If you’re in America who aspires to be a mangaka, many questions and doubts have likely crossed your mind. After all, there is the notion that you have to live in Japan to find success in this field. Many want to become a mangaka, but few can get their work published — and even fewer are American.
Is it possible to become a mangaka in America? The answer is yes. Some mangakas live in America and produce manga for American and Japanese publishers.
How to become a mangaka in America? By submitting your work to a reputable American manga publisher. And getting your work published through them. Like anything, it’s not an overnight thing. You have to take criticism and rejection to hone your skills to gain acceptance.
Know the avenues and opportunities available to you, hone your skills, and give it a shot. It is possible for as long as you are willing to work.
This post will discuss what you need to know and do to become a manga artist in America.
Let’s get to it.
Table of Contents
Do you have to live in Japan to Become a Mangaka?
Do you have to live in Japan to become a Mangaka? No, you don’t have to live in Japan to become a mangaka. Manga is a Japanese style of comic creation. It has a unique shape, drawing elements, and essence from Japanese culture. So, as long as your comic follows the traditional patterns, it’s considered manga.
Manga is something native to Japan. So it is understandable that many would think that production is limited in Japan. The international acclaim garnered by manga paved the way for English manga. We’re not talking about translated Japanese manga. But manga made for an English audience.
The first colloquial name for such works was “Amerimanga,” Yet, this term phased out. Mangas written in English are now called Original English Language manga or OEL.
Skills Required to Become a American Mangaka
You can only maximize the opportunities you provide if you have the skills to back up your intentions. As such, you must spend time developing your drawing and story-telling skills. You also have to know how to maintain creativity under pressure, as being a mangaka can be immensely taxing.
Build the discipline of writing and drawing for a certain amount of time daily to prepare for the lifestyle that comes with being a mangaka. Practice churning out a manga chapter a week.
Taking art courses would be advantageous, but it’s okay to dedicate time each day to practice if you cannot afford formal lessons.
If you are especially keen on immersing yourself in the manga industry, make an effort to learn Japanese. Being fluent in the language would open more doors for you, whether or not you intend to settle down in Japan in the future.
Felipe Smith, a graduate of the Art Institute of Chicago. He studied Japanese and culture. He learned Japanese while working at a karaoke joint in Los Angeles. Then became the first American accepted by a major Japanese publishing company.
Through Tokyopop’s now-defunct Rising Stars of Manga competition. He debuted in the US with his own OEL manga called MBQ. After finishing MBQ, he moved to Tokyo to work in the manga industry. He was able to release his manga, Peepo Choo, under Kodansha’s Morning Magazine 2.
If you live in America, there are several options you can consider:
Top American Mangaka Companies to Appy
Yes, there are American manga distributors. We have 7 of the top ones listed and how to apply to each of them.
1.) Viz Media
Viz Media is the official distributor for Shonen Jump in America. They also started publishing OEL manga for the North American market in 2019. Called “Viz Originals,” and they are accepting new mangas to publish.
Viz Media also does portfolio reviews during their on-site events. There, editors will look at samples of your work and provide one-on-one feedback. This is the exact process for publishing your work in Japan. You can find out more about their review process here.
- Slice of life genres.
- over 18 years old
- Story snynopsis and plot
- Character descriptions
- Rough sketch of the protagonist
2.) Saturday AM
Saturday AM is a seinen manga anthology. They publish works of creators from all around the world. Founded by Frederick L. Jones, who spent more than a decade as a video game executive. Saturday AM stands on diversity. Its published more than 100 manga issues. Currently has 38 established, recurring titles under its helm.
After gaining wide coverage, the company decided to publish new magazines. Saturday Brunch represents different manga genres like Shoujo, Josei, and LGBT stories. It is currently accepting mangas from new creators in its first release. Meanwhile, Saturday PM contains stories for mature audiences.
Further, for one month each year, Saturday AM features works from brand new mangakas.
It’s called “Summer of Manga,” where aspiring mangakas get to pitch, edit, and market their work. Alongside the Saturday AM team. To find out more information on how to submit your works.
3.) Shonen Jump Tezuka Manga Contest
Shonen Jump is known for conducting manga contests, and the Tezuka Manga contest is open to receiving mangas written in English. To join, you must have a completed one-shot manga, and you can submit up to two mangas. Drafts and incomplete work will not be considered.
Judges include top mangakas, namely: Akira Toriyama of Dragonball, Eiichiro Oda of One Piece, and Kohei Horishoki of My Hero Academia. This is arguably a contest for the best of the best, and to win an award will surely jumpstart your career as a mangaka.
Winning mangas are translated to Japanese and published in Weekly Shonen Jump Digital Edition. The respective mangakas are invited to the awarding ceremony in Tokyo, and Shueisha covers all expenses.
The winners also get prize money:
⦁ First place: 2 million yen ($18,308.50)
⦁ Second place: 1 million yen ($9,154.66)
⦁ Honorable mention: 500,000 yen ($4,577.33)
Its never been easier to apply.
4.) Noir Caesar
Noir Caesar is a creative indie company established in response to the increasing but underwhelming representation of Black culture in mangas and animes. They are fully Black-owned and managed, and they intend to give a platform to a diverse network of POC (People of color) creators.
They are continuously churning out original content, and they remain open to receive new mangakas.
EigoMANGA is an American publishing company that is dedicated to publishing OEL manga.
They currently have two manga anthologies: Rumble Pak, for seinen and shounen, and Sakura Pakk, for shoujo and josei.
They accept submissions from unsigned and aspiring mangakas.
They accept submissions from unsigned and aspiring mangakas. To be considered:
- Your manga has to have at least three chapters penciled and inked
- They do not accept story ideas and concepts on their own
6.) Morning International Comic Competition
Kodansha is the largest Japanese publishing company, and they conduct a bi-annual international manga contest called Morning International Comic Competition.
Check them out here and wait for their competition to start.
7.) Seven Seas Entertainment
Seven Seas Entertainment, an American publishing company, was initially founded to produce OEL manga. It has released over 30 original mangas, including well-known titles such as Amazing Agent Luna and Aoi House.
While they do not accept unsolicited works from unknown artists, they hire mangakas as a part of their staff.
You can see job openings here:
8.) Pop Comics
Pop Comics is a creator-owned publishing platform developed by a subsidiary of Tokyopop.
There, you will be able to upload your manga and build a fanbase while retaining copyright.
They work on an AD-based revenue stream where you keep 70% of the ad revenue that comes into the platform. They promote popular works that stand out.
You can begin by creating your own account here:
Now, it’s time to hear from you:
Did I miss anything?
What are your plans for becoming a mangaka?
Do you know of any American mangakas or mangas?
Whatever your answer is, let’s hear it in the comments below.