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Manga | Nearly two decades into his blockbuster fantasy adventure, it appears creator Eiichiro Oda still has a long way to go before he completes the epic One Piece. Just ahead of the manga’s 18th birthday on Sunday, its current editor Taku Sugita revealed on a Tokyo radio show that somewhere around the 60th volume Oda estimated the story had reached the halfway point. With the release of Vol. 78 earlier this month, Sugita guesses One Piece is “maybe” 70-percent complete. “I don’t think it’s at 80 percent yet,” he said. “Something like that.” [Rocket News24]
Manga | Tokyopop announced Thursday at Anime Expo that it will return to publishing new manga from Japan, and it has also acquired some anime licenses. In addition, it is launching an app, PopComics, that will allow users to upload and share their own comics. Tokoyopop was the largest manga publisher in the United States at the height of the manga boom, but it closed down its publishing program in 2011. In the past few years it has been making a slow-motion comeback, selling some of its properties as e-books and print-on-demand books and publishing three new volumes of Hetalia: Axis Powers. [Anime News Network]
Digital comics | To celebrate One Piece’s new Guinness World Record, Shueisha’s Shonen Jump+ digital manga app has released the entire July 1997 issue of Weekly Shonen Jump for free. That’s the issue that launched Eiichiro Oda’s wildly successful fantasy adventure. The publisher has also unveiled a One Piece app (in Japanese only) that updates daily with a new chapter in color, starting from the very beginning of the series. [Anime News Network]
Digital comics | The online sales platform Selz has informed creator Dale Lazarov that it won’t sell his gay comics (despite previous assurances that it would) because its banking partner won’t permit the sale of adult materials. Lazarov reproduces the company’s letter and his response on his Facebook. ComiXology, Gumroad and Ribbon have also declined to carry his comics. [Bleeding Cool]
Eiichiro Oda’s popular manga One Piece has set a Guinness World Record for “the most copies published for the same comic book series by a single author.” As of December, more than 320 million copies of the fantasy adventure have been published worldwide.
According to The Japan News, Weekly Shonen Jump Editor Yoshihisa Heishi attended a ceremony today in place of Oda to accept the certificate from Guinness. The author drew a new illustration of One Piece‘s Monkey D. Luffy to commemorate the occasion.
Manga | The first printing of One Piece, Vol. 77, may have dropped below 4 million, but its sales aren’t slacking. According to Japanese market research firm, the latest volume of Eiichiro Oda’s hit manga has sold nearly 1.67 million copies since its release on Friday, more than seven times that of the No. 2 title on the weekly sales chart, the 67th volume of Tite Kubo’s Bleach. That’s marks a new weekly sales record for the year, surpassing the 67th volume of One Piece, which sold 1.6 million copies upon its release in January. [Crunchyroll]
The 77th volume of Eiichiro Oda’s One Piece shipped today in Japan with a first printing of 3.8 million copies, marking the first time in four years the manga has slipped below 4 million.
While American comics companies would be breaking out the champagne bottles with numbers like that, Anime News Network reports One Piece publisher Shueisha released a statement clarifying that, “Aside from print publications, [Shueisha] also distributes its comics digitally, and our sales channels are increasing.” A digital edition of Vol. 77 will be released next month.
The bestselling manga in the world, One Piece first reached the 4 million-copy mark in November 2011 with Vol. 64, setting a record in Japan. The series reached a peak in August 2012 with 4.05 million copies.
Debuting in 1997, as of last year Oda’s fantasy adventure had sold more than 310 million copies in Japan alone. Despite the growing popularity of Attack on Titan, One Piece clung to the top spot last year, selling 11.9 million copies.
In the pursuit of fortune and fame, sometimes a sailing ship isn’t enough. That, apparently, is where Nissan’s new limited-edition Serena Highway Star S-Hybrid comes in.
RocketNews24 reports the Japanese automaker has teamed with One Piece to release the “Thousand Serena,” a nod to the Straw Hat Pirates’ vessel Thousand Sunny (which replaced the destroyed Going Merry). The wrap mimics the ship’s design, and features Monkey D. Luffy and other characters from Eiichiro Oda’s bestselling manga and the hit anime series it inspired. The hubcaps are a particularly nice touch.
To celebrate its third anniversary of going digital, Shonen Jump is offering four issues for free in the next four weeks, as well as a discounted price of $19.99 for a one-year subscription. The free issues are available via the Shonen Jump website and the Viz Manga and Weekly Shonen Jump iOS and Android apps.
The nice thing about an anthology is the variety, and the Jan. 19 issue, the first to be offered for free, has a good mix of stories. There’s One Piece, the long-running pirate tale; if you’re not particular about understanding the details of the plot, you can jump right in and enjoy the kinetic, cartoony battle scenes.
