Category Archives: Manga

Viz to cancel print Shonen Jump, move to digital-only

The first issue of Shonen Jump in North America.

I like Viz a lot and so this totally pains me to say, but I’m actually pretty bummed about the move to digital-only on Shonen Jump [ref].

Yes, I absolutely think it is a good move to combat piracy. Yes, I think it will significantly improve the reading experience of thousands of die hard fans. I think it being successful will pave the way for other digital partnerships and initiatives at Viz, another good thing. There are a lot of up-sides to this move, and I don’t want to take away from them, but there’s a huge downside to this move that I haven’t seen discussed yet.

The move to digital pulls cheap, accessible comics off of the newsstands of huge parts of North America, where there might not otherwise be comics or manga. Shonen Jump sold in Walmart. It sold in corner stores, it sold (probably terribly but still) in comic stores, it sold to people without Very Expensive pieces of digital technology. It’s read by kids–and teens, and adults too–but it’s $5 and 300 pages of action, adventure, and even romance, and it has all sorts of articles, free Yu-Gi-Oh cards, and more, it is perfect for kids. I know kids read it, and I’m going to come right out and say that it is the single best way that the medium of comics reaches younger readers–100-200,000 copies of Shonen Jump available on magazine racks across North America.

Some kids don’t have credit cards or Apple digital devices or much more than $5 to spend on a comic, and Shonen Jump is how we as a medium get that $5.  $5 at Marvel buys you about 1.25 issues of Ultimate Spider-Man. It’ll get you 1.66 issues of Teen Titans over at DC. But at Viz $5 gets you 300 pages of new comics every month. There’s just nothing else like Shonen Jump.

The folks at Viz are smart and passionate people and they love manga, I have no doubt they’ve explored every angle and come to the conclusion that this is the best move on a number of levels. I’m not second-guessing them here. They published this anthology, aimed at kids and tweens and teens, this wonderful ambassador of manga and of comics, of visual storytelling, and they’ve done so for round-about 10 years now. That is a longer and more sustained commitment to comics outreach than Marvel or DC have managed, combined, since Crisis. Viz deserve a huge round of applause for that, and I hope those last few print issues of Shonen Jump will be appropriately celebratory for their fantastic accomplishment.

I just wish it didn’t have to end, because frankly, comics needs Shonen Jump in print every month.

– Christopher

 

Japan/Japon Exhibit in Ottawa closes this weekend.

Students from Carlton University at the Manga Wall we donated from The Beguiling. Photo from here.

The time has really, really flown by. It’s already October 7th, and that means just 3 days left for the exhibit JAPAN/JAPON at the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Ottawa (actually, in Gatineau, just across the river from Ottawa).

I spent a few years going back and forth with Alan Elder and Claire Champ from the Museum, and they were delightful, passionate people, interested in painting a broad and varied picture of Japanese culture, past and present. I was delighted to provide curatorial assistance to this project, and to work with The Beguiling to help provide this fantastic wall of manga, both showcasing contemporary Japanese culture and encouraging visitors to interact with it themselves.

It was just about a year ago that I was in Japan, scouting and sourcing some of the material–manga, anime cels, books, scripts, etc.–that would eventually make its way into the exhibition. It was such a great trip, and I have to say I learned a lot about the early days of manga through the dedicated acquisition of time-period specific works. I’ve been hit with a wave of nostalgia for that trip, now that I’m just a few weeks away from taking my next one.

Anyhow, if you’re in the area this weekend, I hope you’ll give one last look at the exhibition before it disappears. I’m also hoping that it proved popular enough to warrant touring, as there are a number of fantastic pieces of art and design history in that collection that should be seen by Japanophiles everywhere.

Thanks again to Alan, Claire, and everyone at the CMC of the opportunity.

– Chris

No.5 by Taiyo Matsumoto – Complete in English for iPad

“It was going to be an adventure action story starring attractive superheroes. But that is when 9-11 and the war broke out, and that made me think about violence and justice. The story changed…”
– Taiyo Matsumoto, on the genesis of No. 5, from the app-exclusive interview

Read my interview with Taiyo Matsumoto

Get the iPad app for No. 5 complete (bilingual English/Japanese)

Thank you to Deb Aoki and M.K. for the wonderful opportunity.

– Christopher

I like some manga!

On Cross Game by Mitsuru Adachi:

“I don’t really care for sports, and yet, this manga isriveting! This is about a high school baseball team. It has love triangles, fully-fleshed out characters, a story that subverts shonen manga tropes. It’s a really naturalistic, slice of life story.

“It’s so rare to find a book that just breathes like this one does. It’s a wonder to spend time in the world that Adachi has created — a suburban Japan of endless spring and summer. If you hate baseball, if you love baseball, even if you’re indifferent about the sport, so long as you like great comics then Cross Game is for you.”

Over at manga.about.com, Deb Aoki recaps our Best and Worst Manga of 2011 Panel from the San Diego Comic Con, apparently minus the ‘worst’ choices. I personally didn’t read enough manga last year to have a ‘worst’, maybe Bakuman would have been my pick for most frustrating, but even then it’s incredibly well-crafted and interesting.

I really like Adachi’s Cross Game (as you can see above), and me and my fellow panelists go over a bunch of our pics. Go check it out!

– Christopher

TANK TANKURO

Do you realize we live in an era of manga publication where we got a pre-war manga collection by a master creator that mostly no one even knew the name of* 10 years ago? And it’s 300 pages in a colour HC for $30? That’s fucking crazy. Tell me of 10 years ago that, and I would’ve called you an asshole for lying to me.

