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Manga publisher Viz Media has issued a statement reaffirming its stance on digital piracy following the arrests in Japan of four men accused of illegally uploading a chapter of One Piece to a scanlation website.
Police in Japan say a delivery company employee stole a copy of Weekly Shonen Jump while it was en route from the printer to the retailer and sold the magazine to three other men, who then uploaded the comic to an English-language pirate site. Here’s Viz’s statement:
Passings | Manga creator Cocoa Fujiwara died March 31 at age 31. Fujiwara’s Inu x Boku SS, a story about humans with yokai blood who live together in a special apartment building, with some serving as bodyguards for others, is being published by Yen Press and has been made into an anime. Her first manga, a short story titled “Calling,” was published when she was just 15, and she chose not to go to high school in order to pursue a career as an artist. Her current series, Katsute Mahō Shōjo to Aku wa Tekitai Shiteita, runs in Square Enix’s Gangan Joker magazine, as did Inu x Boku SS. [Anime News Network]
Crunchyroll, which rose to prominence as a streaming anime site and added digital manga last year, is launching a new line of original webcomics called Crunchyroll Originals, which will feature Japanese creators. The debut comic will be HYPERSONIC music club, a collaboration between writer Patrick Macias and artist Hiroyuki Takahashi. Here’s the pitch:
In the world of tomorrow… when technology has reached it limits… a group of young cyborgs must battle the extra-dimensional monster girls for final control of the enigmatic force known only as…The Mystery Frequency!
The free comic will be updated with two pages a month. There’s an interview with Takahashi at the Crunchyroll, and we asked Macias to talk a bit more about this comic and the Crunchyroll Originals line.
Robot 6: Will all the Crunchyroll Originals comics be collaborations between a Japanese and a non-Japanese creator, or is yours unique?
Patrick Macias: Right now, we have several projects in active development. Some of them are collaborations between Japan and U.S. staff, and others are coming purely from Japanese creators. The main thing is that we’re open to pretty much anything right now, including other formats besides webcomics, as long as it is a project that seems interesting and has creative potential.
Editorial cartoons | The leaders of Pakistan, Turkey and the Taliban on Thursday condemned the new Charlie Hebdo cover depicting the Prophet Muhammad. “If someone is printing a cartoon insulting the prophet, there is a provocation,” Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters. The lower house of the Pakistan parliament unanimously approved a resolution condemning the cartoons, and the Tailban emailed a statement saying, “We strongly condemn this repugnant and inhumane action,” which is “opening the door to provoking the sensitivities of nearly one and a half billion Muslims.” Also, several people were injured when police broke up an anti-Charlie Hebdo protest outside the French Consulate in Karachi. [Bloomberg]
Crime | Kazutoshi Iwama, the 50-year-old man accused of shoplifting a Tetsujin-28 go figure worth more than $2,400 from a Mandarake store in Tokyo, has turned himself in to police. The theft became a matter of high public interest when Mandarake posted a security-camera photo of the man, with his face pixelated, and threatened to show his face if he didn’t return the figure by Aug. 12. The stunt attracted scores of journalists to the store, but Iwama reportedly told police he wasn’t aware of the threat until after he sold the figure to a secondhand store … for about $623. [Anime News Network, The Japan Times]
Publishing | Alex Segura, senior vice president of publicity and marketing for Archie Comics and editor of the newly renamed Dark Circle superhero line, talks about where the comics are coming from, what to expect — and his new dual role at Archie: “Usually, I’m the PR guy collecting the information from editorial and deciding how to announce it. Now, I was the editor getting the details together for the PR guy to announce and basically having conversations with myself. I’m exaggerating slightly.” [13th Dimension]
Passings | Animator and blogger Michael Sporn died Sunday in New York City from pancreatic cancer. He was 67. Sporn’s short film Doctor DeSoto, based on William Steig’s book, was nominated for an Oscar, and his The Man Who Walked Between the Towers won several awards. He created animated adaptations of a number of children’s books, including Lyle Lyle Crocodile and Goodnight Moon, for HBO. In comics circles, he was also known as a blogger who turned up cool bits and pieces of animation and art. [Variety]
Publishing | Torsten Adair crunches some numbers from The New York Times 2013 bestseller lists, looking at each category and, in some cases, each publisher separately and breaking down the charting books into easy-to-follow pie charts. [The Beat]
Comics | A CGC-certified 9.2 copy of The Brave and the Bold #28, featuring the first appearance of the Justice League, was sold by Pedigree Comics for $120,000, a record price for the issue (cover-dated February-March 1960). ““The sale for $120,000 is a record price for any copy of Brave and the Bold #28, almost doubling the only recorded 9.4 sale (from April, 2004) of $60,375,” said Pedigree Comics CEO Doug Schmell. “The other 9.2 copy (with off-white pages) fetched $35,850 in May, 2008. This book is beginning to rise dramatically in demand, popularity and value, evidenced by the recent sales of two 8.5 examples (in September, 2013 for $45,504 and for $40,500 in June, 2013).” [Scoop, via ICv2]
Passings | “He took me seriously”: Shaenon Garrity writes the definitive obituary of webcomics pioneer Joey Manley, who died Nov. 7 at the age of 48. She talks to a number of the creators who worked with him over the years and puts his accomplishments into perspective. [The Comics Journal]
In a true-crime story unfolding across Japan, stores are pulling products and venues are canceling events related to the manga and anime Kuroko’s Basketball because of a series of threatening letters targeting locations linked to the manga’s creator, Tadatoshi Fujimaki, the manga, and doujinshi (fan comic) events related to it.
