I think you’ve all waited long enough! Let’s get started!! Want to know how to become a manga artist? Then, READ ON my friends!
“MANGA IS WHAT I WANT TO DO IN LIFE!”
If you see a picture like the above and have that thought, or if you are just curious about what goes into making a manga, then this is a post series for you!
This is me (and my cat, Sansa)
My name is Jamie Lynn Lano. I’m American, but I worked for the wildly successful mangaka Konomi Takeshi on his Shin Tennis no Oujisama manga for a year and a half. I had a wild ride, learned a lot, and had experiences in pretty much every aspect of making a manga, from character creation and writing good stories, to all of the details that go into a finished piece– research, photography, creating objects and worlds, down to techniques for doing inking and using screentones.
I’ve been writing about my experiences there for a while now, and you can read them here if you’re interested!
Now I am working on becoming a mangaka of my own, and I am constantly asked the same question:
“How can I become a mangaka?”
Well, I am not yet a mangaka (I’ve just been an assistant mangaka), but everything that Konomi-sensei and the staff at JUMP taught me, I want to help pass on to you, to help create a generation of foreign mangaka!!
Manga culture is my favorite thing about Japan. I can’t get most of the foods that I love, and women are still treated as a lower species here, but manga is different! Women and men, young and old, EVERYONE reads manga and there is a manga for everyone! Young and old, all types of people create manga, too! I want to help create a culture like that all over the world. Where everyone reads comics, and there is a comic for everyone! To do that, I think that we need “manga” artists all over the world.
So if you have any friends who are intersted in learning about the manga production process, send them here! I’ll teach you everything that I know about how it’s done in the birthplace of manga, here in Japan! Once I get my own manga published in Japan, I want to use that experience and credibility to spread the process around the world!!
And without further ado, let’s start with introducing the first, and most common way, that an artist becomes a full-fledged mangaka:
Well, in manga, there is really only one way to go when an artist wants to make a debut as a mangaka. That is:
Draw a manga and take it in to a publisher! It sounds pretty simple, and submitting a manga is simple! (Drawing isn’t, though! As you will see.)
Now, just a moment. Is it really that easy?
Sure! A manga publisher will accept and give you advice on your manga. All you have to do is look in the magazine that you want to get published in, and find their phone number. You call and make an appointment with an editor. Anyone can do this, regardless of experience. Seriously, it’s that easy!! Editors want to help raise successful and bestselling artists, so they will look at a manga that you bring in and give you advice. Only a tiny amount of what is submitted to a magazine by amateurs ever sees print, though. That’s where the catch is.
You can always submit, but they’re only going to print the stories that they want to.
99% of mangaka get their start this way. Rumiko Takahashi (Ranma 1/2, Inu Yasha, Urusei Yatsura) got her start this way. My ex-boss Takeshi Konomi (Prince of Tennis, COOL) also did. Almost every manga artist that you’ve ever heard of did!
Pretty much all manga magazines take submissions. You can mail them in, or take them in personally by making an appointment. Any person can make an appointment. It doesn’t matter how old you are, your gender, your experience, or even what country you are from. All they are interested in is,
“Can you make a manga that will sell?”
Magazines are constantly on the look for new talent. The submission guidelines are different for every magazine, and some magazines will take in your manga and give you feedback alone, urging you to bring or send in more work, until you’ve come up with something pro-level.
Most magazines, though, run “contests,” of a sort. There are some specialized contests with big prizes, like Shueisha’s Silver Tiara competition, but most of them are ongoing. Basically, all of the submissions for that magazines are collected monthly or quarterly, and the best submissions are given monetary prizes and advice, and their name printed in the magazine. When you are deemed good enough, then your story will get a contract for printing, and voila! You’ve made your debut! From there, you are assigned a continuous editor, and they will work with you to make a story suitable for serialization or more stand-alone stories.
I’ve already written about one really famous competition, the one for Shonen JUMP! You can read about the Shonen JUMP Treasure competition here: http://www.jamieism.com/213/japan/manga-competitions-shonen-jump-treasure
Pretty much anything you write will have to be in Japanese , but there is a contest put on by Morning magazine specifically for artists outside of Japan: http://morningmanga.com/micc/rule_e.html
This is also something that I just found out about from Chii, but Comic Zenon is sponsoring a “silent manga” competition! It’s specifically for people who can’t speak Japanese, so it might be a really good opportunity! You can check it out here: http://www.manga-audition.com/en/
The main rule is that: if you are good, you can become a mangaka! If you can write and draw a good manga, the submission process is simple and straightforward.
Of course, making that good manga is another story.
By the way, there are other ways to become a mangaka, like self-publishing your own manga (called doujinshi), and then being recruited by a publisher (I’ll write a post detailing how to do this one day). Some artists, like CLAMP (Magic Knights Rayearth, Chobits, XXX Holic) got started this way. And some artists, like Watashiya Kaoru (Kodomo no Jikan), even keep making doujinshi after they are publishing professional manga.
Some other artists are approached with opportunities while they work as a mangaka’s assistant. Noda Shigeru (Dr. Kenji Morohashi, Kakesen) made his debut that way, as an editor liked his drawing and offered him the chance to pair with an established writer. Or, alternatively you could be an author recruited to write (but not draw) a manga based on the success of your novels, like Kazuma Kamachi (To aru Kagaku no Railgun), or a celebrity asked for a collaboration, like Shokotan (Noko no Koi).
But those are exceptions to the rule.
99% of mangaka become a manga artists by bringing in or sending their comics to comic magazines.
Those are Japanese comic magazines on the right. They’re what mangaka are aiming to get their work into.
That’s what you should aim for too, if you want to become a mangaka!
To learn about the process, keep checking back here soon!! I will help talk you through the materials, the creation process, and tips and tricks!!
See you soon, I hope!! And please pass this post on to all of your friends, and leave as many comments as you can! Comments let me know what you like, and spur me to keep writing! (This post took 5 hours to write!)