A Hypothetical: Making a Career in Manga (OEL) Style
I contemplated writing in a manga style for a time before settling on American style comics for those ideas of mine that demand to be comic books. But, Ihave never quite let go of ideas that could possibly help young artists (and writers) who want to work in manga.
The first question one has to answer is: Is there a genuine demand, a possible market, for original manga created outside of Japan that does not tie in or adapt other media? It is clear that any such demand is a tiny fraction of the demand for Japanese manga. The key, possibly, is to produce a series that is compelling and accessible that creates an increased demand.
So, there is a young artist who wants to get into manga. What should she/ he do? There is always art school. Now, I won’t pretend to know what type of education beyond just art a typical art school provides. But, I suspect going to a traditional university may be a better bet for a burgeoning manga artist. Now, if doing only art is the goal, art school may be the best option.
But to be a manga artist also means that one has to be able to tell a story (unless there is a writer collaborating). So, I would recommend majoring in art and minoring (or double majoring) in creative writing. While I’m at it, ask around and see what types of business classes would be good for artists to take. A tragedy of arts education is that the business side of it is typically neglected.
Once that is out of the way, what should our hypothetical artist do? Well, getting one’s name out there is certainly key. So, be willing to work on adaptations and (maybe) super hero comics. Have a web presence that showcases your work. Maybe just samples or an entire web comic.
Now, what to do when it comes time to create one’s own series? Right now, the manga market is rather depressed. While this means that it is unlikely that any of the major surviving manga publishers are actively looking for “home grown” manga talent, it does not mean that one cannot get lucky (and it does not hurt to submit a proposal). But, I think there may be another option.
Part of the problem with self publishing is that, often, it comes across as having poor quality and polish. Now, there is a trend for self published writers to take the time to make their work as professionally polished as possible. This is a great development, but I do not know how long it will be before the stigma is eased.
So, here is my idea. Take a page from creator owned comics and work on producing your own publishing company (or group). Find like minded manga enthusiasts and artists and create a webzine similar to Shonen Jump, Weekly Shonen, etc. There are a number of excellent web magazines in existence that can provide inspiration (like Clarksworld and Lightspeed). Focus on web and e publishing before taking on print. And finally, do not be afraid to market outside of manga fandom.
So, this is my, perhaps, dumb idea on how a manga artist could break into the industry. So, I wonder, can it work and be a success?