The year that was

So what were the big manga news stories of 2007? I’m not talking about announcements of things to come so much as things that actually happened. (For example, I’m very happy about the prospect of an international anthology from Yen Press, but it’s not here yet. It’s very likely to be one of the stories of the year in which it does drop.)

Here are some possibilities:

Naruto Nation: I know, colossal “duh,” huh? Beyond being incredibly nervy of Viz to unload that much product from a single franchise in a relatively short time span is the shocking fact that it actually worked. Obviously, the popularity of that franchise was essential to the initiative’s success, and I don’t know that it could be replicated with just about any other property, but damn, they sold a lot of Naruto in the last three months of 2007.

The Age of the Omnibus: Maybe I’m overstating the importance of this because I like the idea so much, but this is another somewhat unexpected idea that seemed to gain a lot of traction in 2007 and actually work, leading me to suspect that the trend will expand in 2008. I mean, there’s already a mix of high-end, collector’s collections and value-for-volume versions, which has to tell us something.

The Autism Comic: As I indicated above, Yen Press has announced a number of nervy moves in 2007 – the promised anthology, acquiring ICE Kunion’s catalog, announcing a boys’-love line, etc. But in terms of actual, existing product, and ignoring their fairly generic-looking first wave of licensed shônen, the newcomer’s publication of Keiko Tobe’s With the Light, a meticulously researched comic about a family dealing with autism, is most noteworthy. And it’s apparently selling extremely well to demographics outside the norm for manga. (Of course, that demographic could possibly have just been terribly underserved in terms of intelligent fictional portrayals.) All the same, I find the publication of this book and its apparent commercial success terribly encouraging. (Soon, the way will be paved for agri-manga. Soon!)

Manga: The Complete Guide: Nothing confirms the official arrival of an entertainment category like a comprehensive (at the time), general-audience guide to the available offerings, and this is a very good example of the form. There’s already some very good popular scholarship available about manga from the likes of Frederik Schodt and Paul Gravett, but a user-friendly guide like this seems particularly noteworthy. (I’m not about to call Jason Thompson the Roger Ebert of manga, because Ebert bugs me.)

Tempted as I am to include that near-miss from Seven Seas just so I could use “No, no, Nympet” as a bullet tag, it doesn’t seem to quite make the cut. Neither do any of the “I’m shocked that my child could find this smut in a public library/chain bookstore and hence I must call the local newspaper/television station” dust-ups, not because there weren’t any but because they seemed so routine. New BL and yaoi imprints seem more like an expansion of big news from last year (or even 2005) than something specific to 2007, and yuri and josei still don’t have the kind of foothold they’d need to meet my admittedly undefined standard.

So which manga happenings from the last year stick in your mind?

19 Responses to The year that was

  1. Lyle says:

    I’m very happy about the prospect of an international anthology from Yen Press, but it’s not here yet. It’s very likely to be one of the stories of the year in which it does drop.

    Yeah, on that note I was hoping that Iris Press’ BL anthology might be a breakthrough for the genre (especially since the publisher came from San Fran, where it’d be foolish to ignore gay consumers) but Iris seems to have gone out of business before YAOI-Con.

  2. The only thing I’d add to your excellent list: the growing number of collaborations between well-established YA authors (Meg Cabot, Erin Hunter, Ellen Schreiber) and manga publishers. The success of Tokyopop’s Warriors and Vampire Kisses series have paved the way for similar projects at Yen Press and Del Rey. I don’t know if there’s much overlap between the Fruits Basket and Avalon High crowds, but these kind of projects seem to be finding an enthusiastic audience among tweens.

  3. Brigid says:

    You beat me to it, Katherine! But let me add that adult authors are doing it as well. Although most of us didn’t even notice it, Christine Feehan’s Dark Hunger, which is an adaptation of one of her short stories, made the manga best-seller charts.

    Re the Naruto wave: At NYAF I heard veiled hints that the onslaught of Naruto had hurt sales of other books—just a dent, nothing fatal, but it does demonstrate that the market is finite.

    And I’d like to add: Global manga gets more global. Fred Gallagher’s Megatokyo is going to be published in Japan, both Kodansha and the Japanese Foreign Ministry have manga competitions for foreigners, and back home, global manga is so well accepted that even Manganews is reviewing it.

  4. davidpwelsh says:

    Good additions, and with the imminent (okay, maybe not imminent) arrival of the Odd Thomas manga and other similar projects, the famous-author factor should only expand. (Though Marvel has a bit of a lead with the Dark Tower and Anita Blake books.)

    Though I think we should leave Avril out of this.

  5. gynocrat says:

    Hey Lyle, have you been in touch with Iris Print, to confirm that they’re out of business? I’d love to know what’s happening with them, because I’ve noticed that keeps restocking my title, and yet I’ve not seen a royalty statement or check from Iris since the first quarter of my books release.

    They’re not even returning my emails. :/

    1 creator was told that her royalty payments were coming, while another creator was told that her book was canceled. It also seems that those creators involved with BL Twist also were informed about their series not being picked up. I’ve sent a registered letter to one address, but Iris is no longer there–and I’ve sent at least four emails, and made at least one phone call. Nothing.

    Anyone have any information on Iris Print?

