REVIEW: "DC Universe: Rebirth" #1 Makes the Future of DC Comics Look Genuinely Bright
Last week, Tokyopop CEO Stu Levy took some criticism from a number of comics sites, including this one, after the manga publisher laid off two senior editors, Lillian Diaz-Pryzybl and Troy Lewter, and one brilliant new hire, former CMX editor Asako Suzuki. This week, Levy told Publishers Weekly‘s Calvin Reid that the Borders bankruptcy left Tokyopop cash poor:
“They owe us a significant amount of money. We’re not a big company and with less cash than we planned, we had to regroup to survive.” The layoffs, he added, were “the hardest part, because these were my friends and collaborators.”
In addition to the Borders bankruptcy, Tokyopop took another hit this year: Its agreement with Warcraft developer Blizzard Entertainment came to an end in January. Apparently, Blizzard was happy with the sales and the quality of the manga, but didn’t want to put in the time required to work on them.
But it’s not all grim: Tokyopop ended its distribution deal with HarperCollins earlier this year, but a Tokyopop representative told me they will continue to co-publish the Warriors manga (based on the middle-grade prose novels by Erin Hunter), which are among their bestsellers. According to the BookScan charts that Brian Hibbs posts every year for his “Tilting at Windmills” column, Tokyopop sold about 120,000 Warriors manga, divided over four volumes, in 2008, and 60,000 in 2009. In 2010, Tokyopop’s bestselling book was Warriors: Ravenpaw’s Path #2, which sold 22,715 copies, according to BookScan. The Warcraft manga didn’t come close in any of these years. This is just in the bookstore channel — that’s what BookScan measures — but for Tokyopop, that’s a significant chunk of its business, probably the lion’s share, so keeping Warriors is huge.
Comics writer and BOOM! Studios Chief Creative Officer Mark Waid delivered the keynote address Saturday at the Harvey Awards ceremony at Baltimore Comic-Con, and from all accounts, it was a doozy. Heidi MacDonald live-tweeted the event and summed it up later in a post.
From her account, Waid’s speech was about the importance of having a public domain, and his point was that, originally, copyright existed to give creators an exclusive right to their work for a reasonable time and then release it to the public domain. “No one would argue that the world isn’t better by being able to see a Renoir for free,” MacDonald quoted Waid as saying, adding, “Now big corporations use copyright extended under the illusion it helps us all. Giving back to public domain helps culture, says Waid.” As for file sharing, Waid says, it’s “legit” to worry about it but “it isn’t going away. We can’t stop it and we’re entering the sharing era.” (All quotes drawn from MacDonald’s tweets.)
After the ceremony, MacDonald reported, Waid and cartoonist Sergio Aragones had some sort of heated discussion, although it ended in a hug. She caught up with Aragones after everyone was thrown out of the bar and did a quick interview: