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Yen Plus magazine goes online

8.2010_Cover[1]

Yen Plus magazine launched two years ago at San Diego Comic-Con, and at this year’s SDCC, Yen Press relaunched it as a web-only publication.

Subscriptions to the magazine will be priced at $2.99 per month, compared to $8.99 per issue for the print version, and Yen is offering a free trial through September 6, so I thought I’d go in and kick the tires a bit. What I found was a mixed bag: The interface is clean and smooth, and I was delighted to find a short comic by the talented Madeleine Rosca (creator of Hollow Fields), but just as with the print version, I was left wondering who exactly they are editing this magazine for: The signup restricts it to readers over 17, but most of the series (Nightschool, Maximum Ride, and especially Rosca’s Haunted House Call) are more appealing to younger teens, while Jack Frost and Gossip Girl are clearly pitched at older readers—and may make the magazine off limits to younger teens, at least if their parents get a glimpse of the full content.

There are no Japanese manga in this issue, although the Yen folks promise that Yotsuba&! will join the lineup in future issues. One reason for this may be that the Japanese publisher Square Enix has set up its own online manga site (apparently in partnership with Yen Press) and their titles include Black Butler and Soul Eater, two former Yen Plus series. I hope Square Enix is giving Yen a good cut of the take from that website, because Black Butler is one of their most popular series.

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SDCC ’10 | A roundup of Saturday’s news

Comic-Con International

Comic-Con International

Saturday at Comic-Con International in San Diego, once upon a time, was “big movie day” at the con … back before every day became big movie day at the con. Still, today somewhat lived up to its reputation for being eventful, as the Avengers assembled on stage, Green Lantern movie footage was shown and one poor fan was stabbed in the eye while attending programming in Hall H, where several of the big movie panels took place. The victim was taken to UCSD Medical Center, while his attacker was taken away by police after attendees detained him.

In happier news, here’s what was announced on the comics front:

• Marvel Editor-in-Chief and Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada confirmed that Marvel is “gonna be doing some CrossGen stuff.” CrossGen, which published numerous titles like Sojourn, Way of the Rat, Abadazad and Meridian starting 1998, went bankrupt in 2004. Disney bought their assets that same year.

Their titles covered many different genres, from fantasy to horror to detective stories. “I think with the CrossGen stuff you’re going to see us attempt a little more genre publishing, which I think is much-needed in our imprint,” Quesada said. No word yet on what properties they plan to bring back.

• Kurt Busiek announced that American Gothic, the urban fantasy comic announced at last year’s WildStorm panel, will now be called Witchlands. The series will be drawn by Connor Willumson. Busiek is also working on an Arrowsmith novel titled Arrowsmith: Far from the Fields We Know, which will include illustrations by Carlos Pacheco.

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SDCC ’10 | Tokyopop, Yen Press and D&Q announce new manga licenses

Pavane for a Dead Girl

Pavane for a Dead Girl

I’m going to lead with a new license announcement from the Tokyopop panel at Comic-Con International: Koge-Donbo’s Naki Shōjo no Tame no Pavane (Pavane for a Dead Girl), a story about a musical prodigy who makes a deal with the angel of death. Tokyopop’s Marco Pavia told me they have another new title as well, Ghost Face, by Min-Woo Hyung, the creator of Priest.

The other big manga news is that Drawn & Quarterly has the license for two Shigeru Mizuki manga, Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths and NonNonBā. (If you’re wondering why that sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because NonNonBā won the Best Album Award at the Angoulême International Comics Festival a couple of years back. This is very good news for those who like their manga on the literary side. And the D&Q folks had to be smiling pretty broadly after Yoshihiro Tatsumi’s autobiographical tome A Drifting Life took two Eisner awards.

Meanwhile, Yen Press announced a number of new titles, including Otoyome-Gatari (The Bride’s Stories) by Emma creator Kaoru Mori, as well as Highschool of the Dead, Aron’s Absurd Armada, Betrayal Knows My Name, and yet another arc of Higurashi When They Cry. They also revealed that Yen Plus magazine, which stopped print publication this month, will continue as an online anthology that will be free the first month and cost the reader $2.99 per month after that.

There was one bit of sobering news, a reminder that things are still not all they should be in the manga industry: Del Rey’s indefatigable marketing manager Ali T. Kokmen is no longer with the company. Ali is well-liked in the industry, and hopefully some smart manga company will snap him up soon.

