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Post Reply Question for American manga artist/writers
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Posted 8/12/14
This is a question aimed towards people who are American mangaka. Why do many people say if you're American you can't write a good manga, and you should just give up on that dream? Has any non-Japanese people made a good manga? Hasn't anime and manga taught us to chase after our dreams instead of giving up on it?

Can a American come out with a successful manga?
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21 / M / NJ, USA
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Posted 8/12/14 , edited 8/12/14
It isn't impossible. I'm sure many Americans who have aspired of becoming mangakas have succeeded, though I can't pull a lot names out. The only person whom I can think of succeeding while utilizing manga-styled art is Mark Crilley. He's on YouTube and is fairly prolific. Nothing is impossible, and if you want do it, go for it, but like any real ambition, you have to seriously give it your all and not half ass it.

A successful manga depends on how you measure success. You can also be fairly prolific if you publish it here in the US through independent methods or through well established publishers like Dark Horse Comics. But, if you mean successful as in That-Guy-Who-Made-Naruto (I don't know his name) successful, then that is quite a stretch. First off, the market for manga is significantly better in Japan, meaning you will have to actually move to Japan and publish it there. There, you will have to compete with other Japanese mangakas who are also looking to break the mainstream and make it big, but let's face it, the chances of you out-competing them on their turf with their own creation is nil. So unless you have the artistic talent that rivals that of some of the top manga makers on the planet along with an original idea, and a broad understanding of Japanese and the Japanese culture, you definitely won't survive or even stand out in Japan, because there will be hundreds of thousands of guys with their "original" ideas who will overshadow your work through sheer numbers, regardless of its quality. After all, it's a competition to the top over there.

The only realistic method I can think for an American to be successful as a mangaka is to publish it here in the US, advertise, gather a cult following, expand your fan base, have it translated, then exported to other countries. After that, you can pray that some animation company finds interest in your manga and asks to adapt it, or pitch it yourself.
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Posted 8/12/14 , edited 12/1/14


sounds like your listening to the Weeaboo purists, who think if your not japanese you can't do anything.

How many great shows and movies have been created by western writers and artists.

There is greater diversity among non Japanese artists and writers as compared to Japanese writers and artists.

Your race does not define your skill with a pen and the skill and intellectual creativity of your mind.
One of the greatest epics of our time was created by J.R.R Tolkien, who was most definitely not Japanese.
Comic books were created in the west.

If you have the heart and drive to create something, you can do it. Dont listen to people who tell you that you cant because of who you are. **** THAT. I lived with a step father who told me i would never be able to do anything in my life, and yet i managed to get awards in theater and being a playwright. Theater. Theater started in Greece, does that mean i can't be a good playwright unless im greek? hell to the no. I can do what ever i feel like doing.

Do Japanese magically have superiority over ever race in the world? hell no they don't. No race is better at doing anything. Its the individual that matters. Do you think any average Japanese person can write a manga? nope. Do you think the majority of Japanese people can write a good manga? nope. It depends on the individual, and if you have the drive and creativity, you can create a masterpiece if you so desire.

sorry, i got a bit ranty because of the whole "you cant do it because your not Japanese" thing. that phrase makes me want to smack a bitch
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Posted 8/12/14
Great replies!
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21 / M / NJ, USA
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Posted 8/12/14 , edited 8/12/14
Here are a couple of interviews I found on YouTube of American mangakas who are doing well in Japan, just to show that it isn't impossible.

Jamie Lano

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ccRmE43DEI

Felipe Smith

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8a_vptJ-PTI
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Posted 8/14/14 , edited 8/14/14
The American comics industry in particular has always been really hard to break into. Regardless of what style, or skill level it seems to be more a matter of luck than talent. That said, Japan kind of took a "throwaway" mentality to comics by printing them as cheaply as possible. Their dense population on a small landmass also made distribution a lot easier and far more profitable than it was in the states. It's probably because of this that Japan has such a wide diversity when it comes to comic content.

From what I've seen, the english-comic crowd has really been giving up on the oldskool publishers in regards to publishing original stories in a variety of artworks, and they've been turning to Webcomics instead. It gives them a lot more freedom, and with the help of POD services and Kickstarter, it's possible for authors to print and distribute their own books as well. Kindle notwithstanding.

There are several sites out there right now who are trying to re-define publishing on a digital level and they actually ARE making it possible for english comic authors to become "manga-ka." There's the graphic-novel styled website, Inkblazers, and the webtoon styled site Tapastic. Both have their merits, but Inkblazers is definitely more... traditional? Is that the word? Like, it still feels like reading a comic book and they do Printed copies of their comics and such. Tapastic not so much.