Toriko is another classic Shonen Jump story, about a group of “gourmet hunters” who travel the world looking for foods that are rare, hard to get, and uniquely delicious. It’s an odd combination of battle and foodie manga, and it’s fun to see big, over-muscled guys get all weepy over a salad, as happens in this week’s chapter, or watch a gourmet dig into a bowl of “Ojiya-style eyeball porridge.” It’s amazingly imaginative, and well worth a read.
Publishing | The French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo will be published next week, to demonstrate that “stupidity will not win,” according to columnist Patrick Pelloux. Ten of the magazine’s staff members were among those killed Wednesday when three armed men attacked their Paris headquarters, apparently because Charlie Hebdo published cartoons mocking the Prophet Muhammad. [The Guardian]
Political cartoons | Adam Taylor looks at the history of controversies regarding depictions of the Prophet Muhammad. [The Washington Post]
Political cartoons | Cartoonist and syndicator Daryl Cagle pens a remembrance four of the slain Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, some of whom he knew personally, and also talks about the importance of editorial cartooning in France. [Darylcagle.com]
Over the past 16 years, One Piece has planted its flag on publishing, animation, video games, fashion and even the kabuki stage. And by March, the Straw Hat Pirates will have conquered theme parks as well.
Announced in July, Tokyo One Piece Tower will open its doors March 13 in Tokyo Tower’s Foot Town, home to the Tokyo Aquarium, Tokyo Tower Wax Museum, stores, restaurants and more. Although there’s a One Piece-themed amusement park in Taiwan, this will be the first to open in Japan.
The Straw Hat Pirates of the smash-hit manga One Piece have been for television, film, video games and prose, and next year they’ll make the leap to the kabuki stage.
According to The Japan Times, the announcement was made over the weekend by publisher Shueisha, which will partner with movie company Shochiku to stage the production. One Piece creator Eiichiro Oda will supervise the adaptation.
Passings | Bermuda-based cartoonist Peter Woolcock died Wednesday after being struck by a car as he was walking to the office of The Royal Gazette to deliver his weekly cartoon. He was 88. Born and raised on a farm in Argentina, Woolcock served on a British tank crew in World War II (during which time he also kept a sketchbook) and worked as a cartoonist and illustrator for almost 60 years, first for children’s magazines in the United Kingdom and then, after moving in 1981 to Bermuda, as an editorial cartoonist. Both his editors and the politicians he depicted have kind things to say in this lengthy obituary, which notes that his final cartoon was about San Diego losing the bid to host the America’s Cup. [The Royal Gazette]
Creators | Candorville cartoonist Darrin Bell talks about the political cartoons he drew in response to the non-indictments of the police officers in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases, as well as his own experiences as a black man who got “the talk” when he was 6 or 7 years old and will some day have to give it to his own son. [Comic Riffs]
Manga | The top-selling manga in Japan this year was One Piece, with nearly 11.9 million volumes sold; Attack on Titan came in a close second, with 11.7 million. [Anime News Network]
Publishing | Jim Zubkavich updates his post from last year about the long-term sales and profitability of his series Skullkickers. There are some interesting angles to this, including the cost of his deluxe collected editions, the boost he got from his “reboot,” and the importance of digital sales in the long term: “Since there’s no print run or storage limit with digital they continue to build profitability over the long haul (particularly with the early issues as new readers sample the series during comiXology sales). Many issues that lost money in their initial print release have been able to make back their losses thanks to digital.” [Zub Tales]
Manga | Eiichiro Oda’s One Piece, the bestselling manga in Japan, is getting a spinoff: Starting with the January issue, which ships in December, the manga magazine Saikyo Jump will carry a series focusing on Monkey D. Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates. There doesn’t seem to be any information yet on who the creators will be. [Anime News Network]
Publishing | In a business-oriented interview, Mark Waid talks about the strategy behind his digital comics site Thrillbent, especially its appeal to diverse groups of readers. The key is flexibility, Waid said, in terms of platforms and content. His goal is to make the comics readable on any digital device, which he says is not difficult once the site is set up. In terms of content, he says, “Pay attention to the audience, let them tell you who you’re clearly not serving, and go after them.” [The Wall Street Journal]
Comics | Vincent Zurzolo of Metropolis Collectibles explains why he and his partner Stephen Fishler were willing to pay a record $3.2 million last month for a pristine copy of Action Comics #1: “We feel very confidently this was a good price and that we will be able to sell this for a profit. We really believe in the strength of the comic book market and that it has a long way to go.” Zurzolo also talks about how he built up his business, starting out selling comics at conventions at the age of 15. [The Hollywood Reporter]
Legal | More trouble for Square Enix over the gamer manga Hi Score Girl: Publication was suspended last month following allegations the series, which runs in the Japanese magazine Monthly Big Gangan, had used characters owned by the game company SNK Playmore without permission. Now it turns out Square Enix asked permission from Sega to use characters from its Virtua Fighter game, but then went ahead and published the story before permission was granted. Sega executives “strongly objected” but took no further action and did grant the permission, reasoning it would be good publicity for the game. [Anime News Network]