Guest writer: Urusai_Uni#0007
Manga are an amazing source of entertainment that has gained a lot of traction in international markets throughout the 2000’s. The wide variety of topics and the unique art styles make for an experience that has many coming back for more. Yet, how many people consider the amount of time and dedication that goes into making a manga? While it may seem as simple as coming up with a story and then drawing it, there are actually a lot of pieces at work that end up creating the final product.
This Aninspire will go through what a typical day as a manga creator looks like as well as a broad overview of the implications that working in this industry has on their lives.
A Typical Day
Before looking into what the daily life of a manga artist looks like, it’s important to first consider which publication they’re working for and the artists own individual work pace. Different magazines publish at different times, those being on a weekly or monthly basis. From there, artists can expect between no time off (for a weekly basis) to several days (monthly basis), but that’s an average estimate and the amount can vary on a per case basis.
Can you just pick if you want to work on a weekly or monthly basis? Well…no. Your publisher is the one who decides this based on the popularity of your manga. If it’s very well received then you can expect it to become a weekly series however if it starts to drop off in popularity, it’ll be moved back to monthly and eventually dropped altogether. In an already over-saturated industry, manga artists must always strive to create as high quality work as possible which leads to a lot of stress amongst other complications.
If you’re expecting to get a good night’s rest working in this industry, then you’re in for quite the shock. Artists can expect to stay up late and get up early (around 5am) depending on the workload, which is generally very heavy. As you may have experienced on your own, coming up with ideas isn’t always the easiest thing and just this step along can take between a day to a couple weeks. The drawing and then inking of the manga is considered relatively easy compared to having new, interesting ideas on a weekly/monthly basis.
Skills Are A Must
As already mentioned above, the manga industry is already very over-saturated so to stand out, artists must go above and beyond in both quality and time commitment. This includes using real life models, such as that of a sword, to ensure that everything is as accurate as possible. Such accuracy is especially important in “historical” manga.
While learning in school is a perfectly acceptable approach, many manga artists found that they actually learned more through actual work. Attending classes helped lay the foundation for their work in the industry, but being book smart isn’t enough. As with many skills, practice makes perfect. With experience comes a new title, Sensei, which is often given to someone experienced in a particular field. It isn’t at all restricted to just school, as in this case assistants often call their boss “sensei”.
The Publication Process
The steps that are followed to actually bring a manga into your hands are a little more complicated than the steps listed above. After the story is thought out, artists first make a rough sketch called a “Ne-Mu” which is then reviewed by the editors who go back and forth with the artist several times to ensure the work is perfect. Once that is out the way, artists can begin to ink/color their work (called “Kyara-Pen”) and increase the level of detail. Once they’re done, they’re ready to submit their final draft (called “Genko”) Depending on whether or not they’re using paper or digital means, this step can vary in time. Nowadays, many artists use digital because it’s quicker and it’s easy to undo any mistakes without having to start over completely.
Further expanding on the previous mention of the heavy workload, the publication type and work pace are just a few of the factors involved. As an artist becomes more well known and begins to have a sizable income, they can take on assistants who will help lighten their own workload. Oftentimes, the assistants end up taking the majority of the work though the creator will still play a hand in the creative direction of the manga. While being an assistant is very difficult, and in most cases a “dead-end” career, it’s also a great opportunity for someone to learn more about the industry before leaving and forming their own studio (if their own manga becomes successful).
There is no standard for the type of program used to work on manga digitally. It really depends upon the individual and what they’re comfortable with.
Being a manga artist is certainly not an easy job. There are a variety of health hazards, such as tendinitis, and constant stress to publish x amount of pages per week. While the job certainly isn’t for everyone, it is definitely an amazing feeling when your ideas and characters become popular and are loved around the world. If, after reading all this, you’re interested in a career within this industry then there two things you must remember. Practice makes perfect and you must be willing to dedicate more time than anyone else is to succeed.