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Patch Picks: Comics, Cartoons and Comprehension

All manga are comics, but not all cartoons are anime. Keep reading to learn what the various terms for drawn entertainment really mean.

July traditionally means two things—spandex movies and nonstop talk about what’s hot at the upcoming San Diego Comic Con. You could take an entire , but if all you need is a few reference points for conversations with the guys from the IT department, we here at Clayton-Richmond Heights Patch have prepared this handy summer cheat sheet. You’re welcome.

Comic Books — If you’ve been to the movies recently you’re familiar with comic book characters such as Thor, Iron Man, Green Lantern and the X-Men. The defining characteristic of comic books is that they’re a form of episodic storytelling, offering the same kind of ongoing serial appeal as television shows. When several issues of a comic book are collected together into a single bound volume covering a story arc, the resulting book is called a Trade Paperback. Ladies, if you have a crush on a guy in the IT department, ask if you can borrow his copies of Brian K. Vaughn's Y The Last Man or Ex Machina.

Graphic Novels — A graphic novel is a drawn story told in one bound volume instead of episodically, month by month. Graphic Novels such as Art Spiegelman’s Maus, about the Holocaust, and Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, about a girl’s childhood in Iran, show there is a great deal more to graphic storytelling than capes and spandex. Gentlemen, if you want to stealthily introduce a potential sweetheart to your hobby, hand her a Trade Paperback of Fables or Chew

Cartoons — Cartoons are not comics. In comics, the pictures are still. In cartoons, they're animated. Once upon a time, animation was limited to Saturday mornings. Now, there’s an entire 24-hour network dedicated to it with hit shows like Venture Brothers and Robot Chicken. People who love comics such as the Justice League can share them with their children via cartoons that appeal to any age, but be warned, any cartoon on after 6 p.m. that isn’t Futurama probably isn’t appropriate for kids. If it is Futurama, it should be required viewing. 

Manga — Manga are Japanese comic books and trade paperbacks. These have a distinctive wide-eyed artistic style that sets them apart from American and western European comics. While comic book readers are mostly men over the age of 35, Manga primarily appeal to teens and people in their 20s and have a slightly more female audience. If marketers fully understood why, Marvel and DC stocks would skyrocket.

Anime — Anime are Japanese cartoons. Sometimes they’re dubbed. Sometimes they have subtitles. Sometimes they’re full of tentacles. The incredibly moving film, Akira, Vampire Hunter D and the TV series Cowboy Bebop demonstrate there is a lot more to anime than the early pornographic material that filtered into the U.S. Just keep the kids away from anything labeled Hentai.

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