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CPAC 2015: Insight into the Manga Industry with Yen Press Editor (Panel Review)

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Want to know what it's like working in the manga industry? Then stop by and learn what it's like being in the industry with Abigail Blackman, editor and letterer for Yen Press and founder of Alpha Design. From her role working in the editorial department at Yen Press, to what it takes to work in the industry, you'll have the opportunity to learn about the manga industry from a long-time veteran.

At this year's Castle Point Anime Convention, I attended Abigail Blackman's "Insight into the Manga Industry with Yen Press Editor" panel. As an amateur artist and a novice writer, I wanted to learn what it would take to break through the manga industry or a similar field if I ever get serious in pursuing it. How can I improve, evolve, or catapult my artistic potential and actually transform it into a career? I wanted to see how realistic my aspirations were. I wanted to see if attending the panel could help me understand what is logically reachable. I'm glad I attended because I was not disappointed. Abigail Blackman was such a delight. Although she was soft spoken, her words were a straight arrow. No smoking mirrors and no beating around the bush.

The panel was moderated by the cool,  laid back Justin Stroman, founder of Organization Anti-Social Geniuses. We were joined by Abigail Blackman via Skype from her office in Michigan. The session started with a brief introduction of the guest speaker and a series of questions from the moderator. Blackman shared her extensive work experience and expertise. She gave instances of hectic work schedule and how they manage all the craziness that goes on. She pointed out that a lot of her work requires multiple revisions and that dealing with multiple projects simultaneously can be wholly overwhelming but that she loves what she does and despite the workload it's still very much rewarding for her.

Some of Blackman's more noteworthy advice for aspiring manga artists were, be prepared to do lots and lots of redrawing. Many manga artists are primarily freelancers. She reiterated how difficult it is to get a permanent position in the industry but if you persevere and are passionate about the field, you will get there and nothing can replace the feeling of accomplishing your goal. For aspiring writers and editors, Blackman simply advised to keep practicing and never stop learning. It takes commitment to work in a manga industry. You will have very little time to do anything else. You are virtually married to your work. It's not the best lifestyle and it's not for everyone.

The Q&A part was positively engaging. Almost everyone had a question and were excited to participate. Justin did have giveaways for anyone who participated, so for sure that boosted the audience's enthusiasm. I myself partook with genuine questions to satisfy my curiosity but I would be lying if I said getting free stuff (Blu-ray, DVD, and Manga courtesy of FUNimation) didn't get me more perked up. One of my questions were, "Did you always want to be an editor growing up or did you aspire to be something else?" To which she answered, "I always loved storytelling and thought of becoming a teacher but when I entered college, I realized it's not what I wanted anymore". Instead, she became an editor and the rest is history.

Blackman shared a multitude aspects of her work and the manga industry that were not only valuable, but also full of optimism. I was very pleased with the panel and how the whole session was presented. Everyone including me, left satisfied. The only one small complaint I have or more of a wish really was, I wished Abigail Blackman was there in person so I can shake her hand and thank her for sharing her wisdom to us.

BY: Jovanni Febrero
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