How to be a mangaka

How to be a mangaka:
A guide for aspiring artists everywhere!

Want to learn how to become a mangaka?

I worked on The Prince of Tennis manga in Japan for two years, and I lived in Japan for nine years. But I’m probably a lot more like you than you think! I am not Japanese– I am American. I was born and raised in the United States, and I got into anime and manga when I was in high school (way back in the 90s!). I loved it so much that I decided to just live in Japan when I graduated college, and then I made it happen. After years working at jobs that I didn’t really like, I finally found myself working an amazing job in manga (that you can read all about here and in my new book!), but I started out just like any average person. I had no special advantages. I just worked hard for it (you can read about my first year in Japan also, here).

The one thing that would have been helpful, though, would have been having a mentor. I can’t mentor everyone personally, but I’m sharing my knowledge of the manga industry and making manga here on my blog so that if you’re looking for answers, at least you have somewhere to start.

So please, do read on, and if you think that it’s good advice, share it on social media or between your friends! If you want more advice, comment or email me (I get to everyone, but it may take some time!), or better yet, ask me for interviews or to be on your videos or podcasts, and ask your favorite anime convention to bring me in as a guest! It’s the best way to reach a lot of people at once, which is what I want to do. I want to help all of the potential mangaka outside of Japan become great artists, and tell great stories! Eventually,  it’s part of my dream to start a manga magazine available at newsstands and supermarkets around the world in all sorts of language, with amazing content, but for that, I first need to help other artists realize their potential. <3

☆ Part 1: Paths artists take to becoming mangaka in Japan.
☆ Part 2: Tools that manga artists in Japan use.
☆ Part 3: Entering a manga contest and sending submissions from outside of Japan.
☆ Part 4: Writing the NAME
☆ Part 5: Coming Soon!

(10,195 geeks have read this)

32 Comments

  • Badar

    Hello Jamie, Love you your blogs about how to become a mangaka! But I have a question that I think no one asked. What kind of visa you should get to work as a mangaka or a mangaka assistant? I think being a mangaka is not an official job, so what do you do? Maybe the magazine you work with make one?

  • Teriyaki

    I was wondering something… I have a ton of materials, and I’ve been practicing drawing like a mad hamster, but I just can’t figure out how to get screentones. Now, if I were to print them on clear paper, how would I get them to stick on the paper. Also (last question), what do you use to make the manga look smooth in it’s final product? As in, cover up whiteout or make the lines look more prominently black? Just curious. Thanks for posting 🙂

  • Amaterasu

    Hello Jamie I have some questions for you
    1)what materials must i start with

    2)which paper is better(A4 OR B4)

    3)must i use real places in Japan or just random
    Thank you for your awesome blog

  • Ali Konain

    Hello, Jamie-Chan, I’ve read you’re blog and I want to know some information that I hope, won’t be a bother for you to tell me…
    I’m really much looking forward to moving to Japan and starting my career as a Mangaka.
    Would you be kind enough to tell me the basics or the most important things that I should do before coming to Japan? (Is Learning Japanese really important ? etc)…

    • abhinav

      i am currently searching or actually doing a research,what i found is that i should graduate from a good school or a college,some are saying that kyoto seika uneversity is a good manga school.is it true?

  • andre ricardo de oliveira

    hello i’m andre i live in portugal but im argnetiniam, i’m thinking go live in japan, stay the 3 turist months there, but tray loky if i get a job in a manga publisher magazine, i want to ask u, how difficult is get a normal job to survive being a not japanese guy? and talking about this manga competitions, when is the next on 2016? anyway thank u and my respects for your work.

    • Sofia Pinto

      Hey! I´m Sofia and I´m from Portugal. I really wanted to work in the manga industry, but the only thing I do is write. I found two persons that can work with me, but I wanted to start something only in the end of college.
      Anyway, I have the same questions you have and it´s really nice to meet someon who wants the same as ourselves. So, if you liked to talk to me or somethin, just say ^^.

      Sorry if this isn´t the answer you wanted, but still.
      Stay good.

  • Sagar

    Started reading this blog about a year ago and so far it has been really helpful……….thinking of creating a manga myself………although here in India it would most likely be seen as a comic without color………anyway KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!!!

  • fabio silva

    thanks for sharing all your knowledge. i feel like making manga too 🙂 !

    its kinda of insane resolution you need to work on tho, im surprised if photoshop wont become slow when u start stacking layers on it.
    how you guys manage?

  • Marian

    omg! all your blog is amazing!!
    it’s like if I’m in paradise!!
    thank you for all your hard work! I’ll definitely read all your advices!
    thank you! thank you!!
    ((sorry for my english))

  • Andy

    When do you think part 4 will be coming out? :>
    I’ve gotten so much out if the first 2 parts and I’m so excited to see what else you can share.

    Is there any chance that you can go into how things work more? Like some techniques you learned?
    Well, whatever you come up with, I’m very eager for the next part of this series C: Oh, or would it be best to look into buying your book instead?

    Also, I was wondering how long you studied Japanese before you became an assistant, and sorry if you had already answered this, but how did you become and assistant and do you think someone who is visiting for a few months would be able to become an assistant for a little while, and how could I go about doing so?

    I’ve been a practicing mangaka since i was in 7th grade but i fell into a deep depression and eating disorder which killed my passion and only now that im a few months into recovery that i have gotten back into making manga again, but this time i want it to be as professional as possible, so as i said, your posts have helped me soooooo much, so thank you thank you thank you!!
    ありがとございます!!

  • Erika Oliva

    Woooaah!! you’re my inspiration! I wanna be a mangaka to! I already have the story of my manga, it’s shoujo 🙂
    I’m still in highschool, but i’m graduating next year. I post all my drawings in Instagram and Devaintart. It’s really exiting to know that somebody like me made it where I wanna be to. It gives me hope! Thank you so much, if you want to see my drawings my instagram is “kika_oliva” I tried to find you in Instagram but I couldn’t find you. Bye-bye! you gaved me lots of hope! Domo arigato gozaimasu Lano-san!!

    PS: I almost forgot!, if you see my drawings, can you give me some tips? Arigato!<3

  • KK

    Thank you- this is a really insightful and well written series!

    Do you by chance know of any Artist Residencies in Japan that deal with manga or illustration?

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