Viz Media’s recent press release about the manga series Bakuman got me thinking – there are a bunch of manga series out there about making manga. What a fun concept! I know I always love it, it’s such a neat experience – both the slight irony of it and the educational factor too.
I’ve learned a lot about making comics in general from manga – neat little so-thats-how-they-do-its – and while ideas and inspiration are always a given when reading something, having someone else’s trials, experiences and knowledge laid out for you in the very format they’re in relation to is just a good combination.
So I got to thinking about the different series that are about making manga – so I compiled a list. Have another licensed title to add? By all means let me know in the comments so I can check it out!
Love Recipe (Kirico Higashizato, Digital Manga)
Love Recipe is such a fun manga! And what makes it stand out from even the others on this list is that while one of the leads is a manga artist, the majority of the story follows his try-hard editor who just wants to ensure that the manga actually gets in on time! Not only is there plenty to learn about the process of making the manga, but even more to learn about the inner processes of publishing it – from a comedic, colourful, boys-love-creating tinted view of course. (Review of Vol. 01)
Drifting Life (Yoshihiro Tatsumi, Drawn&Quarterly)
This book is not only one of the most inspiring books I’ve ever read but also one of the most eye-opening. Drifting Life an autobiography that follows one of Japan’s most accomplished manga artists, Yoshihiro Tatsumi, from the early days of his youth up and through his career creating and publishing manga when it was just a budding medium. It’s a fascinating read and the work ethic of those manga-pioneers (including Osamu Tezuka) is amazing beyond belief! Not only that but in an omnibus format coming in at 840 pages, this book will take you some time to get through and you’ll love every moment of it.
Croquis Pop (KwangHyn Seo/JinHo Ko, Yen Press)
Croquis Pop is a twist on the manga (or more specifically, manhwa) making – for not only do they utilize the tools of their trade for creating their stories, but the main character also weilds screentone knifes like swords and an eraser as a real-life undo. The story is a little difficult to follow but the quirks of its execution are definitely not without their charms. Plus it really shows a lot by seeing a newcomer to the assistant-position being put through his paces. (Review of Vol. 01)
Flower of Life (Fumi Yoshinaga, Digital Manga)
Making manga isn’t the central focus of this series but is one of the most endearing. What makes it so charming is the innocence and enthusiasm of two young friends working together to do something they love. They have big dreams and are willing to work hard to achieve them. They go through ups and downs, trials and errors but always come out the stronger and smarter for it. A genuinely touching series in near everyway, the manga element is just one of the many reasons for readers to pick up Flower of Life but it’s certainly a no less memorable one. (Review of Vol. 04)
Comic Party (Sekihiko Inui, Tokyopop)
Comic Party is a title I haven’t personally read but it sounds like it could certainly be entertaining. Making manga often proves interesting enough when handled well but focusing on the doujinshi-circles and convention scenes sounds like it opens up a whole new realm of possibilities: “Kazuki Sendo had always loved drawing and painting with his girlfriend, Mizuki Takase. But when classmate Taishi Kuhonbutsu pulls them into a doujinshi convention, Kazuki enters a whole new world. Soon he finds himself passionately drawing manga and cramming to get into conventions. As Kazuki gets acquainted with the doujinshi life style and meets new friends, he starts to drift away from Mizuki and his ‘normal’ way of living. Thus begins the struggle of a talented artist…”
Fall In Love Like A Comic (Chitose Yagami, Viz Media)
I’ve never read this one either but the premise sounds pretty cute: “Rena Sakura is a high school student with a secret: she’s a professional mangaka. And although she’s never been on a date, that doesn’t stop her from drawing steamy shojo scenes for Chami magazine. But when the gorgeous Tomoya Okita finds out her secret, she finds herself asking him out to get some real-life experience in love!” For those who’ve read it, would you recommend it?
Otomen (Aya Kanno, Viz Media)
Otomen follows the amusing highschool life of a young men who hides his feminine habits and while he and his crush/counterpart bring all kinds of fun to the table, their best friend (and biggest fan), Juta, is a whole other element. Unbeknownst to his friends, he’s actually a famous manga-ka publishing the lead’s favourite shoujo manga. Not only does he have his team of many-sisters working as his assistants but he’s modeling the whole story after the budding relationship of the series’ leads! Talk about good inspiration. (Review of Vol. 01)
Comic (Ha SiHyun, Yen Press)
Crunching manhwa deadlines while juggling school, your crush, your friends and your bullies (whom occassionally interact) guarantees there’s plenty of drama in Comic. Despite the title, making manhwa takes sort of a backseat to everything else but when it’s there it’s a neat side element. Several moments throughout will have you thinking “oh yeah, they’re making manhwa – that’s neat!”. You may not learn as much from this one as other books, but that doesn’t make the profession any less intriguing a backdrop. (Review of Vol. 03)
Bakuman (Tsugumi Ohba/Takeshi Obata, Viz Media)
And the upcoming series that started this whole train of thought – Bakuman! I’m really eager to read the first volume of this one: “The story follows average student Moritaka Mashiro, who enjoys drawing for fun, but when his classmate and aspiring writer Akito Takagi discovers his talent, he begs Moritaka to team up with him as a manga-creating duo. But what exactly does it take to make it in the manga-publishing world?” The first volume is due out on August 3rd, 2010.
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Manga-creators also make cameos in a number of different stories, including an artist jailed for his ideas in 20th Century Boys and a manga-ka seeking ‘inspiration’ from their guy friends/editors in several boys’ love anthologies the names of which escape me.
So what about you readers? Any other series out in English that starr or cameo manga-makers at work? And how do you feel about stories written about the very medium that tells them?