Manga facial symbols

I’ve been putting the finishing touches on my first draft of a book chapter for a textbook on Japanese manga recently. Mainly, the last things I had to do was draw my examples. Also being a “comic author” is a big advantage as a scholar, since I can create my own examples when I don’t want to deal with issues of copyright and permissions.

For this one, the challenge was drawing in the “manga style,” which I rarely do. For better or worse, here’s some symbolic faces I’ve whipped up:

This section on graphic symbols/conventions was one of the hardest portions of the actual paper to write. While most of us know that manga uses a ton of wacky conventions, there aren’t many places referencing them outside of informal listings like wikipedia. At most, various sources mention one or two different conventions, but I couldn’t find any extensive type of cataloging. (though, if anyone is aware of such a thing, please let me know)

I started trying to make a cross-cultural list like this back when I used to have the forum, but that project seems to have stagnated. This is a research project just waiting for someone to take it up (like oh so many)…


  • Hey I happen to come across your page while browsing and thought I’d mention a good book that I’ve read. It’s called Understanding Manga and Anime by Robin E. Brenner.

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