Scott Westerfeld
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Your Manga Questions, Answered

August 10th, 2011

Good news: the Forums are working again! But as you can see the interface doesn’t look all Leviathan-y anymore, which is sad. We’re going to get that fixed, but I figured it was more important to make them work again before making them boo-tiful.

That was not scheduled maintenance, by the way, just a tech’splosion followed by some updates that we had to do anyway. Sorry for your withdrawal symptoms! I hope you spent the extra time learning French or something useful like that.

Better news: the paperback of Behemoth is officially out today! You may purchase it at better bookstores everywhere.

Okay, now for your manga questions! (All taken from the last comments thread.)

Do you know where you will be going on the Goliath tour yet?

It’s almost confirmed. I will be posting the tour dates soon! Most of you will hate me, but that’s the way it works, because you outnumber me and are widely distributed. (You should, like, all clump together.)

People on the west coast will certainly be happy, and some people in the middle too. No plans for anything outside the US yet, but I will be doing something in Australia this next southern summer. (If you’re Brazilian, write my publishers and demand me! I want to go to there.)

Any particular reason you chose left to right instead of right to left?

This is original-English manga, which are usually read from left to right, cause that’s how we English speakers roll. I read both ways without much bother, as I’m sure most of you do, so I didn’t actually think about it.

Regarding the Uglies light novel in Japan- did you try to branch out and make the characters look different from that one?

My artist never saw those editions (even though he’s in Japan), so we weren’t starting with those characters at all.

Where can we buy this manga?

AT ALL THE STORES (that sell manga or graphic novels) and on the usual internets. The publisher, Del Rey, has very wide distribution in stores, schools, and libraries, so it should be pretty easy to find.

Do you know when they’ll be available in stores?

May 2012. That’s as specific as I have so far.

You should, like, give us a slight sneakity-peakity every so often. Just enough to make us want it more, you know?

Yes, I do know. And I WANT you to want it more.

Luckily, there are lots of pages to show.

How, if at all, do you think the creation of this manga will influence the making of the movie? Do you think the casting director will try to chose actors based on their appearance in the manga, etc.?

Casting directors will probably pay no attention. With actors, it’s more about stuff like fame and chemistry and salary. But I have sent manga pages to Lola (the vfx company involved with the Uglies movie), and they’re doing “pre-visualizations” now, so it’s possible that the architecture and tech in the film will be influenced by Steven’s work.

There’s no concerted effort at consistency, however.

So….which big announcement was the Croy project?

The manga! As one of the original Crims, he’s in volume 1 quite a bit. Do you want to SEE HIM?

Anyway, will any pages be in colour, or is it all going to be in black and white?

Just black and white and shades of gray.

I honestly pictured dorm uniforms having a plaid kilt EXACTLY like the one in the illustration! Maybe someone important read my fanfic…JK LOLZ.

Yes. We ALL read your fan fic. And, yeah, manga is all about school uniforms.

What IS manga, anyway? What sets it apart from plain old comic books?

Well, as someone pointed out in the comments, “manga” is just the Japanese word for “comics.” Here it means, of course, comics in a style that started in Japan but that has become global in reach and influence.

Steven has done both manga and western comics, and co-created Tokyopop’s Pantheon High with his wife, Megumi. (He pencils, she inks.) And like I said, he lives in Japan. And our toner, Yishan Li, hangs out a lot in Edinburgh, but does loads of manga for Yaoi press in the US and has been published in China as well. (SINO-SCOTTISH MANGA!)

But the reason I thought manga would make sense for Uglies is simple: manga has a set of codes for dealing with beauty that western comics do not have. And most of these codes match up with the pretty operation in the books.

Like, big eyes, anyone?

Pretty! (Whether or not you’re into purple hair.)

There’s a wonderful thing about text-only novels: you make things happen with words alone, so you can convince your audience of all sorts of things that would be hard in a movie.

For example (*SPOILER ALERT*), in the The Last Days I write about a band that rocks so hard that they can call up giant monsters from the underground. Now, if you adapted a film of that novel, the band would have to ACTUALLY ROCK THAT MUCH, or it would be stupid when the giant monsters arrived. And even if the band rocked a lot, some people would still hate the film because they simply don’t like that sort of music.

But in a novel, you can just declare things and they become true (if you can write well enough, that is).

The same problem obtains with Uglies. In text, I can make you and your friend both think pretty Zane is wicked hot, even though you both have totally different tastes in lanky emo dudes. The power of the word!

