One-shot (comics)

A one-shot is comic work published as a single and stand-alone story, rather than a continuing or ongoing series.[1] On the basis of various comic art formats in modern days, one-shot comics may be in forms of single published comic books, parts of comic magazines/anthologies or published online in websites, though they were mostly limited by newspaper versions back to the early 19th century.[2] In marketing industry, some one-shot comics could be considered as promotion tools that tie up with existing productions, movies, video games or television shows.[1]

Manga shop in Tokyo

General KnowledgeEdit

In the Japanese manga industry, the concept of one-shot is expressed by the term yomikiri (読み切り), which implies that the comic is presented in its entirety without any continuation.[3] One-shot manga are often written for contests, and sometimes later developed into a full-length manga series (much like a television pilot). Many popular manga series began as one-shot stories, including Dragon Ball, Fist of the North Star, Naruto, Bleach, One Piece, Berserk, Kinnikuman and Death Note, among others. Some noted manga authors, such as Akira Toriyama and Rumiko Takahashi, have worked on numerous one-shot stories in addition to their serialized works. 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.

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 albums.[4]

Japan and Asia traditionsEdit

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 mangaEdit

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 CategoryEdit

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.

It should be mentioned that while one-shots could be a stand-alone Fanart manga, Doujin could also be defined as a one-shot manga or it could be self-published outside the regular market and 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 TezukaEdit

Osamu Tezuka (taken in 1951)

Osamu Tezuka (1928-1989), who has also been called "The God of Manga", was a Japanese manga artist and animator. He was "Japan's most celebrated cartoonists, winner of numerous awards at international animation festivals, a medical doctor, and so much more".[7] During his respectable career, he had been created more than 150,000 pages of manga within five decades.[2] He contributed to building current Japanese Manga system and industry.[2] Some of his one-shot manga are listed as examples.

• Rain Boy/Amefuri Kozou (雨ふり小僧)


• Metropolis (メトロポリス)

• New Treasure Island (新宝岛)

See List of Osamu Tezuka manga for a complete list.

Junji ItoEdit

Junji Ito (born July 31, 1963), as a notable Japanese horror manga artist, has been created hundreds of comic works and many of them are in form of one-shot manga. He has a unique realistic art style which integrates Japanese psychological terror and visual terror. His horror art is influenced by some 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 less concerned with some cliched plots.[8] Some of his one-shot manga are listed as examples.

• Hellstar Remina

• Phantom Mansion

• Demons Voice

• Fixed Face

• Ghost Heights Management Association

• Human Chair

• Junji Itos Dog Diary

• Junji Itos Snow White

• Mountain of Gods

• Ribs Woman

• The Summer Time Graduation Trip

• Umezz Kazuo & Me

• Youkai Kyoushitsu

Akira ToriyamaEdit

Akira Toriyama (born April 5, 1955), as a Japanese manga artist and character designer, has been created numerous of well-known works include his best-known works Dr. Slump and Dragon Ball. Both of his best-known works sells over millions of copies in Japan, and these works also were adapted into anime series. He is considered as a respectful artist who influenced the history of comics in worldwide. His work Dragon Ball began as a one-shot story, then adapted into a notable continuing series and it became the second up-to-date best-selling manga. Some of his one-shot manga are listed as examples.

Wonder Island (ワンダー・アイランド, Wandā Airando)

Wonder Island 2 (ワンダー・アイランド2, Wandā Airando Tsū)

Today's Highlight Island (本日のハイライ島, Honjitsu no Hairai-tō)

Tomato, Girl Detective (ギャル刑事トマト, Gyaru Deka Tomato)

Pola & Roid


Mad Matic

The Adventure of Tongpoo (トンプー大冒険, Tonpū Dai Bōken)

Mr. Ho (Mr.ホー)

Lady Red

Kennosuke-sama (剣之介さま)

America and Western Countries traditionsEdit

The prototype comic works in Western Countries was viewed in forms of pamphlets, giveaways, or Sunday newspaper comic sections in the 19th century, then developed and published as comic magazines which 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 century to the 20th centuryEdit

1919 Dutch caricature - Anno 1919

This is a period for the early developing comic industries, 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 comicsEdit

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

Since 1930s, a specific form of comic – 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 is still the dominant comic format in its own markets, while superhero comic books are dominating 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 comic is increasing its popularity as Japanese-style anthologies are appeared and 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 MercierEdit

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

• 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 MillarEdit

Mark Millar (born Dec 24, 1969) is a comic book author from Scotland, and he has been 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 contributed were adapted into films, while he has been an executive producer for all of them. His films have taken millions to billions of USD$ at all box offices. Some of his one-shot comic works are listed as examples.

• 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 EisnerEdit

William Erwin Eisner (1917-2005), as a notable and 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 listed as examples.

A Family Matter (1998)

Life on Another Planet (1983)

The Dreamer (1986)

To the Heart of the Storm (1991)

• nvisible People (1993)

A Contract with God. Baronet Books (1978)

• Minor Miracles (2000)

See alsoEdit


  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 (Issue 1 Cognitive Narratology). 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.