The Marshall plan

October 19, 2006

It looks like the Marshall Public Library will be taking a transparent approach to its materials selection policy development, which will be developed in a series of public meetings. Hopefully the Democrat-News will continue to provide coverage of the process.

Influence peddling

October 19, 2006

There are all kinds of power, and yesterday’s list from ICv2 seemed to focus on the market variety – who sells the most. It got me thinking not so much about power as influence… the publishers who are driving manga creatively and expanding what’s available. So here is my list, in alphabetical order, of who I currently see as the Ten Most Creatively Influential Manga Publishers.

ADV: Say what you will about the reliability of their releases. It’s a legitimate criticism and a concern for fans who want to know that a publisher is going to finish what they start. But it’s undeniable (to me, at least) that any publishing entity that offers Anne Freaks, Cromartie High School, and Yotsuba&! deserves a nod for ambition.

Dark Horse: With intriguing recent releases like Ohikkoshi and The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service and upcoming books like Tanpeshu, Dark Horse has really expanded beyond what I viewed as a solid guns-and-swords specialist to one of the most interesting manga (and now manhwa) publishers. There’s great, unexpected stuff coming out.

Del Rey and Go! Comi: I’m putting these two together because I credit them with the same thing: pushing the boundaries of shôjo and shônen with edgier, more experimental offerings than the rest of the pack. Beyond the high production quality both publishers uphold, they’re giving younger manga readers somewhere to go next and older readers something to enjoy now.

DramaQueen: Anyone who launches a niche anthology (global BL in this case) automatically makes the list. Throw in a reputation for quality production of licensed work from Japan and Korea, and it’s a lock.

Drawn & Quarterly: Okay, so their manga output begins and ends with the work of Yoshihiro Tatsumi. Given the impact of that work, they more than meet the cut. They get extra points for a fine global roster of titles like the upcoming Moomin, the charming Get a Life, and the works of Guy Delisle.

Fanfare/Ponent Mon: Do I wish their books were easier to find and a little more affordable? Sure. Can I ignore those inconveniences to get books by Jiro Taniguchi, Kan Takahama, and others? Absolutely.

Icarus: See above for comments on DramaQueen. Ero-manga may not be my thing, but it’s comforting to know that it’s being successfully published by someone who loves it.

NETCOMICS: I admit that I thought they were kind of crazy for dropping as many inaugural titles as they did, but they are seriously leading the charge towards different delivery systems. They’re also assembling an impressive and varied roster of titles available either in print or on-line.

Seven Seas: Licensed works, original titles, web-to-print, novels… Seven Seas is pursuing an ambitious mix of projects that put them right in the thick of what’s happening now in manga, but they’re doing all of those things at a sensible scale. Perhaps I’m unfairly favoring the (comparatively) little guy, but hey, it’s my blog.

Vertical: If they’d only ever produced the hardcover version of Osamu Tezuka’s Buddha, they’d deserve a place on the list. It’s the kind of classy accomplishment that a publisher can ride for a lifetime. But they keep going. And if anyone is going to give me a gorgeous edition of Rose of Versailles, it will probably be Vertical.