SDCC ’10 | Highlights of Friday’s comics programming

Comic-Con International

Comic-Con International

As we inch another day closer to Comic-Con International, which kicks off in just 13 days, organizers have released the schedule for Friday, July 23.

Below you’ll find highlights of the comics-related programming, which range from a panel on AMC’s highly anticipated adaptation of The Walking Dead to spotlights on such creators as Chris Claremont, Moto Hagio, Paul Levitz, C. Tyler and Stan Lee to, of course, peeks at publishing plans for companies ranging from Marvel, DC and BOOM! to Dark Horse, IDW and Top Shelf.

The full programming schedule for Friday can be found here.

10 to 11 a.m. DC Talent Search 2 — DC’s editorial art director Mark Chiarello presents an informative orientation session that will explain how DC’s Talent Search works and discuss the different needs of DC Universe, Vertigo, WildStorm and MAD magazine publications. If you want to learn what DC Comics looks for in artists and how to improve your chances of becoming a working professional, this is the panel for you! To have your work reviewed, attendance at this orientation session is mandatory.  (Please note: Not all attendees are guaranteed a one-on-one review.)  Room 4

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Scanlation update: The land of lost manga

Your manga is being served... on the iPod

Your manga is being served... on the iPod

It looks like the first round in the scanlation wars has gone to the publishers, but appearances can be deceiving.

Shortly after several publishers announced that they had formed a coalition to fight manga piracy, a number of the most popular scan sites removed scans of series that had been licensed in the U.S. Or did they? As a blogger named Kimi-chan explained a few days ago, the site admins at two sites, Mangafox and Animea, merely disabled the links from the home page. If a user had bookmarked the series, however, the bookmark would still work, and Google searches still turn up valid links for these series.

Kimi-chan’s post has been up for about a week, and when manga blogger Deb Aoki tried the tactic with a number of Viz titles on MangaFox, she found that they truly were gone. But that made me curious about something else.

A few months ago, I downloaded an iPod app that pulls manga scans from the Onemanga database—it’s one of several free or cheap apps that do that. I opened it up for the first time since April, apparently, and it immediately updated the list of available titles. Sure enough, all the Viz manga were gone from the list. There were a scattering of Del Rey, Tokyopop, and Vertical series, though, and a number from Yen Press.

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Robot reviews: Prime Baby, Black Blizzard, Twilight and more

Prime Baby

Prime Baby

Prime Baby
by Gene Luen Yang
First Second, 64 pages, $6.99

Every book by Gene Yang thus far follows the same basic thematic plot: A young man (or woman, but usually man) feels his life would be perfect if he could only attain that one special thing (acceptance, money, popularity, etc.). Through supernatural or otherwise fantastical means, he obtains his goal, only to discover (all together now) that it wasn’t what he really needed after all.

So it is with Prime Baby, Yang’s newest book, which was originally serialized in the New York Times Magazine. It’s about a young boy, Thaddeus K, who dreams of global conquest and is supremely resentful, jealous of, and thoroughly annoyed by his baby sister. When it turns out that his sister also serves as an inter-dimensional doorway to an alien world and tens of little pod spaceships start spitting up of her mouth, Thaddeus sees an opportunity to rid himself of his sister once and for all. Does he come to regret his decision? Are there stars in the sky?

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Slash Print | Following the digital evolution

Yen Plus

Yen Plus

Manga | Following up on Wednesday’s announcement that Yen Press will move its Yen Plus manga magazine online after the July issue, Gia Manry gets a few more details from Publishing Director Kurt Hassler — among them, that the web version will utilize a dedicated browser designed to emulate the print edition.

Digital publishing | In its White Paper presented last week at C2E2, ICv2 estimates that digital comics sales in North America last year totaled between $500,000 and $1 million. Naturally, it’s expected that sales in 2010 will “expand dramatically.”

iTunes | After Apple CEO Steve Jobs weighed in on the issue, the company has approved for its App store the NewsToon app from Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Mark Fiore. Apple had rejected the app in December, stating that Fiore’s Flash-animated political satire, “contains content that ridicules public figures,” a violation of its iPhone Developer Program License Agreement.

Digital comics | At Extreme Tech, Jim Lynch provides a lengthy overview of comics on Apple’s iPad: “Marvel and the other publishers have taken some important first steps, but they still have a way to go. The iPad has solved the problem of storage and readability, but now publishers must provide the app features, subscriptions, and digital delivery that will fully take advantage of the iPad and make reading comics on it as easy and as much fun as reading them in traditional book form.”

