Tag Archives: editor

Life of a (Rookie) Editor: It’s Not Easy Being Green

Just as a preface, there might not be another Webcomics Wednesday for awhile as I’ve run out of general ideas. Perhaps going to Alternative Press Expo in a few weeks will help me pick up some new material, but the Wednesday after the convention I’m having my gall bladder removed. It’ll be a fairly minor surgical procedure, but I will be staying at the hospital overnight and might be too loopy to blog for a few days afterward. I’ll try to coordinate some guest posts to keep you folks entertained.

Meanwhile, it’s been ages since I posted about how my life as a manga editor is going. As a warning, this post is going to sound a little dismal, but do not think I’m giving up. That is absolutely not the case.

I love being a manga editor. I really really love that part. The difficult part is being a freelancer. I don’t make a lot of money yet and when I talked to another freelancer friend who works in manga (albeit a different, more labor-intensive position), I got super-jealous to find out what she made. I basically realized then that I’m probably never going to make enough money to survive off freelance editing alone, at least not in the long run. If I were to get a full-time position, that would be another story.

It’s really tough being in my position, especially in this economy. Like most people my age, I’ve graduated college at a horrible time and jobs are hard to come by. Most of my friends who aren’t still in college or  have already managed to wrangle themselves something cannot not find a better job than pouring coffee at Starbucks most of the time. Very few of us have been able to build enough experience to easily get jobs and many jobs want lots of experience these days.

Making things worse for myself, specifically, the manga industry is a really niche industry that’s been hit hard recently. Go!Comi and Aurora have folded, CMX shut down, Viz had massive layoffs and Del Rey Manga just kind of folded and passed the baton to Kodansha USA. There aren’t a lot of places left for me to find work, even on a freelance basis. There are so many things I’d like to do, start my own publishing business or my own comic book store. But with horror stories happening left and right, this doesn’t feel like the right time. Not to mention, I’m not experienced enough to handle either at the moment.

That’s one of the reasons why I’d love a full time job. I want to experience how a publisher works more before I start a business. Either that or I’d love to get a job at a bookstore in order to better understand how they work. (But I can’t do that until after my surgery… maybe bookstores will be hiring for the Christmas rush then!)

I’ll stop complaining now. I’m still working on ways to make a better living, it’ll just take a little time and doing, like most things do, and I’ve got the rest of my life to do it!

On a more positive note, I’d like to introduce my second client, who will be debuting their first line this month, iSeeToon. They are based in Seoul, Korea and will be publishing webtoons for the iPhone and iPad (manwha/webcomics that are run through a sort of flash player is the best way I can describe it.) Their first webtoon will be Magician, which I did the English adaption for and edited. I hope you guys will check out their blog (just click the link on their name) and try out the webtoons when they come online.

On that note, I should probably get back to doing some other iSeeToon work so I will leave you with a link to the ANNCast I was on last week. Thanks to Zac Bertschy for having me.

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The Evolution of Manga Editing

My friend Dave threw me a behemoth of an idea my way last night as I was searching for a blog idea that would strike my fancy.  He suggested that I explore the evolution of manga editing, which honestly sounds more like a research paper than a blog post. It would cost me a lot of time and money in order to fully explore the evolution of manga editing, but here’s my go at the idea with only a few series as examples and my own experience under my belt.

So far I have been an editor on little over a dozen manga. As far as manga editors go, I am pretty sure this is a pretty paltry number, but I kind of, sort of just hit the one year mark of working in the manga industry (if you count internships.)

These days, manga editing is really streamlined. Each major company has its own style book and rules to follow and more likely than not, more than one editor reads a manga before it goes to print. Then again, most of the manga publishers these days have been around for years or have other publishers backing them with expectations, rules and editorial talent. There aren’t too many start-up companies around either.

Less than ten years ago, however, it was a bit of a different story. It was only seven years ago that TOKYOPOP first published Kare Kano (His and Her Circumstances) by Masami Tsuda. Since there are only two names I recognize on the credits page (the COO and the CEO), I hope no one takes offense to me picking one of my employer’s titles or that the company doesn’t take offense to my criticism of an old series. (Although senior editor Lillian Diaz-Przybyl tells me that all the mistakes I pointed out were corrected to the best of TOKYOPOP’s ability in the omnibus editions.)

