Western countries have adopted the manga tradition in the form of graphic novels which have more recently resulted in the award winning Manga Shakespeare series, produced by the publishers Self Made Hero. Advocates of manga and graphic novels claim that manga is a proven teaching tool, pointing out that it is widely used as an instruction medium in Japan. English language graphic novels have been endorsed by The Scottish Office NATE, The Reading Agency, and the Quality and Curriculum Authority in meeting the needs of students studying English, and it is claimed that it is an excellent educational aid for learning English as a second language. Manga uses ‘sequential art’ to tell stories and to stimulate ideas, is popular with both girls and boys and has a range of educational applications – both for students exploring complex ideas and for those challenged by conventional reading.
The blurb from the publishers of the Manga Shakespeare series is revealing:
Manga Shakespeare is a series of graphic novel adaptations of William Shakespeare's plays. A fusion of classic Shakespeare with manga visuals, these are cutting-edge adaptations that will intrigue and grip readers.
Drawing inspiration from trend-setting Japan and using Shakespeare's original texts, this series brings to life the great Bard's words for students, Shakespeare enthusiasts and manga fans.
Manga is a dynamic, emotional and cinematic medium easily absorbed by the eye. Its attractive art and simple storytelling methods enthuse readers to approach Shakespeare's work in the way he intended – as entertainment.
Apart from a unique approach to Shakespeare, manga novels can also be found using popular classics – Jekyll and Hyde, Crime and Punishment, The Picture of Dorian Gray, for example – and a whole range of Sherlock Holmes books.
Western use of the graphic novel can also be closely allied to the world of comic books, and it is no coincidence that one of the top producers of popular comic magazines have also brought out a range of graphic novels. This includes such classics as Neil Gaiman’s ‘The Sandman’ series. Perhaps not surprisingly, the popular graphic novels tend to dwell on Superheroes, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Horror and Mystery, but, unlike most of their comic book cousins, are more likely to be literate, with well crafted dialogue and plot.
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