Man, being a professional manga artist must be a great life, right? For passionate and artistic individuals, it’s hard to imagine a sweeter deal than making a living just by dreaming and drawing, thinking up new worlds and bringing them to life.
And things must be even better if you’re the creator of a hit series, since not only are you bringing joy to thousands, or even millions, of fans, you’re also getting paid handsomely to do it. But even if you’re convinced you’ve got the skills to make it as a manga pro, before you go quitting your desk job you might want to check out the insane schedule of the most successful artist working in the industry today, One Piece’s Eiichiro Oda.
Oda was just 22 when One Piece debuted, which means the 40-year-old artist has now been drawing the pirate saga for nearly half his life. By this point, you might expect him to have the One Piece production process down to such a science that he can churn out chapters in no time at all and with minimal effort.
But Oda isn’t one to rest on his laurels. Even 18 years into its serialization, you rarely hear readers complain that One Piece has gotten stale or formulaic. Not only is Oda constantly coming up with new plot points and twists, his art has been gradually evolving as the series goes on, and all that attention to the manga’s story and visuals requires a lot of the artist’s time.
How much time? According to a recent magazine article, here’s what a typical day is like for Oda.
● Wake up at 5 a.m., start working
● Continue working through the day, only taking breaks for things like eating
● Go to bed at 2 a.m.
In other words, the guy is working for six or seven times as long as he’s sleeping. This isn’t just his schedule for especially busy stretches, either, but his regular routine throughout the year. And we literally mean throughout the year, since Oda says he rarely takes a day off, even on the weekend. To get a new chapter of One Piece ready each and every week for Weekly Shonen Jump, the anthology that carries the title, Oda’s day-by-day work breakdown is:
● Monday-Wednesday: Layout planning and character dialogue
● Thursday-Saturday: Drawing and inking
● Sunday: Coloring and other tasks
Still, it’s not like Oda never gets a day off. Occasionally manga anthologies will combine two weeks’ issues into a single volume, which essentially gives Oda twice as much time as usual to get a chapter ready, which allows him to spend a rare day doing something other than work. So how does he spend that free time?
“I meet up with my old assistants, or with other manga artists or friends who have helped me out, and we catch up with each other and talk about what we’ve been up to.”
In other words, even when he’s not making manga, Oda is often spending time talking about manga. No wonder One Piece’s chapter count is at 803 and climbing.