How manga is made. (Brief Overview)

Manga is a very complex art form that has a lot of moving pieces and, over time, has become extremely streamlined in how it is created. There are a variety of art styles and story types available to any manga artist—and more often than not manga is influenced by tropes, traditions, and history—but regardless of story type or genre, manga typically goes through the same process en route to publication. 

Typically, if being created and distributed via traditional publishing channels, the first step in creating a chapter in manga is a draft called a “name.” The name is created by the author and artist, who are often the same person, although not always. The name is a sketch of the manga’s layout and plot, which allows the editor to get a good sense of what the chapter might look like and read like completed. In manga publishing, editors have lots of influence over what story and layout make it to the page in the end; it is not uncommon to find significant edits and adjustments being made during this stage. In addition to being a sounding board and voice of experience, manga editors are also market experts that provide context to authors about what kinds of stories are most likely to sell well, and even sometimes directly market the manga they are responsible for editing.

After a name is agreed upon, the manga chapter goes into more detailed production. Most manga artists, or “mangaka”, have assistants that will help them with the details of illustrating and producing manga quickly. Because most manga is released on a monthly or biweekly schedule, time is of the essence. Assistants will often work with details such as shading, inking, or texturing drawings so the mangaka can focus on the core illustration and authoring of the story. Many mangaka assistants work in the job because they one day aspire to be mangaka themselves. 

Once all of that is complete, the manga chapter is ready for release! Most manga is serialized in magazines and then compiled into volumes later for release and purchase by consumers. When manga is serialized in magazines, customer feedback is often solicited as to what is popular and most-liked, and sometimes the order of manga in a given magazine will even switch around (with more popular titles near the front, for example) depending on consumer interest. The publication of manga compilation books after magazine serialization is often more complex affairs with more opinions involved as to design, marketing, and content, akin to the complexity of a single magazine article being published vs a full novel being published. 

A lot more could be said about the content, genre, and illustration style of manga that this article doesn’t have the time to get into. All of those are important choices to be made. But it is important to remember that just as much as a certain manga might be the vision of its artist, it is also the vision of its editor. Manga has thrived for a long time by being a streamlined, commercial process (although it might not always seem like one) and that model’s success means it is not likely to change anytime soon.


Larthian is a marketing professional during the day and an anime lover at night. Some of his early favorites titles are: Ghost in the Shell, Hunter X Hunter, and Naurto. Larthian Contributes weekly to AnimeAfar on various topics.

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