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"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
"Most Powerful People in American Manga Publishing"? Okay, define "powerful." 
24th-Oct-2006 06:03 pm
I was made aware of ICv2 News's new article, Top Ten Most Powerful People in American Manga Publishing last Sunday. As far as I'm concerned, the blogosphere blowback from this article is mostly just that, but I must say that I agree with #1-3, at least.

TOKYOPOP, regardless of its flaws, has been the market innovator since its inception; their one-two punch of big-box bookstore selling so as to win a female readership and price reduction/trim size/accelerated release schedule reshaped the world of manga into how we know it today and left the veteran publishers, most notably VIZ and Dark Horse (plus affiliates like Studio Proteus), reeling under the impact. Granted, VIZ Media arguably took a half-dozen eyes in return for TOKYOPOP's one, but they are a fundamentally conservative, reactionary company that never would have become what they did without provocation and a very real threat of the loss of their ascendancy in the US manga market. Meanwhile, Dark Horse, once one of the most important manga and manga-inspired publishers, became "Etc." in the wake of the realignment under the new VIZ Media/TOKYOPOP + Del Rey axis.

But, naturally, that means that all of these manga publishers have sold the souls of their future financial successes to the duopoly of bookstores in the US--Borders and Barnes & Noble. Comic book shops, which alienate the girls and women who are now manga's most important and powerful readership segment, are of lesser importance. Of the two stores, Borders (and Waldenbooks) carries more manga--it's obvious even to the casual buyer--which makes getting new lineups well-placed there crucial to the title's success.
24th-Oct-2006 07:23 pm (UTC) - Completely OT, kinda
Dude, I'm having a real issue dealing with DJ Milky as Stu Levy. The fact that a brain-fart like a DJ Milky did in fact turn turn America on to mass market manga is such a jagged pill to digest.

DH, I hate to say, is like the BeBe of Seinen...if you want the good stuff, you're going to pay, because no one else has it...so yeah, they're limited. And I am sorry, Viz is Japan. I still cringe when I see the term 'New Viz Licenses...' and they come from ShoGo. What are they licensing anyway? It's like saying...hey I'm babysitting--my kids.

24th-Oct-2006 08:15 pm (UTC) - Re: Completely OT, kinda
So maybe TOKYOPOP blundered into its brilliance. It's happened before. :P Intent and/or excess intellect doesn't change the final outcome.

Actually, I would say that "Japan" is Viz + Del Rey (because they've got that exclusive deal with Kodansha)...but Del Rey seems to be having serious Dark Horse akogare, and I'm still waiting for them to start milking Kodansha's backlist for all it's worth. (Like, he~llo--Sailor Moon?)

As for Dark Horse, they've never broke away from the declining American comic book reader demographic (40+ years old and male), and they are destined to rise and fall (mostly fall) with that niche demographic. BL, on the other hand (for better and for worse), is a growth segment--no one yet knows how big.
24th-Oct-2006 08:39 pm (UTC) - Re: Completely OT, kinda
What are your thoughts on Seven Seas Strawberry line?

I wonder how many units they will move before dudes realize it's nothing like Core Mags Loveberry Twins? LOL!
25th-Oct-2006 12:13 am (UTC) - Re: Completely OT, kinda
Besides the odious imprint name?

I'll let Erica speak for their manga license Strawberry Panic. Her review indirectly tells you a lot about the powers that be behind Seven Seas. *sighs* Suffice it to say that real flesh and blood girls aren't first on the target marketing agenda...
25th-Oct-2006 02:22 am (UTC) - Re: Completely OT, kinda
You know, I'm not a Yuri advocate, by a long shot...but I don't like how S7 is playing it off like they're the 'first publishers of Yuri'. That press release is foul. Mind you, as a company I've always liked them, but you can't ignore the works put out by ALC just because they don't publish Kurt Hassler and have scary distro.
25th-Oct-2006 02:42 am (UTC) - Re: Completely OT, kinda
I'm sure they'll figure out a way to wriggle out of that. ALC being not a "Yuri line" but a yuri PUBLISHER; "Oops!" *ignorance* "My bad!"...or something. And, meanwhile, the damage is already done.

But, to be honest, ever since TOKYOPOP first tried to beat out VIZ, the manga industry's been a series of low body blows.
25th-Oct-2006 03:29 am (UTC) - Re: Completely OT, kinda
How come I'm not on this list?

Some friends of mine and I were joking, about the shiksa factor, in publishing. It's like, most Jewish women support their interests in manga without much backup from anyone, except themselves...LLC's and LTD's. While non-Jewish women seem quite happy thriving, in the imprint game.
25th-Oct-2006 09:40 am (UTC) - Re: Completely OT, kinda
How come I'm not on this list?

Not on which list? *lost*

Some friends of mine and I were joking, about the shiksa factor, in publishing.

Heh. I'd bet you and Erica would have lots to talk about if you ever met.

Once the world woke up to how much money could be made on manga in the US, things got really mean. Though, looking back on it, it's amazing that it eventually succeeded at all, given how many times people tried to spring manga or manga-influenced works on the US and watched the effort tank.
25th-Oct-2006 02:02 pm (UTC) - Re: Completely OT, kinda
The most powerful list. LOL! I am all powerful...in my own mind.

