Manga Answerman - Can Mangaka Work With Multiple Publishers At Once?by Deb Aoki,
Q: Can a Mangaka work with two to three (or more) different manga publishing companies at the same time, all with a different series?
Yes. They certainly can, and some certainly do. The astounding work ethic (or back-breaking workload) of a Japanese manga artist is the stuff of legends in the western comics world.
There are many examples of prodigiously productive mangaka. For example Osamu Tezuka drew several series simultaneously AND managed an animation studio AND did commercial illustration work. He died at a relatively young age (60 sounds old, but it really isn't), and one could argue that overwork was a factor in this.
A more recent example of a multi-tasking mangaka is Hiro Mashima, who drew weekly chapters of Fairy Tail for Weekly Shōnen Magazine while also drawing monthly installments of Monster Hunter Orage for Monthly Shōnen Rival, both Kodansha magazines.
As far as drawing simultaneously for different publishers, Akiko Higashimura, creator of Princess Jellyfish comes to mind. She was creating new chapters of Tokyo Tarareba Girls for Kiss magazine (published by Kodansha) while also drawing her autobiographical manga Kakukaku Shikajika for Cocohana magazine (published by Shueisha) and later her historical drama series Yukibana no Tora for Hibana magazine (published by Shogakukan).
Of course it helps to have assistants to produce so many pages of manga per month, but double props to Higashimura sensei for doing this, telling great stories AND raising a young child on top of all that. Just amazing.
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Deb Aoki was the founding editor for About.com Manga, and now writes about manga for Anime News Network and Publishers Weekly. She is also a comics creator/illustrator, and has been a life-long reader of manga (even before it was readily available in English). You can follow her on Twitter at @debaoki.
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