"Supergirl" Casts its Lucy Lane
Let’s start with comiXology, which is about to reach a significant milestone — 100 million comics downloaded. The company was at just about 50 million at the beginning of the year, which means the number of downloads (both free and paid) will have doubled in just about 10 months. And to reach that milestone just a bit faster, comiXology is offering a free comic every day. Yesterday’s selection was Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft #1, and today’s is Reilly Brown and Kurt Christenson’s Power Play #1. Check the top of the company’s blog every day for the spotlight title.
Meanwhile, the digital manga site JManga has added Kodansha manga to its lineup. This is a pretty big deal for that company, insofar as Kodansha is the largest publisher in Japan. In typical JManga fashion, they load it up right away with a lot of books; their first set is all older titles that were released in English under the Del Rey imprint before Kodansha set up its own North American arm, Kodansha Comics, and took over the Del Rey titles. None of these books is being published by Kodansha Comics, so they are only available via digital (or secondhand copies). And they are giving away a free volume: If you sign up with JManga and Tweet the Kodansha news (instructions are at the link above), they will give you 500 points, which is what a typical volume of manga costs on JManga.
What makes this interesting is that Kodansha Comics has its own app, although it hasn’t been updated in quite a while. Their app carries newer series such as Fairy Tail and Arisa (which launched as Del Rey titles) and Cage of Eden (which launched as a Kodansha Comics title). Will the two digital services merge, or will JManga keep the old-but-good stuff and Kodansha update its app? We’ll be watching to find out.
Manga creator Shuho Sato has been experimenting with different ways to actually make money with manga, which is a harder puzzle than you might think. The problem is that manga creators usually break even or lose money on the serials that appear in Japan’s weekly or monthly anthology magazines; they make their money when the collected editions (tankoubon) are released, but that doesn’t always happen, so it’s a gamble. Sato has written some sharp commentary about the economics of being a manga creator, and he pulled his series Give My Regards to Black Jack (also known as Say Hello to Black Jack) from his print publisher, Kodansha, and he had previously put it up online, which was at least initially a financial success.
Now the Finnish digital comics publisher Amimaru is publishing Give My Regards to Black Jack in English on its Facebook app, which is in open beta. The price is 12 Facebook credits, but starting Sept. 15, it will be free, per Sato’s request. Sato is also making the series available without restriction for “second uses” such as novelizations, and has said he will stop enforcing his copyright for an indefinite period.
How does he make money this way? It’s possible that Sato just doesn’t care, as he made it clear when he parted company with Kodansha that he was not satisfied with them. It’s worth noting that his newer series, New Say Hello to Black Jack, was published by Shogakukan, and he’s not giving that away for free, so presumably he figures he has made all he can from the first series and it’s a better use of his time to use it as a promotion than to try to eke a trickle of royalties from it.
It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics — now with 100 percent more JK Parkin! Michael May, Graeme McMillan, Chris Arrant and JK have each picked the five comics they’re most anticipating in order to create a Top 20 (or so; we overlap sometimes) of the best new stuff coming out two months from now.
As usual, please feel free to play along in the comments. Tell us what we missed that you’re looking forward to or – if you’re a comics creator – mention your own stuff.
47 Ronin #1 (Dark Horse, $3.99): Mike Richardson, Dark Horse’s head honcho, teams with Usagi Yojimbo creator Stan Sakai to retell the story of the 47 ronin who avenged their master after he was forced to commit ritual suicide for assaulting a court official. It will be both very cool and a little odd to see Sakai drawing samurai that aren’t anthropomorphic animals and aren’t in black and white (the book’s full color), but I’ve always admired his clean style. As an added bonus, Kazuo Koike of Lone Wolf and Cub fame consulted on the project, so this should be a treat.
Great Pacific #1 (Image Comics, $2.99): Joe Harris and Martin Morazzo have come up with a book that I just love the high concept behind: the heir to one of America’s most successful oil companies moves to the infamous Great Pacific Garbage Patch and declares it a sovereign country. He then fights giant sea monsters, based on the preview art that’s been released, which is an added bonus.
Marvel NOW!: This might be cheating, but Marvel has 10 new comics debuting in November under the Marvel NOW! banner. Mark Waid on Hulk? John Romita on Captain America? Matt Fraction writing Fantastic Four and FF? Jonathan Hickman on Avengers? Yeah, I’ll just lump all these together and hope no one notices I’m gaming the system here …
Walt Disney’s Donald Duck: A Christmas for Shacktown: Fantagraphics continues its series of high-end collections of the best of Carl Barks’ duck stories, with the Christmas-themed third volume arriving just in time to be stuffed in somebody’s stocking.
