Publisher Shueisha Inc. took out full-page ads in The New York Times and The China Times to celebrate One Piece‘s position as the bestselling manga of all time, with more than 300 million copies in print in Japan, and 345 million worldwide.
According to The Japan Times, the company launched a similar campaign across that country on Nov. 1, when the 72nd volume of the pirate adventure was released.
Illustrated by One Piece creator Eiichiro Oda, the ads proclaim, “Hey, World, This Is The Manga!” U.S. readers are directed to Viz.com, the website Viz Media, for “free previews and more.” (The San Francisco-based company is jointly owned by Shueisha, Shogakukan and the latter’s licensing division ShoPro Japan.)
Viz is marking the milestone with a free digital retrospective that features an interview with Oda, a gallery of the manga’s first 69 covers, color artwork, and a new One Piece chapter from Japan’s Weekly Shonen Jump.
“One Piece has achieved something very significant, and the sales milestone speaks to the strong international appeal of the enduring characters and gripping story that Eiichiro Oda created that are universally loved in multiple countries by millions of fans of all ages,” Andy Nakatani, editor-in-chief Weekly Shonen Jump, said in a statement. “The continuing spread of digital technology will bring these action packed high-seas adventures to even more readers.”
Graphic novels | Between them, Attack on Titan and The Walking Dead claimed nine of the 20 spots on BookScan’s October rundown of the top-selling graphic novels in bookstores. The first volume of Attack on Titan led another strong month for manga, which placed nine titles in the Top 20. New DC Comics books, rather than simply evergreen sellers, made an appearance, too, with the Batman: The Court of Owls mask and book set, the Joker: Death of the Family hardcover and the third Justice League hardcover landing in the Top 10. [ICv2]
Creators | Joe Sacco talks about his work, his collaboration with journalist Chris Hedges, and why he doesn’t portray himself with eyeballs. [Straight.com]
Editorial cartoons | The Durban, South Africa, police have confirmed they’re investigating criminal charges against cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro, who goes by the pen name Zapiro, stemming from a cartoon that portrayed the Hindu god Ganesha in a manner many Hindus found offensive.
The cartoon, which criticizes the local cricket organization for corruption, depicts a scowling Ganesha holding a cricket bat and piles of cash while the head of the cricket organization is being sacrificed before him. Businessman Vivian Reddy, whom the newspaper The Citizen notes is also a benefactor of the African National Congress, filed a criminal complaint; the cartoon has also sparked protests among local Hindus, who marched on the offices of the Sunday Times last week. The ANC is also taking the anti-Zapiro side, perhaps in part because of his depictions of its president, Jacob Zuma. Zapiro, meanwhile, isn’t taking calls, but he stated a few days ago that he stands by his cartoon, adding, “It didn’t cross our minds that so many people would be upset.” [The Citizen]
Digital comics | Viz Media announced Wednesday it has brought its entire library to iBooks. Viz manga are already available on Kindle, Nook, Kobo and its own app, so this pretty much completes the set. [ICv2]
Crime | Manga creator Takaaki Kubo was arrested Tuesday on charges of threatening a city councilor in the town of Amagasaki. Kubo, whose series Bakune Young was published in North America in the early 2000s by Viz Media, was arrested after police traced a threatening e-mail message to his home computer. [Anime News Network]
Creators | Art Spiegelman has been the subject of four retrospectives so far this year, the latest at the Jewish Museum in New York. Charles McGrath talks to him about what he calls “The Great Retrospection,” as well as his tobacco addiction and, oh yeah, comics. [The New York Times]
In North America, Viz has chosen to go it alone with its own self-contained manga app, available for iOS, Android, Kindle, Nook, Kobo and the web. In fact, although almost all major comics publishers (Dark Horse being the notable exception) have signed on with comiXology, the big manga publishers (Viz, Yen Press, Kodansha Comics), as well as the smaller Vertical, have not. ComiXology does have some manga content — Digital Manga, Seven Seas and Udon, and it’s the only place you can get Tokyopop’s Hetalia — but that’s it.
The deal announced today brings Viz Media Europe and Kazé titles to French-speaking European countries, including France, Belgium, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Monaco.
