Friday, 11 June 2010

Graphic news content...


This article on Wired has got me thinking a little about the declining newspaper circulation in the UK. Essentially Japan has the highest newspaper circulation in the world, or close to it considering the size of the country. I'm sure you don't need to be told that the Japanese are also mad about their comics. They already have Adult, Horror, Sci-Fi, Childrens, and Fantasy comics published daily in print and online... so why not current affairs? Manga No Shimbun (Manga Newspaper), is an online newspaper that presents it's stories in a variety of manga styles to suit the tone of the story (serious stories get the realistic look and lighter news gets a more cutesy or stylized treatment etc.).

The challenge for the artists must be huge. I know that Japenese society is built on a very industrious foundation, but carpal tunnel syndrome must be rife in its comics and animation industry. Not to mention how one would begin to condense a major tragic event into a panel of drawings and speech bubbles.

The fact that the newspaper also has mobile phone/iphone applications to let you view the daily editions is a great way of getting the news to an ever increasingly digitized populous. Although many papers are accessible via the web and many have iphone apps the combination of a pictorial based product is an intriguing thought. Would this work in the west – I know there is a strong following of comics and Japanese culture in Europe and the USA, so an international division may not be a bad idea.

I know there is the temptation to say “But it's dumbing down/It's killing the language!” but it isn't is it? We already have 60 second TV and radio news giving us the day's bulletins in quick digestible bites, so I can't see how this would be much different. Besides, think of the acclaimed writers who are literary geniuses that work in comic books – Neil Gaiman, Warren Ellis, Alan Moore. If you base the product in good journalistic practice and accompany it with engaging visuals then maybe people will seek out more information, and then where would they go? Well it would have to be to a print or digital newspaper.

If it turns people back on to current affairs, that can only be a good thing right?

Wired article - Have a look at their translated comic pages in the article by by moving you mouse over the pictures.
Translated by Google


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