Retrovirus (Image Comics, $16.99): Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray’s latest graphic novel, drawn by Norberto Fernandez, is about a research scientist who specializes in viruses heading to Antarctica to examine a perfectly preserved caveman. I’m a fan of Palmiotti and Gray’s work together, from Jonah Hex to The Monolith (which gets the collection treatment in November), and this one sounds like it could be a lot of fun.
Publishing | Kodansha’s Attack on Titan, the action-fantasy manga by Hajime Isayama, has sold more than 9 million copies in Japan, according to the Sports Nippon newspaper. The eighth volume was released last week in Japan; Kodansha USA will publish the second volume next month in North America. [Anime News Network]
Publishing | Alex Zalben pays a visit to the Valiant offices and talks shop with editor Warren Simons: “Asking whether the idea was to set these up so that you can go right to TV, video games, or other properties, Simons strongly denies that was behind the relaunch. ‘I think you have guys who really love comic books,’ said Simons. ‘I’m just interested in publishing comic books. Obviously in this space, in this day and age you want to pay attention to everything – just like everyone does. But I think it all derives from publishing … [The publishers] just wanted to read comics about the characters that they loved growing up!'” [MTV Geek]
The Japanese publisher Kodansha and anime company Toei had big news for Sailor Moon fans today: They will be producing a new Sailor Moon anime, to debut next summer.
The original Sailor Moon manga (published by Tokyopop) and anime helped kick off the anime and manga revolution, bringing a whole new cadre of fans, especially women and girls, into the world of comics. Fans have been speculating about the return of the anime ever since Kodansha USA started re-releasing the manga, with a new translation and new format, last year. The manga has been hugely popular in the U.S., with the most recent volume spending four weeks on The New York Times graphic books bestseller list.
The new anime was announced today by Sailor Moon creator Naoko Takeuchi and the idol group Momoiro Clover Z, which will perform the theme song, during a 20th anniversary event that was streamed live on the Japanese site Nico Nico. Voice actors Kotono Mitsuishi and Tohru Furuya, who played Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask in the original, participated in the event, but it’s not clear that they will be in the new series (although the Sailor Moon fan site Moon Chase says they will). While details are sketchy right now, it appears that the anime will be released simultaneously worldwide.
The official press release (in Japanese) is up at Kodansha’s Japanese website.
Conventions | Heidi MacDonald reports that the organizers of San Diego Comic Con are tightening up on badges with measures that include matching the name on the badge to the user’s ID to prevent counterfeiting and illegal resale. Amusingly, you don’t have to go too far down the comment thread to see someone blaming Twilight fans. [The Beat]
Legal | Canadian artist Craig Wilson didn’t make it to this weekend’s Phoenix Comicon because U.S. Customs and Border Protection turned him away, saying he needed a work permit to sell comics at his Artist Alley table. Not only that, Wilson was also thumb printed and his car was searched. He said the customs agents even sent a notice to the other border crossings in case he tried to enter the country somewhere else. “I’m paying my own table at the con, hotel, meals, drinks …” Wilson said. “I was going to inject close to $2000.00 dollars into the very economy I was supposedly threatening.” [boardguy]
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.
If I had $15, I’d first snap up a book I’ve been trying to track down for years: Amazing Spider-Man: Hooky (Marvel, $4.99). This 1986 lost classic features Bernie Wrightson drawing a webhead story featuring monsters and alternate worlds – looks like a real gem. Now to convince Marvel to republish John Paul Leon’s Logan: Path of the Warlord… Next up would be Secret Service #1 (Marvel/Icon, $2.99). I’ll buy pretty much anything Dave Gibbons puts out these days, and seeing him with Mark Millar is bound to be a unique experience. Next up is Saga #2 (Image, $2.99); Brian K. Vaughn is really setting up a world – like a sci-fi sitcom here, with loads of direction to go in. Lastly I’d get Conan the Barbarian #3 (Dark Horse, $3.50). Can I admit I might like this more than Northlanders? Brian Wood’s definitely expanding how people think of him with this story, and Becky Cloonan is making a lot of editors look foolish for not putting her on these kinds of books sooner.
If I had $30, I’d start out with Secret #1 (Image, $3.50). Manhattan Projects seems more up my alley than this story, but Jonathan Hickman’s built up some credit in me to try anything new he puts out even if I’m not too interested. Next up would be Northlanders #50 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99), which I’m sad to see go. I think this will be one of those series that achieves more popularity after it’s over, and it’s a shame DC can’t find a way to continue it. After that it would be Glory #25 (Image, $2.99). I was a bit shaky on the story after Joe Keatinge’s first issue, but everything after has really put the pieces into place and Ross Campbell seems to be finding his footing to really land the superheroics of this story. Last up would be Secret Avengers #25 (Marvel, $3.99); Rick Remender’s clearly put his own spin to this series, so much I’m surprised Marvel didn’t use this as a chance to renumber the series… but I’m glad they didn’t.
