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Kodansha Comics will celebrate the 35th anniversary of Akira next year with the release of a box set characterized as “the ultimate, definitive English edition” of Katsuhiro Otomo’s pioneering cyberpunk manga.
The announcement was made over the weekend at Emerald City Comicon in Seattle, where the U.S. imprint of Japanese publishing giant Kodansha also trumpeted the same-day digital release in English of Attack on Titan and 16 other titles.
Beginning today, new chapters of Hajime Isayama’s blockbuster manga Attack on Titan will be available in English on comiXology and the Amazon Kindle Store the same day they’re released in print in Japan.
Chapter 80 went on sale this morning on the digital platforms, along with all previous chapters of the dark fantasy series.
Passings | Longtime comic artist Ken Barr has passed away at age 83. Born in Scotland, Barr his start drawing covers in the 1950s for the science fiction magazine Nebula, moving on to covers and posters for Star Wars, Star Trek, and the first 14 issues of the British comic Commando. Barr moved to the United States in 1968 and began drawing covers for comics published by Warren (Creepy, Vampirella, Doc Savage, Planet of the Apes). He was a penciler, inker and writer for a number of DC’s war comics under editor Joe Kubert, and he drew the first Losers story in Our Fighting Forces. He also worked on some of Marvel’s black-and-white comics, and continued to create book covers and trading cards until his retirement in 1987. [Down the Tubes]
Manga | Kodansha Comics has announced seven new titles for fall, including Attack on Titan: Lost Girls, a manga adaptation of the Attack on Titan spinoff novel that gives the backstory of the characters Annie Leonhart and Mikasa Ackerman; Cells at Work, a shonen manga in which the white blood cells and neurons battle disease; and The Prince in His Dark Days, a gender-switching version of The Prince and the Pauper in which a poor girl takes the place of a rich boy. [Kodansha Comics]
Publishing | Kodansha Comics announced Tuesday that its North American release of Makoto Yukimura’s historical manga Vinland Saga could end following the seventh volume. “Please preorder and don’t let this great series die!” the publisher wrote on Twitter, adding, “We’re hoping we’ll be able to license the next arc, but it’s up in the air at the moment.” Kodansha began the U.S. release of the series in October 2013. The seventh volume will be published Dec. 29. [Anime News Network]
Legal | Two Iowa men suspected of plotting an armed attack in August against the Pokemon World Championships will stand trial on May 9 in Boston. A pretrial hearing is set for Dec. 30. Kevin Norton, 18, and James Stumbo, 27, have been held since their Aug. 22 arrest on charges of possession of a large-capacity weapon and other crimes. Prosecutors say the two, who allegedly made multiple online threats against the event, drove to Boston with guns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition in their car. [Ames Tribune]
Just ahead of New York Comic Con, Kodansha Comics it teasing its “Biggest ‘Attack on Titan’ Manga Announcement Ever” panel with the release of art by artist Tomer Hanuka.
No additional details were provided, leaving fans to try to discern clues from the art itself. Hanuka only offered, “This is massive.”
Manga | Kodansha Comics is teasing the “Biggest ‘Attack on Titan’ Manga Announcement Ever” for its Oct. 8 panel at New York Comic Con. Considering the worldwide popularity, and sales, of Hajime Isayama’s post-apocalyptic fantasy, that’s certainly a bold claim. The series has more than 50 million copies in circulation around the world; 2.5 million of those are in the United States. Kodansha also publishes the manga spinoffs Attack on Titan: Before the Fall and Attack on Titan: Junior High. [Anime News Network, Deb Aoki]
Manga | Attack on Titan has changed the manga market, Kodansha Comics’ top brass tell Deb Aoki, showing that manga can still sell in the millions even after the market slumped, and give publishers a new multimedia model, with spinoff manga and light novels, to build on its success. Hiroaki Morita, editor-in-chief of Shonen Magazine when Attack on Titan debuted, also talks about his early impressions and how he knew the manga would be a hit. Alvin Lu of Kodansha Advance Media also discusses plans for the company’s new digital division, which is publishing digital editions of Kodansha Comics’ current manga but will expand to do digital-first books as well. [Anime News Network]
Hajime Isayama’s smash-hit manga Attack on Titan has surpassed 50 million copies in print worldwide, according to the Japanese entertainment site Eiga.com.
For a bit of context, Anime News Network notes that in April, when the 16th volume was released in Japan, that figure was at 44 million. Kodansha Comics USA, the North American subsidiary of Japanese publisher Kodansha, announced last month that 2.5 million copies of the English-language editions are in circulation (the translation of the 16th volume will be released later this month).
