Sporadic Sequential
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Extra! Extra! The Original Omake?

When I was invited to contribute a piece for Blog@Newsarama's "I ♥ Comics" feature, I originally planned on doing "I ♥ Omake," focusing only on the bonus features found in manga. However, a shocking discovery made me change my plans. Finally, the reason for my piece's expanded scope can be revealed, as well as... The Secret Origin of Omake!!!

As I wrote in my "I ♥ Extras" essay, most omake tends to follow a familiar pattern: The manga-ka describes the inspiration for the series, discusses the evolution of his or her ideas, bemoans how difficult it is to create a manga, apologizes for not responding to all the fan mail, and pokes fun at the sometimes (frequently?) antagonistic relationship between creator and editor. Here, for example, is Kaoru Mori describing how she was her own worst enemy in terms of assigning workload for Emma:

So my original plan was to assemble a number of omake examples like this and write up a humorous essay about how all Japanese creators suffer the same hardships. But then, during the perpetual process of cleaning my office, I came across my copy of Marvel Visionaries: Steve Ditko and happened to open it up to the bonus feature originally presented in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1, "How Stan Lee and Steve Ditko Create Spider-Man!" (click images for larger scans):

I couldn't believe what I was seeing! The humorous, self-deprecating depiction of the creators! The suffering of the artist as he struggles with the details of his drawings! The scarcely concealed hostility between artist and editor! It was all there, staring me in the face! I had to face facts: Steve Ditko had created the first-ever omake!! Obviously, Japanese creators saw this feature and decided it was the perfect model to use as a template for their own afterwords. And thus, the manga omake as we know it today was born. Excelsior!

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