For those aspiring to be professional manga artists, the most popular method is to first enter a manga magazine’s Rookie of the Year Award. However, if you enter, but don’t win, then you’re back to square one… And you aren’t even any the wiser about your abilities! Another option is to take your work directly to an editor. But it takes a certain amount of courage to make an appointment at a publishing company and speak to an editor 1-on-1.
Originally, Japan’s manga business was set up so that the artist and the editor could work together to create manga.
Even at a professional level, the artist first brings in a rough storyboard called a “name” and only finishes it up after getting advice and ideas from the editor. If you think about it that way, the chances of a complete beginner bringing in a professional level of work on their first go is extremely slim. Because they’re being judged on their completed manga, isn’t it possible that some amazing talent is being overlooked?
That’s why, in recent years, we’re seeing the appearance of awards which take this into account, and only require a “name” level of completeness!
On the website “Manga on WEB”, you can enter a Name Only Award! They clearly state that you’re not allowed to enter with a completed manga, and that your work won’t be evaluated based on the amount of detail that you draw in.
After all, drawing manga and adding in all the details takes time. It’s incredibly helpful if you can get some concrete advice early on in the creation process. In this way, the judges of this contest act as a substitute for an editor. Another benefit is that the submitted works and the judging process are all visible online, creating a very open and transparent atmosphere. There’s even a Reader’s Award based on votes by the readers.
Then there’s the “Kono Manga ga Sugoi!” (This Manga is Amazing!) Award, which guarantees that the winner’s manga will be published. The interesting part is that there are absolutely no rules with regard to length! Both long and short pieces are perfectly acceptable. In the case of a long piece, if you have about 30 complete pages, then you can submit the rest at a “name” level, or even just explain your plot in writing.
The doujinshi fair “Comitia” has a “visiting editor” booth. It’s a lot less intimidating to talk to an editor at an event like that than taking your work directly to their office. In addition, these editors search for new talent among the artists selling their doujinshi, and some of them even get the chance to debut!
Recently, there are also an increasing amount of people who are debuting online. Whether it’s 1 page a day, or 1 panel a day… even if it’s just scribbles, as long as there are people who will “like” your post, then there’s a possibility that your work will spread all over the internet!
This is an era of new opportunities for those who want to debut as manga artists! And for the editors who are searching for new talent, a little more flexibility can help!
Writer: Kozue Aou
Translator: Andrew L.