I’ve been slowly re-reading Kare Kano over the past few weeks and the first few volumes were utterly painful. There are many things where I’m surely one of the very few who noticed, but there are numerous instances where Japanese text wasn’t erased before the English text was put over it, where the artwork or tones were erased and never replaced properly (or at all) and text intruding awkwardly on artwork, amongst other things. Sure, the editing improved after the first few volumes and I’m more than sure many things were corrected for the omnibus edition of the manga, but I have to say-no wonder legally published manga had/has a reputation of lower quality when compared to scanlated manga! Not that I think it’s true anymore…That was seven years ago, when TOKYOPOP hadn’t even been around for seven years yet! And now, I know for a fact that TOKYOPOP editors are aware of these past mistakes and know what to look out for. You won’t easily see any garish use of photoshop to replace screentones that were erased in the lettering process or an aside comment that never got translated. The company has sharper editors and sharper touch-up artists these days, but back then they were still learning the ropes.

Viz, however, had nearly 20 years to perfect it’s editing craft when it made (what I think) is a fairly big mistake of a different kind. In the first volume of From Far Away by Kyoko Hikawa, someone left the word “hella,” a Northern California slang word, in a line. When I first read From Far Away, it struck me more because I really dislike the word (being from Southern CA and all), but now it just seems like an amateurish error that they left it in there when the character never ever uses similar slang past the first chapter. (There is an instance of “omigod” in the first chapter, but I feel that it’s more forgivable because it’s just a slight variation on a very common phrase.)

Is this “hella,” however, as grave a manga-editing offense as messing up the artwork and forgetting to remove Japanese text under the English? Yes, because editing manga in the U.S. isn’t just about making things look just as shiny as the Japanese edition, it’s also about creating an ease of reading for the audience. Editors don’t want readers to be caught up in trying to understand a phrase and it’s important to keep a character’s voice sounding consistent to the readers, so using a fairly local slang word is likely to bother them and create confusion when the character does not continue to speak that way. Is it worse that they didn’t continue to use slang to make the character sound like a young girl through out the volume or worse they left in this one inconsistency? I don’t know, but either way it’s an error.

What I watch for in my editing process is a long list. Basically, I look for mistakes that have been made in the art after the manga has been lettered, I look for all the grammatical and spelling errors you would expect, I look for ways to re-write lines so that they sound smoother in keeping with the manga and the character saying them and I look for other things such as making sure the text doesn’t stray too far out into the bleed zones, making sure the size and format of the text conveys the mood and feel of original and making sure words are hyphenated properly. If there are lines that have not been translated into English, I translate them myself or get the help of someone more fluent than I am. If the translators or re-writers have left multiple choices for me to use in the script, I choose which one is the best and/or write in an explanation of some kind. I never catch every mistake that’s been made whenever I edit, but I figure that will improve with time and, in the mean time, I have other editors supporting me and finding what I missed. It’s a tough process and I’m 100% sure that other manga editors have let mistakes slip through and go to print. For example, Del Rey’s version of Mushishi regularly has text cut off. Either half a sentence will disappear at the ends of a page or you’ll have to seriously crack open your manga’s spine to get at it.

Even so, the way manga is published in the U.S. has improved greatly. There is little or no fear of reading a book right-to-left, which not only makes things more authentic to the reader, but easier for everyone who’s ever had to face changing dialogue because a character is now on the left side instead of the right! While there is major censorship around at some companies (and by censorship, I mean someone has a pair of pants on that they didn’t have before),  no one is re-writing entire manga with American names and American references anymore.  I’ve no doubt in my mind that what I’ve learned as an editor is based on years and years of figuring out what works, what doesn’t and finding the little things that no one caught before. I believe that the editorial process will only continue t0 improve the quality of manga as we editors work on more and more titles. The mistakes that I found, made long ago, are already obsolete in the manga made by those companies as it is!

Geez, Dave. Thanks for the great topic.

