Naoki Urasawa Talks about Relationship between Mangaka and Editors

imgRecently a conversation was held by Kyoto Seika University's newly established manga department between manga artist Naoki Urasawa, creator of popular series such as Yawara!, Monster, and 20th Century Boys, and Takashi Nagasaki, a manga producer who once worked with Urasawa. The topic of the conversation was centered on the difficulties in creating a positive relationship between manga artists and their editors. Below is a translation of the report from Kobe Shimbun regarding the conversation.

The Relationship between a Manga Artist and an Editor is Collaboration

Naoki Urasawa is talented enough to be able to draw two manga at the same time, one for a weekly magazine (20th Century Boys in Big Comic Spirits) and the other a bi-weekly magazine (Pluto in Big Comic Original). However, Urasawa attributes his success to hard work:

(When Urasawa debuted in 1983) "Although I was able to draw pictures, creating a "drama" was a lot of pain for me, who was then only an amateur. I made great efforts - as if my brain stopped functioning - to draw works like Osamu Tezuka's Phoenix by or Tetsuya Chiba's Ashita no Joe. Afterall, our brains will only work when we do."

Urasawa said that his struggle continued with Master Keaton (serialized in Big Comic Original from 1994 to 2002). "This occupation (manga artist) is so hard that I will never recommend it to anyone (laughs)."

The conversation then moved on to the relationship between manga artists and their editors.

In general, manga editors are employees of their publishers. Nagasaki, who has been in charge of managing Urasawa's works since his debut, worked for Shogakukan. Later on Nagasaki became self-employed: "The workload is the same as a manga editor's. I wouldn't call myself a 'producer,' but..." Nagasaki said with a bitter smile. Whether Nagasaki is a manga producer or not, it remains certain that he was the one who brought the concept of "producer," which is taken for granted in the film and the music industry, into the world of manga, and in doing so established a new relationship with manga artists.
For over a decade, Urasawa has felt that the conventional relationship between manga artists and their or editor is a strange relationship. "It is extremely difficult for a manga artist to "self-produce" a weekly serialization. Good editors - those who give directions to manga artists with an objective point of view - are needed." In fact, editors play an important role in developing the plot and scenario of a manga.

Although the relationship is like collaboration, "Manga artists don't realize the importance of editors." Urasawa insisted. "If I build a good relationship with an editor who is in charge of me, the editor will be transferred away in the future. I have felt it odd that a companies' convenience should affect the art of manga.

Urasawa expressed his wish to have the strengths of self-employment recognized in the manga world: "I want the man/woman to be productive." Manga artists should be able to choose their editors.

Urasawa and Nagasaki's fine combination created blockbuster works one after another, but they seldom associate with each other except at work. "I think it is better that manga artists and editors are only connected by their work, or their relationship will go bad." said Nagasaki.

Translated by kawazoe
Source: Kobe Shimbun

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Interested read, keep it up.