If I could splurge, I’d throw money at my comic retailer for Pete and Miriam (Boom!, $14.99). Big fan of Rich Tommaso, and he seems to be honing his craft like a knife, creating more pointed and poignant stories here. And Miriam, she’s a real gem.
Felipe Smith is unique in the manga world: He is an American manga artist working — and being published — in Japan. His three-volume series Peepo Choo was serialized in Kodansha’s Morning Two magazine and then was licensed by Vertical for English-language release. Smith was born in Akron, Ohio, raised in Argentina, attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and was living in Los Angeles when he drew his first graphic novel MBQ for Tokyopop, so he is truly a man of the world. He is between projects at the moment, but he implied that he has several pitches with different editors, and I’m quite sure we have not heard the last of him.
Smith was one of the invited guests at MangaNEXT, where I interviewed him in company with another journalist, although “interview” is an overstatement — it was more like taking dictation, with the occasional question thrown in as a prompt. So I’ll dispense with the questions, which were little more than starting points, and just let Felipe do the talking.
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a “Splurge” item.
If I had $15, I’d grab with two hands the new issue of Orc Stain #7 (Image, $2.99). Stokoe is one of the few people in mainstream comics blending storytelling in art and writing seamlessly, creating an organic piece of work that’s as good to eat as some of the fictional food he presents in the book. Spaceman #4 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99) has, in its short run, showed the best of what can be done at Vertigo and is pretty exhilarating, especially if you re-read it from the beginning. After that I’d pick up my regular double-shot: Invincible #89 (Image, $2.99) and Walking Dead #94 (Image, $2.99), and then top it off with The Twelve #10 (Marvel, $2.99). I’m appreciative Marvel and the creators saw fit to see it through, and the story’s all the better for it.
If I had $30, I’d go all company-owned super heroes. Avengers #23 (Marvel, $3.99) for the continuing fight against HYDRA by Brian Michael Bendis and Daniel Acuna. Acuna’s really (finally) had a chance to blossom on this book and I hope he sees it through for a good long while. After that I’d get FF #15 (Marvel, $2.99), which has silently outstripped Fantastic Four in my book; the added bonus for this issue particularly is seeing artist Nick Dragotta on this book. I’d wrap it all up with Batman Beyond Unlimited #1 (DC, $3.99). I’ll admit I missed out on the complete fervor of Batman Beyond, but I’m excited by Dustin Nguyen and Adam Beechen’s work and the possibilities of them taking on a future rendition of Batman and the JLA.
And if I could splurge, I’d check out the overlooked Key Of Z TPB (Boom!, $14.99). New York City street warfare told against the backdrop of a zombie apocalypse? Sounds like my kind of book. Newcomer artist Aaron Kuder’s got an interesting style that I’d been meaning to check out, and this gives me just that chance.
Until Kodansha’s recent re-release of the first volume, Sailor Moon had been out of print in the United States for six years. What’s more, the original English-language edition suffered from many of the sins of early manga — bad translation, flipped pages, etc. Since it is, despite this, one of the most popular manga of all time, it’s not surprising that there are scanlations of it all over the web.
But when a Sailor Moon fan site linked to scans of Kodansha’s new edition, readers who clearly had no problem with posting scanlations were strongly critical of the site owner for linking to rips of an American edition. Here’s a comment that sums up much of the discussion:
This is so sad! The new books are really beautiful and it’s shame to rip them off this way. I understand why the Tokyopop translations were circulated because the copyright expired but this is very different. Really disappointing and I have to say I hope you remove them from your site.
But the person who posted the links, Elly, shoots right back:
Digital comics | Following the entry this week by Image Comics into same-day digital release, 40 percent of the comics that debuted in print Wednesday were also available digitally through comiXology. Asking whether day and date comics are “hitting a tipping point,” retailer news and analysis site ICv2 notes: “Publishers are gaining confidence in the concept as evidence grows that day and date releases do not negatively impact print sales. DC’s bold move to convert its entire line to day and date digital with the New 52 has been the clearest indication yet that digital sales are not cannibalizing print.” [ICv2.com]
Legal | Kickstarter, the two-year-old crowd-funding site used by a variety of artists to fund projects, has asked a federal court to declare invalid a patent held by Brian Camelio, who founded ArtistShare in 2000. Camelio, a composer and former studio musician for the rock band Journey, has obtained a patent for a process that resembles Kickstarter’s own crowd-funding model. According to PaidContent, “Kickstarter ask a federal court to declare that the patent is invalid and that the company is not liable for infringement. If the patent, described as ‘methods and apparatuses for financing and marketing a creative work,’ is valid and Kickstarter is infringing, the site could be forced to shut down or pay significant damages.” [PaidContent]
JManga is the online manga service that readers have been waiting for: Fresh manga in a variety of genres (including lesser-selling ones like sports manga), straight from Japan, on your computer, iPad, Android, or Kindle. They launched at San Diego Comic-Con with a panel, and Deb Aoki has provided us with the most comprehensive reporting on it yet by posting a transcript of the SDCC panel and an interview with six representatives of JManga and participating publishers Kodansha, Shogakukan, Futabasha, and Kadokawa Shoten.
