Manga is a colloquial term for a type of Japanese animation. Typically released in chapters, they can be up to several hundred pages long depending on their format. Manga unlike western comics has a more detailed art style and plot. It’s for this reason, among others, that even grownups like reading Manga.
Becoming a Mangaka is the dream of almost every otaku with artistic abilities, but there is a perception that only Japanese artists can become Mangakas. Since we’ve been introduced to them more often than foreign Mangakas.
But the burning question still persists—‘can anyone create a Manga?’
Yes, anyone with artistic skills and good storytelling abilities can become a Mangaka. In this blog, I will shed light on how to become a Mangaka.
Who is capable of creating manga?
I believe that anyone who is talented at drawing, has a lot of creative ideas, and knows how to put those ideas into action can make a manga.
Developing a manga is dependent on how excellent your work is, how effectively you can capture the audience’s attention with your art, and what tale you are presenting.
All of these points do not necessitate being Japanese. It makes no difference what country you are if you are good at what you do. People will enjoy your manga even if you are Russian if the plot and art are good.
Getting your manga published in Japan, on the other hand, is a bit more difficult. You must be determined and perseverant.
Can a Non-Japanese person become a Mangaka?
Ever wondered while watching a Mangaka interview that can a foreigner also become a Mangaka? So—yes, they can.
Here are some of the Foreign Mangakas who have contributed to the Manga industry:
|Mangaka||Country of Origin||Their work|
|Shangomola Edunjobi||The UK||Miseyieki|
|Mujik Park, aka ‘Boichi’||South Korea||Dr. Stone|
|Lee Jong Hui, aka ‘S.I.U’||South Korea||Tower of God|
|Felipe Smith||USA||Peepo Choo|
But the catch is that you have to be persistent and very creative to get there. There has been a rapid increase in non-Japanese Mangakas entering the anime industry. At first, it is a very bumpy ride since you are unfamiliar with the cultural aspects and other things But we all know that the road to success is never easy.
Foreigners or Gaijin entering the industry can be a reason for discord among some fans but it is also a great way to expand the horizons of Anime and Manga.
Anime and Manga have enrooted the Japanese culture. Many Fans believe that foreign Mangakas do not portray the cultural references correctly. Others see Manga and Anime as a form of entertainment that should be strictly limited to Japanese creators only.
However, some Foreign artists have proven all these suspicions and claims to be false through their success as foreign Mangaka.
Here are two of my favorite foreign Mangaka of all time:
Asa Ekstrom is someone to take inspiration from. She is a Sweden-born Mangaka who presently resides in Tokyo, Japan.
To pursue her goal of becoming a Manga artist, Ekstrom relocated to Japan in 2011. She was motivated by Anime like Sailor Moon and Inuyasha, but she would soon learn that the road wasn’t smooth. She first attended a Manga school in Sweden, where she created a short comic.
She traveled to Tokyo to study graphic design at a trade school after several trips to Japan.
Her debut Manga That’s What Asa Found in Japan, was published in 2015. That same year she also won the Gaiman Award, an international comics competition, which increased her popularity in China and Japan.
In addition to her trilogy Goodbye, September, Ekstrom has recently published the second book ‘That’s What Asa Found in Japan’.
Here is an interview video of Asa where she explains how is it like to be a foreign Mangaka in the Anime industry.
Tony Valente is a writer and Manga artist from France. Tony Valente made his debut With Delcourt, where he collaborated with writer Raphel Drommelschlager on the four-part serial Les 4 princes de Granahan.
After the show was finished, Valente started working on his own project, Hana Attori (Soleil Productions), which was inspired by Manga and Anime.
His work Radiant was first released by Ankama editions in 2013 and was an instant hit. A division of the famed Japanese animation studio—Studio Hibari, Lerche, created an Anime series based on this work. The popularity of Manga has increased since they were published in English in 2018.
Hence, there are challenges, such as validity and adherence to rigid traditional stereotypes and public opinion, being a non-Japanese Mangaka is much simpler than in the past.
The obstacles can be overcome with patience, tenacity, and investing in the correct educational prerequisites such as becoming fluent in Japanese.
