I've been looking for "zip-a-tones" or Ben-Day dots for my new project. This has lead me into the seedy underbelly of comics... MANGA! Manga is just Japanese for comics, but it is so stylized that it has become its own genre of sorts, being imitated most famously right now by Scott Pilgrim artist Bryan Lee O'Malley.
I started wondering what makes the style so appealing. I drew a little in that style and think I figured it out. My attempt (pencils and zip-tone only):
1) Everything is simple. There is no time spent on shading and crosshatching and big shadows. This requires a lot of artistic prowess.
2) Everything is exaggerated. Eyes are especially exaggerated, but more than mere anatomy, emotions are given their own language. It is clear when a character is sad or happy or angry.
3) Everything is quick. You are definitely not reading a novel. Even with more complex looking stuff like Battle Royale, there is rarely a panel with more than two word balloons, most have one and some use interim panels with only words and a pattern to speed the process.
So basically it's visual junk food. Quick, straight to the gut, cheap and familiar that doesn't require a huge commitment on the part of the reader. It is pop music for the eyes.