Get on the omnibus

I’m a big fan of the omnibus concept, even though I’m usually too impatient to hold off on purchasing individual volumes of a given series. John Jakala has drawn attention to Del Rey’s omnibus editions of some of its popular series, and he’s even weeded through a panel report at Book Expo America to winnow out rumor of possible Naruto omnibus editions from Viz. And, just to take the concept even farther, he’s compiled a list of series that might benefit from the omnibus treatment.

There are several series that I think would benefit from an omnibus release, either to collect the content in a more handsome package or to provide inexpensive introductions to long-running series (like Bleach) and make it easier for new readers to catch up. I’d definitely second John’s votes for Love Roma (Del Rey), which I thought was underappreciated in terms of sales during its five-volume run, and Sgt. Frog, for the reasons John details.

Before I go any further, I should admit that I’m not really sure what kind of negotiations these repackaging would require. I’m guessing they’re pretty specific and that the prospect of a reprint in a different format would require a new round of licensing negotiations, so I might just be thinking wishfully. That’s obviously never stopped me before, so here we go:

Antique Bakery (Digital Manga): Critically acclaimed, and rightly so, this is a book that I think deserves a high-end omnibus treatment. That’s not to say that DMP’s treatment of the individual volumes looked bad, but a keepsake approach, with some additional extras and a gorgeous hardcover package would probably get quite a warm welcome. Ice the cake.

Chikyu Misaki (CMX): Only three volumes long, this series would fit quite neatly into an omnibus edition, and it would give a boost to a critically appreciated but (I think) underperforming series. As far as packaging, it could go either way. I can see it packaged as a higher-end novel-like product, or as a more economical done-in-one volume.

Paradise Kiss (Tokyopop): Five volumes of content might be tricky to jam into one book, but what content! And what a book it would be! As Stephanie Chan noted at Blog@Newsarama, Ai Yazawa’s fashion-student manga has broad appeal, and it would be a good way to take advantage of the increasing popularity of Yazawa’s Nana.

Planetes (Tokyopop): I think higher-end packaging would be the way to go with this series, which I still think would appeal to fans of science fiction in prose form.

Scott Pilgrim (Oni): Oni has demonstrated its willingness to play with the omnibus experiment, and they’re always good about re-listing older material, and this could provide some nice series support. They could also fold in Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Lost at Sea as a bonus. (Oni might also consider putting together a Courtney Crumrin omnibus, now that I think about it.)

Hot properties in general: It might seem kind of odd to suggest this, given that the titles are still gaining new readers for individual volumes, but it certainly couldn’t hurt to consider omnibus editions of Fullmetal Alchemist (a glaring omission from my list of favorite comics from women creators, thankfully rectified by Kevin Melrose at the aforelinked Blog@ piece), Fruits Basket and Death Note, either in tricked-out or quick-and-cheap versions.

Shôjo in general: I think this would work on a couple of different levels. Shôjo series tend to have shorter runs than their shônen counterparts, so they’d be easier to package in omnibuses.

Yaoi and shônen-ai in general: I could be wrong, but I suspect there might well be an audience for keepsake versions of favorite series, or even omnibus collections of shorter works from favored creators.

I would also think that Tokyopop’s original works would really lend themselves to the omnibus treatment, once their initial three-volume runs are completed. Again, I’m not sure how contractual arrangements would influence that kind of strategy.

As far as existing omnibuses (why isn’t “omnibi” a word?!) that I would have snapped up if I hadn’t already purchased the individual volumes, I’d recommend Girl Genius (though I’d miss the gorgeous colors), Bone and Northwest Passage.

12 Responses to Get on the omnibus

  1. John Jakala says:

    Great suggestions! I keep meaning to check out Chikyu Misaki but always forget, so I’d be all over a big, cheap omnibus of the series.

    And I love the Bone One Volume book. It’s really well put-together, and a wonderful read as well.

  2. ChunHyang72 says:

    I agree that several of Tokyopop’s OEL series would make excellent candidates for the omnibus treatment. The Dreaming seems like a no-brainer, especially in light of Queenie Chan’s new Odd Thomas gig.

    In the non-OEL department, Flower of Life would be swell in an oversized, single-volume format, as would To Terra. The oversized trim and lovely artwork in Dark Horse’s new “man”wha line would benefit from such packaging, as would Satsuma Gishiden. (The images just feel too small in the current edition, much as I admire the editorial and production work that went into it.) And I’d declare ADV “the cooliest of the coolio cows” if they released omnibus editions of Yotsuba!& and Apocalypse Meow. Well, that and resurrecting Your and My Secret, something which seems about as likely as a Rudy Giuliani presidency.

