Over the course of a year I’ve been in and out of comic book creator spaces, mostly black ones, to gain knowledge on how to format and create my own comic book series and where to market them. As I lurked and communicated with others, I sensed a ton of senseless arguing about “other comic book influences” and “your characters aren’t black enough” from others that I thought I highly respected as peers in this industry. As it reigned on, I began to see more black manga artists show up on TikTok, posting their works and their connections. I had to ask because I could not understand:
“How can you create in a space that portrays us so negative?”
Now, before I go into the post, I’d like to say: Not ALL of our representation has been negative in Japanese media. I will give props when I can, but the majority of works have been as egregious such as:
I shouldn’t have to explain to you why this is racist, or can be conceived as such to the black fanbase, but I always assumed it was purposeful until a few artists told me otherwise.
I’ve grown to understand that most Japanese studios and markets WANT more African American involvement due to the fact that our culture has been flourishing at a much more concentrated rate over there. The art form isn’t bogged down to dollar signs and forced to carry markets over there so basic hip hop at its core is preserved, as is other art forms like Jazz, graffiti, fashion, and other avenues. Japan is very traditional at heart, and loves to communicate that as best as they can.
What they’ve had is the white man’s interpretation of us given and sold to them. The only real black person they can attest to in their country is Yasuke, the African samurai.
Black manga artists (and black video game developers) who have reached out to Japan have found more success in their endeavors, oftentimes getting help or even partnerships and employment into bigger studios. I’m not really following the “money” in this, but the community that doesn’t scrutinize everything left and right.
As of right now, two of the biggest black comic book companies are rivaling each other simply because of the mass following they have in their perspective states, never mind that their end goals are the exact same.
I’m probably wrong in my manga research in the end, but honestly I think I tell more Anime/Manga stories in the end due to my influences. I love American Comics a lot, but I think the market has become more convoluted than it used to be.
Besides, Japan needs some fresh vision after allowing this guy to be created: