In 2005, when manga was the Next Big Thing, a lot of things got called manga that weren’t. But those days are long gone, so it was surprising when this popped up: The Official Firefall Manga, a comics tie-in to the online multiplayer FPS game. The comic looks decent enough, but why call it manga?
It doesn’t appear to be Japanese — the comic is by sci-fi novelist Orson Scott Card and his daughter Emily Janice Card and produced by the Canadian publisher Udon. No artist is credited, but this whole thing looks mighty North American to me.
Nor is the comic in “manga style” — OK, OK, we all know there is no single manga style, but non-Japanese comics that are labeled “manga” usually do hew to a certain set of conventions that includes big eyes, speed lines and sweatdrops. That’s not how this comic is drawn, and furthermore, it’s in color, which manga seldom is. Admittedly, there is one manga flourish in the page above: The three panels on the right that call out little details of the scene. But that isn’t uniquely Japanese; I have seen it in plenty of other comics.
So it’s hard to see what the marketing advantage was to calling this thing manga. The natural audience is people who play the game, or who play similar games, and for them, the draw is going to be the game tie-in, not the word “manga.” It’s a nice little comic but it probably won’t make much sense to anyone else. And anyone who finds it on a Google search for “manga” is going to be sorely disappointed. Just call it what it is — a comic.