I have a comic up on Inkblazers that's on its second volume~ I'm not quite popular enough to make a living off of it, but what I do earn is a significant chunk of my income.
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Posted 8/14/14

ashikai wrote:

The American comics industry in particular has always been really hard to break into. Regardless of what style, or skill level it seems to be more a matter of luck than talent. That said, Japan kind of took a "throwaway" mentality to comics by printing them as cheaply as possible. Their dense population on a small landmass also made distribution a lot easier and far more profitable than it was in the states. It's probably because of this that Japan has such a wide diversity when it comes to comic content.

From what I've seen, the english-comic crowd has really been giving up on the oldskool publishers in regards to publishing original stories in a variety of artworks, and they've been turning to Webcomics instead. It gives them a lot more freedom, and with the help of POD services and Kickstarter, it's possible for authors to print and distribute their own books as well. Kindle notwithstanding.

There are several sites out there right now who are trying to re-define publishing on a digital level and they actually ARE making it possible for english comic authors to become "manga-ka." There's the graphic-novel styled website, Inkblazers, and the webtoon styled site Tapastic. Both have their merits, but Inkblazers is definitely more... traditional? Is that the word? Like, it still feels like reading a comic book and they do Printed copies of their comics and such. Tapastic not so much.

I have a comic up on Inkblazers that's on its second volume~ I'm not quite popular enough to make a living off of it, but what I do earn is a significant chunk of my income. ;)


Would love to read your comic whats the name of it?
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Posted 8/15/14
Why become a mangaka when you can transcend from that?
If you read a pilot manga, one chapter of it is consisted of at least 50 pages.

There's a country, that I won't state the name, that can express their work within less than 4 pages.
Nope. It's not a manhwa or a web toon where one page is long.
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Posted 8/15/14 , edited 8/16/14

Melviniammelvin wrote:
Would love to read your comic whats the name of it?


My comic is http://shamrock.inkblazers.com (Shamrock). The art's weak in a lot of places and my writing has gotten a lot better, but I'm pretty pleased with it so far. I'd be honored if you wanted to take a look at it. ^^a
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Posted 8/16/14 , edited 8/16/14
My guess would be exposure, maybe.

Everybody knows the antiquated distribution methods we have here in America (and probably elsewhere) of manga and anime. Imagine if there were NO indie gaming industry, only the big titles. That would pigeonhole us into only a few game types, and probably heavy recycling.

Although I'm sure there are exceptions, we just don't have enough of the stuff from across the pond to see everything that's been done in the genre, and not enough of the stuff we DO get to be authoritative about it.

This is all assuming, of course, how important you feel Japanese culture is to manga, or if it's just an art style. If you've ever read a side-by-side comparison of things we think we know about them, and vice versa, the results are hilarious. If your definition of manga includes a mandatory window into Japanese culture, we're mostly screwed from the start I would think.
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Posted 8/16/14
Because people are blind. Why can't a westerner make a manga or anime?

I'm making one. It'll be hopefully ready around the next 2 years or so. Obviously a lot of work goes into it but I'm going to push through!

(I will be making my own independent anime and manga website, kinda like crunchyroll only all of them will be made by non companies)
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Posted 8/23/14
Here's some good advice for Westerners.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNleCLXGlx0&index=45&list=WL
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Posted 8/25/14 , edited 8/25/14
Just because someone comes from a different culture, a different country, doesn't mean they can't do something good within another culture. I believe that anyone can be what they want to be. A question came up like this on another website, and I showed the person asking the question a video of a Japanese guy who has become a Yodeller somewhere in Switzerland or something. He's very good at it, in fact, his voice doesn't even sound Japanese. The person that I showed this video to didn't seem very happy about it, thinking I was just giving them a hard time. In all honesty, I wasn't. Only a little, but the majority of it I was serious. Anyways, my point is is that we're all people, so it doesn't matter where we come from. I believe anyone can achieve anything, anywhere.
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Posted 11/26/14 , edited 11/26/14
No offense but I don't think Americans really understand the true values of art. Art is truth and what Manga's demonstrate is true feelings. An artist poor's his soul into creating something that is a reflection on ones heart. You can't simply create art out of thin air. Being a poet and writer myself I always find myself quite off in a different world dreaming about creating life with in a story. Rather that be by poetry or even a narrative.

America I think would be the worst place to even get published, because their concepts of art aren't even truth. They don't even see the true meaning behind the Manga as a story. Any kind of art is only an allusion to that of the human eyes and those who truly seek more than just a entertaining story are the true artists. I think this is why you don't see really any Americans who write good ones. Good example of this can be seen also in the video game industry.

