The list of comics bestsellers for March in the current Publishers Weekly Comics Week shocks me by actually having something to say about one of the manga titles that made the top ten. Of course, it’s in reference to the 13th volume of Naruto (Viz – Shonen Jump), which is handy, because nobody’s really pondered that sales phenomenon yet. The other seven ranking manga titles, five of which have no anime or game tie-in to bolster sales, go without narrative. I’m too beset by the vapors to fill in the blanks myself.
300 (Dark Horse) showed up somewhere on the list, though an apparent coding problem keeps readers from knowing precisely where. It didn’t make the top 10, though. I’m not saying that it means anything, because 300 is currently ranked first in graphic novels and 39th in books overall at Amazon, and the first manga title to land is an as-yet-unpublished volume of Fruits Basket which doesn’t show up on graphic novels until 12th place and is at #1,067 in books overall. I’m just saying.
There’s also a nice, long interview with Alvin Lu, vice president of publishing at Viz. It’s a solid, informative piece about a company that doesn’t come under a lot of scrutiny, perhaps because they have such a consistent approach to publishing. They do their thing – licensed manga from Japan – without going out on too many limbs in the process. So it’s good to see a substantive discussion with Lu about what Viz tries to do and why. This quote pretty much sums it up:
“Although Viz has changed over the years, the focus hasn’t. Even when we were a much smaller company, the goal was always to bring manga to a mass audience as much as possible, replicating the readership in Japan with the one in America. I don’t know if that differentiates us from the other [manga publishers], but we have not wavered in our core mission. It’s made our business strategy straightforward. We want to bring to the U.S. a library of manga that is created for every walk of life.”
They still have a ways to go, what with the heavy focus on shônen and shôjo, but it’s nice to see that they have ambitions beyond that. It would make me happy if they accelerated up the timeline, but if they did, they probably wouldn’t be Viz.
Also, those preview pages from Christian Slade’s Korgi (Top Shelf) are absolutely breathtaking.