Insider Series: Interview with a Manga Editor (Part 2)


Photo of Alexis Kirsch.Alexis Kirsch currently edits high profile manga series released in the U.S. by Viz Media, including One PieceBleach, and Bakuman.

How Did You End Up Where You Are Today?

“I lived in Japan as a kid and became a big fan of manga at the time. When I heard that there was an opportunity to work in the industry here, I jumped at it. Now I have the perfect job, reading manga everyday!”

What Is Your Favorite Manga?

“I grew up reading Dragon Ball by Akira Toriyama and it remains my favorite. The intensity of the fights and just overall fun of the story [are] hard to beat! I'm a big fan of Shonen Jump manga and have many favorites. Subscribe to Shonen Jump Alpha today!”

What Do You Think Makes Manga So Enjoyable?

“One of the great things about manga is the VERSATILITY. There are so many types of stories. Ones for boys, girls, women, [and] men. Stories about being in love, stories about kicking butt, stories about playing board games, stories about tasting wine! Even stories about a rhythm dancing sport! There is something for everyone.”

Please Share Your Thoughts and Feelings on Libaries.

“A few years ago I was lucky enough to get to visit some libraries in the Las Vegas area with some manga artists and speak to local kids about the manga-making process. It was a wonderful experience and those kids and I were truly blessed that the library system in Las Vegas would support such an event. With many of the larger bookstores closing recently, the libraries may be the only place for some kids to read manga. It is very important that we all support our libraries so they can continue to provide these valuable series.”

(NOTE: Right on! Supporting SMCL can mean something as easy as providing feedback. Let us know what you like, what you don’t like, what we should consider providing, and the types of programs you’d like to see. And don’t forget to talk to us, in-person or online. Your interaction makes our work totally worth it!)

What's Your Personal Library Like at Home?

“My personal library is pretty much all manga. I have about 600 books, some I have owned since the late 80s! When I moved back from Japan as a young child, the only reason I was able to maintain much of my Japanese language skills was because of about 50 manga books that I would continue to read every now and then. My brother did not do this and he lost almost all of his ability. So many of these books are very special to me.”

What Are Other Ways to Work in Manga Besides Drawing and Writing?

“There is editing like I do, of course. But Viz also has people in various departments such as marketing and production who get to work with manga on a day to day basis. We are also always looking for interns to help out. You must be enrolled in a college to be considered. Check Viz Media for more info!”

(NOTE: As of this blog posting, the Spring 2012 Internship “season” has already begun. Check the Viz internship page again towards the end of the semester to see when the next round of applications will be accepted.

Internships are a wonderful way to get a foot in the door—any door! I regret not taking one during my undergrad, but I’m glad to be interning with SMCL nowadays. Check out Lauren (“The Intern Queen”) Berger’s acclaimed guide to internships, All Work, No Pay: Finding an Internship, Building Your Resume, Making Connections, and Gaining Job Experience for valuable information and advice.)

For Aspiring Mangaka, What Advice Do You Have?

“Practice, practice, practice. Create your own manga even if it's not any good. I see too many talented artists who draw a few good pictures and then say ‘Well, I'll do a full book WHEN someone hires me.’ If you can't motivate yourself, you'll never get it done. You have to love sitting at a desk drawing all day if you want to be a manga artist. That ability to focus is more important than pure artistic skill.”

(NOTE: For a fictional and entertaining look at the busy life of young mangaka in Japan, check out Bakuman.)

What Now?

You can follow Alexis on Twitter under the name AlexisKJump. Let him know what you think about the manga series under his editorship!

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


Author Bio:

Intern Anthony Andora thinks the only thing cooler than reading manga is making manga.

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