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Hetalia: You Should Read This Manga Even If You Don’t Want To

I’ve been dying to get this post out for a little while now. I was hoping to do it sometime this month as the print version of Hetalia Axis Powers isn’t out until late September, but since TOKYOPOP has announced that the digital version is already available, I’m going to go for it.

Disclaimer: I’m not going to lie to anyone, I worked on this manga as a script editor. In case you don’t already know, I work as an independent contractor (read: freelance editor) for TOKYOPOP. The fact that I’m breaking my own personal ethical standards to write this post? That’s how much I want you to read Hetalia Axis Powers. (The OFFICIAL versions, please.)

So you’re kind of skeptical about picking up Hetalia Axis Powers. I understand. There’s a lot of screaming fangirls, you hear a lot about pairings between the different (male) characters, it doesn’t seem like your cup of tea. Here’s why you should read it anyway.

1. This manga is funny even if your least favorite subject was history: It really is. It’s all about humor, whether that be humor about the historical behavior of the countries (i.e. wars, alliances, random incidences), humor about the stereotypical behaviors of the country and humor about the interactions between countries. That’s why the countries are drawn so cutely. YOU CAN’T HELP BUT LAUGH WHEN THEY LOOK SO SILLY AND CUTE!! (Ahem. You see why the fangirls act the way they do?)

2. It’s not a boys love manga, I promise: I can understand why people don’t want to read BL or yaoi. It’s not for everyone. But this manga is NOT about little gay countries. There are less instances of the characters “acting gay” to each other than fingers on your left hand and there are even boob jokes. Everything else is implied. Sure, you can look at the manga that way, but if you don’t HAVE to. (If you want to, by all means.)

3. It’s really not that offensive: If you’re adamant about getting hurt by the stereotypes perpetuated in Hetalia, fine. There are a million bad traits that Himaruya could have touched upon with any country in his manga, but he generally avoids going into dark territory. Hetalia is a yonkoma (gag strip) manga with light-hearted humor, which is pretty typical for most yonkoma manga. Having worked on the first two volumes already, I can only think of one really dark moment in the manga and it has NOTHING to do with stereotypes. Actually, I think America gets the worst jabs out of all the countries in the book for being weirdos. (My opinion is that Americans kinda deserve it. This country can be totally backwards sometimes.)

4. You’ll learn stuff you’ve never known before: Hetalia isn’t going to help you pass your history classes, it’s more like a Wikipedia page than a historical tome, but it’s still pretty fun. Let me tell you: fact checking this manga was super fun. I love history left, right and sideways, but I’m not a super-serious historical scholar. Still, Himaruya’s notes throughout the manga help clarify the strips as well as give you an excuse to go explore the history behind Sealand (and many other things). Many hours will be spent with multiple tabs of Wikipedia open and you will find yourself enjoying it. (Unless you are the type that is so turned off by learning anything new, you just can’t bring yourself to find out what the hell Sealand is.)

5. It really is funny, you guys, just try it: I understand why people don’t want to get into over-hyped series. I understand that Hetalia may not be your type of humor or your type of manga in the end. But it’s still worth a shot, even if you only flip through a friend’s copy or check one out from the library. Don’t pass something off you haven’t even read, especially something that’s really popular because it certainly has to be popular for one good reason or another. You don’t have to be a fangirl if that crowd turns you off, that’s fine. Just take the time to try it out. I promise that a lot of you will be happily surprised. (Cute and funny, it’s like the most powerful combo ever.)

I know I would love to hear your feedback on Hetalia and so would TOKYOPOP. Let me know, let TOKYOPOP know on their facebook page, twitter or anywhere else you can get a hold of them. Have you read it yet? Do you like it? Why do you like or dislike it? I want to hear it all!

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Interning in the Manga Industry: My Advice

A few weeks ago, Kate Dacy posted at her blog The Manga Critic about some intern positions opening up at Viz for the summer and mentioned my blog. After reading her post, it occurred to me that while I’ve been posting about my experiences as a comic-book editor, I haven’t posted that much on how my internship experience was. Well kids, tie your shoes tight because this post is going to be a roller coaster of advice that’ll get your hopes up and then sink them to hell. I hope you get something good out of it.

