Review: Mangasia – The Definitive Guide To Asian Comics

Out now, an excellent read from Paul Gravett. Learn about the history of Asian comics!

As I stated in my initial thoughts on this book – I don’t know much about Asian Comics. Well, after reading this, I feel I know a lot more!

With a heart felt introduction from Director and Writer Park Chan-Wook, we get a detailed and enjoyable pass through the history and legacy of Asian Comics.


Split in sections Paul Gravett guides us through the history of Asian Comics, detailing their beginnings in Japan, and their spread around Asia. The details in this book is massive, covering a large geographical area which includes Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mongolia, North Korea, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Tibet and Vietnam!

Full of amazing illustrations and well reproduced there is a wide variety of comics to read and they are well annotated giving some details, dates and origins.

We get a brief introduction into the world and the history and then we are into the main parts of the book. Starting off we get Mapping Mangasia, which details the origins and the spread of the format across the continent – it’s amazing to see, and the reasons for it are well told.
Next up is Fable and Folklore, detailing some of the tales told, with some excellent examples. Recreating and revisiting the past goes into detail about how these stories link to the legacy and history of the countries. While Stories and Storytellers look at the creative side of the medium. Censorship and Sensibilities bring us closer to modern times, with the more ‘adult’ aspects of the medium. Finally Multimedia Mangasia brings us to modern times!


This is an amazing historical read and a great (Christmas) buy for any comics fan who wishes to learn from a world renowned expert. 

Brimming with vibrant reproductions of rarely seen comic art from all across Asia, Mangasia is a fascinating and authoritative survey of manga’s impact on the kaleidoscope of creativity and cross-pollination that is Asia’s comics industry.

World authority on comic art Paul Gravett charts the manga style as it travels throughout Asia, detailing the changes in its defining myths and themes as it evolves into the multi-platform industry we see today. He tracks the genre from its roots in 19th-century Japan, through to rapidly-growing branches in China and Korea, and pinpoints new blossoms in regions as far-flung as Indonesia and Mongolia. He also explores the effects of world events on manga – such as the explosion of creativity after the Second World War with the emergence of artists such as Osamu Tezuka, whose pioneering Astro Boy spawned a new and much imitated visual dynamic – and highlights how creators have responded to political events since 1950 in the form of propaganda, criticism and commentary in manga magazines, comics and books. Gravett’s engaging text is accompanied by over 1000 illustrations, including rarely seen comics from North Korea.

Price: £29.95

Extent: 320pp
Size: 26.4 x 20.6cm

ISBN: 978 0 500 292433

With over 1000 illustrations

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