Mangaka [sic] Made in Germany

October 28, 2006

The following is the translation of an article from

No infringement is intended.

09/08/2006 – Mangaka [sic] made in Germany

Manga are, to somewhat simplify it, Japanese comics. Mangaka are what the makers of such comics are called. In Japan, the term mangaka has been institutionalized, and is an official job description. Oversized almond eyes are reknowned as the most obligatory mark of comics in this style. In Germany, the business is currently winning ground with the help of young girls.

Polish-Ukrainian DuO
The 21 year old Reami was born in Poland, and Asu, 19, comes from the Ukraine. The two young women met in the Sankt Augustin school near Bonn. Born of a friendship and too much boredom, the happenstance team DuO is still their artist name today. While the younger Asu mainly draws on paper and at the computer, while the other half, Reami, takes care of everything else. The profile on their homepage states that she’s involved in everything, but doesn’t draw or ink.
Mangaka Asu und Raemi 2005 in Bayerns Hauptstadt
Mangaka Asu (l.) and Raemi (r.) at a signing , on the Comic-Fest 2005 in Munich.
Source: Wikipedia, User “Fantasy”

DuO was contracted in 2002 by the comic publisher EMA, and the two girls now travel through Germany for their employer– they are, for example, regular guests at the Leipzig Bookfair. Their debut Mon-Star Attack is one of the publisher’s bestsellers. The comic, which was only published in a collected volume in December of 2004, is slightly crazy… it’s a comedy about an alien girl in space, who attempts to conquer the solar system. The second volume appeared in September of 2005. The newest work of this polisj-ukranian creative force is no less crazy – Indépendent has a female protagonist as well: a young girl from a mafia family who dives into absurd adventures and gets into plenty of trouble…

Prussian Blue
Prussian Blue is the title of Christina Plaka’s first big publication. The Offenbach-born artist is 23 years old, and her comic tells the story of a band by the same name as the title of the book. The members of Prussian Blue enter a music contest and struggle to win against the competition. The originally all-male band gets a female singer, who ends up moving into an apartment with the other band members. In the events that follow, love and interpersonal conflicts act as the focus of the story, and the result is much less crazy than the happenings in DuO’s comics.
In 2003, Christina Plaka’s manga was published by the Carlsen publishing house in Hamburg– three years after Plaka had applied to the publisher and was turned out down with the argument that there was no market for german manga. Things seem to have changed. Plaka’s sequel, Yonen Buzz, was published by Tokyopop, despite being a continuation of Prussian Blue. Tokyopop is last of the “big three” manga publishers, EMA and Carlsen being the other two.

More than just Passion – Hard Work
In an interview from 2004, one Christina Plaka gave for the TV station Arte, it becomes obvious why the word “mangaka” is a job title in Japan. Even if you are able to make a job out of your hobby, it is hard work. Plaka drew 35-page chapters, which had to be sent to the publisher monthly. A combination of time pressure, wishes and “harsh criticism by readers” meant that working on the comics wasn’t always easy. Illness and college work are not accepted as excuses. There were moments, Plaka told the interviewer, in which she doubted being able to deal with the immense pressure.

A Question of Technique?!
One thing is clear for Plaka: She draws by hand. She wouldn’t have the patience to spend hours in front of the computer. In addition she values a “natural”, puristic style, which indeed defines her comics. The drawing half of DuO, Asu, apparantly has a very different view of technical devices, as the 19 year old also draws by hand quite a bit, but she uses her graphic tablet as well. She is also well versed in digital graphic work – her software includes OpenCanvas as well as Photoshop.

Need to Catch Up
The business is still slowly developing. Manga made in Germany have established themselves in the eyes of German readers, but that wasn’t always the case. Currently, German manga have print runs of up to 20,000. In some cases, that’s enough to get into the bestsellers list. The business is still budding. Of the 80 to 90 titles that come out each month in Germany, less than ten percent of those are global manga. Merchandising is also still starting out, but it has a lot of potential to create new sources of income for the creators of the titles. The head of Tokyopop Germany, Joachim Kaps, told the magazine KulturSPIEGEL [dm: click for our translation] that publishers (have to) feel responsible for their authors.

A need to catch up also exists in terms of equal rights. In the last couple of years, mainly girls have been contracted by publishers. Shooting star Anike Hage, at least, voiced the careful suspicion that girls might be more disciplined and reliable. Her work, Gothic Sports, is currently being published by Tokyopop.

Drawing contests: For those interested, here are two URLS.


3 Responses to “Mangaka [sic] Made in Germany”

  1. […] Deutsche Mangaka lives up to its name and translates a profile of German manga-ka. […]

  2. saif Says:

    ilove you

  3. […] pm | Tagged as: Video Games Alteil is a web-based CCG whose claim to fame is that many famous mangaka were commissioned to draw the images.  It bills itself as “Japan’s #1 online card […]

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