The first threat letters, at least one of which may have contained deadly poison, were sent more than a year ago, but the pace seems to be accelerating: The sender has hinted he or she may commit a crime on Nov. 4, and a new set of letters has emerged claiming the perpetrator is negotiating with the editors of Japanese Shonen Jump, which serializes the manga.
On Monday, the Japanese manga, video and game rental chain Tsutuya confirmed it has removed all copies Kuroko’s Basketball manga and anime. The Yurindo and Reliable bookstore chains are also removing the books. However, a number of bookstores, including Kinokuniya, Sanseido, Junkudo and Miyawaki, say they will continue to carry the manga despite receiving threatening letters demanding its removal.
In addition, the 7-Eleven convenience store chain is removing Kuroko’s Basketball-themed snacks from 1,500 locations after receiving a letter that said, “I left food products laced with poison in 7-Eleven.” The letter included a photograph of the snacks. Another convenience chain has stopped carrying a line of Kuroko’s Basketball tie-ins, including character dolls and plush toys.
Digital comics | The Chernin Group, headed by former News Corp Chief Operating Officer Peter Chernin, has acquired a controlling stake in Crunchyroll, the streaming anime site that just launched a digital comics service. [All Things D]
Digital comics | Rob McMonigal takes a look at Believed Behavior, a website where subscribers can read comics by five different creators for $8 (there’s a free component as well) and then get them in print form. [Panel Patter]
Manga | Dark Horse announced Tuesday that there are 750,000 copies of the various volumes of Berserk in print; that number is about to increase, as the publisher is about to release new printings of the volumes that are low in stock, which is pretty much all of them. Volume 37 is due out later this month. [Anime News Network]
Graphic novels | Graphic novel sales are up 6.59 percent in comics shops, and they are also up in bookstores, according to the latest issue of ICv2’s Internal Correspondence. Sales have been increasing in the direct market for a while, but this is the first uptick in bookstore sales since the economy crashed in 2008. There seem to be several factors, including the popularity of television and movie tie-ins — the success of DC’s graphic novel program linked to Man of Steel is singled out — and a turnaround in manga sales. The article winds up with lists of the top properties in a number of different categories. [ICv2]
Digital comics | Here’s today’s news article on Crunchyroll’s new digital manga service, which offers same-day releases of 12 Kodansha manga titles for free and an all-you-can-eat service for $4.99 a month. Tomohiro Osaki interviews Japanese publishing insiders, who are upfront about the fact that this is an attempt to compete with pirate sites, and translator Matt Thorn, who says that better translations on the official site may lure readers away from scanlations. [The Japan Times]
Comics | You can’t buy this kind of publicity: Before the comic has even debuted, the U.K. tabloid the Daily Mail eagerly reports Royal Descent is being “slammed” by critics for its depiction of a thinly disguised Royal Family forced to fight to the death in a Battle Royale- or Hunger Games-style tournament. Not content to let the book be “slammed” by anonymous “enthusiasts,” writer John Farman joins in, saying, “I personally believe this is possibly the most controversial comic book to ever come out of the United Kingdom.” How’s that for hype? Royal Descent #1 arrives Nov. 6 from Edinburgh publisher Black Hearted Press. [Daily Mail]
Digital comics | Deb Aoki fleshes out some of the details of Crunchyroll’s new streaming manga service, which will feature chapters of Kodansha manga the same day they are released in Japan, for free. The subscription service allows readers access to all chapters of the manga for a monthly fee, not unlike Marvel Unlimited. [Publishers Weekly]
Beginning Wednesday, the streaming anime website Crunchyroll will offer digital manga from Japan’s biggest publisher, Kodansha — some of them on the same day they’re released in Japan.
The service will kick off with 12 series, including Attack on Titan, which is one of the top-selling manga in the United States right now, Fairy Tail, and Ken Akamatsu’s new series UQ Holder. And they will be available in 170 countries, including the United States (where many of the same titles are published in print by Kodansha Comics, which also releases them digitally on Kindle and other e-book platforms). Readers will be able to access the manga via a web browser and can read them on Android or iOS devices as well as desktop or laptop computers.
The anime site Crunchyroll is Exhibit A for those who think digital distribution and copyright can coexist peacefully. The site began in 2006 as a place for anime fans to upload bootleg anime with fan-made subtitles (fansubs) but went legit in 2008, when they got some venture capital and swapped out the bootleg anime for the real stuff, making deals with the publishers to stream their content legally. It’s as if OneManga.com cut a deal with Viz and Tokyopop to host their content, rather than illegal scans.
So why can’t they do that with manga? Clearly the demand is there — witness the lengthy laments at the demise of OneManga. And indeed, Crunchyroll CEO Kun Gao discussed the possibility with Deb Aoki in an interview for her manga blog at About.com. Gao says the site won’t actually host manga, but it recently snagged a $750,000 investment from the Japanese e-book publisher Bitway to develop manga publishing tools. Says Gao:
Business | Japanese e-book publisher Bitway has invested $750,000 in Crunchyroll, the San Francisco-based website that streams anime and live-action Asian movies. A major distributor of electronic books, including manga, in Japan, Bitway hopes to work with Crunchyroll to develop a comics-distribution platform overseas, with an emphasis on the United States and Canada.
Crunchyroll launched in 2006 as a for-profit site, and featured among its content illegally hosted user-uploaded fansubs and bootleg anime. But in 2009, following a $4 million investment from venture-capital firm Venrock, Crunchyroll began offering only licensed content. The website reportedly attracts 6 million unique visitors a month. [Anime News Network]