Interview with a Japanese Publisher


long time not see.

As people who follow my twitter account maybe know, I went to an interview with a japanese publisher this week. It went unexpectedly well and I learned lots of new stuff (I'm not gonna share much in detail today because it's too specific for my work) so people got interested because I said it was quite different from my previous experience with western publishers.

With western publishers I mean especially german (that's where I have most experience), as well as french and american. So let's briefly check what an interview for Manga is for.

Basically they look at your work and evaluate what your strong points are and explain how you can improve. If you're already at some professional level they will also look at how you fit in their program and maybe exchange contacts to discuss further possible projects.

In my opinion one of the best ways to improve very fast and learn the way of the business.

Buuuut – big but. The feedback I got from german publishers focused on art style and anatomy only. Of course, it's a big and important part of Manga, but as I gained more experience, the writing got more and more valuable for me. Just look at really popular Manga like One Punch Man. The original Manga definitely is far away from „beautiful“ but the story is so catchy that it gained a lot of momentum. And there are lots of other Manga here in Japan, that don't look refined as – let's say Good Night Pun Pun but are still read by lot of Japanese.
Seriously a point that german publishers neglect in my opinion.

When I went to my interview I was of course very nervous. I expected being looked down upon. Even though german editors don't look down on artists, there is still some undertone like „oh, Manga... that's for teenagers. No real art.“ (with a few exceptions. There are german editors that take it seriously and they are doing their best).

So you can imagine how surprised I was, when that japanese editor was really kind and patient with me and I had the impression we were at the same level (sometimes I thought, I may be treated even more special, but that can also be the japanese politeness).

The interview went on for really long (over one hour, nearly one and a half) and the feedback focused on character and story mainly. I got so much valuable information, it was really precise and specific. The expertise between this japanese editor and even a good german editor is so huge. So even though I don't fit in the magazine of this company, I still got a lot of valuable experience from the interview and was a good preparation for other publishers.

Probably what impressed me the most was how I was treated. It felt like this editor want me to succeed and help me on my journey (I got some prints with contact information for more suitable magazines). It had an air of professionalism with deep respect for each other. Seriously, I felt like my work has some meaning, like my voice should be heard. One of the question that took my off-guard was like „What do YOU want to draw?“ „What kind of story do YOU want to tell?“. The impression I got from german publishers is like „Please change to fit into our concept“.

Japanese take Manga really seriously. I already could feel that when I talked with people about my dream of becoming a Mangaka. Noone belittled me here. It's actually seen as art and culture and this was also reflected in my interview.


So, that was my one-night stay in Tokyo. Gonna be there for longer next week to look for work and try again at different publishers.

See you around