One-shot (comics)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Manga shop in Tokyo

In comics, a one-shot is a work published as a single stand-alone story, rather than as part of an ongoing series.[1] One-shots date back to the early 19th century, published in newspapers, and today may be in the form of single published comic books, parts of comic magazines/anthologies or published online in websites.[2] In the marketing industry, some one-shots are used as promotion tools that tie in with existing productions, movies, video games or television shows.[1]


In the Japanese manga industry, one-shots are called yomikiri (読み切り), a term which implies that the comic is presented in its entirety without any continuation.[3][better source needed] One-shot manga are often written for contests, and sometimes later developed into a full-length series, much like a television pilot. Many popular manga series began as one-shots, such as Dragon Ball, Fist of the North Star, Naruto, Bleach, One Piece, Berserk, Kinnikuman and Death Note. Rising Stars of Manga was an annual competition for original English-language one-shot manga, many of which have gone on to become full-length manga series. Some noted manga authors, such as Akira Toriyama and Rumiko Takahashi, have worked on numerous one-shot stories in addition to their serialized works.

In the United States, one-shots are usually labeled with a "#1" despite there being no following issues, and are sometimes subtitled as "specials". On occasion, a character or concept will appear in a series of one-shots, in cases where the subject matter is not financially lucrative enough to merit an ongoing or limited series, but still popular enough to be published on a regular basis, often annually or quarterly.[1] A current example of a series of one-shots would be Marvel Comics' Franklin Richards: Son of a Genius publications. This type of one-shot is not to be confused with a comic book annual, which is typically a companion publication to an established ongoing series.

The term has also been borrowed into the Franco-Belgian comics industry, with basically the same meaning, although there it mostly refers to comic albums.[4]

Asian traditions[edit]

An ukiyo-e of the Battle of Mikatagahara

The comic art histories of different countries and regions are following divergent paths. Japanese early comic art or manga took its rise from the 12th century and developed from Chōjū-jinbutsu-giga ("Animal-person Caricatures"), went so far as to ukiyo-e ("floating world") in the 17th century.[2][5] Western-style humour comics and caricatures had been introduced into Japan in the late 19th century and impacted on the styles of comic art. On the other hand, the significant development of modern era Japanese comic art was arising in the aftermath of World War II and further developed into diversified genres.[2] Nowadays, Japan has the largest and most matured manga market around the world. Almost a quarter of all printed materials in Japan are in forms of manga, while the audiences are from all ages.[6]

Modern era one-shot manga[edit]

Most of modern era one-shot manga (yomikiri 読み切り) have an independent world set (worldview), character design and story line, rather than sharing a same comic universe. In Japan and other Asian countries, some one-shot manga are more like takeoff boards to determine the popularity from the audience. The format of a one-shot manga could be changed if it has a broad market prospect,[1] so that:

1) a one-shot manga could become a serialized continuing manga after adapting.

2) a one-shot manga could develop into a series of one-shot manga or serial manga, which are sharing the same world set and character design, but in different story lines.

3) side stories could derive from the original one-shot manga, such as a prequel, a sequel, and an antagonist or supporting role's side story.

One-shot manga category[edit]

The Japanese comic market has many unique manga categories. The categories are listing below:

Kodomo is aiming for young children;

Shonen is aiming for boys;

Shojo is aiming for girls;

Seinen is aiming for young adult men;

Josei is aiming for young adult women.

While one-shots can be a stand-alone fanart manga, Doujin can also be defined as a one-shot manga or self-published outside the regular industry as Doujinshi. On the other hand, magazine and tankobon are both good publishing formats for one-shot manga.


One-shot manga artists are too broad to be completely listed. Here are some artists that have typical one-shot works, which could be further used for understanding and interest.

