a New Russian Electro Mobile

Vladimir Putin (on the left), Mikhail Prokhorov (on the right)

Russian self-made billionaire and once an officially registered presidential candidate, 46-year-old, 6’7” bachelor Mikhail Prokhorov, also well known as the owner of the NBA Team – New Jersey Nets, has a new exciting project he and his company ONEXIM working on – it’s a so-called ‘City Car’ – the official brand name is ёМобиль (Yo-Mobile) – Electro-Mobile based on Russian Technology, and made almost solely from Russian components.

Yo-Mobile at Auto Show in Saint Petersburg, Russia

Technical solutions, which formed the basis of the car, helped to create a common platform for all models, which can be easily applied to cars for various purposes. Versatile platform allows implementing any design up to the totally futuristic looking vehicles. Like this one below that most likely will never be mass-produced.

In the first stage it was decided to stick to more conventional car design. So, the first “Prokhorov’s” or “Misha’s Car” (those are a couple of nicknames this hybrid car has been called unofficially) will be the urban compact van and a small crossover for youth, for which the company invented a new class of vehicle “Cross-Coupe.”

Although both cars have the same platform and headlights, the rest of the design for these two vehicles is completely different and they are not identified as members of the same brand.

Although the car’s design does not look too original, and has no “own” distinctive features, it might be just the right move for the mass production targeting Russian – extremely conservative – buyers. Any car that is pushing it a bid beyond of the usual and accepted forms maybe doomed to failure.  I personally have very conflicting feelings abut cars being painted in brown, green or blue mixed with beige, but hey, I could be just color blind.

Italian Pininfarina B0

Incidentally, a year ago, similar in technology, design and dimensions to Yo-Mobile’s platform electric car was produced by Italian Studio Pininfarina B0. We have the opportunity to compare the Russian and Italian designs.

ONEXIM promises to begin mass production of its vehicles in 2012. There are 158,000 orders have been placed through official web-site so far. ( http: //www.yo-auto.ru/yo-mobile/pre-order/ )

Would you consider joining the waiting list?

Comics Getting Comfy In The Digital World

It’s not unusual at all – in fact, it’s regular scenery nowadays to see subway riders reading eBooks on their Kindles, playing computer games or watching videos on iPads or Laptops. Of course, there some of us who still prefer paper books and newspapers (I am one of them). But I was truly surprised the other day when I took a glance at one of my fellow subway riders’ iPad screen – the guy was looking through comics. For whatever reason, it struck me as rather odd combination – iPad and Comics coexisted in the same space (literally)– almost as if the Past and the Future came together… you know, for some kind of Time Machine Expo…

Guess what? Comics drawings can be traced as far back as to ancient times. Paintings found in ancient tombs 3400 years ago depict scenes of harvesting and processing grain. Also, scientists had found similar old drawings executed with Japanese ink.

First comic strips were found in Europe, and were describing the Norman conquest of England in the 1066. Pictures and texts had already merged.

Since the beginning of the 12th century, Japanese monks were drawing pictures on the roll of paper. At the beginning of the 19th-century, the notebooks with funny popular stories had been widely disseminated. 
Religious history has also been often reflected in the drawings made on the cathedrals stained glass.

Rodolphe Topffer, along with McCloud, called the father of modern comics in the mid-19th century was the first to use the method of concluding drawing in a frame and combining images with text. 
 During the same period in Japan, magazines with caricatures had became very popular. Rakuten Kitazava and Ippei Okamoto became the first known Japanese artists who have created the whole series of short comics.

By Rakuten Kitazava

By Ippei Okamoto

Thanks to Japan, comics started to get printed in U.S. newspapers. In Europe, the comics have evolved into the form of booklets, where the story plot started to get extended from one booklet to the next. The idea of ‘to be continued’ kept fans hooked.

Comics have always been a subject of worship for many youngsters and adults. More than one generation of teenagers grew up on graphic novels about Superman, Batman, Hulk, Iron Man. It’s kind of hard to explain the phenomena behind the magic powers of superheroes that captivated minds of so many fans.

Words ‘To Be Continued’ keep us hooked.

Some American cartoon characters were created by illustrators from 1938 to 1956, – in the “golden age of comics.” But there are some older characters that appeared in the early twentieth century. Interestingly enough, it’s not illustrators, but writers of  ’pulp fiction’ – a genre popular in the 20s – put the beginning to what in the mid. 30s  grew into comics.

Thanks to new technologies, new cheap wood materials became available in the 1920s, which reduced the price of paper and, consequently, the production of books and magazines. Which, in turn, enabled American popular literature – periodicals in particular – to flourish like never before. Young writers started to earn a living by writing short fantasy stories that were published in cheap literary magazines – this is how the first superheroes came to light. American readers warmed up to the heroes of comics during the Great Depression.

Later, in the nineteen-thirties, the stories were illustrated with pictures that soon replaced the text. Thus, the heroes of pulp fiction have migrated from the printed pages into the drawings.

Today, when we live in the Information Age – the Era of the Internet, 3D and 4D movies, Computer Games, iPods, iPhones and iPads, one might think that such simple form of entertainment as comics would just go extinct… Well, not so fast! Obviously, not only the art of comics had not disappeared, it have managed to integrate itself into the contemporary world with its modern technology! That truly amazes me: why would one choose to look at the still pictures and sketches while there more advanced forms of entertainment available with all these fancy graphics and games? I don’t have an explanation. Do you?


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