Breaking… Tokyopop shuns OEL label

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, 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.

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  1. OEL is easier to type than “global manga”.

  2. “Global manga” sounds sort of like a small office in the United Nations. Hip!

  3. How about they just call them comics?

    Ye gods…

  4. This is just my opinion, but when i hear the word “manga” I think of something drawn by a “mangaka,” a japanese thing. I take no offense to calling comics “manga” but I just think that it should be reserved for those comics drawn by japanese artists. Otherwise, they should be called comics, drawn in a “manga” style.

  5. I don’t know…i wouldnt call them “comics” but i dont like either of the other names either(OEL or Global). I just call everything just plain Manga, but if you have to have a technical term then just call it like “american Manga” or “korean manga”, just the contry its from and leave it at that…but thats just my opinion.

  6. Auraelys says:

    Hm…I’m not sure how it would work in other countries, but as far as I was aware of, any form of graphic novel in the U.S.A. was called a comic. Garfield and Superman’s drawing styles don’t look anything alike, but its never proved a problem then. Even if U.S. comic artists are modeling their styles off of Japanese manga, it’s still just a comic.

    I figure the same idea would apply for other countries, even though I’m not sure what the words would be.

  7. Nozomi Hiiragizawa—- says:

    For me I prefer not calling things not from Japan, just comics (Archie, Superman etc) by preference though it really doesn’t matter. But other people call manga ‘comics’ like my friend here from china (who likes manga). “Manga” is just the Japanese word for comic, (like how we have “Comic”) not the style, so maybe all this debating isn’t necessary…?

  8. Kurenai says:

    dudes just call american made “manga” comics because thats what they are. japanese made manga are the real manga. korean ‘manga’ is manhwa. i hate when people call american fan made ones manga because they’re not and sometimes it ruins the rep of manga.

    ’nuff said~

  9. While they’re at it, they should remove/change the “Tokyo” from “TokyoPop”. They are concentrating so much more on the OEL…excuse me, “Global Manga”…market nowadays anyway, I don’t see any reason why the Japanese connection should be retained in their name. They obviously can’t go with “TP” (for the same reason that the new Warner/CBS tv network did not go with “WC”), so how about PT? Or, better yet, PTHC. I think that properly removes any air of “hipness” whatsoever from their name, and appropriately enough sounds like some sort of medical disorder. Sorry, I’m in a bad mood today. ;_;

  10. People, manga is the Japanese word for comic but people in places like this like to use it to seperate that style (the style mangaka like to draw in because it’s always been the most popular) from stuff like batman or the hulk or something *though a bunch of people don’t know what manga even means).

    So… I guess my opinion is that it can stay being called “manga” since we around here don’t call it that because of it’s meaning but more for what it stands for and makes us think of, which is Japanese style art in comics (since they started it, technically).


  1. […] Does it matter what Tokyopop calls its original graphic novels? They don’t like OEL, it seems, so they want to call them “global manga”. […]