An odd trend popped up in comics towards the end of the 20th century. Instead of producing freshly drawn adaptations of film and television, publishers would use images straight from the screen to make a comic book. With the right screen captures and well-inserted word balloons, an animated feature could become a comic book in no time.
Often referred to as cine-manga or ani-manga, these publications were widely used by companies like Disney or Tokyopop to make comics for young readers. Some of the more prolific examples are Studio Ghibli film comics like Castle in the Sky, cartoon series like Avatar: The Last Airbender, and a certain video game about battling monsters.
The Pokémon TV Animation Comic was a collaboration between Nintendo Power and Viz Media. The ani-manga comics made their debut as part of a mini-magazine included with Nintendo Power, derivatively title Pokémon Power. These inserts ran for six issues, from August 1998 until January 1999. The bulk of the mini-magazine was split between a strategy guide for Pokémon Red/Blue and the ani-manga comics, with just a dash of merchandising news and fan art to fill in the seams.
Unlike other Pokémon comic adaptations that would feature an artist’s unique take on the video games, Pokémon Power lifted its content wholesale from the hit television series. The first six episodes of the show were transferred to the printed page, with only minor edits to keep the story fluid for new readers.
This was not the only ani-manga adaptation of the Pokémon television show to be published. In Japan, the Pocket Monsters Film Comic ran for 54 volumes and adapted over 100 episodes of the show into comic book form. While most of these graphic novels never made their way to the States, many of them were translated into Cantonese and sold in Hong Kong.
Now the question on everyone’s mind: where can I find these comics for my personal reading pleasure? The six American comics were collected into a single graphic novel aptly titled, “I Choose You!” There are still a few copies of this floating around eBay and in used book stores. As for the Pokémon Power mini-magazines, perhaps they will surface one day on Please Take One or Old Game Magazines. I did manage to catch em’ all at one time, so I’m sure these classic publications are hidden somewhere in my stash of Nintendo Power magazines.
It’s just a matter of digging them out and throwing them onto the internet, thus bringing these comics full circle- as electronically scanned images of printed material that is made up of screen captures of a television series.
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