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The Mysteries of OEL Explained

One manga blogger takes a close look at an aspect of manga: screentones.


While there is an increasing amount of self-proclaimed "American manga" or "OEL manga" out there that I enjoy, I have stumbled upon many people-- and have felt myself --that there is still something significantly "different" about an OEL book versus its Japanese counterpoint. But I could never quite put my finger on it. It wasn't necessarily bad, mind-- just...different.

Narutaki over at Reverse Thieves, however, has figured out a significant piece of the puzzle: screentones. This is, of course, a broad generalization, but in the analysis, Japanese creators tended to use their screentones primarily as backdrop, where western creators were more inclined to use them heavily in shading and patterning for both foreground and background.

I point out that it's a generalization because, as Narutaki mentions as well, there are plenty of exceptions to this-- mangaka frequently use screentones for certain kinds of patterning or other dramatic effect, and there are surely manga-inspired American artists who use screentone minimally. But I thought the ideawas kind of interesting. 

We have a few artists out around the site-- any thoughts on this?    
rocketbomberon Jan. 31, 2010 at 6:57 p.m.
Japanese manga-ka are like, 40 years ahead of many (most? all?) American artists when it comes to skillful, creative use of screen tone.  The American Comics industry has been color for ages, and while a number of skilled artists prefer black-and-white, the trend in US comics is toward the skillful use of ink (or more rarely, charcoal) and not the application of screen tone. 
 
It's an industry thing.  Comic artist who see screen tone used in manga immediately think to try using it for an OEL 'manga' -- but it'll be a few years more before they independently discover all the tricks and applications that most Japanese artist have absorbed from years of reading (or learned the hard way while slaving away as some other artist's assistant.)  
michaelpintoon Jan. 31, 2010 at 11:01 p.m.
@rocketbomber: Not true: If you looked at EC Comics from the 50s the craftsmanship was amazing in terms of draftsmanship, inking and zip-a-tone: If you look at an artist like Wally Wood you'd be blown away by the quality. The reason most manga looks so good in terms of zip-a-tone is that they run first in magazines and are printed in black-and-white on colored paper, and then they graduate to book form. In the States most comics start off in comic books as color art to begin with and for the most part another artist may do the coloring in Photoshop — which is why they may not look as strong. That said there are many indie comic artists that do some nice work.
Rosemary35Kirklandon March 20, 2010 at 11:29 a.m.
Various people all over the world receive the credit loans in various banks, just because it is easy.

Dig Deeper into Original English Language

Original English Language (or "OEL") is a term used to refer usually to manga that are created by western, English-speaking creators.

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