On the other hand, when the movie is made, if you think the main actors cast as pretties are totally not pretty, or were way hotter back when they were “ugly,” it sort of messes up the reality of the story. (This is why I’m working with a facial visual effects company as a financial backer, so they will have a real-world motivation to get that stuff as right as possible, and we can do computery tricks with people faces.)

But back to manga. In most manga, “pretty” is a style: big eyes and sparkles. (Not that we’re going with sparkles, but you see what I mean.) Manga comes with a pre-existing package of ways to communicate beauty, even if your audience doesn’t all agree on what’s beautiful!

Remember when Hollywood used to do “ugly” by putting a fantastically pretty woman in chunky glasses with her hair in a bun? Her being unattractive was signaled by codes rather than actual unattractiveness, a polite fiction. (This, of course, created a generation who react to chunky glasses and hair-in-bun by saying, “Whoa. Hot!” But I digress.)

Anyway, that’s where I started from. We’ll see if this works.

And just so I don’t look dumb, let me say that I do realize that western comics have beauty codes as well. But they’re mostly kind of like this:

And I didn’t want to go there.*

_________________________

*Yes, literal-minded denisons of the internet, I KNOW that manga has sexy girls and boys as well. But I think the codes are genuinely different, and the manga ones line up better with the Uglies canon. The proof will be in the pudding.

48 Responses to “Your Manga Questions, Answered”

  1. 1
    Orchid
    August 10th, 2011 02:15

    Oh, I cannot wait for the Uglies manga, even if it will read from left to right. =)

    Orchid
    The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia

  2. 2
    Prestidigitation
    August 10th, 2011 02:16

    I’m excited for this to come out. It will be my first manga (:…yay, big moment.

  3. 3
    Hannah
    August 10th, 2011 02:24

    I LOVE PUDDING!!!!!!!!!!!
    And waiiiiiiit, I haveth a questioneth-eth.
    Are you going to post pics of the Uglies cast once they’ve been confirmed?

  4. 4
    Sam
    August 10th, 2011 02:47

    I LOLed at your pictures and commentary on beauty. It’s true and I think that’s why it’s so funny. Pathetic world we live in, isn’t it? Anyway, I’m not a comic/manga book person AT ALL. BUT I must say I am TOTALLY EXCITED for this. I’m a huge Uglies fan. Time to start counting down! And don’t forget to keep us, your crazy fans, informed about the progress!

  5. 5
    Emmiline
    August 10th, 2011 03:17

    i’m very much excited for this- even though i’m usually not into this kind of stuff, but this is different… And I think it’s supposed to be “Your” not “You” in the title, but thats just me being a stick in the mud

  6. 6
    Fuhreesha
    August 10th, 2011 03:34

    WESTERFORUM IS BACKK!!! :UUU

  7. 7
    Serafina Zane
    August 10th, 2011 04:06

    Oh, you manga questions. So quizzical.

    The ability to declare things and make them true is really the best thing about written media… it almost makes up for the inability to do montages set to music.

    I am also amused that I am currently wearing both chunky glasses and my hair in a bun.

  8. 8
    Brandi
    August 10th, 2011 05:36

    Edinburgh*

  9. 9
    scott
    August 10th, 2011 05:46

    All the typos are fixed. Again! (Don’t know how they reappeared.)

  10. 10
    khoela-chan
    August 10th, 2011 07:54

    Adding on to what Hannah said, I was on IMDB recently and saw something about a “preliminary cast” but it’s only available to people with fancy accounts or whatever. Is that just a weird thing or is there actually, like, a group of actors who are in line for those roles?

  11. 11
    Rouge
    August 10th, 2011 08:49

    …cool :)

  12. 12
    Kailey-wa
    August 10th, 2011 10:38

    Thanks for all the explanation! Plus for what you said about the west coast…success!

    (By the way, I am definitely into purple hair)

    And if you ever ended up doing an Extras manga….how would the manga-heads look!?

  13. 13
    shushimaninja
    August 10th, 2011 10:55

    What casting agency is working on the movie, do you know? Is there any way any acting driven fans can see if they can get involved?

  14. 14
    Nicola
    August 10th, 2011 15:33

    It’s strange how the standards of beauty across cultures can have such similarities and such wild differences, hey? Also, they have diamond plated contact lenses now, can you believe it?

    http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/44019631/ns/today-style/#.TkJk8naRtbw

    They might use them for Shay in the movie :D

  15. 15
    Beth-la
    August 10th, 2011 17:19

    YAY CROY!!!!!

    Us forumers will be very happy now.

  16. 16
    scott
    August 10th, 2011 20:22

    And if you ever ended up doing an Extras manga….how would the manga-heads look!?

