☆ anime/manga,  ☆ artsies,  ☆ being a mangaka

How to be a Mangaka, part 4: Writing the NAME

☆彡 Click here for a list of all of the posts in this series. *^_^*

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.

My name. 

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

(8,875 geeks have read this)

Hi! This is Jamie Lynn Lano! I am a Washington State (USA) native who: ☆ Holds a Bachelors of the Arts in Media Arts & Animation from AiPx. ☆ Worked as an assistant mangaka in Japan for Konomi Takeshi on The Prince of Tennis. ☆ Was an essay columnist for Asahi Weekly from 2008-2013. ☆ Was the star of Asahi Pop'n Press on Asahi TV (Japan) from 2009-2013 ☆ Was a write for Metropolis magazine in 2010. ☆ Has kept a blog foreeeeeeeeever! First and Current blogs.


  • Dareka

    So part 5 is comming soon? =] Also, please make a tutorial/give tips on how to draw backgrounds, I heard that’s what assistants usually do. It’d be interesting to have a look on the general process, how you did it and all!

  • Devitt Logan

    Could you please do a part 5 where you give us tips for drawing techniques? Like for example, I found out that drawing a particular line over and over itself looks different from a single line drawn with a lot of pressure. If it’s not too much trouble, would you please consider doing something like that?

  • ritorubatafurai

    Ever since I’m 9, I’ve always wanted to be a mangaka. I can draw very well and make a story. But I don’t know how to published it.. I made a lot of comics but nobody reads it

  • Noah

    I recently decided to become a mangaka and i like some tips per-say. you think you can help.

    p.s. when is your part 5 coming out?

  • Nirmal

    Ma’am, I’ve started working on my first manga series recently. Could you please review the art and the style? I’m really serious about this thing and I’ve decided to try and become a Mangaka. There are other things I would like to know as well. I hope you’ll reply.

  • Isabelle

    What are the manga paper notebooks you mentioned here? Are they just regular notebooks, just filled with A4 size paper? I tried looking to find this online, so is there a more specific name or somewhere I could buy them online?

    Thank you!

  • Etherious Jackal

    Hi Jamie,
    I have a problem… where I live, they don’t sell Screen tones.
    Is there anything else I can use in place of that?

  • iamapriljoie

    hi thanks for these whole things you posted. ive been training myself of basics in manga, yeah drawing is hard. and been planing to enter a contest which is valid til next year so i gt a lot of time.

  • Marieke

    Hey! First of all, a (very) belated happy birthday!
    Second, I have a small technical question about manga drafts and I was wondering if you could help me with it. I’ve been looking around on the internet but never seemed to find a answer.

    It’s about the text in the text bubbles. For manga being published in magazines like Shonen Jump, do the artists actually write out the next by hand on their final drafts? Or do they print it out in a certain font and paste in on the paper before handing it in? Or do they something else entirely?

    I’m really confused about this matter, so I thought I would try asking you, if you’re not too busy 🙂

    Thanks in advance and have a nice day!

  • JS

    Hi, just curious…do you have a job other than manga? I’m wondering how you pay the bills and have time to draw all day. Thanks!

    • Jamie Lynn Lano

      Hi JS! Yes, I do, but it’s nothing exciting to talk about right now. 😉 One day, I will move fully into supporting myself on manga, though! Most mangaka, and even seiyuus, have other jobs in the beginning.

  • LaroonDynasty .

    I am an aspiring mangaka. I appreciate your blog as it is rather difficult finding clear and concise sites on the topic. I have a story written to last 13 years, 4 books a year, with 6 chapters per book, 25ish pages per chapter. I also have a sister series to go on at the same time, same length, and a series to follow up just to keep me busy. Although I consider my art to be good, better than some published manga, such as AoT, but my story is far more demanding and my art just isnt at the level to compliment the complexity of the series, so I will just do the character and concept designs and names and collaborate with an artist. My plan is to learn Japanese fluently and then moving out their to submit the old fashioned way, in person. That wont be for another five years, so I plan on making 6 chapters of the main series and the sister series in the meantime with artists I know, while honing my own ability by the time I head out, so the editor would have some stuff to look at. My question would be whether I should prepare a few shorter stories to get known prior to bringing in the 12 chapters?

    • Jamie Lynn Lano

      Good luck!! Whatever you submit should be a self-contained story to start. You can think of expanding it later, if they tell you that that is the direction they want to go in.

  • Rick


    Enjoyed your blog ….. have suffered with depression since my early 20’s ……. I finally had to give up trusting anyone to get along in this world.

    Best Wishes

  • Alesand

    A very interesting beginning process. I’ve thought about doing this and having someone else with experience do the drawings.

    BTW Happy Birthday!

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