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Thread: Howto become a American Mangaka?

  1. #1
    Registered User 上級員 / Jyoukuuin / Sr. Member kazuma_uzumaki's Avatar
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    WSJ Pirate Howto become a American Mangaka?

    Forgive me If this is in the wrong forum but....
    Does anyone know if it's even Possible for an american to make a successful manga in Japan?

    I mean there are some good american mangas, but they don't get any credibility
    So you're an american, you go to japan, know barely any japanese, but got a manga that's kickass. If you were to send that to some of the most famous manga magazine companies (weekly jump, shonen sunday, kodansha, etc.) Would they reject you purely because you can't make the plot in japanese?


    There are many americans or even somewhere else in the world today who aspire to become manga kas but is it possible for any of them to actually be a successful one, printing their work every week or month while having limited japanese?

    Sorry If my ramblings are a bit confusing but yeah...

    your thoughts please?

  2. #2
    Registered User 下級員 / Kakyuuin / Jr. Member Bo Ashi's Avatar
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    Re: The life of a manga Ka of america

    I have been thinking about this too. The usual shedule for a japanese comic artist, at least in the weekly magazines is to work close with the editor i think. Having meetings and such, to keep the quality of the comic, even when the work and time pressure is really high. So there is probably some problems with not being able to actually meet them, and having to send the material either by regular mail to japan, or by the internet, and neither is a totally reliable way i'd say.

    Still, if the manga is really good, i think the publisher would try hard to make things work. At least i hope so. I would love to do a good shonen series and be able to publish it in one of the japanese magazines. If i made a comic book that looked like anything in the JUMP for example, and tried to publish it where i live in sweden, it probably wouldn't sell at all. Or even get published.

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    Registered User 有名人 / Yuumeijin / Celebrity Crude's Avatar
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    Re: The life of a manga Ka of america

    Here's what I think you'd have to do (just my opinion):

    1. Learn the japanese language, maybe customs too (at least modern day customs).
    2. Find a good editor/manager and/or team up with a japanese person who's interested.
    3. If needed, try to somehow convince the publishers. Being a foreign mangaka could be used as a marketing tool.

  4. #4
    Registered User 下級員 / Kakyuuin / Jr. Member Bo Ashi's Avatar
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    Re: The life of a manga Ka of america

    Quote Originally Posted by CrudeCross View Post
    3. If needed, try to somehow convince the publishers. Being a foreign mangaka could be used as a marketing tool.
    Yeah, look how pumped up everyone is about Stan Lee working together with Takei on Ultimo. I know he's a legend and stuff, but as said it could still be used for marketing, even if it's a rookie artist.

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    Registered User 上級員 / Jyoukuuin / Sr. Member kazuma_uzumaki's Avatar
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    Re: The life of a manga Ka of america

    Quote Originally Posted by Indigonator View Post
    Yeah, look how pumped up everyone is about Stan Lee working together with Takei on Ultimo. I know he's a legend and stuff, but as said it could still be used for marketing, even if it's a rookie artist.
    Really Stan Lee is working with takei?!


    This should bring up the bonds between american and japanese comic fans

  6. #6
    Registered User 下級員 / Kakyuuin / Jr. Member Bo Ashi's Avatar
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    Re: The life of a manga Ka of america

    Quote Originally Posted by kazuma_uzumaki View Post
    Really Stan Lee is working with takei?!


    This should bring up the bonds between american and japanese comic fans
    Yeah, Stan Lee did the story and Takei made the art for Ultimo, wich was published in the latest issue of Jump Square, like last week. And they had a book with information of Stan Lee and stuff coming with the magazine, so it's quite huge. I belive it's the first real big project that can acually open some ways between comics from both west and east.

  7. #7
    Registered User 中級員 / Chuukyuuin / Member Kyuzo's Avatar
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    Re: The life of a manga Ka of america

    Why not just publish your manga in the US? Yes, Western comics tend to be in color, but it has always been a several man job in which someone else does the inking or photoshop work. And with the success of graphic novels such as Sin City, Sandman, and 300 (some of which were in black and white), I really don't understand why there is widespread bitching and desire to move overseas of artists outside of Japan just because they believe you have to be published in your favorite weekly shonen magazine to be successful. Manga-style art has appeared in superhero comics, graphic novels, and even on Nickelodeon. Its a style, and I don't think one has to sell to the Japanese market to be successful with it. If you're that good, perhaps they will import and translate it.

