Harlequin Books Like You’ve Never Seen Them Before

by Harlequin’s Overseas Team & Harlequin Japan

You probably already know that Harlequin books are published around the world in more than 110 countries and more than 30 different languages, but did you also know that many Harlequin books from some of your favorite authors and series are also made into comics? This format of graphic novel, known as manga, is very popular in Japan, and over one hundred Harlequin comics are available in English in North America in digital format. You can buy them from many ebook retailers, as well as from balloonsandchapters.com.

manga_croppedAll Harlequin comics start as Harlequin novels. From everything we publish in English, Harlequin’s Japanese office chooses a large selection of titles to translate into Japanese and publish locally in both print and digital formats. The adaptation to comic format happens in Japan and starts from the Japanese novel.

Our Japanese editors work with many different comic artists and select two or three novels to give to the artists at a time. Each comic artist has a specific style and is interested in certain types of stories. They read all the stories and select which ones they want to create as comics. Many artists say that getting inspiration from the book is one of the most important criteria for them to be able to create the manga.

The first step for the artists is to draw the characters’ rough illustrations. Next, they start working on writing out a summary of the story to work out the comic’s overall framework. From there, they work on design drawings with some rough illustrations and then start to put text into the comic balloons. The editors work very closely with the artists at this point in the process to make sure the storyline is accurate and that our readers will enjoy it. Finally, the artists make the final manuscript with full illustrations. For a 125 page comic, it can take artists as little as 3 weeks and as many as 4 months to complete!

We had a chance to speak with the Japanese comic editors and artists about the process for two particular comics:

The Darkest Night by Gena Showalter. Illustrated and adapted by Earithen

darkestnight_mangaAs we set about adapting the bestselling Lords of the Underworld series, we faced the challenge of selecting the right artist for the series. The artist must not only bring the fictional world into life in full details through illustrations but also draw the mythic guardian heroes as divinely handsome men in a compelling way. Despite our initial worry, our problem was instantly solved as soon as someone mentioned the name in a meeting: Earithen, the artist who adapted The Darkest Night. The editorial team unanimously voted her the perfect choice.

Earithen said working on The Darkest Night was a life-changing experience for her as a comic artist. When the first draft of her storyboard arrived in the office, we were impressed by the quality. She had worked and reworked on the draft multiple times before sending it to us. The nagging question in her mind was: “What was so special about Maddox that made Ashlyn feel she could even sacrifice her life for him?” After reading Gena Showalter’s original text, the artist sensed that the special emotion that existed between Maddox and Ashlyn was a sudden, fleeting joy, which lifted them out of their feeling of eternal isolation. The challenge for Earithen was to effectively depict their precious love in the form of a comic.

Some fans of The Lords of the Underworld series might be surprised by the images of the characters, such as long-haired Paris and dreadlocked Sabin. She came up with such artistic treatments after poring over the story and identifying the unique features and appeal of each character. In the comic, Earithen constructed the characters by accentuating those attributes. Each hero, gorgeous in his very own way, acquired passionate followers in Japan based on the Japanese comics. Earithen’s favorites are Maddox and Torin. Japanese readers have told us that they are looking forward to seeing a happy ending for Torin one day.

The Desert Sheikh’s Captive Wife by Lynne Graham. Illustrated and adapted by bestselling artist Kazuko Fujita

Futaba Kikaku Co.,Ltd.Artist Kazuko Fujita says, “The Desert Sheikh’s Captive Wife holds a lot of memories for me. Since its part of The Rich, the Ruthless and the Really Handsome miniseries, I exchanged my illustrations of the characters with the artists who made the other two books in the miniseries so that we could try to draw the characters in a similar way. It was my very first experience working with the other artists and it was enjoyable! Lynne Graham’s heroine has great strength and I worked to portray her charm and strength in her face. I hope that I was successful in showing this in the comic. I think that there is a charm in the hidden passion behind the hero’s cold behavior. Don’t you think so? I spent a long time researching wedding dresses in order to draw this story, and really enjoyed the exotic mood of the sheikh story. This is one of my favorite parts of the drawing.”