1. Just because you’re interning for them doesn’t mean they’re going to publish your manga– I think this is pretty self-explanatory. You’re not there to draw manga, you’re there to work on the publishing side of manga. While the fact that people at the company will know who you are works in your favor if you ever pitch an idea to them, it does not mean they are just going to make you a star.  (Let’s face it, interning *IS* free labor.)  Now that that’s out of the way…

2. Don’t be afraid to go for it, even if you major in bio-physics– I’ve met a number of interns who were doing something at TOKYOPOP that had NOTHING to do with their college majors. Why did they go for it? Because they had a vested interest in what they were interning in and some skill at it too. Does that mean you should go for it too? If you have that interest and a basic grasp on the tasks you will be asked to do, yes. Everything else is just learning how to adapt to the demands of your job, which I dare say is an ability you want in any work environment. I was totally terrified that I wouldn’t know what to do when I first started too, but then I realized my journalism degree had taught me the skills needed to do my work well even though I wasn’t doing journalism! If your major is comp sci and you want to do a design internship because you like to draw on the side. DO IT! *EDIT* My friend and fellow TP intern, Sumana, added some more great advice in the comments section, the choicest piece being: “be prepared to explain yourself! Because my major isn’t seen often in this industry, one of the first questions during my interview was “why are you here?” I don’t suggest saying “I <3 manga” as your only answer.”

3. Be knowledgeable and care about manga and the industry– During my interview, I was asked what my favorite manga series was. Knowing this question was coming, I went through my library of TOKYOPOP manga and picked out my favorite. I added it in along with my absolute favorite manga of all time and this showed that I knew the manga industry better than most fans (both were kind of off-the-beaten-path manga.) I also told them the truth: I read scanlations, but I preferred having a physical copy. I’ll admit I wasn’t the most informed person at the time, but I showed them that I cared enough about manga to explore less popular releases and that I wanted to learn more about the industry.

4. Work your ass off once you get in-Even if they give you manga to work on that you absolutely HATE, think of it as a learning experience. After all, you are gaining experience by working on it, if nothing else. I got thrown random research projects with the nastiest manga ever, but I read them and I survived. And now I even have some funny stories to tell! I also decided not to get a part-time job for six months and intern for 40+ hours a week at TOKYOPOP. Not because I wanted to be poor or because I was trying to get hired, (OK, I was, but it wasn’t part of the decision process here) but because I really really wanted to be at TOKYOPOP every single day and not to miss a thing while I was there. I was, perhaps, the only one who was crazy enough to do this, but I wanted to milk the experience for all that it was worth. (And hey, I got a job out of it! Yay!) Also, work your hardest to do better than you were before. I asked my mentors every few weeks to give me an overall constructive criticism. It helped me figure out what I was missing in my editing so I could learn and improve on my existing skills.

5. Know your way around social media– I am trying to think of an internship at TOKYOPOP that doesn’t require knowing basic social media skills. There isn’t one. From day one, having a Twitter account was important to my internship. That’s where Stu Levy found me complaining how TOKYOPOP hadn’t gotten back to me yet and directed me to the right person. When other people found out I was tweeting about stuff I was working on, they ENCOURAGED me to keep doing it. (Word of mouth is important to publishers.)  When I started this blog, they not only loved it, but occasionally passed me news to break before anyone else could. If they know you can do this whole Twitter business, they will ask you to tweet on the official Twitter account sometimes. If I didn’t have Twitter and my blog, I don’t think I would have met Ysabet MacFarlene or Athena and Alethea Nibley, who also freelance for TOKYOPOP, or many other industry people I have the pleasure of being acquainted with now. Manga is a community, not just an industry, and social media is where you can get in touch with a lot of these people.