    Like characters from a more manga-y manga.

  17. 17
    Torie-la
    August 10th, 2011 20:39

    I don’t actually read manga but I’m actually going to get this book!!!! I CAN”T WAIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It’s going to be weird to see all the characters not look like they do in my head though O.o. And the whole ‘declaring things in a book makes them true’ thing made incredible sense; i never really thought of it that way before. And I used to have purple hair that is about that length so that picture made me smile. oh, and the ‘lanky emo dudes’ sentence made me laugh pretty hard. YAY UGLIES MANGA!!!!!!!!

  18. 18
    Hannah
    August 10th, 2011 22:45

    This whole manga thing sounds really cool! Where’d u come up with the idea to turn the Uglies books into manga? Also, i would die if they had already picked the Uglies cast. was so looking forward to open auditions. :(

  19. 19
    Bananza
    August 11th, 2011 02:39

    I’m VERY! Excited for the manga! I am newly a HUGE manga fan! It’s funny I really started loving manga like two days before you announced that Uglies will be a manga.

    Oh, and that comic girl really freaks me out O.o o.O O.o o.O O.o

  20. 20
    Brittany
    August 11th, 2011 03:07

    I was just thinking if there was a Leviathan comic made, it would definitely have to be manga. Because if Deryn was shaped like Huntress is in that picture, then that would make it hard for her to pass as a boy. Plus, it would freak me out…a lot.

  21. 21
    Brittany
    August 11th, 2011 03:25

    Although, Alek having the body of a teenaged Superman I could totally get into. :P

  22. 22
    Madi-La
    August 11th, 2011 07:12

    What a beast!! I’m pretty excited for this- but not as excited as I am for the pudding!! oh yeah, and the fact you’re blessing us west coasters with your prescense….Will you bring Justine too?? for me?!?

  23. 23
    Zackattack
    August 11th, 2011 07:17

    ick, please do not go with the western-y style.
    scott-la, do you like the idea of us readers reading manga’s about your books? all of us have very different opinions about what that characters look like in our head. wouldnt that ruin the imagination portion of reading?

  24. 24
    Fanna-wa
    August 11th, 2011 19:37

    Seriously? So someone actually read my fanfic? “Doctors” on fanfiction.net? That makes up for the lack of other users reading it!

  25. 25
    Oraldisaster101
    August 11th, 2011 19:59

    Hehe pudding proof, that’s all I have to say.

  26. 26
    Volgers Moustache
    August 13th, 2011 05:26

    OMG, you’re going to Aussie, you say? Well, could you drop a visit down in Auckland, NZ? PLEASE?!?! I WANT MY BOOKS SIGNED :P . GAH!! I am SO JEALOUS of everyone in America. WHY SCOTT NO LIVE IN AUSTRALIA?! D:

  27. 27
    Jacquie-la
    August 13th, 2011 18:54

    Really? Just the west coast and the middle? WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE EAST COAST????? Could you come here? Pleeeeease! I can’t go anywhere really far away because that would require an airplane ticket which a. I can’t buy with my own money and b. my parents are not likely to pay for.

  28. 28
    fire makes me smile
    August 17th, 2011 23:11

    the most common super power among female heros????
    D-cups that are incredably self-supporting and perky dispite thier (often disproportionate) size.

  29. 29
    Haley Rae
    August 21st, 2011 03:18

    This is awesome! I’m going to be in Japan from September to May, so hopefully when I get back I’ll buy your manga!

    Wait…leaving the land of manga to come back to America and get your manga…confusing.

  30. 30
    Redcrest
    August 23rd, 2011 01:45

    “But they’re mostly kind of like this:

    “And I didn’t want to go there.”

    Oh, Scott… I love you SO FRIGGIN MUCH. XD Thank you for having an aesthetic sense that matches mine. It’s such a rare thing for me and fiction authors for some reason. XD

  31. 31
    Cora-La
    September 9th, 2011 01:46

    OMG!! I absolutely LOVED the uglies series!!!!
    Cant wait! btw, is it true about the movie? if so I’m totally stoked!

  32. 32
    Morgan-chan
    January 12th, 2012 04:32

    Zane is hot! 8) that is all, thank you for your attention to my useless opinion.

  33. 33
    Morgan-chan
    January 12th, 2012 04:33

    Oh, when is the movie coming out? GO UGLIES!!!!! (and Zane!!)

  34. 34
    omegaraiel
    January 14th, 2012 10:13

    That’s a gorgeous picture of Huntress. I love it.

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