Osamu Tezuka[edit]

Osamu Tezuka in 1951

Osamu Tezuka (1928–1989), called "The God of Manga", was a Japanese manga artist and animator. He was one of Japan's most celebrated cartoonists, the winner of numerous awards at international animation festivals, and also a medical doctor.[7] During his five-decade career, he created more than 150,000 pages of manga.[2] He contributed to building current Japanese manga industry.[2] Examples of his one-shot manga include:

  • Rain Boy/Amefuri Kozou (雨ふり小僧)
  • Metropolis (メトロポリス)
  • New Treasure Island (新宝岛)

Junji Ito[edit]

Junji Ito (born 1963) is a notable Japanese horror manga artist who has created hundreds of comic works, many of which are one-shot manga. He has a unique realistic art style which integrates Japanese psychological terror and visual terror. His horror art is influenced by authors and artists such as H.P. Lovecraft, Yasutaka Tsutsui, Hideshi Hino and Kazuo Umezu.[8] His works have a hint of gallows humor (or black comedy), metaphysical philosophy, existential philosophy, and Cthulhu Mythos, but are less concerned with cliched plots.[8] Examples of his one-shot manga include:

  • Hellstar Remina
  • Phantom Mansion
  • Demons Voice
  • Fixed Face
  • Ghost Heights Management Association
  • Human Chair
  • Junji Ito's Dog Diary
  • Junji Ito's Snow White
  • Mountain of Gods
  • Ribs Woman
  • The Summer Time Graduation Trip
  • Umezz Kazuo & Me
  • Youkai Kyoushitsu

Akira Toriyama[edit]

Akira Toriyama (born 1955) is a Japanese manga artist and character designer. He has created numerous well-known works including his best-known works Dr. Slump and Dragon Ball. Both of his best-known works have sold millions of copies in Japan and were adapted into anime series. He is considered a respected artist who influenced the history of comics in worldwide. His work Dragon Ball began as a one-shot, then was adapted into a continuing series which became the second best-selling manga to date. Some of his one-shot manga are:

Western traditions[edit]

The prototype comic works in Western countries were pamphlets, giveaways, or Sunday newspaper comic sections in the 19th century. These were then developed and published as comic magazines which were distributed with the newspapers sales on newsstands.[2] On the other hand, graphic books in America was also viewed as developing from pamphlets that sold on newsstands.[2] Comic was not highly regarded in the early market, for example, during depression comic was used to increase the sales of newspapers and some other products in America. Most of the comics were one-shot comics before the rise of long continuities in newspaper strips.[2] After some early developments, weekly comic magazines became the major way of dissemination in European comic markets.[2] Influenced by the chaos of social revolutions and changings in 20th century, Western alternative comic art was quickly developed as well as 1970s and 1980s' America.[9] Also, America has stirred up a spree of Superhero Comics since 1930s, and this comic form is still dominating the comic market.

The 19th and early 20th century[edit]

1919 Dutch caricature Anno 1919

In this period, comic strips and magazines were the major reading formats that had been leading the markets. Divergent genres such as humour, caricature, and horror were dominant forms of comics in that time. In the very beginning, magazines were divided from the comic supplements of newspapers within a decade of their first appearance in America.[10] On the other side of the coin, in Europe, magazine format was developed as a comic supplement of newspapers along European features and never lost the identification.[2] It is worth mentioning that comic art is developing more rapidly during social revolutions, while comic strips were very topical and aimed at all ages.

Modern era one-shot comics[edit]

Exposició Stan Lee & the american comic book. Zona lliure de dibuis. 37 comic Barcelona

Since the 1930s, a specific form of comic, the superhero comic, has been causing a feeding frenzy in America and further impacted on other countries' comic markets. It dominated the publishing industry on comic art, and most of the published comic books were contained one-shot stories rather than serialized stories.[2] It is also worth mentioning that a single popular protagonist always centered all the highlights in a Superhero comic story. This best-selling model is still the majority of American comic market until today.[2] In the 1970s, due to the dislocations of social developments, alternative comic art traditions were developing under the era. This alternative underground comic movement used comic strips and comic books as mediums for radical changes.[2]

In more recent years, European albums are still the dominant comic format in their own markets, while superhero comic books dominate the American market rather than continued stories. Several large comic book publishers, Entertainments and animation production companies were established such as DC Comics and Marvel Comics. On another note, Japanese comics are increasing in popularity as Japanese-style anthologies are published in America in recent decades.[2]


One-shot manga artists are too broad to be completely listed. Here are some artists that have typical one-shot works, which could be further used for understanding and interest.

