How is typesetting manga different from typesetting American comics?
US comics tend to use speech balloons with a horizontal format, whereas Japanese comics use speech balloons with a vertical format (because of vertical writing). Manga balloons, in Japanese form, and in well-lettered English translations – use a LOT more white space within the speech balloon. A ‘typical’ US comic will use horizontal white space equal to one or 2 characters. A ‘typical’ manga will use horizontal white space equal to the longest line of text. Shoujo manga will sometimes have a little more white space, and Shonen manga will sometimes have a little less, but they will generally have more than US comics.
US comics tend to rely on the order of panels to guide the reader through the page and through the story. Manga is much more likely to use the word balloons to guide you through the page and the story, which means the speech balloons are more likely to cross the panel borders.
Drawing: I’ve heard many times that artists should fill a sketch book a month. How do you find the inspiration to draw all the time or be creative on command?
I’d be really impressed with an artist that filled a sketchbook every month. I fill about one a year. The most honest answer I can give to “How do you find the inspiration to draw all the time” is that you don’t. You just create a habit of drawing, and you draw even when you are not inspired. When one does this, one will find that she is inspired more often. It’s easier said than done, of course.
In response to the second question, I have a few things to say. Firstly it is not necessary to be creative to draw. You can copy other drawings, and you can copy photographs, and you can draw things you see in real life. Doing this is not cheating, and it can help you develop valuable skills. These drawings may not be ideal for exhibiting or selling, but they are useful practice. Just like athletics or performing music, drawing requires practice. Okay… that’s all well and good, you may be saying, but what if I want to be creative all the time? Well, being creative is about having ideas, and the best outline for how to have ideas that I’ve seen is this.
A 5-Step Technique for Producing Ideas circa 1939
This method was laid out by an advertising man in a book that was published around 1939. It’s still relevant today.