Creators | Jeff Smith, who was named last week to the board of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, talks briefly about the importance of the organization, and the 2010 challenge to his all-ages graphic novel Bone in a Minnesota school. [Comic Riffs]
Comics | Archie Co-CEO Jon Goldwater, writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and artist Francesco Francavilla have a few things to say about the new zombie series Afterlife With Archie. “We are taking a series of characters known to be lighthearted and young adult-oriented and doing a horror comic with them, so the mood, atmosphere, and setting are very important to make this a believable horror and not a comedy horror,” says Francavilla, who’s also the creator of The Black Beetle. “Fortunately, I am really good at making things dark and ominous.” [The Associated Press]
Viz Media is making its entire digital manga catalog available for download on Amazon Kindle devices, meaning readers will be able to access more than 1,500 volumes from 160 different series.
Launch titles include Naruto, Bleach, One Piece, Bakuman, Demon Love Spell and Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic. New volumes, generally priced at $6.99 each, will be added each week, with future Kindle Store manga titles and print editions receiving near-simultaneous domestic release.
“We are strong advocates for the continued growth of digital manga content, and are very pleased to partner with Amazon to bring the world’s best titles to millions of avid readers and fans in North America,” Viz Media’s Gagan Singh said in a statement. “We invite Amazon Kindle users to explore VIZ Media’s extensive offerings, one of the most current, diverse, and also historically deep manga catalogs available anywhere.”
Before you take to the skies in Hayao Miyazaki’s final voyage in The Wind Rises, Viz Media is inviting you to take a return trip to an old favorite in a way you’ve never seen before: the world of Totoro.
To commemorate the 25th anniversary of Miyazaki’s My Neighbor Totoro, Viz is publishing two new books about the seminal animated film. Unlike some of Miyazaki’s other films, My Neighbor Totoro wasn’t preceded by a manga, but it’s getting the next-best thing with My Neighbor Tortoro: The Novel, an illustrated novel pairing Miyazaki’s watercolors with a child-friendly novelization by Japanese children’s book author Tsugiko Kubo.
Although some of Miyazaki’s watercolors of My Neighbor Totoro have been seen online and in various magazines, My Neighbor Totoro: The Novel will be the first time they’ve been officially released all in one bound volume. This hardcover will arrive Oct. 1, along with an updated edition of the popular My Neighbor Totoro Picture Book released a few years ago.
Publishing | Viz Media, the largest U.S. publisher of English-language manga, is poised to jump in to a new market: India. Kevin Hamric, the company’s director of publishing and marketing, was there this week, and he says the demand is there. “With India’s growing book and reading sector we have identified it as key to our growth,” Hamric says. “We receive many, many requests each and every month from fans in India to bring our product here.” [The Hindu Business Line]
Comics | As the Avengers turn 50, Noel Murray recounts their history and explains why they work so well as a super-team. [Hero Complex]
Conventions | The founder of this month’s incredibly successful Salt Lake Comic Con — it drew about 70,000 attendees in its first year — is planning a spinoff event for Jan. 9-11, the weekend before the Sundance Film Festival. [Salt Lake Tribune]
Conventions | The inaugural Salt Lake Comic Con, which sold 50,000 tickets in advance of the Sept. 5-7 event and reportedly drew an additional 20,000 attendees, has rekindled discussion about a new mega-hotel in downtown Salt Lake City Utah. The proposed $350 million project, which would have been funded in part with tax dollars, was narrowly defeated by the state legislature in March. [Fox 13 News]
Creators | Art Spiegelman talks about his life and work, touching on writing vs. art, how Maus came into being, and his lack of depth perception: “I don’t really see stereo, so it’s not good for getting in and out of cars, but when I draw something, it looks real.” [NPR]
Publishing | Sales of comic books and graphic novels to the direct market dropped sharply in August, compared to the same month in 2012 (10.39 percent and 24.55 percent, respectively), but ICv2 attributes the decline — at least as far as periodicals is concerned — to August 2012 having five Wednesdays while last month had just four. Year-to-date sales are still up over 2012, although things seem to be slowing down a bit. DC Comics shipped more comic books, but Marvel won in market share, and the top-selling graphic novel was the first volume of The Walking Dead, which points to a dearth of new graphic novel releases. [ICv2]
Conventions | Attendance exceeded 50,000 at the first Salt Lake Comic Con, held over the weekend in Salt Lake City, Utah. This article focuses on families with children who attended, and includes some interesting conversations with parents who are obviously fans themselves and take an active interest in their children’s comics reading. [Deseret News]
Happy Marriage?! Vol. 1 (Viz Media): Maki Enjoji’s Josei rom-com dispenses with the suspense of the typical will-they, won’t-they business, marrying off her heroine and the handsome, mysterious, prickly bachelor in the first chapter. Here, the couple starts off married, and then must get to know one another and fall in love.
