The crowded middle ground

November 21, 2008

Surprising me not at all, Simon Jones of Icarus Publishing (whose blog may or may not be safe for work, depending on where you work) neatly summarizes the implications of the unfortunate closure of Broccoli Books:

“When one aims to appeal to a wide segment, be it through choice of licenses or a liberal number of imprints, it’s very difficult to develop enough of a personality to distinguish oneself in the market, especially one inhabited by some very dominant players.”

Not that niche publishers are rolling in profits commensurate with the gratitude of the audiences they serve, but it does seem like there’s very little room to breathe on manga’s middle ground and that the best remaining opportunities are for specialists.

So what’s going on with Kodansha’s self-directed North American publishing efforts?

More summer reading

April 25, 2008

There’s a nice mix of promising items in the May 2008 Previews catalog. Let’s take a look, shall we?

Dark Horse gets a jump on a 2009 movie with the release of a repackaging of the first two volumes of Osamu Tezuka’s classic Astro Boy. It’s probably Tezuka’s best-known property, and I’m grateful that Dark Horse has made so much of it is available in English, but honesty compels me to admit that I haven’t felt any burning need to read all of it. (Page 56.)

I’ve heard good things about Kerry Callen’s Halo and Sprocket, and Amaze Ink/SLG releases the second volume of the series and offers the first again. Any series that inspires fan art by Andi Watson must be worth a look. (Page 206.)

Broccoli offers a series that looks both adorable and odd. It’s Honoka Level Up!, by Akiyoshi Ohta and Matsuda98, and it features a really young character developer “getting caught up in the confusing politics, crushing responsibilities, and difficult developmental aspects” of the video game industry. Salary ‘tween manga? Why not? (Page 247.)

Have you been suffering through Kio Shimoku withdrawal since the conclusion of Genshiken? Del Rey is here for you, offering the Genshiken Official Book and the first volume of Shimoku’s Kujibiki Unbalance, the property that inspired microscopic obsession among Shimoku’s gang of geeks. (Page 266.)

Fantagraphics switches gears with the work of the very gifted Los Bros. Hernandez, going straight to the trade with Love and Rockets: New Stories. I’m partial to Gilbert’s work, but both are gifted, and this sounds like an appealing way to consume their work. (Page 298.)

I can’t say I’m entirely sold by the premise of Ray Fawkes and Cameron Stewart’s The Apocalipstix, due from Oni Press. Josie and the Pussycats after Armageddon? I just don’t know. But I’m crazy enough about Stewart’s art that I’ll certainly have to sample it. (Page 320.)

I sort of glazed over on a lot of the manga announcements that came out of the New York Comic-Con, but when Kate Dacey takes the time to point out a title, and when it’s a title that Lillian Diaz-Pryzbl heartily endorses, I’m game. It’s Natsumi Itsuki’s Jyu-Oh-Sei (Tokyopop), and it’s described as having a classic shôjo sci-fi feel. (Page 353.)

Speaking of Kate, I’m guessing she’s as excited as I am to see Yen Press release the second volume of Jung-Hyun Uhm’s Forest of Gray City, originally published by ICE Kunion. A working woman takes in a sexy male roommate to share expenses in this beautifully drawn josei-style manhwa. (Page 389.)

Young, old, and underemployed

April 3, 2007

Aside from some books that were scheduled to arrive last week but took some extra time to make it over the Appalachians or across the Monongahela or whatever, it’s a relatively manageable week on the ComicList.

The ranks (and variety) of manga princesses continue to swell, this time with Sekihiko Inui’s Murder Princess from Broccoli. I wasn’t crazy about what I’ve read of Inui’s Comic Party (Tokyopop), but the promise of “the strongest and most violent princess in the history of the kingdom” is kind of tempting. She’ll smash that glass slipper against the bar and gut you like a trout with the pointy heel!

Welcome to Tranquility (DC – Wildstorm) gets another opportunity to move off the bubble with its fifth issue. It’s one of those books where everything just about coheres but doesn’t quite, but I’m still intrigued enough by the premise and Gail Simone’s storytelling to stick around for a bit.

The third issue of Maintenance (Oni Press) promises more warped workplace comedy from Jim Massey and Robbi Rodriguez. Not to minimize the potential charms of this week’s arrival, but I’ve heard rumors that the fourth issue features zombie kitten attacks. Perhaps it’s wise that they’re holding off on that, as it will be hard to top.


October 11, 2006

Thumbs up to the ComicList. They now provide a full list of releases for the week, plus a manga-centric version. (Of course, David Taylor has been providing the latter for ages.) As the MangaCasters note, it’s a big Wednesday for manga.

NETCOMICS releases six books, including the third volume of the excellent Dokebi Bride. If you’re curious, you can enter Love Manga’s Manhwa Competition to try and win a copy, or you can visit the publisher’s site and sample the first chapter for free.

It’s not on the ComicList, but the aforementioned MangaCasters say Broccoli’s Yoki Koto Kiku gets wide release this week. Adorable, murderous triplets scheme to get their hands on the family fortune, and hatchets fly with alarming frequency. (If my shaky memory serves, you can fill out a Broccoli survey and receive a free dust-jacket for the book.)

Graphix releases the second installment of Raina Telgemeier’s excellent adaptations of The Baby-Sitters Club books with The Truth About Stacey.

Go! Comi offers two new titles this week. In Night of the Beasts, a mysterious, dark-haired figure introduces a good-hearted teen-aged brawler to a supernatural destiny. It’s ShôjoBleach! After School Nightmare is set in what has to be the worst sex-ed class ever.

CMX enters the great Train Man race with its version of Densha Otoko, the story that launched a thousand manga. That just leaves Del Rey’s, right?