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Former Tokyopop editor Tim Beedle has a thought-provoking piece on his blog about the antipathy most publishers still harbor toward manga-influenced art. Back when Tokyopop was publishing global manga, it was fashionable in manga circles to pooh-pooh it on the grounds that it wasn’t Japanese, and some of the books were weak. However, many of the creators have gone on to do very strong work. Unfortunately, they have had to switch styles to do so.
Tim thinks that’s a shame (as do I), and here’s why:
At New York Comic-Con last month, I was introduced to a ridiculously talented manga-influenced artist. She showed me her latest comic (which she had self-published), and after seeing how skilled she is, I thought about a few of the projects I’m working on that are in need of artists. I asked her if she only drew in a manga style, and she said yes. It was the only way of drawing that she really felt passionate about. I remember looking down at some of the comics in front of me, shaking my head, and telling her that unfortunately, I didn’t have any opportunities for her right now. None of the publishers I’m working with are interested in publishing comics drawn in a manga-influenced style. She smiled and said she understood, and that it’s something she’s heard before.
Tokyopop’s original global manga didn’t sell well, probably because the publisher’s audience was only interested in Japanese works, and these books didn’t pretend to be Japanese. Unlike some other global manga, they were mostly set in the U.S. and didn’t pick up on cultural tropes like schoolgirls and ninjas. On the other hand, potential readers (indie and western comics fans) were put off by the manga label. These books probably would have done better if they were published by a Top Shelf or an Oni Press. Here’s hoping the creators get more opportunities in the future.
(Via The Manga Critic)