Our heroine is Chiwa Takanashi, who works in an office by day and a hostess in a club by night, in an ultimately hopeless attempt to earn enough to get her ridiculous-with-money father out of his astronomical debt. She finds an unlikely way out of that situation when company president Hokuto Mamiya suddenly proposes marriage. It turns out the chairman of the board (and Hokuto’s grandfather) owes a debt of kindness to Chiwa’s family, and would only agree to let Hokuto have full control of the company if he marries Chiwa.
And that’s the set-up. The middle-class Chiwa suddenly finds herself married to one of the most eligible bachelors in Japan, and in the difficult situation of having to keep the marriage secret from almost everyone (something about the business advantage of a bachelor image, I think), and trying to make the most of a loveless relationship — although each chapter makes it more and more clear it won’t be loveless for too long.
Awards | Stephen Collins’ The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil won the inaugural 9th Art Award, announced Sunday during the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Presented by Graphic Scotland, the prize recognizes the year’s best English-language graphic novel. The other finalists were: Building Stories, by Chris Ware; Days of the Bagnold Summer, by Joff Winterhart; Naming Monsters, by Hannah Eaton; and The Nao of Brown, by Glyn Dillon. [9th Art Award]
Manga | Raina Telgemeier’s comic about Barefoot Gen has attracted attention in Japan, where one city recently removed the manga from elementary-school classrooms, claiming it’s too violent for children (the manga depicts the bombing of Hiroshima). “I was lucky to have adults in my life who were willing to discuss the violent subject matter with me, and help me put the story in historical context, and clarify things I might not yet understand,” Telgemeier told The Asahi Shimbun. “After I finished volume 1 of Barefoot Gen, I was deeply upset. (But) as a child, I believed that if people simply saw what war was all about, they would take care that it wouldn’t happen anymore.” [The Asahi Shimbun]
Viz Media announced over the weekend at Otakon in Baltimore that it will bring Naoki Urasawa’s acclaimed psychological thriller Monster back into print next year a two-in-one format. Anime News Network reports the new oversized omnibus series, called Monster: The Perfect Edition, will debut in July, with a new volume released every three months.
Originally released in North America from 2006 to 2008, the 18-volume manga, Monster tells the story of a young brain surgeon who ruins his own reputation by saving the life of a boy, only for the child to grow up to become a sociopath.
The series was adapted in 2004 as an anime; HBO and Guillermo del Toro are collaborating on a live-action version.
The new omnibus treatment will cut the number of volumes in half, which each retailing for $19.99. Viz will take the same approach with Rumiko Takahashi’s martial arts/romantic comedy Ranma ½, which will go back into print beginning in March.
Legal | Singapore cartoonist Leslie Chew apologized today for four comic strips that were formerly posted on his Facebook page Demon-Cratic Singapore. In a statement released by his lawyers, Chew said, “I accept that (the) comic strips had misrepresented to the public that the Singapore Judiciary administers differential treatment to individuals based on their nationality, social status and political affiliation, and that there have been specific criminal cases in which decisions were made by the Singapore judiciary on the basis of the above factors rather than on the merits.” In light of the apology, and the fact that the strips have been taken down, the Attorney-Generals Chambers has dropped contempt of court charges against Chew. The cartoonist was also charged with sedition in April, but those charges have been dropped as well. [Straits Times]