  8. #8
    Registered User 上級員 / Jyoukuuin / Sr. Member kazuma_uzumaki's Avatar
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    Re: The life of a manga Ka of america

    Quote Originally Posted by Kyuzo View Post
    Why not just publish your manga in the US? Yes, Western comics tend to be in color, but it has always been a several man job in which someone else does the inking or photoshop work. And with the success of graphic novels such as Sin City, Sandman, and 300 (some of which were in black and white), I really don't understand why there is widespread bitching and desire to move overseas of artists outside of Japan just because they believe you have to be published in your favorite weekly shonen magazine to be successful. Manga-style art has appeared in superhero comics, graphic novels, and even on Nickelodeon. Its a style, and I don't think one has to sell to the Japanese market to be successful with it. If you're that good, perhaps they will import and translate it.
    You have a point like I heard dramacon is pretty popular

    But many people want to do it in japan nevertheless

    Hell, a lot of people don't read manga if it's made in america>_>

    at least among the people and otakus I hang out with

    It's just what people want. It's sort of like saying you want to be a bigtime director in movies but you get stuck with directing those lame educational movies they show in school that everyone hates. I dont get it myself but it's just they way a lot of people think.

    A lot of already famOUS MANGAKA'S are an inspiration or hero to todays aspiring one so they would want to follow in their footsteps i Guess

  9. #9
    Registered User 中級員 / Chuukyuuin / Member Kyuzo's Avatar
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    Re: The life of a manga Ka of america

    If you really want to publish an official Japanese manga I would suggest learning Japanese, probably moving to Japan (if you're serious about it), doing all your work in Japanese or having an editor to help with the scripting, and probably publishing under a pseudonym like Monkey Punch and others have done--just because your work may standout among locals as something of a knockoff. While, I have noticed that Japanese like American style and culture a great deal, I believe they are very nationalistic (a reason why cooperation with Stan Lee has become such a big deal, whereas X-Men comics, Sandman, etc. where mangaka have done the artwork are not looked upon with any shock and awe). That said, I'm something of a closet manga reader so I don't really know much about the otaku drive to jump ship and be published in Japan.
    Last edited by Kyuzo; April 28, 2008 at 05:07 PM.

  10. #10
    Translator 初心者/ Shoshinsha / Beginner
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    Re: The life of a manga Ka of america

    Let me tell you the opinion from a person who visited a pro-manga publishing company a few weeks ago.

    In order to publish manga,

    1. Practice drawing skills (inking with G pens and etc. )

    - I am not sure about shonen magazines which don't require too much drawing skills to win the contest as shojo ones, but Japanese editors are picky on how people draw lines.
    - try not to use too much screen tones for work you'll send out in contests since anybody can do it
    - one out of a thousand works or so gets accepted for big prizes.

    2. Learn Japanese up to the point where you can use slangs and dialects

    - There are foreign (famous) manga-ka who try out for Japanese market but since the audience is Japanese, you will need to know Japanese in order to appeal to them
    (no one will read it in Japan if it's English-only as I have learned with my personal experience)
    - since each manga page is connected by dialogues, you will need have to be at the native level to make the conversation smooth

    3. Learn latest Japanese trends and fads (for an example, moe characters such as Hatsune Miku and Haruhi are latest trend, and machine filled gundam or Code Gears have long time fans. I have no idea why though)

    4. have a good plot

    - editors turn manga down mostly because of this. You will need to have a good drawing skills+good plot. You can't be a famous manga-ka with just good drawing skills
    - most shonen manga with bad plots get turned down after 10~11 chapters. So, even if you win the contest and get published, you will have to keep audience interested all the time (popularity vote counts a lot)

    5. Visit editor in person (to get a single hard core advice from one person) or send your work to magazine contests (where your work can be seen by many editors but fewer comments)

    - when visiting the editor, you will need to show at least ~3 chapters of work to show them what you can do
    - choose which publishing company to visit wisely. Some visit several companies in a day, but most say the same thing. Some magazines are not your type of manga, then don't visit there and hope that you'll get accepted.
    - I highly recommend this in order to improve your work, but I assure you that you will feel like purchasing a voodoo doll after the meeting

    6. Get your work well known in your country, on-line, or Japan by doing self publishing or going pro

    - Stan Lee was already famous before the recent Ultimo series, so PR is very important.

    7. Try out for contests in some monthly magazines that say "manga-juku" or "manga-school". They will teach you techniques in addition to prizes.

    - keep in mind that not only you have a big handicap of not born in Japan, you will have to beat other Japanese in order to win a spot in the magazine. Higher the skill and experience, better the chances.

