How often do we hear about some celebrity, wealthy philanthropist, or music artist putting out a book that details their rise to stardom, usually starting from the bottom, turning into an inspirational underdog, and taking the world by force? They always go on and on about the people who always had their back, have chapters dedicated to the ones who didn’t believe in them, and have points where they share some of their most treasured secrets. Or, it might just be some random story that the person wanted to put on paper to make a quick buck. The point is, we hear about it a lot.
Rags to riches, bottom to top, it’s always a story about how they got to where they are. And occasionally, either throughout the book or somewhere towards the end, are a few lines of encouragement to help inspire those who want to be where they are. Let’s be honest: it sucks living in somebody’s shadow and footsteps.
And in terms of becoming a famous manga artist, it’s even harder with all of the upcoming artists, known as mangaka, wanting to have their work featured and published. People are constantly striving for success. And when you’re working on your latest project, it’s never a bad idea to take the advice of somebody who practically mastered their work. That’s where Hirohiko Araki comes in.
Written as a how-to that also talks about both his longest running success and works that felt short and failed, Hirohiko Araki talks about how creating manga isn’t just about being able to draw. Titled Manga in Theory and Practice: The Craft of Creating Manga, Araki explains his process of creating a manga. Over the course of nine chapters, the last two of them focused on bringing an entire manga together, Araki talks about how “Any manga that can be considered famous, as well as any novel or movie, will share certain story beats that will never stop captivating audiences.” In the very introduction, Araki points out that even though the book is mainly focused on manga, many of the different methods and skills he talks about in the book can be used in other ways, which he refers to multiple times later on.
Aside from just words on pages, pages from actual works Araki have published, most famously one of the longest running manga JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, are used to show how different methods he describes are implemented, such as setting, character placement, and page layouts. Araki even shows an example of a character sheet he uses when creating a character’s history and design. Although this book is suppose to to be a how-to for mangaka, the best part has to be how Araki doesn’t hesitate to talk about why some manga he’s created failed to be published and how that helped him improve his future works. He even references real life works like “Jurassic Park,” “Kick-Ass” and “Terminator 2” to help him figure out exactly what kind of story he wanted.
Manga in Theory and Practice: The Craft of Creating Manga is a definite go-to for those who want to get their manga works out there to a massive audience, whether you’re a first-time artist or have been in the scene for years already. Even if you’re not skillful in drawing, the book will help you figure out those plot holes that had you stumped for the last few months, or stuck on which kind of character you should create. Pick up Manga in Theory and find your “Royal Road.”
Manga in Theory is available on Amazon and major bookstores.