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Here he comes! Speed Racer is back

Ever since his U.S. debut as an animated cartoon in the 1960s, Speed Racer has been zooming in and out of our consciousness. Like so many cool things, the cartoon started out in Japan as a manga, Mach GoGoGo, and was transformed into the anime that transfixed a generation of American kids. NOW Comics and Wildstorm both published American versions of the Speed Racer story, and the original manga was released in various formats. In 2008, Digital Manga released a deluxe boxed set of the entire original manga and IDW re-released the NOW and Wildstorm comics along with a new mini-series; all this was timed to coincide with the release of the Speed Racer movie.

After that, things got quiet, but last week a teaser image appeared indicating that Speed Racer is coming round the track once more. The image doesn’t give us too much to go on—no publisher or release date is listed—except for the creative team, but that is worthy of note. Topping the list is Tommy Yune, whose blend of manga and American styles were a big hit with Wildstorm’s version of Speed Racer. Also on board is veteran DC and Marvel writer Len Wein, co-creator of Swamp Thing and Wolverine. Robby Musso does work for IDW, the most recent publisher of Speed Racer comics, which makes me suspect they are behind this one as well. Lee Kohse and James Rochelle round out the creative team. With a pit crew like this, Speed Racer is off to a roaring start.

What Are You Reading?

2000 AD Prog #1722

Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? Our special guest this week is Mark Kardwell, who can be found blogging regularly over at Bad Librarianship Now or rocking out with the Klams.

To find out what Mark and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below …

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Tokyopop and Digital Manga hold hands

Love Knot, one of the Blu manga available on eManga

Tokyopop has been exploring lots of different venues for its manga (publishing Hetalia on Zinio and comiXology), and now they are signing on with a competitor: Digital Manga will be publishing manga from Tokyopop’s yaoi imprint, Blu, on at its eManga site.

EManga works on a points system—you buy a block of points and spend them to sell or rent books. It’s all streamed via Flash, not downloaded, so “buying” a book means the reader will always be able to read it on the site—as long as she has an internet connection.

The press release (below) touts the money-saving angle: A volume of Blu manga in print retails for $14.99, while the online price is $5.99. However, the Blu titles are the most expensive manga on the eManga site; DMP’s June and 801 manga sell for $2.00 to $3.00 each, and Yaoi Press titles also go for $2.00. Harlequin manga are as cheap as $1.00.

The format at eManga is a little complicated, though—most non-Blu manga are “rented,” not sold. You can read the manga once for the rental price, and if you rent it again, you have permanent access to it. So for someone who wants to be able to go back and read the manga again, the effective price is double the sticker price. There is no rental option for Blu manga; pay the full price, and it’s yours for good (or at least for as long as the eManga site is around).

The fact that the manga are streamed rather than downloaded is probably not a big problem for yaoi readers; my impression is that they read a lot of manga but they only read them once, like other people read romances. Yaoi tends to be one-shots, not series, so keeping up with continuity is not a problem.

One thing that struck me as I looked over the site is that Digital isn’t putting many of its own books up there; many of the Digital titles are samples only. Japanese licensors are often reluctant to allow their work to be put online, but it seems odd that Digital isn’t pushing harder to get the books they have licensed onto their own platform.

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Anime Expo: Look back with hindsight

ax2010

For manga and anime fans, Anime Expo is the first of the big summer cons. This year only a handful of manga publishers showed up, but all had plenty of energy and some new announcements to make. That’s probably a good snapshot of the manga industry as a whole—there are only a few players left, but the survivors are pretty robust. Anime News Network has pretty exhaustive coverage of the con, and Animanga Nation does a nice job with a more casual feel.

Out of curiousity, I looked over con coverage from previous years to see who is missing this year. Bandai, Digital Manga, Tokyopop and Viz are clearly the survivors of the manga wars, although it was touch-and-go for Tokyopop for a while. Missing from the roster are Dark Horse, Del Rey, Seven Seas, Udon, Yaoi Press, and Yen Press, all of which have appeared at AX in previous years (although not recently), and ADV Manga, Aurora, Broccoli, CMX, DrMaster, and Go! Comi, which have all shut down or at least gone dark.

I thought it would be interesting to see how AX has evolved over the years, so let’s climb into the time machine and take a look at past cons.

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