One of my favourite manga of all time is the manga Bakuman, a fantastic story about two young Japanese comic book artists who are trying to make it into the big leagues by the creators of the famous manga Death Note. Although I use the word fantastic to describe it, there are no fancy elements present in the story, is a very realistic take on what it is like to become a manga artist in Japan. In many ways, is similar to Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics, the greatest book on comic book art ever written, except that this time it’s in the form of a fictional story. Bakuman itself is an exploration of both the business and the creative side of selling Japanese comics, and it is both educational and enthralling. I have read the whole series of 20 volumes through about six times, and will probably continue to read it again once a year because I always get something out of it and find something new with each read through.
I bring this up, because I recently stumbled across a podcast that reminds me a bit of Bakuman, it is called the Part Time Writers Podcast and is a chronicle of two part-time writers, Chris and Lee, who are trying to become a full-time writers in the course of a year. The podcast itself, which is 100% real, is their weekly journal of their efforts to become successful writers, and is a story in and of itself. Although the protagonists of this particular story are a little bit older than the teens of Bakuman, and not trying to get into traditional publishing, they still have to struggle with many of the same creative and business issues that the young heroes of the manga do. Perhaps, this is why find it so interesting to listen to, and it has become one of my favorite podcasts listen to each week.
Now, I may be a bit biased because I’m quite fond of the superhero genre, and their first effort is to try and write a superhero series. But, the two of them do make a pretty engaging pair, as they have different backgrounds and different perspectives on the writing and the approaches that they have to take to get their books out successfully to their target audience. I have to say, as a part-time writer myself, I’ve learned quite a bit from listing to the two of them and find it fascinating to hear their discussions and their ideas, and then to watch them try out those ideas and sometimes fail and sometimes succeed. I also find the two of them quite inspiring, as they generally keep a very positive attitude towards their work, and are willing to try new directions and try new things when plans go awry.
This particular experiment started in January 2016, and is still going on right now, being a little over two thirds finished. Although, I suspect (spoiler) that they will probably end up doing the podcast for more than a year for many different reasons.
So, if you get a chance I would highly recommend checking out this podcast. I started listening to it for specific episodes about specific topics, but if I were to try again I would probably just go back and start with the first episode and work up from there. Unfortunately, iTunes doesn’t seem to have the first seven episodes and starts with episode eight on its feed. However, I believe you can get those first seven episodes from the show’s home website if you want to listen to them. You can still get quite a bit by just listening to individually targeted episodes, and really you can drop in anytime, but if you want to get involved with their story and understand truly what’s going on it helps to start from the beginning or close to it.