Right to left

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shutupadrian
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Right to left

Post by shutupadrian » Sun Aug 07, 2011 1:28 am

This is going to come up from time to time, so I figured I'd throw down my thoughts on this here so y'all know where I'm coming from with regards to this. I'm stating this once, and then I'm moving on...

If you're writing in a left to right language, and if you want me to take your comic seriously as a professional product, DO NOT DRAW YOUR LAYOUTS RIGHT TO LEFT.

I don't think this is a personal choice. If your intended audience reads primarily in a left-to-right language, then draw left-to-right.

If you insist on drawing right-to-left and will absolutely refuse to draw otherwise, then I will assume you're doing comics just for fun with no intention on reaching a broader audience or making a career out of drawing comics. If that is your intent, then fine. More power to you, but I will not take your comic seriously on a professional level, much less purchase it.

Exceptions to this rule:
You're writing in Japanese, Chinese, Mongolian, Arabic, Hebrew or Egyptian Hieroglyphics.
You're purposefully doing a formal experiment in right-to-left vs. left-to-right reading AND the story you're telling reflects this experiment.

Okay. Rant over. My apologies if this comes off a bit angry.

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Re: Right to left

Post by Lord Styphon » Sun Aug 07, 2011 1:37 am

You are aware that SSE's original products are written in English and drawn to be read right to left, right?

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Re: Right to left

Post by shutupadrian » Sun Aug 07, 2011 1:53 am

Lord Styphon wrote:You are aware that SSE's original products are written in English and drawn to be read right to left, right?
BWAHAHAHA. Oops.

I wasn't aware of that, no.

Apologies to our forum overlords, but I shall stand by my opinion.

If SSE would care to come by into this thread and post any kind of sales/trends statistics and/or analytics that might change my opinion, I'm willing to listen.

Not only might I always be wrong, but I welcome anybody to prove me wrong.

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Re: Right to left

Post by Lord Styphon » Sun Aug 07, 2011 2:00 am

I can only speak for what I've observed, without sales figures (which you're not going to get out of them anyway), but I can say that Aoi House, an original English language manga written to be read right-to-left, was popular enough to sell well through multiple printings and versions.

Amazing Agent Luna, likewise an OEL manga written right-to-left, was popular enough to get volumes beyond the original storyline made, and this past week a prequel comic started running. (You can read it here)

Then there's Paranormal Mystery Squad, yet another one, which has been running here since before the forum merger and seems reasonably popular.

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Re: Right to left

Post by shutupadrian » Sun Aug 07, 2011 2:55 am

Okay.

This effectively kills the argument that "no english publisher will look at your work if it's right-to-left" because as you've pointed out, SSE publishes.

Are there other publishers that do OEL right-to-left? I'm not aware of any others. I suspect Tokyopop, but whether they did or didn't, they're defunct now so I'd consider that TP part of the debate to be invalid.

My suspicion (and admittedly I don't have the stats to back this up) is that right-to-left OEL represents a microscopic portion of total manga sales. Manga sales represents a relatively small portion of total comics sales. Comic sales is - generally - in decline.

I think the point still stands that you'd be severely limiting your audience by going right-to-left, though, thereby limiting your marketability as a working professional, at least in North America. "Popular enough" doesn't necessarily transcend the niche market, and the niche market is a relatively small piece of the pie.

That is my impression. I've done a bit of digging around for sales stats, but I'm having difficulties finding directly related information and, honestly, I have a few other things to do tonight.

This is the best I can find.
http://www.comicsbeat.com/2011/08/05/ma ... uly-sales/

The other end of it, however, is the willingness of consumers to buy right-to-left OEL. Obviously consumers are willing to buy right-to-left Japanese manga, so MAYBE it's trending positively for RTL OEL? I suspect that there's a severe drop-off from manga sales to OEL manga sales, and then again to RTL OEL sales. Once again, I don't have the stats, so maybe someone wants to prove me factually wrong?

And yes, I'm approaching this from a rather cold marketing and sales point of view rather than a purely creative perspective. But I think it's still relevant for anyone trying to "break into comics." Even creatively, I think there are reasons to stick to LTR if you're writing in english, but we can debate that end of the issue later.

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Right to left?! OMG, what do I do now?!

Post by Mr_Gekiga » Sun Aug 07, 2011 4:43 pm

-steps in and reads-
Wow, someone's really serious about this right to left thing....

Hey, skipper.
Here's a doozy of a question for ya.

What if...

The story is ALSO in another language?

Does the artist have to switch the panel order to accommodate those that cant cope with the change?

Only a fool and a poser would do right to left if they weren't planning on doing something with it that had validity... but even if it wasn't the case, stylistic choice is something someone would appreciate and had nothing to do with people who don't. I fucking HATE Soulja Boy. He's the worse piece of shit rapper alive.

Does that mean I have to pay attention to his record sales because he's a dick? No. Do I put on a Black Moon album and forget he exist? Yes.

I get off point, if we want to speak professionally, you gotta go for your target audience. Putting your comic from left to right wont guarantee people will even READ your work, since there is all these factors involved... y'know, like if the story is good, relateable, relevant, artistically speaking to different people.

