Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Advice for comics creators

Not from me, but from Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata, the creators of Death Note and now Bakuman, a series about two high school kids who decide to become manga creators.

While Bakuman so far lacks the addictive suspense of the pair's previous collaboration, it's still a pretty intriguing book because, as we all know, comics are the most interesting thing in the whole world. So what better subject for a comic than comics themselves?

In the first volume, as our protagonists are preparing to move from the theoretical phase into the actually-making-comics phase, artist Moritaka Mashiro suggests his writer partner Akito Takagi start his manga research with The Qualifications of a Man, as it lays out five qualifications for being a great comics creator (and, obviously, a man). Remember to read left-to-right, gaijin!: Those all sure sound sensible to me. Those first three especially seem like they would lead to better comics, if internalized by the best creators.
Mashiro, the dark-haired artist in these panels, is the nephew of a struggling manga-ka who has died, and whose studio the boys have inherited. Mashiro's uncle referred to himself as a "gambler," because he wasn't a natural-born genius, and thus he had to work super-hard at his craft constantly, and was essentially gambling that he would manage to hit it big.

He had his own rules for what it takes for an artist like himself to become successful Ready? Finally, a Ohba and Obata offer a word of caution. Early on in the first volume, when Takagi is trying to recruit the reluctant Mashiro to team up with him, Mashrio explains the difference between a manga artist and a gambler, and how little money there actually is in the field: "You're a manga artist if you create one mega hit or several ones successful enough to live off of," he says. "Otherwise, you're just a gambler. Even the author of Death Note wrote somewhere that he'd probably starve to death in five years if he didn't keep working."


Anthony Strand said...

In the second set of images, you posted Qualification 2 twice and Qualification 1 not at all.

Caleb said...

Oops. Looks like I need to learn the Five Qualifications of a Comics Blogger. Thanks for pointing that out; God knows how long it would have remained like that if someone hadn't.

James Figueiredo said...

Bakuman has just started to come out here in Brazil, the second volume was released a couple of days ago. I was only vaguely familiar with Death Note, but a few rave reviews and a look ver the first volume at the newstand convinced me to try it.

Despite being REALLY sexist, I'm glad I started reading. Theart is top notch, and when he story focus on the boys' struggle to become professional artists, it really shines.

Anyone who draws or has an professional interest in comics will feel familiar with the situations they go through, I absolutely loved it.

And the part you highlited, when they talk about what it takes to be a manga-ka hit me like a punch to the face.