Anime News Network has a peculiar story about Tokyopop edging away from the terms “OEL manga” and “world manga.”
Susan Hale of Tokyopop explained that OEL is innapropriate because many of their titles originate from non-anglophone creators, for example Yonen Buzz, which was originally published in German.
So maybe NJ manga, as in, Not Japanese, is the term to use? Nope. Tokyopop is appropriating a new term and putting their own spin on it:
In an interview for the upcoming issue of Protoculture Addicts, Tokyopop Editorial Director, Jeremy Ross, explains, “The fact that manga fans have largely stopped using the term Ameri-manga (which has negative connotations) and are referring to it as OEL for Original English Language (which is at least neutral) and more recently, global manga (this more respectful and accurate term surfaced on www.pseudome.net, among other places) is but one indicator of the growing respect for our manga creators.”
You know, this reminds me of the campaign to rename Jerusalem artichokes as “sunchokes,” and prunes as “dried plums.” Unless people actually use the term, the people pushing it just look stupid. The fact that “global manga” has bubbled up from the grass roots (if you can call pseudome that) makes this one a little more likely to succeed.
This brings a new timeliness to Chris Arrant’s article on manga nomenclature at Comic Foundry
At the end of the day, there is one thing pretty much everyone can agree on; it’s comics. Manga is comics. “Superman” is comics. Political cartoons are comics. “Calvin & Hobbes” is comics. Instead of classifying comics by the country of original or the style it’s drawn (as style is subjective), a more reasonable approach would be to take cues from your local library and classify by genre. Yes, comics would be its own section away from mere words written on a page, but inside this comics section would be sub-sections based not on the origin of the creator, but by the subject matter of the story.
Think about it: If Ozuma Tezuka, Bryan Lee O’Malley and Frank Miller each wrote a fictional novel about the same subject, no matter how differently they’d write it, it could all be filed in the same section: fiction.
I’m not sure I’m ready for that, but I think we’re moving in that direction.