SMAC! Web Magazine

Why is a NAME called a NAME? / 5 criteria to watch out for – Japanese Manga 101 #028

 

This is the FIFTH episode in our series on NAME creation. Before continuing further, we are often asked, “Why is a NAME, called a NAME”?

So we figured, it’s best to clarify that before moving on!

There are actually several theories about this, the one we’ll talk about today is the most fitting one.

 

It goes back 50 years.  Here in Japan, any form of printed text was called a “Name” in printing industry jargon, including the dialogues that go into speech balloons.

Take a look at this: it is an actual page of Hara sensei’s ‘Fist of the North Star’!

スクリーンショット 2015-08-03 12.26.23

You can see inside the speech balloons are printed letters, glued onto the original artwork.  These printed letters are called “NAMES”.

スクリーンショット 2015-08-03 12.23.04

Ideally, the finished artwork was passed onto the typesetters, but manga business being mostly the same then, most of the time there simply wasn’t enough time.

The typesetters needed to start work on the NAME, the spoken words, before the final artwork was complete.

スクリーンショット 2015-08-03 12.27.36

Back then we didn’t have desktop publishing. All dialogues had to be printed, using the letterpress method. If you imagine that the Japanese language uses tens of thousands of letters, this REALLY WAS a labour intensive process!

スクリーンショット 2015-08-03 12.28.37

So, before the work commenced on the final artwork, the editor had to provide the typesetters with draft panel layout, that resembles the final artwork. This process then became known, as “Readying the Name”.

Eventually, we started calling the draft panel layout itself, the “Name” of manga.

 

That means, before you start work on the manuscript, WE had to decide the dialogue, placement, and size of the speech balloons, and those things could not be changed later.

It goes to show, how important the NAME is in manga creation, doesn’t it?

We say “Draft Storyboard”, but it basically is a complete blueprint, with everything in. It has to contain everything! except, the final drawing.

 

スクリーンショット 2015-08-03 12.30.15

Got it?

 

 

Let’s move onto talking about name creation, from the editors’ perspective.

There are 5 criteria, that the editors will look for when checking a Name.

These are :

スクリーンショット 2015-08-03 12.31.31

“5 Criteria Editors will look for”

1. Is there a strong FIRST SCENE?

2. Are the panel layouts easy to follow?

3. Where and What are the characters up to?

4. Are “Scene changes”, “Sense of time”, “Flashbacks”,  if any, convincing?

5. Are the Characters EMOTIONS well expressed?

 

The editor is the first reader. We examine, if what the artist wants to tell, is presented in a way that is easy to follow and convincing/entertaining to the reader.

More on those, next week. Don’t miss it!


Taiyo Nakashima