6. Be sure you can live wherever your internship is– I promise, this is not impossible despite the fact that most internships are in expensive cities (LA, SF, NYC.) I was lucky enough to have a ton of people I could impose on when I got my TOKYOPOP internship, but I was apparently very close to interning at Viz. San Francisco has a higher cost of living than L.A and I don’t have family there. Still, there are many interns who came to TOKYOPOP from the far reaches of the country, relocating a short period of time. Some of them have family here, but most haven’t and are working part-time jobs or relying on scholarships. Basically, don’t do what I did because I had people to fall back on. You most likely don’t, so get a cheap apartment and a job while you intern, if your school gives you an intern stipend, take it.If it’s too expensive for you still, try taking the internship class at a community college to cut down on tuition costs.

7. Intern in the right department– Every time I tell someone interning at TOKYOPOP that I work in editorial, they say they want my job. Understandable because editorial is totally awesome, but also kind of sad because more than a few of those interns aren’t having a good experience in their department. Did they make the wrong choice or is it just a matter of having a tough time with the work given to them? I don’t know, but at least if it’s the latter it’ll be a learning experience for them, even if they only learn that they don’t want to work in publishing. I learned this lesson by not getting an internship at Viz. When I applied there, I asked if I could apply for both the Magazine and Editorial internship. They made me choose and I chose Magazine. I should have chosen the Editorial one, I probably would have made a better impression on them and gotten the internship! (Ah, but would I be where I am now if I’d gone to Viz?) Choose wisely. Just because the job market is tough doesn’t mean you can’t be a little picky about an unpaid internship.

8. Not everyone is a fan– That’s right, not everyone in the industry is a fan of anime and manga.  Hopefully, all the important people are. I know the people in my department are, but  not everyone in accounting or design are. And that’s OK. A job is a job and hopefully they’re enjoying the work they do anyway. Just don’t assume everyone’s a fan and go fan-crazy. You can be enthusiastic and passionate about manga without scaring people, I promise, and being restrained and professional isn’t going to hurt you.

9. For the love of CLAMP, enjoy yourself– If you’ve gotten yourself a internship,  you’re doing it to learn something. And yes, learning can be SO BORING if you’re in a class you hate. Don’t let that be this class. Make this the one class you take your entire college career that allows you to experiment with something you think you might want to do for the rest of your life. Even if you have convince your advisor that an internship involving graphic novels does not mean you’re dabbling in illustrated porn, (true story.) Do it because this sounds like the most fantastic idea ever and you just also happen to need an internship to graduate! Do it because you live and breathe manga in a totally not creepy way! Do it because you want to have a job you’ll just adore because you get to work with manga ALL THE TIME.

10. Don’t expect a job to fall into your lap– I was extremely lucky that TOKYOPOP hired me. Other interns did not get hired, the majority of them, in fact. If you want that internship to turn into a job in this industry, you have to be exceptional and prove to them that you are worth paying. I can promise you, every company in this industry is keeping a tight grip on their purse right now. You are going to need to work your ass off and have a little luck on your side. I honestly don’t think you can get a job like this without it.

I hope this has helped some of you to take the step to intern in the manga industry. Despite all the negative points I’ve highlighted in this post, I want to say that my internship in manga was fantastic and worth every sacrifice and every mental scar that happened along the way. Obviously, I had the -IDEAL- experience, and you might not have that, but you won’t know that if you go in there thinking to yourself that this internship is going to suck. Go get ’em, everyone!

If you have any burning questions about doing this kind of an internship, I’d  love to answer them. :)

Edit: In case you want a little more, one of Viz’s summer interns posted about her experience at Viz on their Shonen Sunday Blog.

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Correction: I am not the editor of Hetalia afterall

Oops.

After sharing my joyous news with the world and bragging way too much about it, I found out that I am *not* the editor of Hetalia. There had been a misunderstanding on my part when the news was passed to me. Man, do I feel dumb.

If you’ve already congratulated me, thank you again. I’ll still be working on part of the editorial process for the next volume of Hetalia and, from what I heard, it was a tough decision for Tokyopop Editor Cindy Suzuki. The fact that I was chosen at all means I did a great job when I worked on the first volume and getting the second volume is, therefore, my reward.  I actually have to thank Cindy for giving me the opportunity to work on Hetalia and the many other opportunities she’s given me over the months we’ve been working together.

