Comparison of Comic Book Publishing, US vs Japan


US comic book process

  • Writer
    – plot
    – synopsis (ex. 1 page synopsis)
    – full script
  • Penciler
  • Inker
  • Colorist
  • Letterer
  • Printers

BAKUMAN manga process
To get published… “A manga just has to be interesting.”

  • Story – 1-2 page summaries for manga ideas
    – Character bio, personality, backstory
    – Genre – shounen, shoujo, comedy, horror, sci-fi, seinen, etc.
    – Setting
    – Conflict
  • Name – manga rough draft, idea sketched out on b4 paper, 2 pages at a time
  • Conference with editor
  • If editor okays, begin manuscript (finished manga pages: pencil, inking, lettering, color, tones, etc.)
  • If rejected, redo name
  • Turn in completed manuscript or editor picks up manuscript for print

Editors exert more control over the mangaka under the Japanese system specifically when working for publishing giants like Shueisha.  They are the mangaka’s managers and PR agents on top of editing the manga to make sure its a success.  Since their own job is on the line, it’s in their best interest to help the mangaka create the best product.  Unlike Marvel who hire talent to create work based on their intellectual property, Shueisha hire mangaka to create original works to sell their magazines such as Shounen Jump. The publishing house also handles derivative works based on successful titles which includes movies, live dramas, drama cds (like a recorded radio drama), anime, merchandise, etc.  Note:  Doujin or self-published work (aka zines in the states) follow a less rigid production structure and can rival professionally published manga in quality due to easy acess to image manipulation and desktop publishing software.  US comics is deconstructed into an assembly line process for maximum efficency but the monthly publication format is still standard even though DC and Marvel have tried different formats in the past.  Perhaps it simply boils down to demand.  Both publishing systems has it’s pros and cons and works well within their native markets but I favor the US system because it’s an assembly line process; it’s easier to use.

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