Manga | Kodansha Comics will publish a “Master’s Edition” of Hiro Mashima’s fantasy-adventure manga Fairy Tail, collecting the first five volumes in a deluxe oversize format, similar to its Attack on Titan: Colossal Edition. Priced at $39.99, the first volume will go on sale in October. [Kodansha Comics]
Political cartoons | Christiane Gruber looks at Muslim cartoonists who are critiquing ISIS: “Over the past year, cartoonists across the Middle East have critiqued ISIS with equal amounts of ferocity and fearlessness. From Jordan to Iran, they frequently lambast ISIS — referring to it through its acronym Daesh, which is related to the pejorative Arabic term meaning ‘to tread under foot’ — as destructive of Islam and the world’s cultural heritage, as the growling lapdog of various superpowers, as the ultimate devil and grim reaper of Iraq and as an Oscar-winning sensation obsessed with bloody forms of self-promotion.” [Newsweek]
Crime | A comic-shop robbery went awry when the suspect set down her weapon — a hammer — so she could pick up a comic. A woman walked into Conspiracy Comics in Burlington, Ontario, around 8 p.m. Friday and purchased a comic. When the clerk opened the cash register, the customer allegedly pulled out a hammer and said “Empty the till.” When she set down the hammer to pick up the comic, however, another employee grabbed it, gave her the change, and told her to get out. Police checked the hammer for fingerprints and arrested Mary Margaret Ross on charges of robbery. “It was something that was unexpected and shocking,” said store clerk Anton Litvanyi, who wasn’t in the store at the time of the robbery. “At the same time, it is something that is comical … It’s not something that any retailer expects, but especially in a comics store.” [Hamilton Spectator]
Kodansha Comics, the publisher of the bestselling manga Attack on Titan, announced a slew of new manga licenses late today at an event at the Kinokuniya Bookstore in New York. The new titles, all of which will be published in the second half of 2015, include an Attack on Titan spinoff and a second Colossal Edition, as well as new series by Blade of the Immortal creator Hiroaki Samura and Deadman Wonderland artist Jinsei Kataoka. Here’s the rundown:
The Science of Attack on Titan, by Rikao Yanagita: One of the cool things about Hajime Isayama’s hit Attack on Titan is that the world is really well thought through, and every now and then the story pauses for an explanation of the structure of the walls around the city, or what’s known about the Titans. Yanagita takes this a step further for the curious fan, tackling questions like what, exactly, Titans live on and how the walls were built.
The Attack on Titan Colossal Edition, Vol. 2: Kodansha published the first volume last year; it’s a deluxe hardback edition with extra color pages, along the lines of the Walking Dead Compendium, collecting the first five volumes of Attack on Titan. This 1,000-page second volume will collect volumes 6-10.
Retailing | Image Comics took seven of the Top 20 spots on Nielsen BookScan’s list of graphic novels sold in bookstores in May, with multiple volumes of Saga and The Walking Dead once again appearing, joined by the first collection of Sex Criminals. Kodansha Comics took six spots, with the most recent volume of Attack on Titan at the top of the chart, followed by the first volume. Four more volumes were scattered around the list. Legendary’s Godzilla movie tie-in, Godzilla: Awakening, placed at No. 3. [ICv2]
Legal | The Japanese legislature has moved forward with a bill that would criminalize possession of child pornography, which is expected to pass the Diet before it recesses on June 22. The new law would ban photos and videos made using real children but excludes manga and anime. [The Japan Times]
Graphic novels | An estimated 200 students, faculty and community members gathered Saturday at the College of Charleston in South Carolina to protest proposed budget cuts to that school and the University of South Carolina Upstate in retaliation for selecting gay-themed books — including Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home — for their summer reading programs. The South Carolina House of Representatives approved a proposal early this month that would slash $52,000 cut from the College of Charleston and $17,142 for USC Upstate, which represent what each school spent on the programs. The budget is now before the state Senate. [The Post and Courier]
Legal | Those wondering how Stan Lee Media can possibly afford its long, and so far entirely unsuccessful, legal battle with Marvel and Disney may want to read this brief Wall Street Journal article about “litigation finance” — which it characterizes as the growing practice of investing in lawsuits. However, pointing to the fight over the rights to Spider-Man and other characters, writer Rob Copeland points out there are high risks: namely, that investors could never see financial return. As we’ve noted before, Stan Lee Media’s efforts are backed by a group of investors that includes the $21 billion hedge fund Elliott Management, which helps to explain why the lawsuits keep coming. [MoneyBeat]