‘ZEIT online’ article

October 18, 2006

The following is the translation of an article from ‘ZEIT online’.  Click for accompanying image.

No infringement is intended.

06/16/2006 – German Manga Girls Conquer the Comic Market

The stories are called “Mon-Star Attack”, “Losing Neverland”, or “Orcus Star”, and are about the joys of living and loving- but also about serious topics like child prostitution: “Manga made in German” is the current trend in the comic market.

It’s especially artists like Anike Hage, Judith Park, and DuO, who are able to compete with the leading Japanese artists in the field.  At the 12th International Comic-Salon in Erlangen, they have their own show.

According to estimations, around 75-80% of the German language comic market consists of Japanese graphic novels.  Readers are mainly between 8 and 25.  “What is remarkable is that manga manages to spark an interest in comics in girls and women,” says the comic agent and field specialist Christina Walz.

After all, some of the female readers become artists themselves.  “The German female manga-artists are on the rise,” says Michael Groenewald of Carlsen Comics, one of the main publishers in the field.  A few German manga, like those by Anike Hage or Christina Plaka, are by now so successful that they’re also being published in other countries.

But German artists are also gaining in the “classic” comics field.  “After a long break, there’s finally a thriving German scene again- they’ve found their own visual language,” says Groenewald. “The potential is enormous,” field specialist Christina Walz confirms.  For a long time, the publishers mainly focused on licensing products from abroad.  They’ve started rethinking all of that.  Lately, several small publishing houses have been founded to provide opportunities for German artists.  Field-giants like Carlsen and Ehapa (EMA) recognize the trend as well.  An example is the novel series “The Chronical of the Undead”, written by the successful fantasy author Wolfgang Hohlbein, and which is now being adapted into a comic by the artist Thomas von Kummant.

The Erlangen Comic-Salon, with 300 artists and an expected 25,000 visitors, is the most important convention for the field in the German language area (Germany, Austria & Switzerland).  It impressively shows that comics are far more than just “Asterix” and “Mickey Mouse”, and doesn’t have to be comical at all.  An example is the project “Cargo”, by six young artists from Germany and Israel, which is a comic report, in which each artist writes about the other country.  Autobiographical comics are also playing a larger role- such is the case with the South African Karlien de Villiers, who, in her first volume, “My Mother is a Beautiful Woman” (which is being introduced at Erlangen), talks about her childhood and the political history of the republic at the cape.

The business aspect in regards to comics with serious subject matters remains difficult, according to the field experts.  A high number of sales isn’t common.  But there’s still the possibility of winning the Max and Moritz Prize, the most important award in the German language comic field.  The judges usually base their choice on literary power of the work, rather than on sales.


One Response to “‘ZEIT online’ article”

  1. […] At Deutsche Mangaka, Elae translates an article about German manga-ka from ZEIT online. This is interesting: According to estimations, around 75-80% of the German language comic market consists of Japanese graphic novels. […]

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