Comic: 4Koma Crazy!
Since coming to Japan, the manga style that may have influenced me the most is 4Koma Manga (yon-koma: 4 panel). I was first introduced to this style by reading Azumanga Daiyo while living in the US. Back then it reminded me of newspaper comic strips but with a little more continuity.
When I moved to Japan I saw a lot more examples of 4Koma such as Sazae-san, OL, and even random bits scattered throughout Shonen Jump and Gangan magazines. After doing a little research on this style I soon came across the expression “Kishoutenketsu” (起承転結) which simply translated means “Setup (ki), Development (shou), Climax (ten)*, Conclusion (ketsu).” In that order, they represent the four panels of a 4koma manga.
*could also be thought of as “Turning Point”
It is said to originally derive from the four-line Chinese poetry composition. The same structure can be found in Chinese and Japanese short narratives and is used as a structure for arguments and essays. There is no documentation on this, but I believe it also to be a common structure in Japanese cinema as well (compared to the western world’s 3 act structure).
So I tried my hand at making a few and found it a really enjoyable exercise. For me, it was like a comic version of the Haiku. Of course, after discussing this structure with some comic buddies it was criticized as being archaic and, with the inovation of webcomics as well as the infinite canvas, silly to work within such limitations.
Well, I come from the school of learning to make a short before attempting the feature (yet another philosophy where I’ve ended up in arguments). It’s not easy to tell a joke in 4 panels. Working within such limitations is fun and challenging. I feel that without practicing structure, larger works would just fall flat.
Anyway, the linked PDF is a collection of my 4Koma Manga which are all based on random experiences in life. All of these happen to take place in Japan because that’s where I’ve been for the past five years and counting. Some of them are good, some are not. It’s something I’d like to keep working on.
Many of these were published in the Mie JET newsletter, GenkiFace, and in my school paper. Some I decided not to publish because of controversial themes or for personal reasons. I’m sure you might be able to identify them…
They are ment to be read from top to bottom, left to right (not the Japanese way of reading). For the comics that have (my poor) Japanese in them, I’ve written a quick translation at the bottom of the page.
It’s been a while since I’ve made a 4Koma Manga, but hopefully after moving to my new apartment (or some really motivating feedback) I’ll pick up the habit of doing them regularly again.
If you have any questions, complaints, remarks, or compliments please don’t hesitate to post a comment below 🙂