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Oh my. I’m sitting here, just after midnight, fully aware that it’s my birthday. My 35th birthday, actually. I don’t feel that age at all, or at least not what I imagined that age to be when I was younger (I should write a post about that). ANYWAYS, this post isn’t about that! This post is here because I’ve been fervently working on a manga, and it’s way behind schedule, but I’m sharing the process with you. That’s the way I roll.
First off, making manga is HARD. WORK. I should know, I did it for two years as an assistant, and I’ve been trying to do it for real, at the same pace, as an adult, and found out that there’s no way to put out a quality manga in a month with the page count and art quality that I want, and do it all alone. I’m so sorry everyone for pushing the release date back, BUT you’re going to have it totally made up to you! Trust me. Well, look and see as we go along.
Today I’m writing about a NAME. A name is what they do in Japan while first writing a manga. If you’ve read or seen Bakuman, then you’re familiar with a Name and what it is. It’s basically a rough rough draft, with sloppy pictures, to put together your manga.
You can do this a lot of ways. First, I started with a basic timeline to organize my thoughts. Then, I wrote a page-by-page breakdown of what I wanted to go on every page. I wrote general actions, and even some dialogue. Basically, this was all about getting my thoughts together and putting them in order to make sure that they worked. Does that make sense? It does to me, but I might be fooling myself.
My timeline, breakdown, and finally the actual Name on top.
Let me teach you how by actually answering some questions (that I actually get asked):
So, how do I write a Name?
I’m glad you asked! It’s fairly simple, though it’s not easy. At least not for me. You think hard about characters, dialogue, and panel layout, and then you draw it with simple drawings or stick figures, or whatever level of detail you want. I recommend going really simple, because you’re probably going to change things as you go on.
I can’t draw. Can I write a Name?
You sure can! Have you heard of Death Note? Bakuman? Hikaru no Go? Those were all written by one person (whose drawings are terrible) and drawn by another. You can definitely write a comic if you can draw stick figures. Maybe you can find someone to partner with you to draw it, or you can submit it to a publisher. They may not listen, but who knows? They just might, if you have a really amazing, original story.
What format do I use?
Whatever is comfortable for you! I used normal old white printer paper, folded in half to look like a book. The proportions are similar to a manga page, and it was something that I already had on hand. I used a regular mechanical pencil with .3 lead, my favorite. Okay, and I used a pen sometimes, when I felt like it. The point is that you can use anything, any format. Some mangaka draw little tiny thumbnails of pages as their names, and write the dialogue on the side. Some put 4 on one page. Some use the whole page (which I have done). Some don’t even use printer/copy paper, they use special notebooks in Japan that look like manga paper, and are made specifically for Names. I used to own one of these, but it never really worked for me for some reason.
What if I don’t know how to draw the layout?
My best advice is to just draw whatever comes to mind, even if it’s bad, and then move on. When you’ve finished the chapter, you’ll have new thoughts about the beginning and be able to change it. I think the beginning of Denkiki went through 5 or 6 revisions before I was happy enough with it to start drawing.
No, I really don’t know how to draw layouts.
You can always use your favorite manga for reference! I am not saying to copy. It wouldn’t be your own original work if you copied it. But look at the kinds of panels they use, and use that as inspiration. I pulled out my favorite mangas (of the same genre) over and over again while drawing.
How long should it take to finish a complete name?
This is going to depend on a lot of things, like the length of your story, your inspiration and ability to concentrate, and how much experience you have. I worked for years in manga, but I am still a bit of a newbie when it comes to writing names. It took me almost a whole week to draw my name and revise it, and come to something that I really like. That’s about 50 hours, since I was working 10 hours a day. That’s a lot, I know. Arina Tanemura claims that she writes all of her names in one day. Konomi-sensei always seemed to be working on next month’s Name in the studio while we were busy with the current month, so maybe he was on the slower side, too.
Happy drawing, guys! No, it really is that simple! It’s not easy, it is hard work, but it will really pay off when you have a completed story in your hands and can’t wait to get down to drawing it!
Let me know if you have any other questions, and in the meantime, help me reach 100 preorders for my manga! I really, really need everyone’s help, and you can even consider it a birthday present to me! You can order here: http://jamieism.storenvy.com/products/13801038-denkiki-issue-1-is-finally-coming-preorder