I’ve always disliked fireworks, an aversion I blame on a crippling childhood fear that they would rain down on me like the white-hot fire of a sparkler. That said, I might be convinced to change my mind about them if there were more manga-themed pyrotechnic displays like the one held Thursday in Japan’s Kanagawa Prefecture.
At Kotaku, Brian Ashcroft writes that Shonen Jump held its own fireworks celebration at a summer festival, with the focus on many of its own hit properties, like One Piece, Naruto, Dragon Ball and Gintama. Judging from the photos, and the video below, Luffy’s hat was definitely my favorite. You can see many more images at Kotaku.
Retailing | Naruto topped the May BookScan chart of graphic novels sold in bookstores, followed by two volumes of The Walking Dead, the latest volume of Sailor Moon, and Yen Press’ latest Twilight adaptation New Moon. Just three volumes total of The Walking Dead made the Top 20 (down from eight last month), and as usual, DC and Marvel got clobbered: DC had three titles on the list (two volumes of Court of Owls and Watchmen) while Marvel had one (Hawkeye), and none was above No. 15. Or to put it another way: Vol. 14 of Dance in the Vampire Bund, a high-numbered volume in a fairly niche manga series, placed higher than every Big Two book on BookScan last month. [ICv2]
Creators | With the second issue of their digital-only comic The Private Eye recently released, writer Brian K. Vaughan and artist Marcos Martin talk about their story, why they decided to do it digitally, and what the response has been so far. [The Verge]
Graphic novels | Two volumes of The Walking Dead Compendium topped BookScan’s list of the Top 20 graphic novels sold in bookstores in March, and Vol. 60 of Naruto was No. 3, but ICv2 thinks the new Avatar: The Next Airbender graphic novel premiering at No. 4 is headline-worthy. [ICv2]
Awards | With his duties complete, Charles Hatfield describes what it was like to be an Eisner judge. [See Hatfield]
Creators | Gilbert Hernandez talks about his childhood and that influences, from Dennis the Menace to Steve Ditko, that shaped his latest graphic novel, Marble Season. [The Chicago Tribune]
According to Anime News Network, the park will cover 1.52 acres on the third floor of the Sunshine City World Import Mart Building in Tokyo’s Ikebukuro commercial and entertainment district. The building already houses Namco’s Namja Town indoor park, which features themed dining, carnival-style games and a haunted house.
Although the new park’s name hasn’t been revealed, a floor plan (below) offers a preview of its features: separate areas devoted to Dragon Ball Z, Naruto and One Piece, a “Heroes’ Arena” with a rotating theme and roster of properties, food sections, and licensed merchandise shops.
Namco, best known as a video-game developer and publisher, will be the main operator of the theme park, which will be developed with the help of Weekly Shonen Jump editors. Anime studios Toei Animation and Pierrot also will be involved.
Several Japanese resorts and amusement parks already have attractions devoted to Naruto and One Piece, and an unlicensed One Piece theme park reportedly is being built on 329 acres in China.
Publishing | DC Comics’ Batman: Earth One, by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank, topped the Nielsen BookScan list of graphic novels sold in bookstores in July, one of five Batman books to populate the Top 20. The remainder of the chart was dominated by manga — five spots, with the newest volumes of Sailor Moon and Naruto claiming Nos. 2 and 3 — The Walking Dead — three volumes, with the latest slipping from No. 1 to No. 4 — and Dark Horse’s two Avatar: The Last Airbender books, by Gene Luen Yang, both of which remain in the Top 10. [ICv2]
Publishing | Archaia CEO PJ Bickett talks about some new planned digital products and the current Archaia strategy for its books: “As of right now for 2012 we’ve really focused on some key titles and in building those out as real brands. In the past we’ve taken more of a throwing it out there and hoping for the best [approach] and now we’re taking a more strategic, targeted and strategic approach. We’re seeing a lot of great efforts as a result of it.” [ICv2]
Creators | Longtime Uncanny X-Men writer Chris Claremont is donating his archives to Columbia University’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library. The collection includes materials for all of his major writing projects over the past 40 years, notebooks with story ideas, drafts of short stories, plays, novels and comic books, and materials from his early training in the theater and his career as an actor. “We hope this is the first of more comics papers to come to the University,” said Karen Green, Columbia University’s ancient/medieval studies librarian and graphic novel librarian. “We want it to be a magnet for these kinds of archives in New York City, where the comics medium was born.” [Publishers Weekly]
Creators | Michael Cavna talks to two comics creators with very different takes on Occupy Wall Street, sequential journalist Susie Cagle, who was arrested as part of the Occupy Oakland protests, and conservative editorial cartoonist Nate Beeler, who walks past the Occupy D.C. site every day and regards it as “quaint,” smelly, and out of step with the rest of the country.” [Comic Riffs]
Retailing | Although the 14th volume of The Walking Dead wasn’t released until June 21, it still managed to secure the No. 2 spot on BookScan’s list of graphic novels sold in bookstores that month, behind the 51st volume of Naruto. It’s the ninth consecutive month that at least one volume of the horror series has appeared in the BookScan Top 20, a run that began as marketing geared up for the AMC television adaptation. [ICv2.com]
Publishing | Darwyn Cooke has announced that the release of Parker: The Martini Edition will be postponed for a few months, and takes full responsibility for the delay. The book is now scheduled to debut at the Long Beach Comic Con in October [Almost Darwyn Cooke's Blog]
Publishing | John Jackson Miller looks at the history of comics numbering, which he traces back to dime novels of the 19th and early 20th centuries: “Comics are anomalous in American magazine publishing because most comics don’t use volume numbers and issue numbers that roll over ever year; rather, the numbers keep on going. In that, our numbering is much like that used for the cheap, disposable fiction of the earlier days.” [The Comichron]
Broadway | Michael Cohl and Jeremiah Harris, producers of the troubled Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, talk candidly about the $70-million musical — or “$65 plus plus,” as Cohl says — as it shuts down for more than three weeks for a sweeping overhaul. Will the production, plagued by delays, technical mishaps, injuries and negative reviews, hurt their reputation? “It might,” Cohl concedes. “It’s a matter of the respect of those whose opinions I care about. Most will recognize that Jere and I stepped in dog poo and are trying to clean it up and pull off a miracle. We might not.”
