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Q. My great nephew is approaching his 14th birthday, and when I asked him about his hobbies and interests, he said, “Manga, anime, graphic novels, comic books – things like that.” What are these things?!

Don’t worry — A. we can help. There are several resources in the library to help you understand these forms of literature and entertainment (see list, below). However, I will start with some background information.

Graphic Novels. This is a general term for comics and manga — they are all books with stories told through pictures (graphics) and limited text. Most are in physical paper form, but many have been digitized and can be found online in a collection such as the library’s Overdrive/Libby collection. We currently have 613 graphic novels on Overdrive/Libby.

Comic they differ from graphic novels to a small degree. Usually, the binding is thicker and the books are longer. Ultimately, though, a graphic novel is just a fancy way of saying a comic book.

Manga it’s a kind of graphic novel. It is a term for a wide variety of graphic novels originally created and published in Japan. Unlike American comics, which are usually printed in color, Japanese manga are almost always published in black and white. Color prints are often only used for special editions. Japanese manga are read from right to left and back to front, instead of left to right, which is the norm for English-language versions. The narrative is contained within frames called comas. So to read a manga page, you start with the koma in the upper right corner and end with the koma in the lower left corner. This may take some getting used to if you’ve only read English versions, but you’ll hardly notice it once you’ve practiced enough. (Pagan) Even if a manga has text, there are many more clues and symbols to help you follow the story. Manpu refers to manga symbols. They are often used to express movement or emotion, with stock symbols used to convey emotions such as sadness or anger, embarrassment or tiredness. When these stock representations become instantly recognizable to regular manga readers, it means that overly verbose text becomes redundant. (Osmond)

What is anime? Anime is the Japanese word for “animation” and anime refers to all animation originating in Japan. The word anime is pronounced “ah-nee-may.” It is a shortened version of the phrase animēshon, meaning animation, and is an accurate description of the art form. (Stark) Instead of books, anime uses film/video as a medium. But is it a cartoon? No it’s not really. The answer is complicated. Usually, anime focuses on life issues involving human emotions and most anime series have sexual and violent themes. Character expressions are exaggerated and the purpose of most anime, unlike cartoons, is not to make people laugh. Anime is an art form very different from cartoon art. Anime, just because it’s cartoon, isn’t always for kids.

The library has thousands of graphic novels (including manga) in three collections for different age groups — youth, young adult, and adult. For more specific information about manga and anime — see these items below.

• “You can do a graphic novel” by Slate, Barbara.

• “The art of the book: from the medieval manuscript to the graphic novel”

• “JR: can art change the world?” From JR

• “The anime companion: what’s Japanese in Japanese animation?” (1999) By Poitras, Gilles.

• “Art of animation: from pencil to pixel, the history of animation, anime and CGI”

• “A geek in Japan: [discovering the land of manga, anime, Zen, and the tea ceremony]” (2010) By García, Héctor

• “The Guide to Animated Films” by Beck, Jerry.

• “Anime: concept in reality” [DVD]

If you need help finding something in the library catalog, just ask. Call us at 512-393-8200 or come and talk to the librarian at the information desk.

• Osmond, A. (2019, July 23). How to read manga. SOAS Blog. Retrieved 17 July from study.soas.ac.uk/how-to-read-manga/#:~:text=Traditionally%2C%20 manga%20stories%20 are%20read,the%20 bottom%20 left% 2Dhand% 20 angle.

• Pagan, A. (2018, December 27). “A Beginner’s Guide to Manga.” New York Public Library. Retrieved July 17, from nypl.org/blog/2018/12/27/beginners-guide-manga

• Stark, N. (2021, August 4). “Common differences between anime and animation.” ezinearticles.com/. Retrieved July 17, from ezinearticles.com/?Common-Differences-Between-Anime-And-Cartoons&id=10494624

Suzanne Sanders is the library columnist. She is the Community Services Manager for the St. Mark’s Public Library and came from the Austin Public Library in 2015 after serving as a librarian there for more than 20 years. He gratefully accepts your questions for this column.

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