If ever you have wondered about what it really takes to be a manga artist, forget reading Bakuman. Read Nakamura Ching’s Avare Senki (アヴァール戦記) instead. Running in Comic @Bunch, Avare Senki tells the story of a manga artist who is on a budget, and really, really doesn’t have the time or money to do anything detailed.
Her editor wanted her to do a really cool fantasy series but, Nakamura-sensei says, she’s got no money because her other series is so exhausting and expensive becuase it’s realistic. Well, the editor says, how about an autobiographical essay about yourself? What kind of a person are you? To which Nakamura-sensei replies, “stingy.” Okay, then, how about a story about how stingy you are? In French, stingy is “avare” and so, Avare Senki (Stingy War Diary) was born.
Drawn in a variety of schizoid styles, including sharp replicas of the other series running in the magazine, Avare Senki discusses things like – just how much does it cost a mangaka and her assistants to draw a detailed story (with costs per page and equipment costs set out in detail.) How long does it take a person to draw something? And why is Nakamura-sensei so stingy she gives them cup ramen for lunch every day?
This is the real life of a manga artist – 28 days working without a break, no bath, no decent, non-convenience-store food. Help, who come and go, and Assistants who stay (despite cup ramen every day for lunch.)
Nakamura-sensei is the first manga artist I know of who really highlights her assistants art in her manga. In Avare Senki we get to know them and see them working for her, even telling her that she’s very kind to them, as stingy as she is.
Art – 9, because it runs the gambit between SD and crazy detailed
Story – 9 because it is gritty and real and funny
Characters – 9 because they are real (and Nakamura-sensei draws in the tattoos she has on her arms, which is a huge thing for me)
Yuri – 0
Service – 0
Overall – 9
Avare Senki is the primer I will use when people ask me about what it’s like to be a mangaka from now on.