Graphic storytelling is a respected and centuries-old art form in Japan, and since the end of World War II, comic books - known in Japan as "Manga" - have remained the country's dominant medium of entertainment. And over a period of at least the last twenty years, Manga have become increasingly popular with international - and especially North American - audiences.
In July 1998, Dark Horse Comics pleasantly surprised its English-speaking audience with the freshness and excitement that came from telling the familiar tale of Star Wars on paper through Manga when it published Star Wars: A New Hope Manga. This four-issue series adapted and translated the work of Tamaki Hisao originally published in Japan in 1996 and 1997. The series later received the prestigious 1999 Eisner Award for Best U.S. Edition of Foreign Material. It became a fan favorite and best-seller as did Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back Manga (translating Toshiki Kudo's adaptation) and Star Wars: Return of the Jedi Manga (translating Shin-ichi Hiromoto's adaptation).
This week, Dark Horse is pleased to bring the first of two issues adapting the latest Star Wars film in Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace Manga #1. Available in Japan in 1999, this adaptation by renowned Manga artist Kia Asamiya beautifully captures the mythology and graceful Asian influences of Episode I.
While the Japanese artists more than met the challenge of making the well-known story seem new again, the Dark Horse editors faced their own challenges in adapting the material for western audiences. Most obvious was the fact that the original Manga art was drawn to be read right to left, so pages had to be flipped and otherwise adjusted to maintain the story flow when read left to right. George Lucas' original script provided the necessary dialog, but Japanese text used to represent audio and other elements were integrated into the artwork itself requiring translation and re-integration. Click on the page thumbnails to see examples of pages before and after translation.
Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace Manga #1 of 2 is available this week at comic shops and other retailers. The second issue is scheduled for release in February. Read it again... for the first time.