The Japanese Foreign Ministry has appointed renowned Slam Dunk and Vagabond creator Takehiko Inoue as a Japan-Spain goodwill ambassador to promote the 400th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries. According to Crunchyroll News, Inoue will serve as one of three ambassadors between Tuesday and July 31, 2014.
Inoue, whose manga have been published in Spain, last year released Pepita: Takehiko Inoue Meets Gaudi, a hardcover travel diary filled with prose, sketches and artwork inspired by his journey to the Catalan region and the work of architect Antoni Gaudí.
Recipient of the Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize and the Media Arts Festival Award, Inoue has been captivated with Gaudi for years. As part of the 400th-anniversary celebration, an exhibition of Inoue’s Gaudi-related work — tentatively titled “Gaudi-Takehiko Inoue Exhibition” — will be held in April in Barcelona.
Inoue’s basketball manga Slam Dunk has sold more than 100 million copies worldwide.
As part of its “Human to Hero” series, CNN profiles celebrated artist Takehiko Inoue, creator of the hit manga series Vagabond, Slam Dunk and Real. “If you can have vivid characters, they will make the story themselves. By putting them in certain situations or having one meet another, they naturally make stories by reacting to each other,” he says. “It sounds like a very easy thing. I wish it was.”
Watch the video segment below.
Digital comics | ICv2 estimates the total value of the digital comics market in 2011 as $25 million, triple the 2010 figure, and boldly predicts that digital will account for 10 percent of the entire comics market in 2012. Digital sales grew faster in the second half of the year, which ICv2 attributes to three factors: DC’s decision to release its New 52 comics digitally the same day as print, the industry-wide trend toward same-day print and digital releases, and the proliferation of different platforms on which to read digital comics. As for digital taking away from print, the publishing executives ICv2 has spoken to over the past few months don’t seem to think that is happening. [ICv2]
Retailing | Retailer and journalist Matt Price takes the temperature at the ComicsPRO Annual Members Meeting, which kicks off today in Dallas, noting that members remain interested in DC’s publishing plans, and report “very strong sales” for Image’s Fatale and Thief of Thieves. [Nerdage]
Retailing | Diamond Comic Distributors has announced it will close its Los Angeles distribution center in March, with the facility in Olive Branch, Mississippi, taking over its functions. Regional Manager James Nash will relocate from L.A. to Olive Branch. There’s no word on how many jobs will be eliminated in the move, but ICv2 reports that “other staff has been encouraged to apply for positions in Olive Branch after their tenure in Los Angeles ends at the end of March.” [ICv2.com]
Publishing | Following Tuesday’s announcement that Ron Perazza has been named vice president of online for DC Entertainment comes word of two more additions to the department: DC Comics Online Editor Kwanza Johnson will be digital editor for DC Entertainment, and Technology Editor Dave McCullough will become director of online, both based in Burbank, Calif. The department will be headed by former WildStorm Vice President Hank Kanalz, who was promoted in October to senior vice president, digital. Heidi MacDonald also has a letter to freelancers from DC Vice President Terri Cunningham announcing that the Editorial Administration department will become Talent Relations & Services, which will remain in New York City. [Twitter, Twitter]
Creators | Takehiko Inoue announced he’s placing his award-winning samurai adventure Vagabond on hiatus because of ongoing health problems. The manga has been serialized since 1998 in Kodansha’s Weekly Morning magazine and collected in 32 volumes; 31 of those have been released in the United States. Inoue will continue to work on his basketball manga Real, which is released at the more leisurely pace of about one volume per year. [The Eastern Edge, via Journalista]
Publishing | Todd Allen looks at moves by comics publishers to partner with OverDrive to make single-issue comics available to libraries as e-books: “With some 11,000 libraries being supplied digital material from OverDrive, this market offers a significant chance to get comics in front of new readers. According to the July 2010 sales estimates at ICV2, the Marvel Adventures version of Spider-Man sells 6,347 copies; Marvel Adventures Super Heroes sells 4,564. For a small publisher like Moonstone, the chance for more exposure is even greater.” [Publishers Weekly]