I am a little sad, but I’m still excited I get to work on the next volume of Hetalia. ^_^

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Manga Moveable Feast: Mushishi vol. 1-4

The first time I came across Mushishi was when my really awesome college anime club watched it about two years ago. I picked up the manga in bookstores to take a peek, but it wasn’t high on my list of things to buy. So I never did. UNTIL NOW. -cue dramatic music-

Said club having really terrific taste in anime, I rather loved watching Mushishi although it usually hit me as kind of slow. (It showed right before our dinner break, so I guess I was just anxious for some grub or something.) That was awhile ago so picking up the first four volumes of the Mushishi manga felt familiar, but still rather fresh.

Mushishi is about a “doctor” of sorts named Ginko who researches and deals with cases of mushi, semi-mystical and bug-like primordial beings that coexist alongside plants and animals, but act in many different ways, be they parasitic, otherwise harmful or completely docile. The manga chronicles Ginko’s adventures in no particular order with self-contained plots in each chapter. While some might say it would be easy to start at a random volume, I still feel like it’s best to start at the beginning where Yuki Urushibara is making the effort to explain the mushi and what Ginko does.

Urushibara is specifically unclear as she states in her postscript that there isn’t a particular time attached to Mushishi, although she suspects it is sometime between the Edo and Meiji periods. I’m glad she made this choice because it would be a lot more difficult to do this story in a modern setting, like some manga might which always strikes me as a little B-rated fantasy flick-ish. Thanks to this, Mushishi retains a mystical and timeless quality as it really should be.

Ginko is a really cool protagonist. He seems like a real person despite his strange surroundings who tries very hard at his job and really likes mushi a lot. He regularly attempts to make all the right decision for everybody, but isn’t totally against doing something that will benefit himself or something that technically breaks a taboo. My favorite chapters throughout the first four volumes (I’m planning on picking up the rest on Saturday, so perhaps I can do a second post right before the Manga Moveable Feast ends) are “The Sea of Brushstrokes” (vol. 2) about a girl born with a mushi sealed inside her right leg who must write about killing mushi in order to expel it, “The Fish Gaze” (vol.3) which is about Ginko’s past and how he got his strange features, “Picking the Empty Cocoon” (vol. 4) about a girl who takes care of a certain kind of mushi and the loss of her sister to this mushi and “In the Cage” (vol. 4) about a family that is trapped inside a bamboo grove by a white bamboo mushi.

This manga reminds me a lot of Natsume’s Book of Friends mixed with Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service (in a sort of action-packed with interesting characters way) so if you like either of those manga you’ll probably be interested in Mushishi.

The art starts out a bit on the difficult side of sketchy at first, but eventually comes into it’s own as the manga moves on.  While I’m perfectly content with the style, if you really really like super clean artwork, then this manga isn’t for you.  All in all, I think it really suits the story and it’s mysterious subjects, but I won’t lie that a few years ago I probably would have frowned a little at this style. I used to really admire clean lines.

While I rather like the art and the story, I have some complaints from a editor’s perspective. From volume 1 I was extremely annoyed by the choice of font for the narratives. I was really hoping it would go away after the first volume, but no such luck. It also had some spiky strokes (usually white  lines around the font to make it show up against darker panels, etc.)  that just looked so unnatural to me. I know this is kind of a really picky thing to complain about, but font choice is pretty important and this particular font pretty much reminded me of the way Papyrus is misused for every single “ancient”-looking thing out there. I hate Papyrus with a passion if you can’t tell. I personally would have chosen something that looked more handwritten and similar to the wavy brushstrokes that are used to draw the mushi.