Who's Erica? 0_0
25th-Oct-2006 02:08 pm (UTC) - Re: Completely OT, kinda
Ah, yes...well. ^_~ Actually, those in the industry who monitor grass roots fan movements seem to take you very seriously. You are a manga buyer, too, and collectively buyers DO have a pretty powerful say to what does and does not happen in the market.

And Erica Friedman is the founder and head of ALC Publishing. I've "known" her for about 5 years, but we never talked at length until the past month at MangaNEXT.
25th-Oct-2006 05:14 pm (UTC) - Re: Completely OT, kinda
OH! I thought you meant Erica from DMP. >_> I was going to say, I don't know her all that well. I know of Ms. Friedman though, and I see she's at the ANN forum, trying to say hey...I was here first yo, but over there, you could walk naked into a room--but because you're not 2D, no one would notice. I love ANN sometimes, but oy-vey, that forum!

Oh man, have you kept tabs on this wonderful explosion of racist wank over at http://blog.livedoor.jp/dqnplus/archives/811575.html over an ugly poser figure, of all things. =_=; it's nice to see idiocy, is indeed global.
25th-Oct-2006 05:41 pm (UTC) - Re: Completely OT, kinda
She'd be better of trying to flog the Anime on DVD forums, to be honest.

Oh man, have you kept tabs on this wonderful explosion of racist wank

God, no. I've got better things to do thank go actively LOOKING for wank. ^_~ Enlighten me.
25th-Oct-2006 06:28 pm (UTC) - Re: Completely OT, kinda
It started off as a really badly made resin doll that just exploded into hateful racism on both sides [Chinese and Japanese]. Getting trans here and there from a friend, but at that point I was like...you know, they're all [l]etards.
25th-Oct-2006 06:32 pm (UTC) - Re: Completely OT, kinda
Was the ugly figure made in China, or something? If so, yeah, I can see how it would go.

(Hey, that little bit with you and your other jumping in on Mangacast is hilarious. Not the content of the conversation, which had some interesting points, but the fact that it happened at all. You really do have a Big Brother watching. XD )
25th-Oct-2006 07:06 pm (UTC) - Re: Completely OT, kinda
>_> It seems so. I was whoa...I have no lunch on my desk, and you're sitting there lecturing me about manga? What's wrong with this picture!? 0__0

Oh, there was a blog that the Precur dude linked to that was cool, about this Books-A-Million that started shelving manga by 'maturity' rather than alphebetically, or by publisher. I personally think that's brilliant and wish more bookstores would do it.
25th-Oct-2006 07:15 pm (UTC) - Re: Completely OT, kinda
"Books-A-Million"? What's that? (Sorry, joke.) Yeah, I heard about that. I'd rather see genre arrangements a la what's done with text fiction, though. It makes more sense intuitively.

But if it's to protect the children, well...a "mature" section is just going to be the forbidden fruit for kids.
26th-Oct-2006 04:11 pm (UTC) - Seven Seas was Re: Completely OT, kinda
Hi all,

Erica Friedman from Yuricon and ALC here. :-)

I just wanted to let you know that I've posted a comment on Seven Seas' press release on my yuri blog Okazu today. (http://okazu.blogspot.com).

I'm thrilled that SS is going to be releasing yuri - especially as they are looking to release titles I can't or won't pursue, but I do feel that I need to point out that ALC Publishing has been releasing yuri in English since 2003. :-)


26th-Oct-2006 12:45 am (UTC)
So maybe TOKYOPOP blundered into its brilliance. It's happened before. :P Intent and/or excess intellect doesn't change the final outcome.

I've started thinking that's the problem with Tokyopop. I don't have a problem that they succeeded by accident but right now they need more of the innovation that made them a market leader and its starting to look like they don't have the vision I thought they did. =
26th-Oct-2006 01:16 am (UTC)
I think the jury's still out on their "OEL manga" experiment, though. It WAS the next logical step after VIZ struck back and Del Rey joined the fray. I can't help but notice that the second round of releases that they're doing are MUCH higher in quality than the first round, and past the initial "casual visual inspection" test, as far as I'm concerned.
27th-Oct-2006 12:24 am (UTC)
I agree it was the next logical step. When i first heard of it, I was pretty excited.

So far, though, I think the line has amplified some of Tokyopop's overall marketing issues like their "flood the market" and their "throw it at the wall" rep. Some of their old practices worked in the past when there were fewer competitors and T-pop was a bigger voice in the market, but their competitors have changed and the only major adaptation I've noticed was the website redesign.

The other next step I hoped they would make would have had them pushing out some of the genres that aren't getting the shelf space. They're doing that with BLU, but I was disappointed when they floated the idea of pitching their josei titles (Erica Sakuazawa, Tramps Like Us and the one I haven't checked out) as manga's "chick lit" and didn't do anything with it.
27th-Oct-2006 02:13 am (UTC)
I suspect that they're putting out so many new titles because, well, first volumes DO sell the best, and the more they've been marginalized, the more desperate they are to sell.

However, all of the OEL artists have been signed for trilogies (and there's a first volume escape clause as well). 2007 will be the year of reckoning for the first gen--will they get new contracts or not? We'll find out.

I'm wondering if TOKYOPOP abandoned chick lit manga because Dark Horse tried it and it flopped...? Then again, they tried it way back with Smile, as well, and that didn't last. Maybe they decided from a practical level that it wouldn't be workable.
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