You all may have noticed that posting was very light this past week. That's because I was on vacation and decided to take a vacation from blogging as well.
Unfortunately we missed the latest comics blogosphere hysteria, the whole OMG Seinen isn't selling bruhaha. The initial reaction was that it's because the manga market is dominated by females, and isn't it tough/just that male comics fans now have to see what it's like to be in the consumer minority.
However, missing such things means that there's a chance for more rational thoughts to prevail. Jason Thompson rightly points out that it's not a girl-boy thing, but a teen-adult thing, as josei sells just as poorly as seinen. How the whole manga-targeted-to-males-don't-sell idea even got started is something of a mystery, since titles like Naruto and the monthly anthology Shonen Jump are among manga's best sellers. Chris Butcher also points out that, in comics stores, seinen actually sells quite well thank you very much; not surprising since the male 18-35 audience typically gets its comics fix in comics stores. In other words, when its audience can find it, seinen is being bought.
The issue that interests me in all of this is what happens to manga when its readership grows up? I see one of three possibilities:
1) It's like the US comics market pre-1980, when kids grow up, discover the gender of their choice, and leave manga behind, whilest at the same time new kids come in to take their place.
2) It's like the US comics market of the past 20 years, where the kids grow up into their 20s and 30s and want more of the same that they read as kids, just with more 'adult' content.
3) It's like comics markets in Japan (and other parts of the world), where people become lifelong comics/manga readers and new kids are constantly being added into the stream as well.
Obviously the best outcome is #3, as long as there's material available for all who are interested. #2 presents interesting challenges, especially if the manga publishers don't see it coming and keep on turning out kids manga for an audience that doesn't want it. #1 would be the most comfortable for the publishers, as they can continue with what they know works.
(I don't think that a fourth possibility, manga flames out in a few years, is very realistic at this point. Despite many early naysayers going on about how manga was just a flash-in-the-pan, it's become pretty clear that it's here to stay for a while.)