 Have you read manga before? What Harlequin books do you think would make a great comic?

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Comments ( 21 )
  1. Brad
    November 25, 2013 at 11:01 pm

    I’m a avid fan of Manga. I think anything involving vampires, sheikhs, or paranormal stories will probably make a totally great Manga!

  2. Azurite
    November 26, 2013 at 2:51 am

    I love, love, love the Harlequin manga! Personally I like the visual form of storytelling, sometimes more than I do straight novels. I have the Harlequin Violet and Hot Pink manga adaptations, too.

    I just hope we can see more of the Harlequin novels turned manga republished in English!

  3. Quick Links | Me and My Books
    November 26, 2013 at 6:55 am

    […] never quite got the hang of reading manga (or any kind of graphic novel, come to that), but this Harlequin post about how they translate their HQNs into manga form fascinated me, especially the comments from the artists themselves.  The article features novels […]

  4. Christy
    November 26, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    Oh…..goody….I love manga or comics….now I know Harlequin novels turn to Manga… I definitely get them…thanks:))

  5. Emily
    November 26, 2013 at 5:59 pm

    Huge Manga fan and would love to see more of this stateside as well!

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    November 4, 2014 at 9:55 am

    […] can read a little about the adaptation process at the Harlequin blog. Comixology uploads don’t list the creators names apparently, you have to squint at the […]

  8. Elisabeth Hobbes
    November 18, 2014 at 7:48 am

    I think these are fabulous. I’ve been a huge fan of graphic novels and manga since my teens and it’s great to see a different genre being represented.

  9. Domo arigato! Harlequin Manga
    March 13, 2015 at 2:04 pm

    […] out this post on the Harlequin blog about Harlequin […]

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    […] of how Japanese editors choose the stories to translate can be found in a 2013 post on the Harlequin.com blog. And the explanation of the process makes perfect […]

  11. Lilia Cornelio
    April 13, 2015 at 10:59 am


    I’ve been looking everywhere on the net where I can get a hold of Lisa Kleypas’ novels in manga form. Do you offer digital copies in your website? How can you make it easier for readers to have access to them but no working knowledge of Japanese language?


  12. Amy
    April 13, 2015 at 3:33 pm

    Hi Lilia,
    I’m not sure if Lisa Kleypas’s books are available in manga since she’s not published by Harlequin, sorry. Her publishers Avon at info@avonromance.com or her current publisher St. Martin’s Press might be able to help!
    ~Amy from Harlequin

  13. DJ
    February 21, 2016 at 7:37 pm

    I don’t mind manga but I do not like the fact that some of my favorite classic HP romances are no longer available digitally because the comic editions have been released or are in the process of being released. Why cant we have both editions???

    • Amy
      February 23, 2016 at 10:20 am

      Hi DJ,
      If you are looking for a particular title(s) in ebook, please email EbooksCustomerService@Harlequin.com and our CS team can advise about availability. Thanks!

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  15. Carmen
    July 4, 2016 at 9:05 pm

    🙁 they are no longer listed on the harlequin.com site

  16. Jessica
    March 31, 2017 at 12:14 am

    Is there a chance there’ll be more sales in Comixology?

  17. Carmen Leung
    June 27, 2018 at 1:29 am

    OMG I found the manga genre while browsing the website.Too bad there’s nothing there right now lol. I got so many from Google Play that I’d like to redeem my loyalty points for new titles in manga format

    • Elissa
      June 28, 2018 at 1:27 pm

      Hi Carmen, unfortunately at the moment loyalty points can’t be used for the manga format. However, we’re always updating our program, so stay tuned for more information!

  18. Harlequin Graphic Novels? – Advance Reading Copy
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