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Brief Note On Manga Magazines By Bharath Murthy

BlueJackal, Saturday, June 25, 2017

Weekly Shonen Jump

The key aspect to the creation and sustenance of manga culture are the weekly and monthly manga magazines. I have repeatedly made the case for the creation of such magazines in the Indian comics landscape in order to develop and sustain an Indian comics scene. The important characteristics of a manga magazine are- 


•    black & white printing on cheap paper

•    serialised narratives, about 20 pages each for a weekly and about double the number for monthlies. 

•    a section for winners of manga contests that are held regularly. This is good way to look for new talent. 

•    Forms for ratings and feedback from readers. 

•    Some manga magazines also carry interviews and related articles and reviews. 

•    An editorial team that supports the creation of the work

•    A few colour pages are often assigned to the most popular featured manga

•    A typical weekly manga magazine like ‘Weekly Shonen Jump’ has about 500 pages, and sells about 2 million copies weekly. It’s highest circulation was about 6.5 million in the 1990s. 

The continued production of a weekly or monthly manga magazine crucially depends on the editors’ relationship with the artists. Since the artist has to work consistently for long periods, it is the editor who has to be an important support, both morally and creatively. 

The manga editor works with the artist in polishing the rough draft, called ‘nemu’ in Japanese. Here is a short video of a manga author explaining the rough draft process.

A young apprentice manga editor recently chronicled the process of creating a manga magazine in a series of blog posts-

The magazines run on both subscription and retail sales, and are available in every newsstand and 24 hour store. Successful manga from the magazines are later resold in collected edition book form. 

Payment to manga artists is often by page. Rates per page vary. Rights remain with the author. 

In the manga world, those artists who draw for weekly magazines are pretty much the manga elite. These artists need assistants to help them finish their work on time. Assistants help out with inking backgrounds, touching up artwork, correcting mistakes, and sometimes even drawing the backgrounds if they are too complicated. These assistants sometimes go on to become successful manga artists themselves. But many also just remain assistants, doing the occasional short story. 

In this video, you can see manga artist Akiko Higashimura working in her studio with her assistants.

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