In related news, Christopher Tierney, the actor who was seriously injured on Dec. 20 after plummeting 30 feet during a performance, will rejoin rehearsals on Monday. [Bloomberg, The Hollywood Reporter]
Publishing | With the release today in Japan of the 60th volume of One Piece, 200 million copies of Eiichiro Oda’s hit comedy-adventure will have been published. What’s more, this volume’s 3.4 million copies will break the record set by the previous volume. As of late August, One Piece had sold 20 million copies in 2010 alone — four times that of Naruto, the second-highest selling manga. On a related note, a 35-year-old Japanese man was arrested for copyright violation for allegedly distributing four manga, including the 59th volume of One Piece, online. [Japanator, The Mainichi Daily News]
Crime | Six people accused in the July robbery of a 77-year-old New York comics collector who died of a heart attack hours later could be charged with murder if police can link the crime to his death. [Democrat and Chronicle]
Conventions | Wizard Entertainment CEO Gareb Shamus announced he has acquired the two-year-old NOLA Comic-Con, which will become part of the Jan. 29-30 Wizard World New Orleans Comic Con. [press release]
Manga publishers have been late to the digital media party, but that’s changing fast: Today Viz Media announced its own iPad app, making it the second publisher, after Yen Press, to go digital.
Viz is basically the American arm of a Japanese company — it is co-owned by the Japanese publishers Shueisha and Shogakukan and their licensing unit Shogakukan Productions — and publishes some of the best-selling manga in the U.S., including the monster seller Naruto, so this is a significant move.
The Viz app is proprietary, as opposed to the Marvel and DC apps, which are adaptations of Comics by comiXology, and it’s iPad-only — there is no iPhone version. The app is free, and Viz is offering a free download of the first volume of Death Note for a limited time.
After that, you’ll pay. The initial lineup for the app is the first two volumes of Bleach, Death Note, Dragon Ball, Naruto and One Piece, priced at $4.99 each. That’s a good deal compared to single-issue comics, but not so far off the original prices of the manga; list price at the Viz store is $7.95 for the first 45 volumes of Naruto (and $9.99 after that), so for early volumes you’re only getting a $3 discount for buying digital. And let’s face it, Viz has already covered its costs on volumes 1 and 2 of Naruto. However, the iPad app solves a significant problem for a series that runs over 45 volumes: shelf space. It’s not so easy to find a random volume of One Piece in the bookstore, but it’s always retrievable electronically.
The French writer Xavier Guilbert has written an interesting editorial on scanlations at the zine du9, in which he questions the now-conventional wisdom that because the rise of scan sites corresponded with the fall of the manga market, the two are interrelated. He makes some good arguments, and I strongly recommend that you go read his piece.
It’s easy to draw a line from bootleggers making a product easily available for free to the sales of that product declining, but that was always an oversimplification. There are plenty of other reasons why manga sales are down, a weak economy being chief among them. It’s also worth noting that a lot of manga publishers were small outfits operating in a new environment, and several have failed despite, not because of, strong consumer demand for their product (ADV, DramaQueen, Go!Comi, I’m looking at you).
So the key question is, will shutting down the scan sites increase the sales of manga? Looking at the content of the scan sites and the comments in their forums, I am seeing four types of readers:
- Readers who live outside the US or far from a shop that sells manga
- Readers of mature manga that is not licensed in English (and not likely to be)
- Fans of Naruto, One Piece, and other very popular licensed manga who are looking for the latest chapter
- Everyone else
Could Monkey D. Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates finally be getting their due in North America?
They’re the stars of Eiichiro Oda’s long-running comedy-adventure One Piece, Japan’s best-selling manga that’s sold more than 176 million volumes since its debut in 1997. (Publisher Shueisha printed more than 3 million copies of the series’ 57th volume alone.) On this side of the Pacific, however, the series hasn’t been nearly as popular, overshadowed by the likes of Naruto, Bleach and Fullmetal Alchemist.
