Have I Missed the Manga Express?

Have I Missed the Manga Express?

Attack of the Giantess, Mike Gagnon 2020, Digital Mixed Media. Copyright M. Gagnon 2024.

Attack of the Giantess, Mike Gagnon 2020, Digital Mixed Media. Copyright M. Gagnon 2024.

 

Oh, where do I even start? Picture this: you, a budding artist, armed with nothing but a pencil, a dream, and an unyielding passion for storytelling. You're at a crossroads, deciding whether to pursue the noble path of a mangaka in Japan or to plant your creative seeds in the fertile but frigid grounds of Canada as a comic creator. Now, let's dive into why you, my friend, might have missed the boat, train, and possibly even the rickshaw to a life where your art could have been celebrated with onigiri on the side instead of poutine.

First off, let’s talk about cultural impact. Manga in Japan isn't just a genre; it's a way of life. From the bright-eyed children to the salarymen with their ties askew after a long day, everyone reads manga. In Canada? Sure, comics are cool, but are they "I grew up with this character, and it shaped my moral compass" cool? Not quite. You could have been influencing generations, weaving tales that become a staple of childhood and adulthood alike. Instead, you're probably explaining for the umpteenth time that, yes, comics are a legitimate art form, no, they're not just for kids, and yes, your job is a real job, Aunt Karen.

Now, onto the work ethic. The life of a mangaka is notorious for its rigor—endless hours, deadlines that laugh in the face of human needs, and a level of perfectionism that makes Michelangelo’s efforts on the Sistine Chapel look like a casual weekend hobby. This might sound like a downside, but hear me out. The sheer volume of work and the breakneck pace ensure not only improvement at a rate that's practically superheroic but also a prolific output that would make most Canadian comic creators weep into their Tim Hortons coffee. Missed deadlines in Japan? That’s a plot twist in your career storyline. In Canada, it's often a "Sorry, let's try to do better next time, eh?"

Let's not forget the audience and market size. In Japan, your manga could have been part of a weekly serial in a magazine with a circulation that dwarfs the population of some countries. Your fan base? Not just national, but global, thanks to the voracious appetite for manga worldwide. In Canada, unless you're hitting the global market or getting picked up by a major publisher, your most loyal readers might primarily consist of friends, family, and a surprisingly literate moose.

And then there's the merchandising. Successful manga often transcends the page, becoming animated series, movies, video games, and an endless array of merchandise. Your characters could have been on everything from lunchboxes to high-fashion runways (looking at you, Louis Vuitton x Naruto collaboration). In Canada, the path to such widespread recognition is a tad more… scenic, with success often measured by more modest means like niche market penetration or the coveted "staff picks" shelf in local comic book stores.

Moreover, the collaborative environment in Japan could have seen you working in a studio surrounded by fellow mangakas, each contributing to a grand tapestry of storytelling and artistry, pushing each other to new heights. In Canada, while there is certainly a supportive community, the vibe is more solitary, with many creators working in the quiet of their own homes, their only company being the occasional polite squirrel tapping on the window for a snack.

In conclusion, while Canada offers a beautiful backdrop, friendly faces, and a market that's slowly but surely recognizing the value of comics as an art form, Japan offers a whirlwind experience where manga is king, and its creators are revered. You could have been part of a cultural phenomenon, your name whispered in reverence in the hallowed halls of Akihabara, your work inspiring cosplay that's equal parts impressive and bewildering.

But hey, who's to say it's too late? The world of manga is as boundless and welcoming as it is demanding. Perhaps it's time for a new chapter, one where you take all you've learned and loved about Canadian comic creation and blend it with the manga style that calls to you from across the Pacific. Who knows? Maybe the next big manga hit will have a distinctly Canadian flair. Maple syrup-flavored ramen, anyone?

Thanks for reading,
Mike

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