Translating Manga: Follow Melinda Beasi as she trains to become an editor at The Digital Manga Guild, a new venture by L.A. manga publisher DMP, launched in an effort to speed up and lower the cost of translating manga into English.
Look out New York City otaku, the Tokyopop Tour will be at the Bayside Queens Public Library beginning Monday August 2. The Tokyopop Tour is a combination grand marketing outreach event and the basis for seeking and filming local otaku—or manga/anime super fans—around the country for America’s Greatest Otaku, a new reality show produced by Tokyopop.
Tokyopop founder and CEO Stu Levy has outfitted a big tour bus and selected “The Otaku Six,” six college kids picked in a competition to ride along with him and a video crew in the bus to cities all around the country. The plan is to seek out the local otaku, or fans of manga, anime and Japanese pop culture, as well as to spread the good word about the otaku lifestyle in general and the Tokyopop publishing program in particular. PW Comics Week wrote about the plans for the Tokyopop Tour back in May.
The Tokyopop bus will travel more than 15,000 miles between July and the end of August, visiting 25 cities and giving out all kinds of Tokyopop swag and cool otaku stuff. The visit to the Bayside Queens Public Library will feature Topkyopop creators M. Alice Legrow, the artist and writer of the popular Bizenghast series (seven volumes and more than 125,000 copies sold) as well as Levy, who wrote Tokyopop’s Princess Ai series, and Japanese J-pop singer Reni Mimura. The tour will also promote the release of Hetalia, a new comic manga series in which the human characters represent the relationships between the Allies and Axis Powers during World War II.
Tokyopop associate publisher Marco Pavia says that so far the tour has visited Salt Lake, Dallas, Amarillo, Nashville and the big colorful bus also set up very close to the convention center during the recent San Diego Comic-Con. Pavia says the tour is, “getting a great reception on the road, with huge crowds turning out.” And he is particularly excited by the visit to the Queens Public Library. “Since I’m from Queens,” Pavia said, “I’m a little partial to this upcoming event.”
Yen Press, Hachette’s manga and conventional comics imprint, made a big step forward for digital access to its manga list announcing plans to discontinue the print edition of Yen Plus, its monthly manga magazine, and launch a digital version. Yen Plus was launched as a print magazine and offers around 400 pages a month of serialized Yen Press titles including bestselling series like the manga adaptation of James Patterson’s Maximum Ride as well as popular series like the Gossip Girl adaptation and Svetlana Chmakova’s Night School.
At the Yen Press panel at San Diego Comic-con, publishing director Kurt Hassler announced an online non-flash browser accessible with a subscription plan. Fans can subscribe to Yen Plus online (first 30 days are free) for $2.99 a month. The fans receive the full content of the nearly 400 page print magazine including fan art and publisher columns. Yen Press is among the American manga publishers who joined the recent anti-scanlation coalition with Japanese publishers, and the launch of Yen Plus online addresses many of the issues around providing legitimate online access to licensed manga.
Yen Press online seems both a positive step toward paid online access to content and a direct and nonpunitive challenge to the rise in scanlations. Access is offered on a nonterritorial basis—fans can log in from anywhere. There is no downloading and the site will offer access to two months of Yen Plus, the current issue and previous month, after which back issue content is removed. “Yes, we want to encourage you to buy our print editions,” Hassler said from the podium. Hassler said Yen Press will make more announcements in the coming months about accessing Yen Press content on handheld devices. Hassler pointed to the success of the iPad but said that they have already ruled out e-ink devices like the Kindle and Sony Reader, “our decision will be driven by quality and e-ink just isn’t there.”
While some fans (the huge hall was packed) seemed a bit dismayed that there would be no downloading, the launch seemed to generate a positive response. Japanese publishers have been nortoriously slow about providing digital access to their content and their delay has been blamed for fostering the growth of scanlation aggregators, online sites that offer free access to thousands of illegally scanned copyrighted manga editions. While U.S. based manga publishers like Viz and DMP are offering some digital access to manga, Japanese licensors are very reluctant to offer digital licenses to their American licensees. Being able to offer some Japanese content through Yen Plus is something of an industry coup. “Digital licensing is very new in Japan,” Hassler said, “but our negotiations with our Japanese publishers are evolving and we’ve got more announcements coming in the future.”