Another problem I had with the book was that Del Rey seemed completely unaware that some of the dialogue was in the bleed zone. (The bleed zone is some buffer space given so nothing important, like dialogue, will be cut off in printing.) This happened consistently through four volumes and it just REALLY pisses me off to have to practically crack the book’s spine just to get at some text in the middle or to see half of a line of text disappear at the bottom of a page. To me this says: SOMEONE WASN’T PAYING ATTENTION, takes me out of the book and makes the whole thing a lot harder to read. They also advertised “special extras” on the back of every volume, but if the special extras were the inclusion of a few pages of the next volume, I could have done without the anticipation. Sure, it’s not in the original Japanese version, but extra pages (in Japanese) of the next volume are NOT that special to me. Am I jaded? Perhaps, but it’s not like I was buying Mushishi for these “special extras” anyway. Overall, the packaging is nice and I like the paper they used for the covers, which isn’t glossy and makes the watercolored cover art to look really awesome. All the covers are pretty, but volume 4 (pictured above) is my favorite so far.

Finally, and this is probably an artistic or editorial decision on the Japanese side to let some of the tones slip over into the word balloons. I don’t know why it bothers me so much because it does seem to fit the whole feel of Mushishi, but it just seems so lazy to me. It’s not that consistent either, although I noticed it usually happens to balloons in landscape scenes. In the end, I guess this is all just stuff I would correct as an editor, if I was the editor.

As whole, I wouldn’t skip Mushishi just because of my little editorial nitpicking. It says something about this series that even after I’ve seen the anime (which is basically a verbatim adaption of the manga), I’ve been more than happy to buy the manga. (Not just for the Feast, but it was an excellent excuse.) I’d even be willing, in a few months time, to pick it up for a casual re-read.

If you would like to read more about Mushishi, check out the other Manga Moveable Feast entries at Manga Worth Reading! Thank you to Ed Sizemore for hosting this month’s event!

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My Life as a (Rookie) Editor: My deadlines are killing me AND my computer

Word of Advice: Don’t get into publishing if you don’t do well with deadlines.

I’m not saying you can’t be a procrastinator or something, but if deadlines make your head swirl until you start crying in a corner, don’t get into any kind of writing or publishing job. Or any job that deals with deadlines on a regular basis.

That being said I’ve had a lot of “bad” deadlines. I had two script edits to finish this week ASAP and luckily for me I made both deadlines alright. They were only bad deadlines in the sense that I’ve been having a terrible and unfortunately busy week and I wound up getting very stressed out.

That being said, I might have to take some kind of short hiatus. The number one reason being that my computer, for some inexplicable reason, has decided to crap out on me and not allow me to access certain sites or parts of certain sites. As you can imagine, one of those sites is WordPress. (UGH.)
The second reason being is that I’m currently at my mother’s house taking care of her after she had a nasty spill and badly sprained both her ankles.

I don’t even know what’s wrong with my computer at the moment or where the best place to take it to be fixed is. Nor am I sure if I can afford it, so until then, posts from me will be short, sweet and a little bit few and far between.

That said, if anyone can offer any advice as to good, relatively cheap places to take computers in for repair in Orange County, CA, I would appreciate it.

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My Life as a (Rookie) Editor: My Collected Works

Manga blogger Ed Sizemore of Manga Worth Reading recently suggested that I re-do my banner to include manga that I’m credited for.

There’s only one problem…

It would look like this:

Red Hot Chili Samurai

"ALL BY MYSEEEEEEELLLLLFFFFF~~~~~~"

See, there’s only two three manga out there (so far) with my name on it. This is the only one I own.

The other manga is Gakuen Alice vol. 9 and Your & My Secret vol. 5 if you’re wondering.

The reason for this is actually quite simple. People at TOKYOPOP kept handing me BLU stuff and asking: “You like boys’ love, don’t you?” (Answer: “I don’t mind it.”; Translation: “I am lowly intern scum, so I’m going to say yes regardless of whatever I REALLY think about it.”) So I kept editing BLU titles and the thing about BLU titles is that NO ONE LIKES TO ADMIT THEY WORKED ON THEM. Don’t believe me? Grab the closest BLU title, flip to the back of the book, find the credits page and look for the names of the English-language staff.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with not wanting to admit to being responsible some of the shounen-ai and yaoi that’s been put out (whether from BLU or other companies), but I kind of sort of feel like I should get some credit for copy-editing Madness. (I worked on both volumes of the series, actually.) That title came back from the letterers so full of errors that I went back multiple times just to make sure I didn’t miss anything. On top of that, the art style is very tone-heavy, so it was pain to mark all of the really really darkened panels. As hard as I worked on it though, there’s no way I want to be associated with some of the funky stuff that goes down in Madness, so I guess that I’ll stop whining about it.

