Message from Nobuhiko Horie
“Hello Silent Manga Community,
“It’s been over 60 years since the manga creators of Osamu Tezuka’s generation developed manga into an accepted form of expression. Historically, manga were the storyboards that depicted the flow of action for movies at the pre-production stage. The dialogue was minimized and any words that were included were basic.
Manga’s unique ability to convey situations and emotions, without relying heavily on words led to its widespread popularity in Japan and beyond. In some ways, manga may well be the best example of a universal language. This is the idea that founded the SILENT MANGA AUDITION®. We hope you enjoy exploring the expressive nature of manga, alongside all of the other authors throughout the world.”
Tokyo, August 2013
Forward to the SILENT MANGA AUDITION® by Mr. Horie
Meet the head of our committee, Nobuhiko Horie! With a career spanning over 30 years in the manga industry, including tenure as editor-in-chief of ‘Weekly Shonen Jump’, Mr. Horie has been responsible for some of the biggest hits in Manga. Here, he talks about the reasons for launching the SILENT MANGA AUDITION® and his hopes for the future of manga.
“Back in the days when I was the chief editor at ‘Weekly Shonen Jump’, and a few years before the passing of the great mangaka, Osamu Tezuka, we were gathered at a selection meeting for the Tezuka Manga Award, hosted by ‘Weekly Shonen Jump’.
One manga caught our attention, for which there were opposing opinions by the team of editors and Tezuka-sensei. Drawn by a young author, it was a very well composed, literal piece of work that the editors thought was worthy of the highest, or at least the secondary award. But Tezuka-sensei, the head of the committee, seemed unwilling to accept this particular piece of work.
It was not a clear rejection either, but Sensei seemed to be murmuring, as if he was finding it hard to agree with the editors. At the time, I did not understand why Sensei did not highly reward the young author’s work. But looking back, I have come to conclude that the “literal” nature of the work was what he found difficult to appreciate.
I regard the works of Sensei, and other masters of his time, more like a “feature film drawn on paper”. They are much more similar to movies and animation in nature, where “camera work” and other cinematic presentation techniques are used to tell a story. Words are limited to everyday conversations and are minimalistic, delivered in plain language so that everyone can understand.
Sensei’s work is full of skills and techniques like this, that allows manga to be a form of universal entertainment for readers of all ages. This may be the reason why he felt something was out of place, when the editors… maybe a little indulgently, rewarded the piece of work in which more emphasis was placed on words rather than graphics. The manga panels lacked cinematic effects and seemed more like illustrations, accompanied by a piece of literature.
Today, manga is not only read by children, but by a broad audience including people of all ages. Themes have expanded accordingly to cover much more sensitive, adult orientated themes and so forth, where more words and dialogues are necessitated to achieve the desired dramatic effect. This is an inevitable evolution of Manga, and there is nothing wrong with that. But one unwanted outcome is the language barrier, making the highly evolved manga of Japan hard to read for non-speakers of the Japanese language. I suppose this barrier can also be described as a “translation barrier”.
Years ago, we at Coamix Inc. took up a challenge that ended in catastrophic failure… of a scale unheard of in this industry! That is, to publish and distribute a weekly manga magazine aimed at the whole North America region. With stupendous financial loss, we gained valuable experience regarding the height of the translation barrier that we must overcome.
Tezuka-sensei once said, “Manga is Esperanto”. Meaning, a universal language that can be shared by all. His message is evident in the fact that works by him and other masters were more, “feature film on paper” and were less reliant on words, thus much more easily appreciated around the world.
The Japanese manga scene in contrast, perhaps evolved and turned into a commercial, industrialized industry too quickly. Through this process, we may have lost touch with this vital and universal element of manga.
At Coamix Inc., after years of continuous discussion regarding the “original power of manga”, we came to conclude that original “movie on paper” is the foundation that we must once again embrace. This focus will allow manga to flourish around the world, across languages and cultural differences.
This is the very idea that gave birth to the SILENT MANGA AUDITION®, an idea born from the Comic Zenon editorial team that rewards wordless manga, only using visual expression to tell a story.
The award has been running in Comic Zenon since the very first issue, published in December 2010, and has brought some wonderful talent to the industry, some of whom have had their series titles published today. This success gave us the courage to try out the concept on an International scale, allowing us to cross borders and call out to all non-Japanese manga creators with theme “Love Letter”.
We teamed up with publishers from France, Germany and Indonesia to post announcements in their paper mediums, along with producing a website available in English, French, German, Korean… a total of seven languages (we carelessly omitted some key languages such as Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese etc…!)
But to our surprise (!), in six months we had five hundred and four entries arriving from fifty-four countries. Counties still recovering from tragedies of war, countries still in conflict and countries in poverty, we received many entries from every corner of the world. Just the number alone is unheard of in any manga award I am aware of. Even at ‘Weekly Shonen Jump’, we never reached such large numbers.
Much more expected as unexpected, all the manga we received were easily understood, showing the feelings of the author no matter which country or culture it came from. To further pleasant surprise, all the characters seemed to be ethnicities of non-specific countries or regions, seeming somewhat related to the ones we see in world of manga. I can only describe them as “Manganians”, the residents of the world where country borders and ethnic differences are non-existent.
Overwhelmed by the sheer volume and quality of the manga received, we all shouted in unison, “How ignorant we have been! Here are the children of Tezuka-sensei, here is his legacy, all around the world!!”
Of course, manga is not made by just one person, even in case of the great Tezuka-sensei. It is undoubtedly a communal effort of authors and mangakas of his age. But these “movies on paper” are called “MANGA” the world over, a truly unique medium of expression that originated in Japan. A true form of “Cool Japan” as described by some, we feel proud and honored to have manga as our profession, and we are so grateful and thankful to the wonderful works of those who have gone before us.
I am pleased to present, all of the 500+ entries from around the world, for the first round of the SILENT MANGA AUDITION®.
Please spend some time to imagine the unique lives of the authors from these different countries. Their lifestyles and their cultures. I am sure it will further deepen your enjoyment of reading each and every page of their incredible manga.”
Nobuhiko Horie, President and representative director, COAMIX Inc.
Tokyo, August 2013