Thursday, June 19, 2008

Reknown Manga Artist gets The Kirby Treatment From Publisher

Some interesting insight into the relationship between Japanese comics artists (mangaka) and their editors and publishers at The Daily Yomiuri.

Shogakukan Inc., one of Japan's leading publishers, caused a stir after it was hit with a lawsuit earlier this month by Makoto Raiku, a mangaka whose works have appeared in its weekly Shonen Sunday.

Raiku charges that Shogakukan lost 5 of his color pages from the manga series Konjiki no Gash!!, which was carried in the magazine from 2001 to 2007.

Konjiki no Gash!! was later adapted into an animated television show. (which airs here as Zatch Bell).

Raiku said the publisher failed to return the five color drawings following the end of the series' run. Shogakukan offered to compensate him 500,000 yen for the loss, but Raiku demanded 3.3 million yen in restitution, including a price tag of 300,000 yen for each of the missing artworks. Raiku is believed to have based the figure on bids for similar works on Internet auction sites.

The media have covered the lawsuit, but have focused on the superficial question of whether original manga works have artistic value.

The writer of the piece Makoto Fukuda points out that verbal abuse can be an accepted aspect of how an editor deals with young mangaka. Additionally he points out that while Japanese editors and artists disagree on whether Raiku has a good case, most seem to agree that his page rate was far too low for a well-known and successful mangaka.

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