Collaboration seven: Making a comic book
- 6 August 2012
- From the section Magazine
How do comics reflect the countries they were created in? As a series featuring collaborating artists from around the world concludes, a global look at comic styles offers a glimpse into national cultures.
The cult of comic has many followers. Some love the characters, some are in awe of the artwork. For many is it the simple skill of telling a story through pictures.
While the simplicity and soul of the comic is universal, the pages can vary according to the countries they were created in.
"There are different styles and themes," says Tim Pilcher, author of The Essential Guide to World Comics and the chairman of the Comic Book Alliance.
"These approaches can make the comics very different."
While the comic industries in Japan, Europe and the US are well established, in the Middle East it took more time.
The first comic book superheroes were created in 2005. Aya, Zein, Jalila and Rakan from Middle Eastern Heroes have dark pasts that have transformed them into superheroes. Landmarks such as the Sphinx appear in the background, reinforcing the setting and the relevance to its readers.
India's comic book history goes back much further. Amar Chitra Katha is a comic book based on stories from Indian classics. Sprawling epics are condensed into comic strip form.
Cartoonist Pran Kumar's Chacha Chaudhary, is another Indian favourite. Chacha the wise old man uses his intelligence to outwit his enemies and story lines include cricket matches and chapatti eating.
"I wanted to created something that is Indian, that covers themes that are important and relevant to India," says Kumar. "I started making comics in the 1960s but everyone was reading Western ones, I thought why not create an indigenous comic, based on local themes."
In Japan, comics, or Manga, are read by children and adults alike. Subject matter varies wildly, from adventure stories to romance and the X-rated. The industry is fast and disposable. Artists can turn out 20 to 30 pages a week resulting in phonebook size booklets, devoured and then discarded.
"Because they are so long, you can get things like a bead of sweat on someone's forehead moving downwards over three pages," adds Pilcher. "There is a character called Gon, who is a tiny dinosaur, it has these amazingly detailed and beautiful landscapes. People love it."
Here is a brief rundown of seven countries and their comics.