Different people will like different poisons. And only a fucktard would care about overall sales, anyway. Let's not fool ourselves, here. Neither of us are doing this professionally, otherwise we wouldn't be wasting out time in some webcomic forum griping about our respective aesthetic choices. And if anyone wants to say something to the contrary, I'll say I saw some of your comics... Not a one of them are on the comic store shelves, or on major websites. AND your last name isn't Kubert, Lee, or Finch and thus the point still stands.

We shouldn't care about the comic market or the overall sales... you think Lee or Shuster gave a shit about that? You think Yoshihiro Tatsumi, father of an unconventional Japanese comic style that noone said was going to work, but became the most VITAL part of manga story-telling for generations CARED about that shit? And they lived off of this stuff.

Do what you like, and the rest will follow, other people with other aesthetic choices be damned.

It's for the love, not for the money.

Now let's stop this oel rtl or ltr bullshit and just focus on making the damn comic and get those fans that cant wait for more issues, or go into marketing, since that seems to be all people care about nowadays.

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Re: Right to left?! OMG, what do I do now?!

Post by shutupadrian » Sun Aug 07, 2011 9:40 pm

Mr_Gekiga wrote: What if... The story is ALSO in another language? Does the artist have to switch the panel order to accommodate those that cant cope with the change?
There's still the matter of your primary intended audience and which language they read in. That said, I'll concede your point because there is reason to the aesthetic choice of going RTL.
I get off point, if we want to speak professionally, you gotta go for your target audience. Putting your comic from left to right wont guarantee people will even READ your work, since there is all these factors involved... y'know, like if the story is good, relateable, relevant, artistically speaking to different people.
Ultimately, yes. In the end what matters above everything else is story and storytelling.
And only a fucktard would care about overall sales, anyway. Let's not fool ourselves, here. Neither of us are doing this professionally, otherwise we wouldn't be wasting out time in some webcomic forum griping about our respective aesthetic choices. And if anyone wants to say something to the contrary, I'll say I saw some of your comics... Not a one of them are on the comic store shelves, or on major websites. AND your last name isn't Kubert, Lee, or Finch and thus the point still stands.

We shouldn't care about the comic market or the overall sales... you think Lee or Shuster gave a shit about that? You think Yoshihiro Tatsumi, father of an unconventional Japanese comic style that noone said was going to work, but became the most VITAL part of manga story-telling for generations CARED about that shit? And they lived off of this stuff.
I'll agree and disagree. You're right that sales shouldn't be the primary driving force behind your comic, but I think it's equally foolish to not be aware of the environment in which your material will appear. Sales for the sake of sales, I'll happily ignore that. But sales as an indication of trends in audience mentality is valuable. And no, I don't mean that as in we should all be chasing trends. I mean it in the sense that we shouldn't be so detached from our audience that our work becomes conceptually inaccessible and irrelevant.

And I'll guarantee you that sales was in the back in of the minds of Stan Lee and Joel Shuster. If their work wasn't successful, they're out of work and they wouldn't be able to feed themselves. If they're not feeding themselves, they wouldn't be able to keep making comics at that level. And just listen to Stan Lee. The man is as classic of a salesman as they come.

And no, of course I'm not doing things professionally... ...yet... but I'd be surprised if the majority of us here does not have aspirations of doing this for a living.
Do what you like, and the rest will follow, other people with other aesthetic choices be damned.
I can't disagree with this.

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Re: Right to left

Post by Lord Styphon » Sun Aug 07, 2011 9:49 pm

shutupadrian wrote:but I'd be surprised if the majority of us here does not have aspirations of doing this for a living.
Define "here". Do you mean "here" to be Creator's Corner, or the board as a whole?

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Re: Right to left

Post by shutupadrian » Sun Aug 07, 2011 10:41 pm

Lest anyone think that I've only considered the marketing angle here...

I believe (and I'll remind everyone that this is my opinion, and as such I acknowledge the possibility that I'm wrong) that it comes down to authenticity.

In a primarily left-to-right cultural context, anything right-to-left is jarring. The immediate question is "why is this different?" In the case of manga translated from Japanese, the answer is clear. The material was originally published for a RTL audience. The translated work getting published here (in english) is, in some ways, closer to the artists' original intent and is actually preferred because the work was altered less through the process of its adaptation.

So when we have work done in english, for an english audience where the cultural norm is to go left-to-right, the answer to "why is this different" isn't as immediately apparent. And when there is no reason available that is intrinsic to the storytelling, then the medium is getting in the way of the message. In other words, the aesthetic choice of going RTL is distracting from the story itself. The framework in which the story is presented needs to be, to a great extent, invisible so that the reader can immerse themselves into the story. If you're making that framework visible, the reader will have a more difficult time entering your story.

Well, a reason I've seen get brought up is "that's how the comics I liked were when I was growing up."

Fair enough. So, another way of putting that is that the english artist working in RTL is aligning themselves to the Japanese tradition of manga, implicitly rejecting western traditions in comics. You liked manga, you didn't like superhero books, so you'll follow the Japanese way of doing things.

