Sunday, 21 October 2012

Manga-Making Manga!

You may or may not already know, but in between my manga reading I dabble in the world drawing, comic making, and otherwise wannabe artist-type person.  It’s a time-consuming but satisfying way to apply yourself but yes, I’ve not been tending very well to this blog because of it.  Sorry about that!  In recognition that there are many people who also enjoy drawing and such, I thought it’d be fun to have a super-quick rundown of manga about drawing manga!

There’s no real order of preference here, but the general trend is to start with the most positive titles and work my way down to the more bitter levels of creativity.

Bakuman  – Probably the most famous title on this list.  It tells the tale of two boys who decide to become manga artists in Shonen Jump, and succeed pretty damn quickly.  Rapid success of any sort is basically the only reason I need to put it first on this list.  The creative discussions between the various creatives are interesting and valid to anyone who’s thought about their plotting, whereas the internal politics of Jump’s editorial system should be taken more with a pinch of salt.  Needless to say it’s spawned a generation of ‘experts’ on the Internet who can now make insightful opinions on why certain manga do or don’t succeed.  That may sound cynical, so perhaps it’s better to think that encouraging people to think about comics more critically is a good thing.  I’ll leave it at that…

Comic Party (Tokyopop) – Moving away from professional manga making and into the world of doujinshi (self-published fan comics).  Comic Party is about a failed artist who becomes involved in making his own comics.  He works hard, sell a couple comics, and makes some friends along the way.  It’s the idealised model of starting out as an amateur artist, and a cute read.

Comic Party (CPM Manga) – An interesting spin-off series of books that contain actual doujinshi based on the original Comic Party series.  Some of the comics aren’t so great, but that’s not the point. It’s quite a rare to be given a chance to own translated doujin in this manner, and I feel gives a more accurate representation of the kinds of things you’re likely to find at your average Comiket rather than the back-to-back porn that otherwise seems to filter its way over here.

Pretty Maniacs
– The chronicles of a school Manga Club that works together to build its membership and sell its own comics at Comiket.  Less time is dedicated to the drawing part of comic-making, but more to the production side of things.  I now know how to compile, trim and bind my own perfect bound book which, to my knowledge, is a rather unique aspect of this manga.  Not exactly deep, but it’s high on humour and enthusiasm.

Dojin Work – Changing the romanised spelling of a Japanese word at the mid-point of an article, I’ve already written about Dojin Work elsewhere on this blog.  If Comic Party were a cute little puppy, Dojin Work would be the runt who’s humping your leg.  Scraping through an event where selling a single copy of your comic is considered a victory, and then making your next comic a porno in a desperate attempt to get more sales.  This is comic-making for the cynics, and frankly not totally unjustified in its approach.   A personal favourite and I always have a couple volumes to hand when I’m trying to hit a deadline.

Even a Monkey Can Draw Manga
– Two guys in a room decide they will conquer the world with manga.  To do this, they need to make manga that will appeal to every audience in every style, and so mercilessly tear through every cliché and archetype that can be found in manga.  Pointing out weak storytelling is normally a criticism, but here it is something to use, celebrate and then exploit.  It’s funny, almost to the point at which you’d think the creators hold manga with contempt.  But there’s a special kind of love there, and I share it with them.

I’ll Give it My All… Tomorrow – This series is about a deadbeat guy who’s hit middle age and so decides to become a manga artist in between his shifts at a fast-food joint.  His comics suck, his father tells him he’s wasting his time, but he maintains a self-belief throughout which frankly without would make him the most miserable man alive.  It’s a comic that encourages the reader to judge the protagonist in the early stages, but as time goes on you gradually fall in line with his near-delusions of success.  You may not succeed as an artist, but so long as you’re trying and enjoying life, it is a life worth living.  There’s always a chance you’ll succeed… right?

I’m sure there’s a bunch more manga I forgot about, as well as those that feature creating, but are not a central part of the story (School Rumble is one example).  For those inspired to draw forget about those ‘How to Draw Manga…’ books.  The best way to learn how to draw is to draw, and the best way to understand comics is to read them.  Have fun!

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