While the state of the U.S. market for translated manga appears to be in flux with some publishers cutting back (see 'Fanboy Restructures') and others expanding their lines (see 'Tokyopop Plans Major Manga Expansion'), there is no doubt that manga's influence on American comics appears to be growing.  Witness two stories that appeared on Newsarama this week.  Michael Doran broke the story of Marvel's plan for an eight-title Marvel 'Mangaverse' event planned for January, 2002, while Matt Brady detailed plans at DC Comics to use manga artist Kia Asamiya (Silent Moebius, Dark Angel) for a series of Titans covers.  With Marvel's numbers ticking sharply upward and the U.S. comic market gaining steam in general, these are hardly moves born of desperation.  In fact the most profound influence of manga on the U.S. market may be one of format rather than style -- with the trade paperback collection just starting to assume some of the importance in the U.S. marketplace that it does in Japan.


Still the stylistic influence of manga is also on the increase.  The Marvel Mangaverse, will most likely be a one-shot event, but fans should be intrigued by the collaboration of Marvel editors Ralph Macchio, Brian Smith, and Joe Quesada with Ben Dunn of Antarctic Press (long a mainstay of homegrown manga efforts).  According to Doran, Marvel wants to avoid a superficial approach to the manga style and try to experiment with the narrative pace and breakdowns of manga as well as with the design elements of Japanese comics.  The eight Marvel titles will be part of a 'fifth week' of titles (which should definitely help retailers by providing them with more books to sell during a month that publishers typically ignore), and will include top Marvel properties such as Spider-Man, the X-Men, FF, and the Hulk.


DC Comics is also demonstrating an openness to the influence of manga by employing manga master Kia Asamiya for a series of covers.  DC's efforts in this direction, which include Yoshitaki Amano's exquisite work on Batman, predate Marvel's interest in manga by some time.  Asamiya, who loves working in color, is moving to New York so it is likely that he could end up doing a lot more work for major American comic publishers in the future.  The comics industry should look to Hollywood, which has, from the silent days to the present, benefited enormously from the talents of actors, directors, designers, and producers from all over the world.  This kind of cross-fertilization of ideas and stylistic concepts benefits everyone in the long run.