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Lianne Sentar is a member of the generation that came to comics through manga and stuck with it, moving from reading to creating to publishing. The author of Tokyo Demons, she was writing Sailor Moon novels for Tokyopop when she was still a teenager and later worked as an adaptor and editor.
Two years ago, Sentar teamed up with former Tokyopop senior editor Lillian Diaz-Przybyl and two other women to create Chromatic Press, an independent publisher of comics, fiction and audio dramas. Their flagship publication, Sparkler Monthly, is a digital magazine that is based on the Japanese model of serialized stories. They caught the attention of manga fans immediately by getting the rights to one of the best-regarded graphic novels from Tokyopop’s global manga line, Jen Lee Quick’s Off*Beat. Their lineup also includes Christy Lijewski (RE:play) and rem (Priscilla Hamby), who won the Japanese Morning International Manga Competition for non-Japanese creators. Jason Thompson just dedicated his weekly “House of 1000 Manga” column to an in-depth review of the magazine.
Newly minted indie publisher Chromatic Press has announced two new series for its digital anthology Sparkler, which will launch in July as a monthly magazine: Dire Hearts, a magical-school-battle story by Christy Lijewski, creator of RE:Play and Next Exit, and Gauntlet, an illustrated prose novel written by Ellery Prime and illustrated by T2A.
In addition to that news, Chromatic reached a milestone of sorts last week: It began shipping print copies of the first two volumes of Jen Lee Quick’s Off*Beat, which were funded by a Kickstarter campaign. Off*Beat was originally released by Tokyopop, which stopped publishing original English manga before the third volume was finished. Chromatic bought the rights from Tokyopop and gave the full copyright to Quick; in return, she signed to publish the full series with Chromatic.
Chromatic Press is run by four women with a ton of experience in comics and other media, including former Tokyopop editor Lillian Diaz-Przybyl, freelance writer and editor Lianne Sentar, freelance manga editor Rebecca Scoble, and Jill Astley, who works for a big bank by day and is heavily involved in otome game fandom when she’s off the clock.
Legal | In the aftermath of last month’s ruling that DC Comics retains full rights to Superman, the heirs of creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster are urging federal judge to dismiss claims that their lawyer interfered with the publisher’s copyright to the character. DC sued attorney Marc Toberoff in May 2010, accusing him impeding a 1992 copyright agreement with the heirs by striking overriding deals with them in 2001 and 2003. The families insist the publisher filed its claims two years too late, as the statute of limitations expired in 2008. [Law360]
Webcomics | Malicious hackers hit the Blind Ferret servers last week, and they didn’t just wipe out the websites that host Least I Could Do, Girls with Slingshots and other high-profile webcomics — they also wiped out the backups. Gary Tyrell has the story and advises creators to have multiple backups in multiple locations. [Fleen]
Tokyopop has come back to life, sort of: The manga publisher unveiled its revamped website a few days ago, and the company is once again selling books, in partnership with Right Stuf (for print) and Graphicly (for digital). The only Japanese manga available on the new site is Hetalia; Tokyopop’s licenses for other series lapsed, and most of them probably aren’t coming back, although CEO Stu Levy dangled the possibility of some new licenses in a panel last week at Anime LA. What’s left is a good-sized collection of Tokyopop’s Original English Language (OEL) manga and a few graphic-novel imports from countries other than Japan.
Although Tokyopop’s OEL line earned a fair amount of derision at the time, many of the books were actually pretty solid. In addition, they provided paying work for many young and veteran artists. Here’s a look at six that are of interest either because of the creators or because they are so strong (or both).
East Coast Rising: Becky Cloonan’s first full-length graphic novel, this urban-pirate story earned a nomination for Best New Series in the 2007 Eisner Awards. Alas, there was never a second volume.
Fans looking to scratch that itch between between volumes of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, or seasons of HBO’s adaptation Game of Thrones, might be soothed by Witch’s Quarry, a fantasy webcomic by Off*Beat creator Jen Lee Quick that’s being serialized on MangaMagazine.net.
Launched in March, Witch’s Quarry follows a man named Sir Veolynn Moreshire who comes under the control of a powerful witch named Lady Dei. It shows how this hero can be turned with the wiles of an outside force, but also how stereotyped villains may have some redeeming qualities.
Described by Becky Cloonan as “Jane Austen meets Game of Thrones,” the story is told by Quick with a clear line and an unabashed love for plot twists. And this isn’t for kids, as the cartoonist mixes in adult situations from jokes to sexual innuendo and situations, making it something special among the typically all-ages crop of sword-and-sorcery comics online.
Here’s a sample of the first few pages. Click here to read the nine chapters released thus far!
Back when Tokyopop was churning out stacks of manga-style graphic novels (a.k.a. “global manga”), Jen Lee Quick’s OffBeat was one of the best. It was a bit like a high school version of Harriet the Spy with a touch of yaoi intrigue — a teenage boy spies on his mysterious new neighbor and gradually becomes fascinated with him. The story was supposed to run for three volumes, but after the first two came out, Tokyopop dropped most of its global manga line, and OffBeat was one of the casualties. By then it had attracted quite a following, and it was one of the few books that fans actually clamored for more of.
Well, good news: Last week, Quick revealed on her Deviantart page that the third volume of OffBeat will be published in 2012. Quick doesn’t name the publisher, but in the comments to the post she says “it’s a new publisher aimed at young women,” which is good news in and of itself. It’s interesting that she has the rights to the book at all, as most of the Tokyopop global manga creators have not been able to get their rights back and have had to leave their projects unfinished as a result.
Quick has done a significant amount of work on the third volume, but a computer virus wiped out much of what she had done. She will be re-scanning and re-toning the lost pages, and she says she will rewrite and edit them along the way, which should make the book stronger in the long run.
(via Comics Worth Reading)