  3. John Jakala says:

    Ooo, more good suggestions. I’d like to see all of these, especially the To Terra collection. It’s a series I’m interested in, but putting it into a big single volume could be that extra push I need to break down and actually buy it. And we know from Ode to Kirihito that Vertical is good about putting out huge collected works.

    And extra points for working the phrase “the cooliest of the coolio cows” into your post!

  4. Simon Jones without a blog says:

    Though, have you seen the format for GTO:Shonan Junai Gumi? (Which I swear I’m the only one who likes) Which is essentially an ominbus addition at the same price point as regular tokyopop stuff. Which leads me to wonder if it’s the japanese format or if they’re just trying to move a lengthy series with perhaps limited appeal, which was something like 45 volumes when originally published, out the door quickly.

  5. davidpwelsh says:

    Simon, that would be another good category: hellaciously long series that have either already been published in single volumes or not published yet.

  6. Huff says:

    Some reprints of older series that newer readers haven’t been able to get into would be nice; Lone Wolf and Cub for example, which at 28 volumes is a bit imposing no matter how much acclaim its received. Cutting the volume count in half (not to mention having a new release schedule that would allow new readers to keep up) might be profitable. In terms of the Bone-style omnibus a single, over sized reprinting of Nausicaa would be great, especially since Miyazaki’s reputation continues to keep growing.
    And speaking of omnibus’ that actually are confirmed, I’m stunned that no one has mentioned Tekkon Kinkreet (called Black & White back in the days of Pulp Magazine), coming this fall. 600 pages of some of the most awesome, mind-blowing manga ever released in English for a mere thirty bucks. Buy it, and hopefully Viz will consider releasing the rest of Taiyo Matsumoto’s No.5…

  7. mark thorpe says:

    Tekkon Kinkreet is being sold at the ridiculous price of $24.99. It’s not even a hard back! Oh, and Shonan Junai Gumi is one of the best books coming out of TP right now.

  8. Simon Jones without a blog says:

    Though, taking a brief look through my Japanese stuff, I’ve found that a lot of the older stuff that’s popular enough to warrant reprinting but not an especially fancy edition ends up in big fat omnibus type volumes with 2 or 3 normal volumes a shot. So, really, it’s an ideal format for series that’ve been picked up on the cheap.

  9. […] John Jakala’s lead, David Welsh lists some manga he’d like to see in omnibus format; readers add more in the comments section. […]

  10. JennyN says:

    Interestingly enough, this is in fact how the Japanese themselves do things. When a serialised story is first published, it usually appears as “tankobon” i.e. volumes of around 190-200 pages (what you get translated into English, French etc). Then, if a series is popular enough, it may be republished as giant-size “aizoban”, each volume of which is usually 350-450 pages – the French edition of ROSE OF VERSAILLES reproduced the Japanese aizoban, and contained the whole series in just 2 volumes. Aizoban often include special colour frontispieces and perhaps an author’s introduction. If the thing really has legs, after another few years it will appear in “bunko” format: smaller than tankobon, but often running to nearly 300 pages per volumes. Bunko will also have new attractions, especially essays by the author or a well-known critic. Then there are special anniversary editions, yet more repackaging, etc. ROSE OF VERSAILLES has, by my count, appeared in at least 5 different formats *after* its initial serialisation; anything by Tezuka, of course, could appear in 7-10 re-editions. So – since the artwork’s already formatted – perhaps an enterprising US publisher will indeed pick up on this?

  11. davidpwelsh says:

    “So – since the artwork’s already formatted – perhaps an enterprising US publisher will indeed pick up on this?”

    There’s already some nice foundation for it, what with DC’s Absolute and Marvel’s Masterworks editions, all the way down the production scale to the Showcase and Essential versions. And Vertical did offer Buddha in both hardcover and paperback editions, which I thought was really, really smart. It seems like a natural extension of the box-set concept, too.

    (But honestly, I’d settle for even one English-language version of Rose of Versailles.)

  12. alan brown says:

    I just noticed that there is an amazon listing for Sgt. Frog 1-3, at a very reasonable $13 before discount, listed for a december 11 release.
    Too bad I ordered volume 1 from rightstuf last week…

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