Copyright | A response to a brief post about the Manga Rock 1.0 app is a contender for quote of the day: “This is awful. You’re PAYING to use OneManga, which illegally hosts copyrighted materials! This is such crap.”


Yen Press to move Yen Plus magazine online

Yen Plus (April 2010)

Yen Plus (April 2010)

Yen Press announced today it will end the print edition of Yen Plus with the July issue and move the two-year-old manga anthology magazine online.

“The print magazine will be no more,” Publishing Director Kurt Hassler wrote, “but Yen Plus will live on as an online manga anthology! As such, it will have the ability to reach more readers than ever before while giving those same readers an option to peruse manga (and maybe some light novels?) legitimately online. Will there be other changes? Most definitely. You can expect to see content changes which we will announce when the time is right. Our commitment, however, is to keep bringing you the best and most diverse anthology experience every month.”

Launched in August 2008 by the Hachette Book Group imprint, the magazine has been used to introduce such titles as Black Butler, Nightschool and Soul Eater and the adaptations of Maximum Ride and Gossip Girl.

Twilight graphic novel sells well; sun to rise in east tomorrow

From "Twilight: The Graphic Novel"

From "Twilight: The Graphic Novel"

To absolutely no one’s surprise, Yen Press announced yesterday that Twilight: The Graphic Novel had a highly successful debut week. Here’s the official word:

The graphic novel adaption of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight sold over 66,000 copies in its first week, the largest debut for a graphic novel in the US, according to publisher Yen Press. Twilight: The Graphic Novel, Volume 1, illustrated by Korean artist Young Kim, already broke the record for largest first printing for a graphic novel with 350,000 copies.

You may be saying, “Duh! It’s Twilight!” but success doesn’t always transcend genres when a prose work is adapted into a graphic novel. When best-selling author Christine Feehan tested the waters with Dark Hunger, a global manga based on her Carpathian novels, readers on Amazon gave it terrible reviews (some of which, admittedly, were due to people buying it online and not realizing it was a graphic novel). The book was on the remainder tables within months. And this for an author whose readers are so obsessed, they compile book-length guides to her created world.

Twilight looks like it will fare better. While the initial burst in sales is not surprising, early reviews have mostly been positive, aside from Chris Sims’ brutal commentary on the lettering. Japanator’s Karen Gellender does a good job of explaining how the graphic novel compares to the prose book, and what it does better.

Of course, these numbers are tiny compared to the real giant of the industry: Jeff Kinney’s graphic novel-ish Diary of a Wimpy Kid series has sold 24 million copies, according to official company PR. That gives Bella and Co. something to shoot for.

What Are You Reading?

Afrodisiac cover

Afrodisiac cover

Welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading. Our guest this week is none other than acclaimed cartoonist and co-founder of the Center for Cartoon Studies, James Sturm. Sturm, the author of such books as The Revival and The Golem’s Mighty Swing, has a new book coming out next month from Drawn & Quarterly entitled Market Day, and you definitely want to check it out, it’s a lulu.

In the meantime though, let’s simply check out what Sturm and the rest of the R6 crew is currently reading.

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Thin wallets, fat bookshelves: Yen Press’ 2010 line-up

Twilight: The Graphic Novel, Vol. 1

Twilight: The Graphic Novel, Vol. 1

We’re continuing our look at the year ahead in comics with a rundown of Yen Press’ plans up through the summer. The company has their own online schedule that you can peruse, but I thought it might be useful to point out a few titles of note. As with Viz and other manga publishers, I’m not going to list every single ongoing volume that they’ve got in the hopper, but merely highlight the ones that strike my fancy. I’m flighty that way.

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Comics A.M. | The comics Internet in two minutes

From "Troublemaker!"

From "Troublemaker!"

