For a manga artist to debut, the help of an editor is indispensable. So, how do manga artists in Japan go about finding an editor?
Generally speaking, there are two main ways that an aspiring manga artist will be assigned an editor. The first of which is mochikomi, where the artist brings their work directly to an editor to show them. The other is winning a manga award.
So, over episodes 15 & 16 of Manga Insider, We’ll be be taking a look at those ways!
Mr. Akiyama from the Zenon Editorial Team is going to be sharing his experience with us. He is a veteran editor who has been involved with many of the Comic Zenon hits. I’m looking forward to hearing what he has to say!
For part 1, I’m going to be covering mochikomi, which you can do anytime. Let’s begin!
How to “mochikomi”:
1. Prepare to meet an editor!
If you have a manga that you want to show an editor, then there’s no time like the present! There should be a telephone number for the publishing company either in the magazine or on their official website. Give them a call, and make an appointment.
Communication via SNS or email isn’t considered to be very reliable. The Japanese publishing industry tends to be a little old-fashioned in this regard. A more direct method of communication is preferred here.
(Although we are a Japanese publisher, the SMAC! Editorial Team encourages you to get in touch with us via SNS! If you have a chance to visit Japan, why not make an appointment online and come show us your manga?)
However, just because we emphasize direct communication, doesn’t mean you can just show up without an appointment! Editors have lots of other work besides looking at the manga of aspiring artists. You won’t be able to see one if you just drop in, so please make an appointment beforehand.
An editorial team may also send editors to comic events like Comitia, or to far-off vocational schools. In these cases, you should be able to see them directly on the day of the event.
If you happen to know an editor privately, then there’s also a chance that they’ll take a look at your work. However, this is almost the same as going in without an appointment. Unless you’re really good friends or unless they’re really kind, you might be refused.
2. Take your manga, and go see them!
Once you’ve drawn a piece that you have some confidence in, go see the editor.
When doing this, it’s important that you bring a complete work. You want to prove to the editor that you’re capable of finishing an entire piece on your own.
Of course, just drawing a complete work is pretty amazing. For every 10 people who finish a manga, there are 100 who can draw a rough draft, 1000 who can draw a “name”, and 10,000 who just thought of a plot. But to put this another way, anyone can think of a story. What’s really important is that you give a good shape to your ideas.
You might also say that no matter how good your ability to come up with ideas is, if you can’t make a good, complete one-shot episode, then there’s no way you can produce a serial. Nobody publishes an incomplete manga. If you want to be a professional, you have to be able to turn your ideas into a proper episode.
Editors aren’t just looking for people who can draw interesting manga. They’re looking for a “partner” who they can potentially work with in the future. You must demonstrate to them that you’ll make a good business partner.
3. Through your discussion, make sure you learn something!
A “mochikomi” is basically the editor reading your manga and telling you their impression. It can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. So what’s important is how much information you can gain in that short time period. Which parts were good, which parts still have room for improvement… this advice leads to improvement, and new ideas!
Other than talking about your story, if you have any questions related to the manga world, this is a good time to ask the editor. You can ask them about making manga, about the manga industry or about your potential future career… as long as it’s related to manga, feel free to ask them anything.
Since you took the time to visit an editor, you should make the most of the encounter. The editor also wants to help and encourage you to draw even better manga. So don’t hold back! Ask them anything!
The advantages and disadvantages of mochikomi:
The advantage of mochikomi is that you can get an opinion about your work straight away. After completing your work, you can immediately find out what you need to improve on. Another advantage is that you can hear the real opinions of someone who is currently working in the manga industry.
On the other hand, there are also disadvantages that you would do well to remember. The editor you’ll meet is whoever happens to answer the phone when you call. Whether that person will be a good match for you or not is entirely up to chance. If you have a very good reason, you may be able to change editors, but generally speaking, that doesn’t happen very often. It would be a good idea to keep this in mind.
Nevertheless, according to Mr. Akiyama, first doing mochikomi is a much better idea than suddenly entering a manga award. Talking directly to someone is much more helpful for making progress with your work. If you’re talking over the phone or email, there’s a lot of non-verbal communication that can escape your notice, and it may be difficult to explain the finer details. Mr. Akiyama says that working together with an editor in the same space breathes new life into a piece. Don’t be afraid! Make the plunge and go speak to that editor!
How to make the mochikomi a success:
Mochikomi is a very meaningful system, that helps create rich works. However, to make the most of this system, you need to keep several things in mind.
- It’s not very realistic to expect that you’ll be able to debut right away after doing mochikomi. In most cases, if your manga is very good, it will first be recommended for a manga award, then published in the magazine as a once-off story, and then only be serialized. To begin with, before you can begin serialization, the editor needs to know your strong points. So you need to accept that it’s very difficult to debut immediately. Of course, it’s not impossible, but very unlikely.
- As I mentioned earlier, the editor in charge of you usually doesn’t change. At Comic Zenon, it has been known to happen under extreme circumstances, but it’s very rare.
Be that as it may, a talented manga artist should be able to draw a manga that can convince any editor, and a talented editor should be able to find the strengths of any artist. Of course, it’s best if you can partner up with someone who is compatible, however, let’s take a moment to think about what it really means to “be compatible”. Your likes and dislikes may have nothing to do with compatibility. If you’re working with an editor towards the same goal, then it doesn’t matter, even if you have completely opposite personalities. Rather, someone with an opposite personality might be able to supplement you in areas that you’re not familiar with. Even if you have a problem with the person, before you request a change, try talking to them about it. If people take the time to talk to each other, they can usually find a middle ground.
So what do you think? You might have already seen “mochikomi” scenes in manga that deal with manga artists, but I hope that this article has helped to shed some new light on the matter.
Also, I hope that you can feel the passion of the editors of Coamix, a company for editors, made by editors.
On the next episode, we’ll be asking Mr. Akiyama about manga awards! What kinds of manga awards are there? And what are they like?
Don’t miss the next episode!
If you were to meet an editor, what would you ask them?
Let me know in the comments below, and I’ll try to answer your questions as best I can!
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