The Japanese manga studio known as CLAMP exemplifies the benefits of working with long-term collaborators. Many comics and manga are created by transient partnerships and these teams of writers, artists and editors often separate when projects eventually end.
Using CLAMP as an example, the following lists advantages of working in a permanent studio.
10. A brand name bigger than the individuals
A clamp is a device used for holding things together. This word can also mean the act of clamping or holding things together. And for many comics readers the word refers to a group of artists in Japan. Their studio name is gender-less, mysterious and easy to remember!
The current CLAMP is made up of four female artists. This is how they decide to roll: Nanase Ohkawa is the group’s leader responsible for story, script, and also speaking to the public on behalf of the group; Tsubaki Nekoi and Apapa Makona are the two main artists; and Satsuki Igarashi is manager to the whole team. The specialized roles enables members to comfortably try new approaches to manga making in each project.
8. Increased productivity
A quick search on the internet reveals that on average, CLAMP takes just around 5 days to finish 20 pages of artwork. This really helps when serialization demands that chapters are produced every month!
7. Assistants become optional
The common production setup for mangakas in Japan is to employ assistants who specialize in one or more skills: background, inking, applying screentones, coloring, and anything else manga related. CLAMP members have worked as a team for many years such that hiring assistant will actually slow down production due to the overhead of assimilating them into the group.
6. No screen tone art style
In xxxHolic, CLAMP diverged from the norm by not using screen tones and instead relied on shape, size, almost-two-dimensional perspective, artsy paneling, lines, and the interplay between solid blacks and whites to convey value. The result is a modern, yet ancient art style distinctively CLAMP.
5. Reverse chibi art style
The normal proportion of human bodies is around 7 1/2 heads. It is only in fashion design drawings that it is acceptable to depict a body in 10 or more heads. CLAMP likes to dress up their characters to keep them in style so it makes good sense to elongate their limbs and make them taller, as seen on xxxHolic and Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicles. It is as if it is the opposite of chibi style.
4. Artist support group
X, also known as X/1999 is an 18-volume serialization that started in the 90s and halted on 2000. There is another way of saying this: popular and violent apocalyptic story about the end of the world was put on hiatus! Was it in reality a storytelling strategy: if the manga is doing extremely good, create even more tension by delaying the ending?
Kidding aside, studios have an easier time surviving a cancelled serialization. It can act as a support group for its members and facilitate the development of an entirely new series.
3. Leverage previous stories and make a story universe
In typical CLAMP fashion, it is common to see character features, names, personalities, and relationships get imported from another story. Sometimes no alterations are made and fans call it a crossover. They can do this easily thanks to having the same artists working on their stories.
Some readers might feel cheated the first time they see Sakura from Card Captor Sakura reappear in Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle. However, since the readers are already familiar, the characters become bridges to easily understanding new stories and settings.
2. Working on multiple genres
CLAMP stories exist in mixed genres. The list is not limited to the following: magical girls with mecha (Magic Knight Rayearth), shoujo-battle (Angelic Layer), horror-seinen (xxxHolic), sci-fi lovestory (Chobits), and magical girl for all ages (Card Captor Sakura).
1. Novel ways to tell the same things
Is the object of your affection an android? Are you looking for your soul mate? Did you just open Pandora’s box? Were you born to save the world from itself? Can not decide right from wrong? No problem!
In every CLAMP story, age, gender, and circumstances are obstacles that can be overcome. CLAMP believes each person has the capacity to change their destiny through the choices they make. As a studio, CLAMP can come up with varied art styles about different subject matters and still echo the same set of themes about man and fate. This is a really great way to engage both old and new readers.