If you’re interested here are some of the volumes that should have my name somewhere in them:

April-

Fruits Basket Fanbook: Banquet (4/27)

Battle Vixens 15 (4/27)

June-

Gravitation Collection 5 (6/1)

Fruits Basket Ultimate Edition 5 (6/1)

Sgt. Frog 19 (6/29)

July-

Zone-00 4

August-

Genju no Seiza 8

I hope you enjoy them all and I hope I get to fill my bookshelf with awesome titles that I’ve worked on someday!

P.S. I don’t REALLY hate working on yaoi or shonen-ai, I just dislike the assumption that because I’m a female manga fan, I must be an obsessive yaoi fangirl. All that really happened was that I got asked “you like boys’ love, right?” a lot while interning at TOKYOPOP and it kind of became something I privately giggled about. Plus, through editing so much yaoi manga, I became that much more familiar with it’s tropes and whatnot. I can speak about it with a lot more confidence now and that’s good for a lot of things! Also, in comparison to Madness, copy-editing the Fruits Basket Fanbook was a lot harder!

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TOKYOPOP Memories

So today marks my last day as an editorial intern at TOKYOPOP.

It sounds a little sad, but if you don’t already know, I’ve been hired as a freelance editor. It’s my first job post-college. I feel incredibly lucky to have it.

While I’m super excited to finally get paid for what I’ve been doing for free (For 40 hours/week, for 6 months last summer and this winter), freelancing means I won’t be here in the office as much and talking to the editors. I won’t be able to have lunch with my other interns at the food trucks outside our building. I won’t get to participate in some fun stuff like acquisitions meetings and writing for the newsletter. (If you’re wondering why I was moaning about noodles on twitter on Wednesday.) It just won’t be quite the same.

But I feel so happy to have broken into this industry. Towards the end of my college years I realized that straight journalism wasn’t for me. Blogging works for me, but standard newspaper style writing? Interviewing a set number of sources? Calling and emailing and practically stalking people just to get them to talk to you? Not anymore, thanks.

But manga… manga, I really do love. I love being able to read it, even if it means I have to read a certain manga about 10 times in one month. I love being able to say: “I read manga for a living.” or “I work with manga.” I’ve been in love with manga for almost a decade now. I’ve loved comics for untold years before that.

It’s actually kind of funny. When I first got into manga, I didn’t even realize that there was such a thing as a manga editor. Don’t ask me how I thought manga got licensed, translated, adapted, lettered, etc. from Japanese to English, but that’s what I thought. Now, obviously, I’m a bit more knowledgeable. So much so that it surprises my superiors sometimes, even if I don’t think I’m THAT knowledgeable. XD

I first got the idea to even try for an internship from my good friend Annaliese, who was a design intern for Viz and now freelances for them. I didn’t even know you could do that until she told me about it! Where the hell had I been?!

So thank you Annaliese, for putting the idea in my head and telling me to go make TOKYOPOP better with my awesomeness. Thank you Christy and some other gals from Go!Comi for putting up with me at Yaoi-Con ’08 for talking to you ALL CON LONG about manga, wanting to break into the industry and a million other things. Thank you, Stu Levy, for randomly finding my whiny tweets about not hearing back from TP and getting Tom’s email for me. Thank you, Tom, for not dismissing me when I accidentally made a typo in an e-mail when I was still an intern applicant. Thank you, Marco and Lillian, for liking me enough to hire me before I’d even managed to get out of L.A. immediately after our interview. Thank you, Cindy, for taking me under your wing when you realized that I wanted a job with TP. Thank you to everyone else at TP who I worked with closely for your patience with me and giving me feedback when it was necessary. (I love feedback!)

You guys made me feel really really loved. It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows, believe me, but at the end of the day, I can say I get paid for doing something I really really love: reading manga. That’s pretty damn awesome and it makes me pretty damn happy.

So, anyone need a freelance manga editor/writer?

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