This month's AKIRA issue #13 released in the US by EPIC and collected in OORU KARAA KOKUSAI BAN AKIRA 5 (オールカラー国際版 AKIRA 5), includes a two page article on the making of the colored version of AKIRA.
THE MAKING OF AKIRA THE EPIC COMIC PART I
The publishing of Katsuhiro Otomo's Akira in the United States requires much more time and effort than a standard comic book reprint. Before American audiences see the final product, it has gone through a complex "Westernization" procedure.
In Japan, Akira is first serialized in 20 page black-and-white installments in Kodansha Ltd.'s Young Magazine. Young Magazine is a 300-page weekly aimed at high school and college students.
The serialized installments are collected into volumes of 300 to 400 pages each. A fifth and final volume is forthcoming, bringing the total number of pages in Akira up to 1800. The sales of these volumes in Japan have been phenomenal. The completed Akira saga will have a total of three and a half million copies in print.
Archie Goodwin, former Editor-in-Chief of Epic Comics together with the staff of Kodansha, divided the volumes into 64 page sections for publication. Kodansha then provided "clean proofs" of the artwork. Japanese comics are designed for lettering that reads vertically. Before sending the artwork to Epic. Mash•Room Co., Ltd., Otomo's own studio, removes all Japanese lettering, sound effects, and dialogue balloons. The artwork is reversed through a camera process, so that Akira will reproduce from left to right. New artwork replaces the dialogue and sound effect balloons and eventually new balloons will be drawn to hold horizontal lettering. The clean "mirror" proofs are then sent to Epic, along with the script translation.