  6. huff says:

    Just because I’m a bitter, bitter man: no one reads “Town of the Evening Calm, Country of the Cherry Blossoms.” I honestly believe that this book has the potential to get the kind of mainstream critical attention usually reserved for alt. comics, but NO ONE read the thing. Part of it is due to Last Gasp’s publishing limitations, but the whole affair is just frustrating as hell.

    On the positive end of things, you covered most of the bases. One trend that started in ’06 (I believe…) and has continued strong is the republication of obscure titles of the past. Uzumaki and Appleseed were hardly surprises, but who would have expected (awesome) cult classics like Tekkon Kinkreet or Parasyte to get a second lease on life? Plus we got some sweet artbooks for classics like Akira and Nausicaa. Hopefully this trend will continue in the new year (I demand Even a Moneky Can Draw Manga! and Legend of Kamui!!!)

  7. davidpwelsh says:

    I couldn’t agree more that Town/Country is underread, Huff, but believe me, it’s not for lack of trying. I bring it up at every opportunity and put it on my picks for an upcoming Best of 2007 survey at another site; Kate Dacey-Tsuei gave it an A+ at Manga Recon and put it on her Best Manga of 2007 list; Jason Thompson profiled it and gave it a loving review in an early issue of Otaku USA; and someone had the good sense to nominate it for the Great Graphic Novels for Teens list being assembled by the Young Adult Library Services Association. But yeah, it was a spectacular gesture by Last Gasp, and I wish everyone was reading and raving about it.

    Nice spotting on the other trends as well. I’m hoping that all of these — cult classics, omnibus editions, different demographics — really come together in the next year to generate some weird delights.

  8. Foggi says:

    The manga event (if you could call it that) that surprised me the most were the number of incidents involving “home-made” Death Notes, from the murder in Belgium to the numerous occasions in the U.S. And, of course, the Absolute Boyfriend “scandal” in BAM! in that one state. Can’t exactly remember which one. ><

  9. Chloe says:

    I’d say the only thing that holds Town of Evening Calm etc. back is the fact that it’s swinging for the fences in terms of content; it may be breathtaking, but it is a bit heavy, and that can be turnoff for some.

    Seems like most commenters have already covered anything else I would add, but I would tack on a few sidenotes; I’d have never expected publishers to pick up the ball after it’s dropped by other US pubs [Ice Kunion to Yen, ADV to TP] but I stand corrected. Mostly, all of the above simply underscores this bigger underlying move onward in upward into the hands of new readers. (I’m just waiting for The Drops of God to show up on the shelves at B&N. That’s when you’ll know there really is something out there for every reader.)

  10. Lyle says:

    Hey Tina, I have no idea, either if Iris really has gone out of business. I, too, tried sending an e-mail but haven’t been successful in getting a response. Then again, didn’t Be Beautiful just make its first convention appearance in ages, so I guess we shouldn’t count them out yet.

  11. gynocrat says:

    Thanks Lyle. I would kust like to know what going on, since they’re my pub and all, and I’ve heard nothing about my book since June. 😦

  12. […] graphic novel of 2007 Filed under: Last Gasp, Linkblogging — davidpwelsh @ 6:33 am In a comment, Huff expressed the opinion that the publication of Fumiyo Kouno’s Town of Evening Calm, Country […]

  13. […] and must-read-it-this-years. Meanwhile, Precocious Curmudgeon’s David Welsh looks at the biggest stories of 2007 and rounds up critical praise for his pick for best graphic novel of 2007, Town of Evening Calm, […]

  14. I’m not as deep into the manga “scene”, but my pick for the big story of ’07 would be the continued release of Tezuka books by Vertical. They did Apollo’s Song and MW this year, and they’ve got Dororo and Black Jack scheduled for next year. It’s awesome to read more stuff from the God of Comics. Now if only Viz would get off their asses and put out Princess Knight…

  15. […] Over at Precocious Curmudgeon, David Welsh looks at the top manga-related stories of 2007. It’s a good list, and it’s made me want to post about it and give it a little more […]

  16. […] already linked it, but I enjoyed David Welsh’s round-up of the happenings in manga in 2007. I think David hits on a number of interesting points regarding the industry, and I had a reaction […]

  17. Jim Kosmicki says:

    Last Gasp seems to have some difficulties — I use Barefoot Gen in my non-western Lit class, and the bookstore always seems to have problems getting copies — they are told that it will be 4 to 6 weeks to get copies. Even Amazon lists volume 1 (the one I use) as currently not available. I’m sure it’s part of using Asian printers and not having the resources to keep large amounts of backstock available, but it does create a regular problem if you want to read the book. obviously Gen is selling well, as they just announced the next two volumes for sometime this spring. I’ve ordered a copy of Town/Country from Amazon (it is listed as in stock, but may take 1 or 2 days extra to process). I could very well decide to use it in my class as well, but actual availability on a consistent basis is an important part of that decision.

  18. […] Blogger David Welsh looks at some of the top manga news stories of the year, and rounds up reviews of his favorite graphic novel of 2007, Fumiyo Kouno’s Town of […]

  19. […] over 2007, David Welsh takes a look at the big manga news stories: The Age of the Omnibus: Maybe I’m overstating the […]

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