But this week, undoubtedly aided by Viz Media’s accelerated release schedule, One Piece lands five volumes on The New York Times’ Graphic Books bestseller list. (It’s probably worth noting that nine of the 10 spots in the manga category are filled by Viz Media releases.)
Yes, the 47th volume of Masashi Kishimoto’s Naruto still places higher on the chart than One Piece. And, yes, The New York Times’ bestseller lists employ an arcane formula that no one seems to understand (a complex combination of numerology, calculus and chanting within a magic circle, most likely).
Still, it just may be a sign that the tide is turning for the crew of the Going Merry — or is that Merry Go? — on the coasts of North America.
Legal | Twin brothers in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, have been sentenced to three months in jail for possessing anime- and manga-style images depicting children in sexual situations.
David Scott Hammond and James Cory Hammond, 20, pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography after police discovered the images downloaded on their home computer last November. Although David Hammond’s attorney said his client didn’t realize it was illegal to download cartoon pornographic images of children, the prosecutor asserted that, “Every one of these images involves the victimization of children. The victimization wouldn’t happen in the first place if there weren’t people there to look at this material.”
Earlier this month, lawmakers in Alaska began considering a bill that would expand the state’s child-pornography laws to include cartoons. And in June a U.S. appeals court upheld the conviction of a Virginia man who was prosecuted, in part, under a 2003 federal statute outlawing possession of cartoon images depicting the sexual abuse of children. [The Chronicle Herald]
Publishing | The San Francisco headquarters of Viz Media was closed for two days this week after an unexpected downpour on Monday caused storm drains to overflow, flooding parts of the city. [Anime News Network]
Publishing | Just last week we were reporting that Villard had acquired the rights to Fated, a graphic novel written by Michael Jackson and Gotham Chopra. Now comes word that the Random House imprint paid $800,000 for it. Illustrated by Mukesh Singh, artist of Virgin Comics titles Gamekeeper, Devi and Jenna Jameson’s Shadow Hunter, the black-and-white book is due out in June. [Crain's New York Business]
Watchmen and Naruto again top The New York Times’ Graphic Books Best Seller lists, but the lower positions this week get a little more interesting.
Apparently riding a wave of movie-fueled interest, Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo’s Joker, and Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s Batman: The Killing Joke grab the second and third spots on the hardcover chart. Likewise, Paul Jenkins and Andy Kubert’s Wolverine: Origin, Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, and Alan Moore and David Lloyd’s V for Vendetta seize the second, third and fourth slots in paperbacks.
Two Grant Morrison collections — All-Star Superman, with Frank Quitely, and Batman: R.I.P., with Tony Daniel — come in at numbers four and five in hardcovers.
Other notable entries on the two lists include Humbug, Tarzan: The Jesse Marsh Years, Vol. 1, Wormwood: Gentleman Corpse, Scott Pilgrim vs. the Universe, and Madman Atomic Comics, Vol. 2.
Naruto loosened its hold, if only slightly, on the manga category, with five volumes (down last week from seven).
The Times lists are compiled using an arcane formula that includes sales data from hundreds of retail outlets, including independent booksellers, book chains, online stores and direct-market shops.
Sales charts | The 20-year-old collection of Watchmen maintains its hold on bookstores, hovering at No. 10 on USA Today’s bestseller list for the second week in a row, and sitting atop BookScan’s Top 20 Graphic Novels chart for the eighth month in a row.
Meanwhile, there’s a flood of Naruto on the USA Today list as Viz Media releases a second wave of Masashi Kishimoto’s hit manga just as the first wave subsides. Vol. 38 debuts at No. 120, Vol. 40 at No. 126 and Vol. 39 at No. 131, just as first-wave volumes 37 and 36 slip to Nos. 141 and 150, respectively.
Creators | Image Comics creators Paul Azaceta, Ivan Brandon, Joe Kelly and Michael Avon Oeming will appear Sunday on NBC’s Celebrity Apprentice to help contestants create and costume a superhero. [ICv2.com, TransWorldNews]
Creators | John Porcellino talks about King-Cat Comics and Stories, Thoreau at Walden, and the genius of Hank Williams. [The Walrus]
Creators | Paul Maybury discusses his ACT-I-VATE webcomic Party Bear. [Dick Hyacinth]
Publishing | Warren Ellis updates us on the status of Planetary#27. Sort of: “As fas as I know, John’s still working on the art.” [Warren Ellis]
Blogosphere | A new, high-concept comics blog has launched. Dateline: Silver Age is dedicated to the often-bizarre newspaper headlines that appeared in comics from 1956 to 1971 or so. [Dateline: Silver Age]
Retailers | NBC’s Los Angeles affiliate loves local shops Golden Apple Comics and Meltdown Comics & Collectibles. [NBC Los Angeles]
Arts and crafts | How to make a comic-book gift tag. [Crafting A Green World]