Now, being that I am an artist I am on my way of writing a Manga. Yes, I am an American too. I'm not going to just create something as lame as the comics we got here. I want to give out the truth of the world and of my heart. The talents of have with writing can't go to waste however I can't draw at all. That is why I am Co - Authoring with someone. I supply the story and she supplies her art work. I want to create something that I see on a daily bases and also what the world will become in the future. The Manga will be called Black and White and The Sword of Clarity. I am in deep character development and setting development and before I can release a quality Manga I need to have it in tip top shape and planned. Its not easy when the artist doesn't know what kind of images you have in your head. However, she seems to really get them down real well.

I'll probably publish sometime next year in the Spring of 2015. It will either be by a publisher in Japan or I'll have to do it myself. Either way my art will be on display. I could careless of the money that is involved but more of the art I provide for the people. I hope you people enjoy and keep the look out for it.
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Posted 11/28/14
Honestly, aside from Mark Crilley, I haven't seen any successful mangakas.

I have seen some manga from foreign writers. Honestly, many of them are just... shameful. Really. Well, there is this one manga, Peach Fuzz, and I guess it's alright. The thing is, most of the foreign manga (I mean foreign writers, not like manhwa or manhua foreign lol) always missing something that traditional Japanese manga has. Anyway, here it's different. We don't have Shonen Jump or anything here, so everything's self-publishing. Meaning, most of us don't have editors like in Japan. If you've read Bakuman, by the maker of Death Note, you would sort of know where I'm going. Self-publishing is hard, but being a mangaka in Japan is harder. I'm not familiar with self-publishing, but I am familiar with being a mangaka for Shonen Jump in Japan works (because of Bakuman, lol). In Japan, your manga could get cancelled if it keeps placing low on the popularity votes. When self-publishing, you just gotta keep trying (I think xD ) until it gets popular. For foreign mangakas, they have the challenge of getting a fanbase and expanding and expanding. For Japanese mangakas, they have the challenge against other mangakas to place high enough before their manga could get cancelled. Not only that, they have to come up with a name for their editor every week, and if the editor doesn't like it, they have to change the chapter all over again just to meet the editor's ideals. Pretend you're writing Naruto. You were planning for, idk, someone ambushes Naruto while he's on a mission (with his team), and that "someone" just so happens to be a villain disguised as someone behind a mask. But oh noo the editor didn't like it. You'd have to scrap it and come up with something new. So really, Japanese mangakas have the bigger challenge. I'm not saying the foreign, self-publishing ones have no challenge at all, it's just that Japanese mangakas have a greater one.

Now, honestly, I'm not really a fan of Mark Crilley. As for Miki Falls, I guess I kind of liked it. The art, I mean. I didn't read the story. The reason why I liked the art is because it's closer to what you'd find in Japan than what you would find with the amateur ones here. I'm not really familiar with his other series, Brody's Ghost, though.

One time, when I was reading a manga, Toaru Kagaku no Railgun (A Certain Scientific Railgun), at the last page was a recommendations page. There were some familiar titles, like Toradora! and Koukou Debut, but in the corner, a manga caught my (and my other otaku friend who was next to me) eye-- "Vampire Cheerleaders". The cover was a very bodacious girl on the ground in a ripped-up cheer uniform. It looked odd. Without reading who the author was, we knew it was from a foreign mangaka. It's the art. Plus, "Vampire Cheerleaders" doesn't sound like something a Japanese mangaka would title their work, moreover write about. Well, maybe, if that mangaka specialized in Ecchi or something like that. I remember when I was reading one of Mark's drawing books, Mastering Manga (book 1), there was a section talking about brushes and pens and stuff. He briefly compared Japanese inking to American inking. The pens they use in japan are different from what we use here. Mind my subjectivity, but the pens here are thicker and more "rugged" and sketchy (in a good way, 'cause he compared it to a page in some Marvel comic) compared to Japanese pens, which are thinner and more subtle (which he compared to both one page from a shoujo manga and another page from a shounen). The inking for the cover Vampire Cheerleaders was thicker in comparison to the surrounding manga titles. So we looked in the corner, and bam, a non-Japanese name.

Don't feel down, though. Ever heard of Ouran Highschool Host Club? That was made by a half-half I believe. I think it was French-Japanese. And hey, would ya look at that. It's popular~!

Plus, for the reality of it, people do judge a book--and manga and anime etc etc--by its cover. Some judge by author. Some people use pen names. So, try using a pen name! Idk, use your real first name and then a Japanese last name, vice versa, or just completely change it, or make it sound Japanese but it really isn't (eg. use letters or combos of letters that sound/look Japanese but really isn't). For that last suggestion, I saw a name (of a cosplayer though, not a mangaka) and it was Yirico (I think). Sounds japanese, right? Nope. There isn't a character for "Yi" in Japan. That, and the "co" in Yirico should be "ko" if it were Romaji for something.

Hope y'all learned something from this.
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