How do you become a Manga creator?
You can become a Manga creator by following these steps:
1. Read Manga
It’s quite obvious if you don’t know how to read a Manga you cannot create one. By taking a look at different Manga and reading them you will get an idea of the art style, the script or story writing, and the format necessary to create a Manga.
By understanding the Artistic Expressions and the genres of Manga, you will be able to decide on what type of story you want to create and what genre it should fall into. There are the following genres of Manga and Anime:
|Genre||The theme of the Genre|
|Shojo||Romance, Coming of Age stories, Love, Drama, etc.|
|Shonen||Adventure, Comedy, Action, Friendship|
|Kodomomuke||For young audiences, Child protagonists, Fantasy, Magic, and Moral stories.|
|Seinen||Action for an older male audience|
|Josei||Relationship, Personality, Romance, Slice of life, etc. For older Female Audiences|
2. Create Your Own Style
Usually, Manga artists start by copying the art styles of the Mnagas they read and then when they have developed the basic sketching and drawing skills needed to become a mangaka. They started to develop their own art style.
You can start by creating Backgrounds or characters of your own as well. This can help you refine your artistic influences and create your own unique art style.
3. Go to A Manga School
To become a professional Mangaka, you have to attend a Manga school. Although some are self-taught and born with innate talent others may need some skills and knowledge to ace the field. You can take specific courses according to your preferences.
Manga schools work on polishing your skills by giving instructions on stylized art seen in Manga. It is just like any other art school, Manga schools not only focus on art but also give guidance on how to publish and market your creativity.
You can also enter the Manga publishing industry after graduating from art school without a more official education.
4. Submit Your Artwork
Winning awards and competitions can be a good way to kickstart your career as a Mangaka. You can submit short pieces of your works to magazines and publishing companies and get connected to their editor and publishers to promote your work.
A published piece by winning a competition can lead to a contract for a complete Manga. This might take a few years for some since you have to go through the rigorous process of improvement, feedback, rejection, and acceptance. But winning a contest is the green light to publish your work.
International contests and awards have been sponsored by companies like Kodansha specifically for emerging foreign Manga artists. These contests provide opportunities for foreign artists to publish their works on the Japanese market.
These opportunities include the Tezuka Award and the International Manga Awards, both sponsored by the renowned Shonen Jump magazine.
Both the Tezuka Awards and the International Manga Awards give the winner the chance to publish their Manga, give cash prizes, and offer chances to visit Japan.
5. Start Working As An Assistant
Many aspiring Manga artists begin their careers as assistants for Manga publishers. With the help of assistants, Mangakas can complete drawings and alter content to complete some project-related activities.
You can network with editors and publishers in the field while working as an assistant, which may open up further job opportunities in the future. Gaining the respect of established mangaka can help your career and provide you with a mentor who is familiar with the Manga market.
How do you go about getting your manga published in Japan?
According to my professional experience and acquaintances who have had their work published in Japan, the best strategy is, curiously enough, not to aim for Japan.
If you want to be published in your own country, you have a much better chance of success. There are only one or two non-native Japanese manga artists in Japan, and it needs native-level proficiency in the language, as well as top-tier talents that would place you at the absolute top tier of manga artists in Japan, making this the most difficult way.
The easier path is to be a decent artist in your own country, break in the traditional way (usually by making webcomics and/or self-published comics, attending a lot of cons to show industry people your portfolio of completed sequential work, and then hopefully getting published by a decent publisher). You can then perhaps propose your manga idea to a publisher.
When it’s finished, they’ll hopefully publish it. If it becomes popular, Japan might be one of the many nations where it will be localized. This course will most likely lead to greater money and a more comfortable existence.
- As a foreigner stepping into the Manga industry is not easy. But you can polish your skills and build your portfolio with every experience you get.
- Unlike in the old time, There is not much stigma related to foreign Mangakas entering the industry. Your success depends on how dedicated you are to your work.
- You can create a Manga and submit it to different contests and competitions to get one step ahead of your dream to be a Mangaka.