Digital Manga Guild
Conventions | The New York Post previews this week’s New York Comic Con in a pair of articles, the second of which focuses on announcements from Marvel and DC. Marvel’s “Cup O’ Joe” panel will reveal how Fear Itself, Avengers: The Children’s Crusade and X-Men: Schism tie together, while DC plans to reveal “the surprising origin of a longtime member of the Justice League” and more creators who will work on their New 52 books, in addition to Andy Kubert. Update: Presumably the Justice League member with the surprising origin is Wonder Woman. [New York Post article #1, article #2]
Comics | Not surprisingly, DC saw double-digit increases in September compared to the year before, but the overall market was down a touch as graphic novel sales, lacking this year’s equivalent of Scott Pilgrim, were down. [The Comichron]
Business | Disney CEO Robert Iger, who oversaw the company’s purchase of both Marvel Entertainment and Pixar, will step down as CEO in March 2015. [Bloomberg]
Publishing | Mark Evanier, who is providing editorial assistance on Fantagraphics’ long-awaited Walt Kelly Pogo collections, notes that the first volume has gone to print. “My friend, the lovely Carolyn Kelly, lovingly supervised the loving restoration of her lovely father’s lovely strip and she also did the lovely design of this lovely book and its lovely dust jacket and the lovely imprints under that lovely dust jacket. Sure sounds like a labor of love to me. Not that the contents need any help but the strips are supplemented by a foreword from writer (and friend o’ Walt’s) Jimmy Breslin and essays/annotations by Steve Thompson, R.C. Harvey and myself. If I were you, I’d read all that text stuff after I read the strips themselves about eleven times.” [News from Me]
Comics | Todd Allen runs through some of the “actual changes” to the DC titles come September, noting the eight new (or fairly new, or returning after being absent) writers, plus four who have been “poached” from Vertigo. [Indignant Online]
Comics | Martin Wisse takes The Atlantic to task for publishing an “utterly dull and middlebrow” list of 10 nonfiction graphic novels they called “masterpieces.” He notes that when commenters call out the author for not listing any works by Joe Sacco, she responds that she “chickened out” on including Footnotes in Gaza because “the topic is so polarizing.” Tom Spurgeon has commentary as well, noting, “It’s galling that an author can admit to not including something for publication because they were afraid of Internet reprisals and not be automatically fired and/or laughed out of town.” [Wis[s]e Words, The Comics Reporter]
Late last year, the manga publisher Digital Manga Publishing announced a new initiative: The Digital Manga Guild. Basically, this is an attempt to make the scanlation model work legally: Volunteer teams would translate books into English (and other languages) and edit them, with the permission of the publishers and creators. Digital would publish the books online and readers would pay a small fee to read them; no one gets paid up front, but everyone gets a cut of the sales.
The proposal was initially met with both enthusiasm from fans who want to see more manga translated and skepticism from existing scanlators who were concerned it was just a big sting to get them to reveal their identities—and become vulnerable to legal action. Those initial fears seem to have been allayed, and a number of teams have signed up. Among them is blogger Melinda Beasi, who will be reporting on the process from the inside, with permission from Digital.
Melinda has already cleared the first few hurdles: She successfully pre-registered and passed the editor’s test. Now she has to find partners, because Digital only works with three-person teams consisting of an editor, a translator, and a typesetter. The problem is, there are plenty of editors but not so many people with enough skills for the other two jobs who are willing to work for free. There’s a matchmaking thread at the Digital Manga Guild forums, however, and it looks like Melinda may have found her partners there.
Melinda is donating all her fees to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, so she’s only in it for the experience. Most scanlators work for free, just for the love of the manga, but they also often have a lot of free time, and many are students who drop out of the scene once they are out of college. So there are two questions here: Will people who have done it as a hobby be happy doing it as a job, and will people who are essentially working for free be able to make the same commitment as a professional translator, editor, or typesetter. It will certainly be interesting to see how this works from the inside, and as our digital Nellie Bly, Melinda will certainly report on both the highs and the lows of this experience.