The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has announced the winners of its seventh International Manga Award, a competition established in 2007 to encourage non-Japanese artists working in the manga style. In case you think the manga bubble has burst, consider that there were 256 entries from 53 countries this year, up from 245 entries for the 2013 contest.
The top winner was Bokbig, by Thai artist Prema Jatukanyaprateep, but the name that caught my eye is George Alexopoulos, who won the Silver Award for Paris. He’s been making comics and publishing them online since 2005, and his Go With Grace was one of the original Tokyopop OEL manga. You can read the first 28 pages of Paris on Alexopoulos’ website, and the whole book is available in print-on-demand format. It would be nice to be able to buy the whole book digitally, either via direct download or comiXology Submit. (Here’s an interview and some samples of his work, if you want to see more.)
Anyway, the list of winners is a good reminder that the manga market remains strong in Asia and Europe; the three top countries submitting entries were Thailand, Taiwan and Indonesia, and there were winners from Belgium and Spain as well.