Well, let's compare two statements.

1. "I like manga, so the comics I'll draw will be done right-to-left."
2. "I like manga, so the comics I'll draw will have really really big eyes."

To me (and again, this is opinion) those two statements are the same in that the artist is choosing the most superficial and surface-level elements of manga traditions to emulate. It's like trying to emulate Jackson Pollock by splattering paint against a canvas without considering how each splatter affect the relations between negative and positive space, colours, and scale.

There are many more subtleties that should be explored if we're to follow manga traditions. There are differences in panel pacing, the rhythms and beats of dialogue, and the types of stories being told. There are elements that we can emulate that strike closer to the core of what manga is that have nothing to do with RTL.

Now I'd like to put forward that art, however else you'd like to define it, is a reflection of the artist. The best art happens when the artist allows their material to be personal on some level. And that doesn't necessarily mean auto-biographical, just that the artist has drawn upon their own life experiences to feed their story's characters and plot.

So of course, this means RTL because that's what you prefer, right? Not necessarily. Assuming you grew up in "The West", your experience - in addition to all the manga you have read - also includes LTR on a daily basis. Books, billboards, magazines, the internet, advertising. All of that shapes you and shapes your experience. Now, one individual ad wouldn't (I hope) change you, but consider their cumulative effect on you over the course of your life. The life experiences that you draw into your art is primarily a LTR experience.

And in the end, you might still want to do RTL, then fine. I just hope it's a conscious and considered choice and that you've accounted for every way it would affect a reader's interpretation of your work.

Once more, all of this is my opinion. If I look at a comic, and it reads right to left, I wonder why it is that way. If there is no meaningful reason for such a significant change in alignment, I end up questioning just how authentic the artist is being to themselves.

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Re: Right to left

Post by shutupadrian » Sun Aug 07, 2011 10:42 pm

Lord Styphon wrote:
shutupadrian wrote:but I'd be surprised if the majority of us here does not have aspirations of doing this for a living.
Define "here". Do you mean "here" to be Creator's Corner, or the board as a whole?
"Here" meaning Creator's Corner.

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Re: Right to left

Post by Azrael » Mon Aug 08, 2011 3:54 am

It doesn't really matter to me, I can read them just as well either way. I'm just very glad that American publishers stopped "flipping" books. That always seemed to throw things off for me.
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Re: Right to left

Post by redprincess » Mon Aug 08, 2011 8:09 pm

I don't think the way it reads be it LTR or RTL has any affect on marketing. Naruto is very popular with younger children, and they have easily grasped the reading RTL. My age group has no issues either. Even my mother, learned to read that way. It wasn't hard for her, she use to read LTR comics as a child, it's the same just backwards for her. I think if there really was an affect on the marketing all import comics would be converted to read LTR, like they use to.

I do dislike it when people complain about artists non-Japanese drawing RTL. Or those that complain about non-Japanese drawing manga all together. I just like to point out to those people that there are Japanese artists, in japan, that draw their comics in LTR format. And they are popular, published in Japanese magazines. There are also Japanese that draw marvel and DC style characters (maybe without the undies on the outside, tho, lol).

Along the same lines of marketing, it's why they use to change Japanese names to English ones. They thought it would appeal to more people that way. I do believe they were wrong, with the amount of complaints. I still cringe from time to time when reading Detective Conan and how Ran is Rachel. It's much too into the series to switch it, and america only has half the series out.

I digress, people will read what they like. I don't think it matters if the books opens from the left cover or right. Manga is targeted to a certain audience. OEM is targeted to the same audience, so it begs to reason that there is no harm in having OEM drawn RTL.

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Re: Right to left

Post by Lord Styphon » Sat Aug 27, 2011 3:27 am

mytony wrote:I am not clear this topic.
Now THIS post I can delete.

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Re: Right to left

Post by Adam_Arnold » Tue Aug 30, 2011 12:20 am

Lord Styphon wrote:
mytony wrote:I am not clear this topic.
Now THIS post I can delete.
So you cleared his post... and thus, saved the topic. All is right with the world.

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Re: Right to left

Post by MrUnReady » Mon Sep 05, 2011 10:25 am

For me I think it's ok to be writing and reading both ways around. There is no real rule(well, make that there is 1 rule-ish of live and dead area when in print. xD;; ) when it comes to making a comic... or manga... or what ever you crazy kids are calling it these days.

The thing that gets me a little tiffed off is that when you make a comic read the Japanses ways ppl tend to think you are trying too hard to be Japanese-ish. But if you draw your comic the "right"(Left to right) way but it looks too Japanese-ish ppl might think you are giving in to the Americanization of the manga market. Which seeing as some "professionals" don't give in to this stick up their own butts about about this matter. What ever.~ You can still be at least professional about your work even when in right to left and if the work is good, why not take it seriously? Don't want to, GASP, get your lazy eyes moving a different way that may flow better for what the artiest is trying to do?

I say screw that, ppl are just being not open minded when reading and we shouldn't be trapped in which way to make a comic/manga/whatever.NO RULES MAN! That is all I have to say about this matter. @v@b
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