JManga is a great idea, and there was a lot of talent in the room, but there’s only one thing that manga readers care about: The manga. And it was very troubling that in their big SDCC panel the publishers could not identify a single title that it would carry (although the Futabasha rep hinted pretty strongly that Crayon Shin-chan would be on there). When Aoki asked if the manga in the enormous banner over their heads would be included in the JManga portal, JManga rep Robert Newman answered:
My apologies, but this information cannot be disclosed at this time. We will provide you with more information regarding titles around the timing of the launch.
Sailor Moon was the first shoujo manga to catch on in the United States, and the anime succeeded in part because of organized fan campaigns to keep it on the air. The rights for both the manga and the anime had both lapsed by
1995, 2005, however, so both have been officially unavailable here since then.
Kodansha Comics galvanized fans last spring with the announcement that they would publish a new edition of Sailor Moon as well as the previously unpublished (in the U.S.) prequel Codename: Sailor V. There’s no word on the anime yet, but here’s an interesting sign: Anime News Network reports that Great Eastern Entertainment has listed four Sailor Moon items for future sale (no prices or details were listed), all bearing a Toei Animation logo. (The page has mysteriously disappeared since ANN posted it, and it doesn’t look like Great Eastern responded to their request for comment.) As an alert commenter at ANN points out, Toei, the owner of the Sailor Moon anime, was shopping around “refurbished” episodes at the MIPTV market in Cannes last year. Perhaps someone bit, either there or elsewhere. The fansite Moon Chase reports (from an anonymous source) that there is another deal that has to be finalized at a higher level before the anime can be licensed in the U.S., and they are skeptical about this latest development, but some enthusiastic folks are speculating that an announcement could come as early as Funimation’s panel at SDCC.
Judging from the reaction I got when I wrote about Sailor Moon at MTV Geek, there’s a huge fandom out there that is anxious to get their manga and anime back. While Kodansha’s deluxe-edition manga seem to be aimed at older readers reliving their youth, the anime has a lot of teen appeal, and if it is re-released in the U.S., we could see history repeat itself.
Kodansha Comics has been a bit slow to get off the ground, but now they are off and running. After irritating fans last fall by keeping mum about titles, they have announced a stellar summer and fall lineup that includes the classic Sailor Moon, the revival of older but popular series like Love Hina and Tokyo Mew Mew, and some interesting new manga like Mardock Scramble and Animal Land. If only there were a place on the internet where you could go to get information about those books…
And now there is! After months of representing themselves with a plain black-and-white web page with a single press release and nothing to click on, Kodansha launched their new website this week. It has an attractive front page that is heavy on their former Del Rey titles; you have to go to the “Titles” link to see anything else, and they don’t have cover images up for the new books yet. Clicking on a link brings you to the Random House catalog page for the book, which is a bit annoying; it would be nicer to see the books integrated into the site itself. Perhaps that will come? However, it is nice to see the books listed by release date—a lot of manga publishers are very vague about that sort of thing, but their predecessor Del Rey always did it.
Speaking of Sailor Moon, Deb Aoki of About.com sent Kodansha some questions about their new edition and they answered them, apparently anonymously. So things are moving forward, and it should be an interesting summer.
Kodansha Comics stole a bit of thunder from C2E2 today with the announcement that they are bringing a classic manga series back to the U.S. market: Naoko Takeuchi’s Sailor Moon.
Speculation has been bubbling around the manga world for a while that Kodansha would bring back Sailor Moon, which was originally published in the United States by Tokyopop (then known as Mixx) but has been out of print for years. A magical-girl story about teenage girls who transform into superheroines to fight evil, Sailor Moon was the first successful shoujo manga and anime in the U.S. and helped pave the way for the manga revolution that followed. Sailor Moon is one of those books people get sentimental about—for a lot of readers and creators, especially women, it was their first comic. It looks like Kodansha is going for those older readers, as they are describing their release as a “deluxe edition,” rather than keeping them cheap for teenagers—who would probably find it laughably dated. Kids are cruel that way.
Kodansha plans to launch the new edition in September and publish a volume every two months. They will also be publishing the prequel, Codename: Sailor V, which has not been previously licensed in the U.S. They original series will follow the sequence of the 2003 Japanese re-release but collapse it from 18 volumes into 12 for the main story arc plus two more volumes of short stories. It sounds like they are doing a new translation, and the books will have new cover art and freshly retouched interior art.
Click for a look at the cover of Codename: Sailor V.
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