Toward Maturity: Analyzing the Spanish Comics Industry Through a Comparison of National Graphic Novels and Gafotaku- Oriented Manga

Jose Andres Santiago Iglesias

The consolidation of the manga market signified by the emergence of gafotaku1 readers and the current popularity of the national graphic novel are two parallel streams within the comics industry in Spain which are only now beginning to overlap. The worldwide shift of comics from periodicals to books began in the late 1980s with the development of the graphic novel. In recent years, this trend has culminated in a surge of popularity of comics in Spain. New works receive acclaim and critical review in newspapers and other publications, while alternative “avant-garde” manga titles join graphic novels on the shelves of major bookstores.

Comic books and manga evolved as two separate phenomena in Spain, from comic books to national graphic novels and from mainstream manga to gafotaku-oriented products. Yet both share certain properties in how this shift took place, which I refer to as a process of reaching maturity: mature both sociologically and aesthetically, as acknowledged by society and cultural authorities, but also in the sense of content, style, and diver-

J.A. Santiago Iglesias (H)

Vigo University, Vigo, Pontevedra, Spain

© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2016 219

C. Brienza, P. Johnston (eds.), Cultures of Comics Work,

Palgrave Studies in Comics and Graphic Novels,

DOI 10.1057/978-1-137-55090-3_15

sity, defining a cross-generational readership and becoming a field of interest within the market.

In order to examine the Spanish comics market as a whole, the multiple agents involved (authors, readers, publishers, and retailers) and their functions within the industry as a complex system must be considered.2 I would emphasize that the interaction between all four of these agents (e.g. as opposed to the actions of authors only) has led to the maturity of Spain’s comics industry. This maturation process is evident in the rise of the national graphic novel and the appearance of the gafotaku as a new kind of manga consumer. I will explore these two phenomena in detail in this chapter.

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