A short history of manga

It is impossible not to encounter manga in Japan, although the Japanese themselves rarely use this word in reference to their native comics - they rather use the words comic (コ ミ ッ ク) or comic (コ ミ ッ ク ス) from English, manga is present everywhere. It is read by both students and corporate employees. It is universal, as it touches upon virtually any subject that can also be of interest to traditional literature or film. Where did it come from? When was the word manga first used and what does it basically mean?

Do you want to find out?
Therefore, I invite you to travel back in time, because the origin of the Japanese comic book goes much deeper than most of the Dear Readers might expect.

Let's start our journey from the 8th century, when the emaki-mono scrolls, called emaki for short, were created. They were strips of stuck together paper or silk, even up to several meters in length, wound on two rollers with decorative heads. The width of the coils was usually from 20 to 40 cm. They were read by unrolling from one stick and winding on the other at the same time. Emaki-mono presented a series of images sprinkled with comments and footnotes, and the way of viewing forced the reader to follow the plot consistently from beginning to end without the possibility of skipping a fragment. The scrolls could be read or only watched, which made them understandable even to the illiterate. Hence, they are considered distant ancestors of manga. Although the very construction of the emaka and the passing of images moving in front of the reader's eyes could be more compared to a film strip.

Katsushika Hokusai (author of the famous woodcut The Great Wave off Kanagawa), because it was him I mean, was the first to use the term manga, which at that time meant humorous images or unstoppable images. He called Hokusai Manga fifteen volumes containing a collection of illustrations of humans, animals and demons. These style images are more reminiscent of Impressionism in terms of capturing the characters in motion than the current manga. However, they certainly arouse interest even today, and they are good to watch.

Let us now move to times much closer to us, because to the period after World War II. Japan under the American occupation absorbs Western news, including comics. Initially, the Polish authors create in a similar style, but everything changes when Osamu Tezuka enters the "scene" of the Japanese comic. This author is considered the father of modern manga. His characters were the first to have characteristic large eyes. Where did the idea for this way of drawing come from? Many people believe that the Japanese compensate for their complexes related to their small eyes in relation to ours. However, the reason is more trivial. Osamu Tezuka was fascinated by the works of Walt Disney and to pay tribute to his favorite creator, he drew characters with eyes as large as saucers. The style was adopted by young authors, because Tezuka was a role model for them and thanks to that big eyes accompany us to this day.

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