    8. If you can't do 2-3, draw gensaku (what Stan Lee did) where you ask someone else to draw manga for you.

    9. Try to keep up with the latest trends and manga drawing styles

    - some get turned down because their style is too old for current teenagers
    - reading and studying a lot of manga with good drawings is the best way of improving your chances.

    10. Communicate with other manga-ka wannabies.

    - I have three-four I regularily contact. They'll give you good tips and cheer you on since they know how hard it is to try to become a pro-mangaka

    11. Ask your peers to evaluate your work

    - This always helps!

    Anyway, good luck and feel free to PM me if you have any questions regarding this topic. I'm not a professional manga-ka, but I'm practicing everyday in order to become one (perhaps in a billion years).
    Last edited by Waterdroplet; July 11, 2008 at 12:42 AM.

  11. #11
    Registered User 初心者/ Shoshinsha / Beginner
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    Re: The life of a manga Ka of america

    I think promoting yourself online if you have some material finished would be a good start. Getting a buzz going can only help your chances. Obviously a publisher is interested in backing something that has the potential to draw a big fan base and make money.

    I am not a gifted artist when it comes to drawing, though I'm working on it so I can do some character profile sketches. My focus is writing the story, creating the characters (including bio's, names, etc.), creating the name places, and every other detail you could think of when it comes to storytelling. If I'm fortunate enough I'll find someone interested in doing some artwork for me to at least get an idea of what things will look like when translated to the Manga page. Then again I'm trying to focus more on Seinen and not Shonen, so the competition isn't as extreme. Then again, Shonen has the trap of having way too formulaic plots, and tons of cliches. I think you have a little more freedom as a writer when it comes to Seinen.

  12. #12
    MH's Socialworker 伝説メンバー / Densetsu / Legendary Member eni's Avatar
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    Re: The life of a manga Ka of america

    Quote Originally Posted by kazuma_uzumaki View Post
    Hell, a lot of people don't read manga if it's made in america>_>
    Spoiler: total offtopic show


    And ontopic:
    I agree with the ones before me. If you want to become a comic artist, just try it in America first. You don't need to publish in Japan just to pleasure the hardcore otaku.

    When you have an idea, nice art style and when you're full of motivation, then don't let it stop by such a high hurdle. And publishing a manga in Japan by an outsider IS a high hurdle. It's already difficult enough to get into this job in your own country and even when you do it, there's no telling if you can live from being an comic artist alone. Even in Japan, very few mangaka can make a living from this.
    Not to mention that you have a lot more competition in Japan. All the Doujin circles and the plenty of manga contests over there. The Japanese publishing companies get flooded with scripts every day because it's so much more of a real dream than here in Western countries.

    Also, like other before me said, you need to be fluent in Japanese or work out the story and dialogs together with a native speaker. You simply can't write appealing dialogs when you're not able to communicate in modern Japanese yourself. Manga are full of phrases and pranks on Japanese languages which troubles the EN-JP translators already, the other way around is even more harder.
    Last edited by eni; July 09, 2008 at 03:09 AM.

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  13. #13
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    Re: The life of a manga Ka of america

    Though I'm not sure how much Marvel or DC is involved in promoting the Manga style, I think they would be foolish not to try to use their influence to promote a US based Manga movement, where they published American made Manga done in the traditional style.

    Obviously there is a huge audience for Manga and Anime in the US, and this is a demographic that would be profitable for them if they did it right, and didn't try and make some sort of hybrid between western and eastern styles, which personally I find pretty bland.

  14. #14
    Translator 初心者/ Shoshinsha / Beginner
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    Re: Howto become a American Mangaka?

    One more thing to add to my past entry.


    *Look for someone with better manga/Japanese skills to collaborate with to publish manga.



    I think it's better to try it out on your own first since it's harder to find these kind of people, but that's one way I did with my group (I'm not sure if it will work out, but it's worth a try anyway). I'm Japanese, but it's even hard for me to publish pro-manga in Japan so I chose to be in a group with mates who can support me where I am bad at. Once you are confident with your manga skills, call out on art sites such as deviantART (that's where I found mine but not for people with Japanese skills). However, you should be aware that you have to be really committed more than others. Everyone is really serious when it comes to applying for a pro-level contest, and if you are just trying it out for fun, it's just a waste of time.


    I think if you try hard for something, there are always ways around it. Good luck in publishing manga first in the US

    As long as you're good at what you're doing and keep on doing PR, people will take notice of it, wherever you are
    Last edited by Waterdroplet; July 11, 2008 at 12:43 AM.

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