Manga Editors - The Reason I Quit My Job as a Manga Editor Part IV

topTokoToko Editor's Misc. Note, a blog run by a female manga editor who has been in the business for over 15 years, has posted a multi-part article titled "The Reason I Quit as a Manga Editor." Below is a translation of part four of the article:

The Reason I Quit My Job as a Manga Editor Part IV

If you don't try something for yourself, you won't be able to understand: that's how it is with everything.

  • In a general magazine, you A) work in cooperation with a lot of people to B) introduce something (a store, a person or a place): it's NOT a job where you "create on your own".
  • In manga (literature), you A) meet and make plans with manga artists (or authors), and (even if you've got research materials) it's a job where you make something from nothing!

This is how I visualized the various roles in these jobs. Well, as far as the general concept is concerned, I don't think it's too far off.

Only, after I have experienced both of them, I understood. In the former, all you have to do is find the place where all parties involved are as close to perfectly satisfied as possible; also, while stores and people, etc., aren't things you can make by yourself, in proposing an angle for "how" to introduce them, you can exercise your own originality.

On the other hand, you've got the latter. Is there any point in an author and an editor making a decision based on "finding a middle ground"? Turning down or putting on hold an idea an author has put forth is like turning down or putting on hold the author himself; are you mentally prepared to do that? And in the first place, when the author is experiencing the pain of creation, what can the editor really do? It's on these points that I started to feel conflicted.

As I wrote in "Why I Quit 2", there are probably editorial departments (or individual editors) who consider it an okay system for authors to be controlled by their editors to the point where "the editor might be the script-writer." However, I don't think that way of doing things is right. Even now, I don't.

An editor holds the power of life or death over a manga artist. For someone in that position to be the "script writer"... It throws things off-balance, you see? You have to at least preserve the triangle of "Manga Artist - Script Writer - Editor." Although recently, there's been a former editor turned script writer who's been throwing hits...

The relationship between the author and the editor is like that between a catcher and a pitcher. Okay: Anyone who has volumes two and six of Big Hitter, go get them out. It's the catcher/editor's job to act as a control on the pitcher/author. However, especially in the case of an editor who's been employed by a publisher, even if, hypothetically, he mislead the author, he's hardly ever told "This is your fault, too!". As on pages 90-91 of Volume 2, he keeps thinking, "Am I making some sort of mistake?". If the author doesn't come up as popular on the surveys, or if the serial is broken off, he thinks "Even if my pitch combinations get hit, I'm not the one getting hit. Isn't this guy the one being hurt?", and all he can do is stand in front of the author, who's been benched ( = isn't being run in the magazine) and is sitting hugging his knees. Also, as on page 89, it's also a certainty that "No matter how good the lead is, I'm the one who's physically throwing the ball. If we lock horns, the weakest one's going to lose". And, the script for page 230 of Volume 6 goes like this:

If I make him pitch this close to the edge all the time, of course he's gonna get worn out. This guy's giving me the pitches I ask for and he's getting more and more worn down, but... There really ain't much a catcher can do for the pitcher...!

Which is to say:

There really ain't much an editor can do for the author...!" At the very least, for me, the feeling of powerlessness towards the author standing alone on the mound outweighed the joy of being his first reader.

In "Why I Quit 2," I wrote that editing was a job where it was fine to have lots of different kinds of people. That means, practically speaking, you're free to take any stance you like. It follows that having editors who are very forceful and hard to deal with ("What idiotic plebs they are, not to understand my brilliantly perfect direction!" etc.) is also possible. Even so, it's the author, and not you, who does the drawing.

Intruding into the script so much that people wonder if you're the writer creates a feeling of "Isn't that like having the manager standing on the mound at Koushien?" (©Doubutsu no Oisha-san), so, personally, I'm not a fan of it. That, and I'd rather take responsibility for my own actions.

I thought things over, and used that old secret for getting by in life when you're perplexed: "Try going to where the need is". As a result of my struggles, I got a tentative from a certain editing professional (a general magazine producer), so I decided to try working there for a while. I'd just turned 29. Oh wow, this didn't end as I'd predicted.

The next time will probably be the last one.

To be continued...

Original Article
Translated by Sarah Neufeld

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I almost know how you feel.

I almost know how you feel. I'm 27 now and I make plastic cups. Is this what I wanted in life?