I've been a bit behind on my regular internets trawls lately, and today was pretty much catchup day.
So I read this post from Sunday just a few minutes ago.
I must agree.
It has been said by many that kids just don't read today. This is obviously patently untrue, even ignoring Harry Potter. Quite a few kids read manga.
Myself among them. (Ignoring, of course, the fact that I'm 25 and have read through Lord of the Rings [multiple times], the entire monolithic and painful New Jedi Order Expanded Universe series [why'd you kill Chewbacca?!], Star Trek novels [I'm not even a fan of Star Trek!], most of Isaac Asimov's Foundation series, etc.)
Manga, at present, are much more popular than western comics among youth. Why?
Some say it's the art.
It certainly can't be because it's less plot-intensive and less backstory-heavy than western comics. While few manga have shared universes and backstory elements by comparison to the massive shared universes of western comics, they still frequently contain complicated backstories.
I mean, my main source of manga is Shonen Jump (as has been indicated previously on this blog). One of the problems with this format is, while it's an economical package of seven or so titles (I'm probably way off), they change the lineup every six months or so, dropping titles you might have liked and adding ones you don't give a care about in their place. (They also frequently throw in single-chapter previews for stuff that will never be serialized within the magazine itself.) Occasionally too, they'll skip over massive amounts of storyline, especially if the series is a highly commercial one (okay, most of SJ's titles are highly commercial) that has an anime out that's been dubbed earlier than the manga was released.
And manga is heavily continuity driven. If you haven't read a chapter preceding the current one, you'll probably be at least a little bit lost, because they did a bunch of stuff during that chapter. (Unlike western comics. Rimshot.)
I mean, in a recent chapter of YuYu Hakusho, the main character had been killed in the previous chapter (for the second time-he first died in the first chapter of the series), and suddenly semi-inexplicably revived. (It's sorta complicated and nonsensical, but it was played better than any other inexplicable revival I've ever seen.) If you missed the previous bit, you might be wondering how he died (although he'd been fighting some powerful guy before then, so perhaps not).
Or, just generally, recent chapters of Bleach have been kind of obtuse reading for me. Mainly because, out of probably fifty chapters or more, I saw only two of them because that's how many were in Shonen Jump (and those two chapters were particularly uninformative ones). It's been a few chapters, but I'm able to follow perhaps 70% of the current stuff. It's not my favorite manga or anything, but I'm following it despite being dropped into it suddenly.
I had somewhere more specific that I was going with this, but I got kicked off for forty five minutes.
The point is, yeah, it's not the continuity alone that makes it newbie-unfriendly. Look at the writing first when sales have problems, then at the art, then at trappings of the universe.