Emile Mercier[edit]

Emile Mercier (1901–1980) was an notable Australian humourist and cartoonist in the 20th century. His works used a unique Australian colloquial style.[11] He was employed as a cartoonist with The Sun, a Sydney newspaper, in 1949 and his topical comic works were aimed at audiences from lower-middle class Australia. His works can be found in republished anthologies. Some of his one-shot works are:

  • Wake Me Up At Nine! (Angus & Robertson, 1950)
  • Sauce or Mustard? (1951)
  • Gravy Pie (Angus & Robertson, 1953)
  • Hang On Please! (Angus & Robertson, 1954)
  • My Ears Are Killing Me! (Angus & Robertson, 1955)
  • I'm Waiting for an Earthquake! (Angus & Robertson, 1956)
  • Follow That Wardrobe! (Angus & Robertson, 1957)
Mark Millar 2013

Mark Millar[edit]

Mark Millar (born 1969) is a comic book author from Scotland who has created numerous notable comic works for DC Comics and Marvel Comics such as Superman: Red Son and The Ultimates.[12] Many of the works he wrote have been adapted into films, and he was an executive producer for all of them. His films have taken millions to billions of USD$ at the box office. Some of his one-shot comic works are:

  • Revolver Special #1: "Mother's Day" (with Phil Winslade, 1990)
  • Tangent Comics: The Superman: "Future Shock" (with Butch Guice, one-shot, 1998)
  • Team Superman: "They Died with Their Capes On" (with Georges Jeanty, one-shot, 1999)
  • 411 #1: "Tit-for-Tat" (with Frank Quitely, Marvel, 2003)
Will Eisner (San Diego Comic Con, 2004)

Will Eisner[edit]

William Erwin Eisner (1917–2005) was an influential American cartoonist who contributed a lot in early American comic industry and comic market, also worked as a writer and entrepreneur. The Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, or shortened as Eisner Awards, was named in Will Eisner's honor for his achievements in comic industry. He was awarded with National Cartoonists Society Comic Book Award for 1967, 1968, 1969, 1987, 1988 (for a complete award list, see Will Eisner). Some of his one-shot comic works are:

See also[edit]

  • Four Color - a prolific anthology series from Dell Comics (1939-1962) that featured many issues that were designated as "one shots".


  1. ^ a b c d Albert, Aaron. "One Shot Definition" Archived 2012-11-18 at the Wayback Machine About Entertainment. Retrieved July 8, 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Couch, C. (December 2000). "The Publication and Formats of Comics, Graphic Novels, and Tankobon". Image & Narrative. No. 1. ISSN 1780-678X. Retrieved 2 November 2020.
  3. ^ "What is the purpose of one-shot manga?".
  4. ^ Miller, A.; Beaty, B. (2014). The French Comics Theory Reader. Leuven University Press. p. 334. ISBN 9789058679888.
  5. ^ Schodt, F. (1996). Dreamland Japan: Writings on Modern Manga. Stone Bridge Press. p. 360. ISBN 9781880656235. Retrieved 2 November 2020.
  6. ^ Macwilliams, M. (2008). Japanese Visual Culture: Explorations in the World of Manga and Anime. M.E. Sharpe. p. 352. ISBN 9780765633088. Retrieved 2 November 2020.
  7. ^ Power, N. (2009). God of Comics: Osamu Tezuka and the Creation of Post-World War II Manga. University Press of Mississippi. p. 219. ISBN 9781604734782. Retrieved 2 November 2020.
  8. ^ a b Thacker, E. (Jan 30, 2016). "Black illumination: the unhuman world of Junji Ito". The Japan Times.
  9. ^ William, P.; Lyons, J. (2010). The Rise of the American Comics Artist: Creators and Contexts. University Press of Mississippi. p. 256. ISBN 9781604737936. Retrieved 2 November 2020.
  10. ^ Daniels, L. (1971). Comix: a History of Comic Books in America. Outerbridge & Dienstfrey. p. 198. ISBN 9780876900345.
  11. ^ Emile, M.; Lindsay, A. (2018). Emile Mercier rediscovered : book 1 : six complete one-shot comics from the 1940s : never seeen since!. Hobart, Tasmania : Baznold Pubs. p. 226. ISBN 9780648099635. Retrieved 2 November 2020.
  12. ^ Mitchell, R. (2011). "Mark Millar opens Coatbridge superhero archway". Airdrie & Coatbridge. Archived from the original on 2012-06-27.