2013 article via http://media.goboiano.com/read-more-news.php?id=1287
I think every otaku at some point in their life has dreamt about becoming a mangaka. Getting paid to share your favourite original characters with the world, and being able to get down on paper the great stories that are no doubt rattling around in your head. Sounds nice, doesn’t it? If you’re anything like me, then maybe you gave up on your dreams - if you’re not Japanese, it’s impossible, right? Well apparently not, says Dr. Vee, an Indonesian mangaka who is currently having her very own manga published in Japan. We got together with her and discussed all the little bits of information she wished somebody had told her. Below are the biggest and first steps that will set you on course for becoming a professional.
As you probably expected, a lot of it comes down to content - what’s your idea worth to publishers and do you have to artistic skills to back it? Like anything, it’s important to think about audience, and understanding that is the first step to becoming a professional. The main barrier, says Dr. Vee is creating something that appeals not to our culture, but to that of the Japanese - after all, that’s where it all begins! Take Bleach or Naruto for example - yeah, they’re massively popular over here, but Japan is where it all started, it’s the Japanese audience that they’re writing for.
So, how do you discover that audience and cater your writing to them? Well, you move to Tokyo, make Japanese friends, absorb the culture and fully engross yourself in the country. Easy, right? Well - no, it’s not. Luckily though, there are alternatives, and plenty of success stories where people have got stuff published in Japan from overseas. What’s important is to learn as much as you can about your target audience. Take an interest in their culture, read up about it and objectively look at your favourite anime and manga and ask yourself ‘what themes does this have?’ and ‘Why has this done well?’. Understanding the fact that you’re writing for a Japanese audience is perhaps the most key aspect of all, and acknowledging this fact is the first step into becoming a professional.
So you’ve thought about what your manga needs to have, you’ve got your idea and maybe you’ve even gone ahead and written it - but now what? Unfortunately, having a great idea just isn't enough to get noticed. You need to make sure people can see it, and you need to make sure you’re not waiting to be found - slam it in peoples faces. The way to go about this is to target manga magazines through either entering contests or by taking your work directly to the editors or the publishers. Dr. Vee says that the most important aspect here comes down to that same thing again, target audience. If you’re writing a girly romcom, Jump probably won't be interested. Instead, research what’s out there and find magazines that match both your genre and your writing and art style. Smaller, less known magazines are probably where you want to be looking, and from there you can grow out and expand. What it all comes down to is getting your name out there, not waiting around to be found.
If all that doesn’t suit you, there are roads less traveled, but just as valid, which might be an option for you, especially as a foreigner in the eyes of the Japanese. This road is the road of a doujin artist, an indie artist who self publishes his work either at events, or on the internet. It’s not unusual for publishers to head-hunt creators - if it’s worth the money, a publisher is goign to make sure that they don’t miss you. There is one problem though - why would a publisher be looking outside of Japan? Why would they be searching through the English side of the internet? The short answer is that they probably wouldn’t be. Like was mentioned before, you have to be the one to thrust it in their faces. If you can, spread your work around the Japanese web space, visit doujin events in Japan and really show off your work. If it’s good enough, you will be found so long as you get it out there.
One point that Dr. Vee gave particular attention to was knowing what tools to use for what parts. When looking to get published, editors and such will be looking for a level of professionalism in their candidates. They’re looking for people who know how to draw manga, people who will require as little training and mentoring as possible. G pen, round pen, and screen tone; all tools you should be looking into purchasing. They’re hard to use and they're expensive to buy, but they’re needed. They are what will get you noticed. Above all else, showing that you own, and can use these tools effectively shows that you’re serious and that is what publishers want to see.
“What I would suggest to everyone reading this, skill or no skill, is to get a set of drawing pens and start now. Manga is extremely competitive, but it is not impossible to break through, even if some of you may think you lack the talent. It is about determination, there is no shortcut around it, get in the line, join in the queue. The manga industry has no place for those who whine about not having enough money or resources to start. I joined in the queue and invested a lot of money, hard work, and time 7 years ago, and I am now the first Indonesian to make a professional debut at Weekly Shonen Sunday, and I am still in the queue! If I can do it, so can you!” -Dr. Vee
Following her incredible success as a gaijin mangaka, Dr. Vee offers online classes for anyone interested, regardless of age, ability or experience. For more information on this service, or if you’re interested in applying, you can check out her site DrVeeMangakaClub which is full of information. If you’re not yet ready to take that jump, you can see a set of notes that she has made and published on her Facebook, which freely document the first and most important few steps in becoming a professional. What we, and Dr. Vee say, is that if you have the passion to learn, and the drive to create then it’s not worth hesitating, not even for a second.
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