Manga is a medium as timeless as western comics and other comics around the world. What separates it from others in the west, however, is just how quickly the popularity grew both here and around the world. Could it have been the subtle stylistic inclusions in the animated arena back in the '80s or the iconic films like Ghost in the Shell and Akira? No matter what started it manga is here, and it's here to stay.
As technology grows; however, some want to put out these quality stories illegally, thus making sure the creators get no credit for their work. It has become such a problem that these pirating sites have started to shut down in Japan. That being said, a new, completely legal app is offering a safer alternative to reading manga, enter: Mangamo.
Mangamo is a manga distributing app that brings some of the best stories like Attack on Titan and Fire Force right to the reader for only $5 a month! Co-founded by Dallas Middaugh, a veteran in the manga publication industry, we managed to sit and talk with him about the influences of western comics, the process of distribution, and his favorite aspects of it and the future of the app!
Make sure to check out the written interview below, and if interested in the full audio, make sure to tune in to Literaryjoe's Inner Child Podcast as well! We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section!
Nick Brooks: One of my questions, I mean, just hearing you speak about your passion for manga and for comics, in general, being so in-depth and then involved with the process of getting the stories from Japan and getting it set up and sent over to the West, what is your favorite aspect of that transition like that process of obtaining the title and then bringing it out to Western audiences?
Dallas Middaugh: I think the most satisfying thing, and the thing that excites me the most is when it clicks, when something that I've been involved with where I have on some level, it doesn't mean necessarily that it was my decision to acquire it. But on some level I had a voice to say, yes, I think that this one will resonate with a Western audience. Yes, let's do this title. It's very, very gratifying to be right.
You know, the funniest example I can tell about that. And this is a story I've told many times, but back in the day, I acquired the Attack on Titan manga and I released it. I acquired it in 2011 and I released it in 2012. And I told all of our sales reps and, and Barnes and Noble and Amazon, I told everybody, "This is it, This is going to be huge. You need to bring in enough copies. It's a really big deal", and it failed; absolutely bombed. We started having to slow down how quickly volumes were coming out. It just looked like in the end, it was a misstep on my part, which to be clear, that happens all the time. I mean, I've acquired hundreds, if not over a thousand manga, I'm not right about everyone. And then April 2013 came and the anime started and all of a sudden it just went up and up and up and up and up. We had to reprint again and again and again, and, and make no mistake. You know, the financial aspect is very fulfilling too. But I think more than that, was I was kind of able to turn to people, honestly, people who didn't care, who didn't have a vested interest in it and go "See I was right! I was right about that!" And they're like, "Yeah, Dallas, that's great. That's great, man. Good. Let's just get our job done."
Nick Brooks: That's hilarious. It's funny how anime, even though it is an adaptation of printed media always manages to spark the interest of people to start reading the Mango and really getting into it. And then you find that all of those great story beats that are in the anime are right there in the manga the whole time, and it's a really cool feeling. I agree with what you're saying too. It's gotta be really gratifying to experience something like that when you just know, and sometimes it's not right away, but when it does happen, you're just like, "yes!"
Dallas Middaugh: Yeah, you're hitting the nail right on the head. It just feels really good. And, and it's great because I get to point to all the ones where it worked and just quietly ignore the ones where it didn't.
Nick Brooks: Yeah, that's very true. And as an avid reader of both manga and comics, and I mainly contribute to Animemojo, I was wondering because I love Western comics as well, so much. Is there anything that you have read since you started reading that you found hit that same beat that you find in manga in terms of maybe inspiration or themes or metaphors, anything that you love about manga that you have found in Western comics?
Dallas Middaugh: Oh, wow. What a great question. You know, it's interesting because I don't think I've ever approached it from that perspective before. Right. I mean, because I'm, I'm a comics fan across the board and I came into it as a kid through the traditional, you know, Marvel, DC route. But as I got older, I started to appreciate not just those comics, which to be honest, I still read, but also European comics, you know, stuff from France, from Germany, Japanese comics, Chinese, Manhwa, Korean, but I will say this, you know, one of the things that I figured out pretty early and most anybody who pays attention knows this is, is that that in general, just in general, manga and Japanese comics tend to be more dynamic in how they design a page than American comics.
Nick Brooks: Definitely.
Dallas Middaugh: And there are exceptions to that. Of course, you could definitely point to plenty of American comics that have very dynamic page designs, but in general, Manga tends to rely on a much more dynamic, fluid page design. And I do find it really interesting when, when somebody gets that because in a Western creator. You know, you can do things to mimic the surface level of Manga easily, right? I mean, just the big eyes, the hair and things like that.
What I enjoy more is when you see somebody who has really like taken it to a, to a different, a deeper level. And, you know, one of the people that springs to my mind is Paul Pope, if you're familiar with his stuff. And I don't think he's having a new book out for awhile, but he actually studied, I actually worked with Kodansha in Japan, and it really came to influence his style. But I think I would have to think about it more to come up with other good examples. But, but that is, that is something I really like but, I really, really enjoy it when somebody is able to take an element of design from another culture's comics and apply it to their own. Cause they end up creating something new.
Nick Brooks: Definitely. That's a great answer. I'm the same way. When I read my comics, I always find I'm more drawn to distinct and unique paneling that kind of pushes the narrative forward more than just words. And I don't want to keep you here much longer. I just had one more question kind of bouncing off what Joe asked earlier. I know you guys are focusing more on traditional, like your Japanese manga, but do you think there could ever be a possibility in the future of including some manhwa, like maybe The God of High School or Noblesse or any of those types of stories?
Dallas Middaugh: Anything is possible, right? I mean, again, following the same logic I was using earlier, if the manga influence is really clear, then I think it can be a good fit for Mangamo. There's some fantastic Manhwa out there, both from Korea and from China. And we don't have anything to announce in the immediate future, but in the longterm. Yes. We'd be very open to that.
*This interview has been edited for clarity, and was co-hosted by Comic Book Movie contributor LiteraryJoe.*
Mangamo is currently available for 4.99/month, and you can make sure the app is the perfect fit for you right here.