Influences of manga – Red: A Haida Manga

With manga becoming more wide spread around the world, I’ve begun to notice an interesting fusion of the Japanese manga style with other varied and distinct cultures around the world. I believe the reason why manga is doing so well around the world is because of the strong graphic design art style that is easily read by anyone. With manga, it’s easy to bring the stories of your culture and mythology to a wide audience around the world.

Red: A Haida Manga, was created by artist Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas. The art within is his own unique blend of Haida and manga art that tells one of the Haida myths with a boy named Red. Red is an orphan whose sister gets captured by raiders. He grows to become the leader of his people and seeks revenge, bringing his village to the brink of destruction.

I met Michael Yahgulanaas this past weekend when I stumbled across his lecture in one the Vancouver Olympic venues in Richmond, BC. His lecture was focused on his journey to bring the Haida culture in a down to earth way to a public used to seeing Native Indian art as mysterious and sacred.

He was interested in telling stories through a medium that was easily understandable by the masses. He used the art form of manga because the visual form was a perfect way to communicate messages across the board to any type of person: adult, child, educated or uneducated.

I asked how he choose the style of manga as a way to bring to light the myth and culture of the Haida people to the masses and he told two interesting stories.

One story was surprisingly of the 1800’s. Apparently, the Haida people had a connection with Hokkaido, Japan. The Haida sailed to Hokkaido and found that the Japanese people there looked like them. They had they wonderful experience of being treated like normal people when they walked the streets, instead of the prejudice and racism that they experienced in Canada.

The other story was a secret. However, I’ll share it with you just this once :).

Michael came across as a mischievous guy in the lecture and he told us that one of the things he liked doing was playing around with Japanese University students when he took them on trips to Haida Gwaii. As an experiment, or pure mischief, he’d drop them in the woods alone for an hour while he sat comfortably on his boat drawing. After their ordeal, when they saw him drawing all the time, they'd speak to him about their culture's art form, manga. Michael became interested in this art form that was not thought of low-brow in Japan, but widely read and respected by the government and public, adults and children.

Another one of Michael’s vision was to bring affordable art into the average person's home. Therefore, he designed A Haida Manga to be your very own wall art piece. It is possible to create a very large piece of art from two books of Haida Manga. Instead of an art piece costing $60,000, you can create your own mini version for $60, the price of two books.

Michael urged me to cut up his book to create this piece of art. I immediately told him no way and he was very disappointed. :)

Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas is also the author of Hachidori, which is a bestseller in Japan.

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