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Manga: Sixty Years of Japanese Comics    by Paul Gravett Amazon.com order for
Manga
by Paul Gravett
Order:  USA  Can
HarperCollins, 2004 (2004)
Softcover

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* *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Over the last few years the manga industry has boomed in the United States. Japanese comics have become so popular that Random House's imprint, Del Rey, came out with their own manga line a few months ago, and even American comic publisher DC is jumping on the bandwagon later this year. The market was ripe for a history of manga book, and Paul Gravett delivers with Manga: Sixty Years of Japanese Comics.

Gravett follows the evolution of the Japanese comic industry since its inception in 1945 to the present. All varieties are included, from the common 'shonen' (boys' manga) and 'shojo' (girls' manga) to the most recent form the silver manga aimed at senior citizens. A good deal of the book's emphasis is on older works, an appealing tactic since most mangas that have made it to the West are usually not more than a decade old. Gravett is never judgmental or didactic; he just presents information for the reader to draw what they will from it. This creates an excellent opportunity for readers unfamiliar with manga to get a sense of what the commotion is all about.

Manga fans will love the book for its full-page spreads of various works, both translated and original. Gravett packs the end of each of his ten chapters with lush examples. (A note of warning for parents: some of the examples in chapters Seven: 'Developing Maturity' and Eight: 'The All-Encompassing' are visually explicit and the books they come from would be rated 'M' or '18+' so they are best not viewed by younger readers.)

The only complaint I had about this art book is that unlike my favorite manga, I could not curl up with it it measures 11 inches high and over nine inches wide! Paul Gravett's Manga: Sixty Years of Japanese Comics makes an excellent coffee table volume for fans of manga and/or Japanese pop culture, as well as for those interested in learning something about the subject. It is by far the most comprehensive history of manga on the market today.

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