Robot 6

American comics through a Japanese lens

Superheroes, Japanese style

Superheroes, Japanese style

Jason Thompson has a column at Anime News Network called “House of 1000 Manga,” in which he rummages through what must be the world’s largest collection of interesting and offbeat manga and pulls out a few gems each week.

This week’s column looks at doujinshi, fan-made comics. Usually doujinshi are fan versions of popular manga, but apparently American comics are also fodder for doujinshi creators, and in an odd completion of the circle, several Western-based doujinshi were published in the 1990s by Antarctic Press. Justice featured Japanese riffs on American superhero comics, including Teen Titans, Iron Man and Batman, as well as critical essays by Japanese writers, whose take on American comics (and movies) is sometimes unique, sometimes straight-up fanboy. Star Trekker is just what you’d expect, a parody of the TV show with a mostly female crew steering the Constellation II through deep space. Apparently Antarctic released several issues of the comic as well as a graphic novel before Paramount, who owned the rights to Star Trek, noticed what they were doing and made them stop.

Thompson does a good job of dusting off these comics, putting them into context, and showing off the good bits, including selections from the essays. Mainly though, it’s just straight-up comics-fan fun.

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Comments

2 Comments

Interesting read. I was hoping they’d go into a little more detail about what the Japanese thought about American comics instead of just a few anecdotes though.

I’ve noticed that oftentimes, the Japanese interpretations of American S-heroes are more interesting than the versions we usually get. One example I think of is the Heroes of the H-Mansion, which’s been translated here:
http://www.daniel-lau.com/?tag=heroes-of-the-h-mansion

Another is the Chibi-fied drawings of various DC characters. Unfortunately, the address was on the old Scans-Daily site, and I can’t find it now. If somebody remembers who did those, feel free to share.

I’m amazed that there are Japanese people willing to take the trouble to decipher American comics. Considering the ease of reading Japanese comics, it can’t be easy. American comic fans may complain that Manga is too hard to read, but I’d argue that the opposite is true.

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