We are blessed with quality material. Please support it with your dollars as the book hits stores over the next few weeks. Tank Tankuro from Press Pop Inc., distributed by Last Gasp.

– Chris
* In North America, obvs.

San Diego Comic Con – BEST AND WORST MANGA OF 2011

As a reprise to our totes-fun-times from last years, Deb Aoki, David Brothers, Patachu, Eva Volin, and myself will preside over a panel charmingly entitled:

THE BEST AND WORST MANGA OF 2011

at the San Diego Comic Con (or, more properly, Comic-Con International: San Diego). I will be catching right-the-hell-up on all of my manga reading in order to be as informed as possible, but will clearly be schooled by my fellow panelists. It should be fun! And it would be delightful to see you there. Here are the deets:

Best and Worst of Manga 2011
Friday, July 22nd
Room: 26AB
6:30p.m. – 7:30p.m.

– Christopher

Amazing Taiyo Matsumoto Art Being Auctioned

Tekkonkinkreet Screenwriter Anthony Weintraub alerted me to the amazing fact that Taiyo Matsumoto is auctioning off an original piece of Tekkon Kinkreet artwork, in support of Tsunami and Quake Relief in Japan. It’s a Japanese auction site, but Google Translate should be able to give you the jist of it:

http://page3.auctions.yahoo.co.jp/jp/auction/c291243779

This double page-splash of Black and White (the leads of the book) was originally drawn in 1997, and looks to be made of pastels or something? Pencil crayon? It’s just awesome. As of writing, the auction is up to 211,000 yen, or about $2423 Canadian. I cannot afford this, sadly, but maybe some of you out there can. Bidding ends on Sunday.


Incidentally, if you’ve got the Viz All-in-one edition…

Take off the dust jacket and flip it over, and you can see your very-own copy of this illustration 🙂

– Christopher

How To Buy Manga: RIGHT NOW

“One of the things I most hate to see on manga-related forums are comments like, “I’m interested in this series, but I don’t know if they’re going to cancel it, so I’ll wait a bit and see if it continues.”

“You know what practically GUARANTEES that something will get dropped from publication? Not putting your money where your mouth is and picking up volume 1.

“This sounds snarky, and I know everyone has to prioritize his or her budget, especially in tight times, but seriously—this is a business that relies heavily on perceived demand, and how do we know there’s a demand for a title if no one is picking it up?  I think there’s an idea in the fandom that the manga market is a lot bigger than it actually is, and if you pass on a volume for now, enough people will still buy it that it’ll stick around for a while. Unfortunately, this isn’t really the case–Manga is a hit-driven business, and most series only get one chance to get out there and succeed.”

– Tokyopop Representative “TPHENSHU” on the realities of manga publishing

Someone named “TPHENSHU” on the Tokyopop website addresses the question of why certain series “go on hiatus”, by turning the practice around and blaming it on the fans.

See, here’s the thing. The rest of that article (http://www.tokyopop.com/TPHenshu/tp_article/3180353.html) is actually a really straight-forward, plainly spoken explanation of how book publication, distribution, and sales works. It’s a smart explanation, and incredibly helpful. Some of the finer points are disagreeable to me personally (particularly the enthusiasm for print-on-demand, though that at least is somewhat tempered by describing it as an ’emerging’ technology) but at the core of the article is a very real problem; the combatative attitude between this Tokyopop employee–and really Tokyopop in general–and their fans. You don’t start off an answer to a frequently asked question on your website by complaining about your customers. You don’t do any one of dozens of weird aggressive things Tokyopop has done over the past 10 years or so (running Sailor Moon in the same magazine as Parasyte? Really?), but that’s a big one.

And the thing is I don’t disagree with the frustration expressed by the TP staffer. Standing behind the counter at the store, it can be brutal to hear customers say things like “I really like that series but I’m not going to buy it because they might drop it half way through.” Hell, it’s even more angering to hear a customer (or potential customer) say “I’m not going to buy that because I already read it online.” But if I responded to such comments with, say, “People like you saying things like that is what’s killing manga!” I would get creeped-out, blank looks as the once-potential-customers backed out of the store, never to return.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is unacceptable.

If you want to be “that guy” who attempts to treat every uninformed statement by a potential customer as a “teachable moment,” go ahead. His name is Jeff Anderson. (Admittedly I do pick my battles on this front, only engaging folks on the subject of piracy who, after saying something dumb, twig to the fact that saying something like that out loud was at least slightly socially inappropriate in a store dedicated to selling such material.)

But look at the history of manga publishing in North America and you can see it’s filled with unexpected and unfair treatment of customers, particularly in regards to series dropped in the middle of runs. Even putting aside the incredibly poor business decision of randomly insulting your customers, how can you really blame anyone who’s had their heart broken when it comes to a favourite manga series for being cautious on future series? A reader who has 14 volumes of a never-to-be-completed 26 volume series looks at those books on their shelf and feels personally and financially betrayed, a loss of hundreds of dollars, dozens of hours, all from a company who won’t even acknowledge the fact that they’re cancelling the series publicly, or the reasons for it. Manga publishers’ behaviour regarding series cancellation (“going on hiatus”), and Tokyopop’s in particular, have been absolutely abhorrent. For them to criticize their fans for ill feelings that they created?

Poor form.

– Christopher