Anyway, the post concerns Thomas Nast, a political cartoonist, and the creation of comics for a mostly illiterate adult audience. When comics came into their own as a mass medium in the early 20th century, illiteracy remained high, so newspapers relied on political cartoons to communicate their primary talking points.
Political cartoons require skill at distillation. The artist takes a complex point and reduces it to a few visual cues. This, indeed, is the problem with political cartoons, as complex points suffer when simplified. Complex problems aren’t that simple. But I digress.
American comics quickly became focused on the mass market: kids, teens, and adults were all served by such fare as Krazy Kat, Flash Gordon and Blondie. Japan followed a similar trend, with shounen for boys and comedies like
But each industry’s distribution changed, and this changed their style. Besides newspapers, American comics were published in short comic books, while manga was collected into akahon–cheap, thick magazines, essentially. American kids would buy a 15-page comic for 25 cents, while Japanese kids would pay far less for a book that included several manga stories (as well as short fiction and other appealing materials).
Because each akahon contained so much content to be read at once, the format prioritized quick reading. Pages were laid out for extremely rapid comprehension. The
So, manga exists somewhere in the middle of the spectrum between talkier American comics and the extreme distillation of political cartoons. This is one of the medium’s best traits.