If you are thinking of getting into reading comic books or manga, you should really know the key differences between the two. Some readers may say that comic books and manga are technically the same thing.

However, the two are in fact quite different, and have their own key characteristics and histories. Here are the key differences between comic books and manga.

What are Comic Books?

From a layman’s perspective, a comic book is a series of images that tell a story.  The very first comic books came out in the 1930’s as newspaper strips, however, they soon evolved into more unique content.

Comic books could come in many forms such as newspaper comics or periodical comic books from a traditional comic book publisher such as Marvel and DCWhile comic books are all paneled images that tell a story, there are various sub-genres to take account of. Here are some examples of comic book genres.

  • Superhero: This genre is by far the most popular, and usually revolves around the stories of crime-fighting heroes with extra-ordinary powers.
  • Comedy: This genre focuses on funny stories that uses humorous concepts and gags.
  • Slice of life: This genre focuses on the day to day lives of characters, and are quite relatable.
  • Science fiction: This genre uses science fiction concepts such as space travel, time travel and futuristic technology. 

What is Manga?

Manga are Japanese comics, however, they are usually quite different from traditional comic books. From a chronological standpoint, the very first manga was created way back in the 12th an 13th centuries, in the form, of beautifully illustrated scrolls called Emakimono. However, modern manga first started in the 19th and 20th century.

Manga have more in common with graphic novels, and normally takes a good number of volumes to tell the overall story.

There are various genres in manga, and are aimed at a different demographics. Here are some examples of manga genres to look out for.

  • Shojo: This manga genre is predominantly geared at young girls, and usually have a fantastical or light-hearted feel to them.
  • Shonen: This manga genre is geared towards young boys ranging from age 10 to 18 years old, and is centered on key concepts such as friendship and facing challenges.
  • Sports manga: This manga is usually focused on a specific sport, and has stories with great detail on the rules and concepts of the sport.
  • Josei manga: This manga genre is written specially for female readers raging from ages 18 to 40. These stories are a great deal more mature and complex.
  • Gekiga manga:  This manga is often called “Dramatic Pictures” and is meant for adults to read. They have complex concepts and are often very engrossing.


Key differences of comic books and manga

Let us now delve into the key differences between comic books and manga. While the two share some similarities such as being a visual art form and using dialogue bubbles, there are a good number of differences between the two. Here are some examples of these differences:

  • Visual style

There is certainly a distinct visual difference between comic books and manga. While there are black and white variations, a majority of comic books often have colored artwork. On the other hand, manga artwork is usually only colored on the cover, and the rest of the artwork is in black and white ink.

  • Way they are read

Yet another difference between comic books and manga are the way they are read. Manga books are known for being read from right to left, instead of the conventional left to right.

  • Publishing method

The two have very different publishing methods as well. Manga are usually published as bound volumes. However, before they are collected into volumes, manga are often released in chapters to popular manga magazines such as Shonen jump.

In this aspect, comic books are somewhat similar to manga because they are first released in single issues which consists of over 20 to 40 pages. These single issues usually revolve around a single character, and each single issue will count as a chapter. After the arc has been finished, all the single issues will then be gathered and published into trade paperback or hard cover volumes.


When it comes to reading comic books and manga, you should know how to differentiate the two. Each of these two genres have their own characteristics and origins, and it important that you know their key differences. With this article, you’ll know the key differences between comic books and manga.