I’m currently reading Mitsukazu Mihara‘s 2001 short story manga Beautiful People, and it got me thinking again how concise comic and manga creators must be, with their language as well as with their images. Every manga works with a limited amount of images to portray a story, and while the reader provides the action between each panel in his or her mind, the artist must figure out where they are leading the reader with comparatively little information.
Works like Beautiful People have an even more difficult time of it because they are compilations of short stories. That means, if a story is fifteen pages long, at approximately six panels a page, the artist much convey a complex story in as little as ninety images. This is comparable not to prose short stories, but to Twitter story challenges.
I love short stories precisely because of their ability to distill meaning into a very small amount of space. In Beautiful People, for example, the author portrays a background and history of a friendship between two characters in the story “World’s End” mainly through one flashback and two dreams. We see two characters who begrudge the other’s survival of the apocalypse because of their lack of sexual future (the two who survive are a lesbian and a gay man), and who are terrified of being left alone. It’s incredibly sad and somehow touching.
Any other manga short story recommendations out there? I’d love to hear them!