Insider Series: Interview with a Manga Editor (Part 1)


Insider Access

Photo of Alexis Kirsch.Welcome to the Insider Interview Series, where I will touch base with creative professionals who will share a little bit about their jobs, what makes them so interesting, and any advice on breaking into their creative fields. Each interview will also shine a light on how libraries have impacted the lives of these talented individuals.

Let’s begin with someone I’ve known for several years, best known as . . .

The Man of 10,000 Manga

Throughout his lifetime, Alexis Kirsch has owned over 1,000 volumes of manga. That’s nothing compared to this feat: he’s read over 10,000 volumes. 10,000! Yes, that totally means his power level is OVER 9,000!!! He has worked professionally in the manga scene as an editor since 2005 and he’s done quite a bit of translation and adaptation work as well.

Read on for part 1 of my interview with him and take an inside look at the wonderful manga-filled world that is his job.

Who Are You, Where Are You From, and What Do You Do?

“My name is Alexis Kirsch and I work as a manga editor at Viz Media in San Francisco. As an editor for such Shonen Jump titles as One Piece, Bleach, and Bakuman, I work hard to make sure these originally Japanese books can be enjoyed in English. I manage the process of taking a Japanese comic and preparing it for print or digital release.”

(Note: You can find these manga, as well as other Viz titles, in our online catalog.)

What Does Editing Entail?

Photo of Reading Manga by hawkexpress

“Manga editors will hire translators who go over the book and create an English script. The editor will then go over the script and make sure everything is adapted* well and free of errors. They will then send the script to a letterer who replaces the Japanese on the pages with English. The editor then makes sure everything is in the right place before sending the book to be printed.”

(Note: *Adapting a script means ensuring that everything makes sense to readers in English. For example, a figurative expression in Japan about something being too expensive might not work when translated literally. The solution when adapting is to change the expression to one that readers in North America are familiar with, such as ‘It cost an arm and a leg.’)

How Does Being an Editor Satisfy Your Love For Manga?

"Well, it's an opportunity for those of us who can't be artists to still be in the industry. There're not many things greater than getting to work on your favorite manga. It can be stressful with constantly looming tight deadlines but it's worth it!"

When It Comes to Making Manga, How Important Is It to Consume Creative Works Outside of the Medium?

"This is not as important [for my specific job] since you are adapting a work that has already been created--though consuming various works and [other parts of] popular culture is definitely a plus. Some of the editors at Viz are big American comics fans and that serves them well."

What Do You Consider Your Accomplishments in Your Creative Career So Far?

“In the past I have also worked on helping artists and writers create their own original comics. To see something get off the ground and finally printed is very challenging but also rewarding. The process is a lot more hands on and stressful than merely editing Japanese manga but it is worth it!”

(Note: At Tokyopop, Alexis was in charge of several Original English Language, or OEL, manga series. He was the editor of my series, Rhysmyth. It was fun but a lot of hard work! He really helped me and artist Lincy Chan do our very best.)

Tune in Next Time . . . .

That’s it for the first half of our interview. Look out for Part 2, which will include his advice on how to break into the manga industry, his library experiences, and more!

You can follow Alexis on Twitter under the name AlexisKJump.

Don’t forget to “like” the Atherton and Brisbane libraries on Facebook to ensure you get more updates about manga and SMCL from me.

Photo credit: hawkexpress and Alexis Kirsch


Author Bio:

Intern Anthony Andora would very much like to read manga all day.

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