Via Brigid comes the tale of Takeshi Miyazawa, an American manga-style artist who moved to Japan to follow his dream after being published in the US by Marvel. He had his big day showing his portfolio at Kodansha, the DC/Random House of Japan and the results were…sobering:
The editor flipped through my print-outs while I sat there totally blanking. I didn’t know what he was gonna say and he was expressionless throughout his viewing so there weren’t any hints for me either. Anyway, he put down the pitch and came straight out with that it wasn’t good enough. There were problems with both art and story but I’ll just focus on the art since that’s what I’m most concerned with.
One of the major points was that it didn’t have enough “manga-isms” to it. By that, he meant, more light-hearted touches like those wacky faces and more humourous touches that many people associate with manga backhome. I studiously avoided any of that stuff and it seems it came around to bite me in the ass. Also, not enough movement in the images. [snip]
He suggested maybe entering a seasonal contest for new talent his magazine had since I was at that level or assisting an established artist to pick up certain techniques I was lacking. Other than that, he couldn’t really do anything for me. I asked a few questions and we talked about some of the story elements afterwards but that was pretty much the bulk of our conversation. The entire interview lasted about 45 minutes.
Oh snap! One recalls — as Miyazawa does — that Paul Pope drew hundreds of pages for Kodansha before being told he didn’t cut the wasabi. None of it has ever seen print.
The Japanese manga publishing world is notoriously hard to break into if you’re not actually Japanese, apparently. We don’t mean that in a snarky, racist way — growing up in a dramatically different culture means there are things you just don’t get. Whereas kids who just learn to draw by copying seem to be the wave of the future. It’s an interesting situation. We don’t recall off-hand if foreign manga-ka are any luckier at smaller publishers, or any any “OGM/OEL” has made it in Japan. We seem to recall that Tokyopop’s PRINCESS AI was published over there, but our memory is a little spotty these days.
Miyazawa vows to keep on trying, and we wish him luck. That was a tough day for any artist.