Publishing | Publishers are wagering that Stephenie Meyer isn’t the only prose author whose name can move massive amounts of graphic novels. We already knew that Yen Press is rolling out a staggering — by North American comics market standards, anyway — 350,000-copy first printing for Twilight: The Graphic Novel. But now George Gene Gustines reports that Dark Horse will print 100,000 copies of Troublemaker!: A Barnaby Adventure, a continuation of Janet Evanovich’s series of Motor Mouth novels. The Evanovich deal was announced in May. [The New York Times]

Business | Imagi International, the computer-animation studio behind TMNT and Astro Boy, has shut down amid layoffs and mounting debt. Although the studio will ask a Hong Kong court to name liquidators, it plans to continue to develop film ideas and outsource the animation work to other countries. [ABC News]

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Comics A.M. | The comics Internet in two minutes

Twilight: The Graphic Novel, Vol. 1

Twilight: The Graphic Novel, Vol. 1

Publishing | Deb Aoki notes that within hours of the announcement last Wednesday of a March 16 release, Twilight: The Graphic Novel, Vol. 1, rocketed from No. 230 on the Amazon.com sales chart to within the Top 10. As of this morning, the Yen Press adaptation hovers at No. 7. The current issue of Entertainment Weekly features a 10-page preview of the hardcover, which will receive a staggering first printing of 350,000 copies. [About.com]

Passings | Tom Spurgeon pens an obituary for French cartoonist Jacques Martin, who passed away on Jan. 21 at age 88. Martin, who collaborated with Herge on several Tintin books, in 1948 created the series Alix, which centered on the adventures of a young Gallo-Roman in the late Roman Republic. [The Comics Reporter]

Sales charts | Viz Media’s accelerated release schedule for Eiichiro Oda’s One Piece — five volumes a month through June — seems to be paying off, as two volumes vault onto The New York Times’ graphic books bestseller list. R. Crumb’s The Book of Genesis Illustrated remains atop its perch on the hardcover chart, while Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen reclaims its paperback throne. Meanwhile, the fourth volume of Naoyuki Kageyama and Kazuki Takahashi’s The Yu-Gi-Oh! GX 4 debuts at No. 1 in the manga division. [The New York Times]

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Comics A.M. | The comics Internet in two minutes

Vampire Knight, Vol. 8

Vampire Knight, Vol. 8

Publishing | Gonzalo Ferreyra, Viz Media’s vice president of sales and marketing, discusses the state of the manga market in North America, the performance of top titles like Vampire Knight and Naruto, digital comics and, yes, the impact of Twilight: “[Fans] can only read Twilight so many times. That’s when they come over and they start poking around and they find the Vampire Knights and Rosario & Vampires and other titles. … Let’s not kid ourselves, the Twilight fans number in the many, many millions — they’re manga-like numbers in Japan, here. If we can get a fraction more of those readers actively reading manga, if Yen can do that and bring those kids over to read the Twilight manga, and then move on and become manga fans it’s very encouraging.” [ICv2.com]

Twilight: The Graphic Novel, Vol. 1

Twilight: The Graphic Novel, Vol. 1

Publishing | Speaking of Twilight, Simon Jones points out that, with a 350,000-copy first printing, Yen Press’ $19.99 hardcover Twilight: The Graphic Novel has a retail value nearly $7 million, “which immediately vaults it into contention for one of the best-selling comics in the U.S. for 2010, by both volume and dollar sales”: “Whether you like the source material or not, or welcome the books’ legion of female fans young and old (it’s shocking how elitist fandumbs can be), there is absolutely no questioning the significance of this title.  If it does as well as Yen clearly hopes it would, it will expose more fresh eyeballs to comics than any other single release, even series, in 2010.” More at the link. [Icarus Publishing]

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Twilight: The Graphic Novel to bow with 350,000-copy first printing [Updated]

Twilight: The Graphic Novel, Vol. 1

Twilight: The Graphic Novel, Vol. 1

Yen Press will debut its graphic-novel adaptation of Twilight on March 16 with a staggering first printing of 350,000 copies.

That figure comes from Entertainment Weekly‘s Shelf Life blog, which offers a look at the cover and interior art, plus an excerpt from an interview with Twilight author Stephenie Meyer. (A 10 -page preview plus the full Q&A will run in the new edition of the magazine, which hits stands on Friday.)

Announced in July, Twilight: The Graphic Novel is adapted and illustrated by Korean artist Young Kim, with input from Meyer, whose series of young-adult novels has sold 53 million copies worldwide.

Yen Press, a subsidiary of Hachette Book Group USA, recently published adaptations of James Patterson’s Maximum Ride and Darren Shan’s Cirque du Freak, and in December announced plans to “re-imagine” Cecily von Ziegesar’s Gossip Girl novels.

Update: Brigid Alverson posts the official press release, which indicates Twilight: The Graphic Novel will be a $19.99 hardcover.


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