get to practice dat smirking yo
Ahh, looks like we found another Nakamura cosplayer!
So, today’s my last day as an intern here at the lovely and resilient Vertical Inc. Now that my time here is over, I must say that it’s felt rather short. I entered this company in September as a wee 21 year old whose head was always found in a manga or graphic novel and now I leave an almost 22 year old who’s always reading manga and comics. The only real difference is now I, in theory, have a college degree and something neat to add to my resume! No, really though, in my eight months here at Vertical, I’ve certainly learned a lot about both the manga industry, U.S. and Japanese, and how publishing works in general. It’s all thanks to Vertical. In my possibly not so humble opinion, there’s no better company I could have had this internship experience with and I’m quite grateful that I did.
I first asked Ed about the possibility of interning at Vertical during Otakon 2011 and at Anime Boston 2012 I, in a not so professional manner, forced my resume upon him and begged for him to take me on. Later on, at Anime Expo, he and I had a long conversation about what I’d be doing at Vertical, all while I was wearing a homemade dress doing some fine Princess Jellyfish related crossplay. Surely, this was an appropriate way to start a professional relationship. I’ve stated this before but I should reiterate; For the past eight and a half months, Ed Chavez has let me inhabit a small desk directly behind him in his office. It’s next to a bigger desk that has piles of envelopes and boxes filled with Japanese manga magazines on top of it, though a former production intern, who’s now a friend, used to sit there. It’s mostly thanks to him that I’ve learned as much about manga and publishing as I have in my short time here at Vertical.
Almost every day I came into work, which has been three times a week from September 10th until now, I’ve had some interesting discussion with Ed that would inevitably blow my mind. I’ll be honest, every once in a while we would talk about food, which we both agree is a very important thing and that the pursuit of good eats is a worthwhile one. On rare occasions, we’d even talk about life, what with me being a kid graduating college. Most of the time, however, the discussions would either be manga or publishing related. Within that, they could be about any number of things, and because of that, my knowledge and views about these subjects have certainly expanded. Whether we’d be talking about the history of a particular author, the inner workings of licensing and Japanese publishing companies, the state of the American industry, or any other of a number of related topics, I learnt something new almost every day. Heck, just watching how our company works has definitely taught me things I needed to know too, much less getting to pester Ed all the time.
I enjoyed and was challenged by a lot of the work I got to do here at Vertical. Most of it involved writing and if there’s anything I’ve learned from that it’s that my writing still needs a lot of work! I got to do all kinds of writing here at Vertical, from lengthy blog posts like this one, travel entries about Japan, to press releases we’d send out with review copies and write-ups on each of our releases, called web-copies, that get posted on our actual website. These press releases and web-copies would all be screened and edited by Ed. More than a few times, I would end up having to rewrite them before they would be sent out to reviewers or posted online. Writing about our books in specific marketing and descriptive contexts proved to always be interesting. Whether it was limiting what I had to say to make my write-ups about The Flowers Of Evil presentable or figuring out what aspects of Limit were the most noteworthy to write about, writing in this kind of way made me figure out the overall strengths and weaknesses of each book. Not just from the standpoint of what I liked and disliked about each book, but also from a more unbiased perspective that’s necessary to figure out who your potential readers will be. I would not have experienced or even considered this kind of perspective, writing, or aspect of the industry if it wasn’t for this internship. It was, at times, a real challenge. For instance, writing about the Queen’s Blade art-book in an appropriate manner was not the easiest of tasks. However, I learned, and maybe now I can pass some insight off to others too.
Of course, some of the work I’ve had to do here has been standard intern stuff too. Much of my time at Vertical has been spent stuffing envelopes and boxes with our books and sending them off to various places. If any of you professional manga reviewers are reading this blog entry, I’ve been the one who’s been sending you copies of our books for the past year. I must have made over 40 trips to the local post office in my time here, and half of those times I’ve had to stand in line to send out packages internationally. I know everyone who works there at this point, and quite honestly, this is the one aspect of the internship I’m not going to miss. Though, even this sort of thing in its own way is interesting. Mailing books I care about, with press releases I wrote, to people and places whose reviews and editorial work I’ve been reading for close to a decade proves to be a bit of a humbling experience. Doubly so when I mail books off to Kodansha, Tezuka Productions, and other Japanese companies, even if it was just legwork.
Unlike many manga, the world of manga publishing is not always a fun adventure. It’s a consumer industry, one that has seemingly past its prime here in North America. Vertical Inc is, before anything else, a business and we are trying to make money. Unfortunately, we can’t license everything we think is good or that you want. There’s so much to consider, and even after that, it doesn’t mean every book we do license will sell. Despite this, I do think we have a history of putting out some of the best manga, from many Tezuka classics to modern favorites of mine like The Flowers Of Evil, Gundam: The Origin, and Velveteen & Mandala. While we have to be sales conscious, which is one very important thing I’ve personally learned, we do our best to put our plenty of unique manga, which is what attracted me to Vertical in the first place. I was a huge fan of the company before I got to work here, and even though I know so much more about the reality of things now than I did before, that hasn’t changed. Manga’s important to a lot of people, us certainly. I think we try to do our best to honor that and it’s been more than a pleasure to work for the company that I honestly think not only publishes the best manga but has the highest quality of release as well. I’m very grateful.
I’d like to thank Sakuda-san, our CEO, to allow me to work here, Iannis, our chief editor, for taking me out for time to time and giving me plenty of insight on manga and editing, Yoshito, a former intern turned freelance translator and editor who’s become a good friend and an eternal pain in my side, and most importantly Ed, who put up with me, taught me more than I thought possible, and gave me a little space in his office to inhabit. While my time as a regular intern has come to an end, I’ll be getting to help Vertical out at a few cons this summer which I’m really excited for. Come say hi and buy a book or two. Or ten.
Keep Reading Vertical Faithful,
It’s been a pleasure,
Gotta make a last Nakamura-chan check before my flight to Chicago for ACen.