Body count

February 20, 2009

Simon Jones of Icarus Comics points out a round of Diamond cancellations at the (possibly not-safe-for-work but always essential) Icarus blog. Jones is keeping a stiff upper lip:

“But whatever the case, being cancelled by Diamond doesn’t mean the book won’t make it out. We’re a publisher, damn it, and the fate of our catalogue isn’t decided by any distributor, oh no girlfriend, nuh-uh. AAA Anime will have it. PCR Distributing will have it. Last Gasp probably will have it. TRSI will have it. And you will have it.”

Other publishers branded with “the dreaded code 3… canceled by Previews” include Media Blasters and Viz.


Diamond makes it rough

January 17, 2009

Diamond Comics Distributors is apparently raising its minimums and discontinuing the print version of its Preview Adult catalog supplement, switching over to a PDF. While the development is worrying on a number of levels, especially for smaller publishers, I find myself fixated on the Previews Adult issue. I’m all in favor of minimizing pulp in the waste stream, and going electronic seems like a reasonable way for Diamond to cut expenses. BUT…

Simon Jones indicates that his understanding is that “retailer would have access to the PDF, which Diamond expects retailers to PRINT OUT themselves.”

There’s just so much that seems wrong with that system, given what I perceive to be the realities of that sector of comics publishing. Here are my concerns:

  • It’s a bad idea to put the onus on retailers, who have their own concerns. Printing out paper copies of the catalog PDF for interested customers takes time and costs money, and many retailers might end up doing a perfectly sensible cost-benefits analysis that tells them that their profits from the comics listed in Previews Adult aren’t sufficient compensation for the inconveniences and expenses of the new system.
  • It potentially inconveniences consumers in any number of ways. Comics consumers are creatures of habit to begin with, so limiting access to the catalog is already a hurdle. (I’m not saying it’s a huge hurdle, but given the general shrinking of disposable income, you never know what hurdle is going to be huge enough to convince people to change their buying habits.)
  • The percentage of comics shops stocking shelf copies of adult material already seems small, and I swear I remember Simon telling me that individual customer pre-orders were a key part of any adult comics publisher’s sales. Hindering a consumer’s ability to pre-order comics promises to compromise the publisher’s most reliable revenue stream. And with higher benchmarks coming into play at the same time as new barriers to consumers, publishers of adult comics seem to be facing a double bind.
  • If Diamond wants to switch over to an electronic version of the Previews Adult catalog, they should really make it more accessible than the print version, rather than less available. And they should educate their consumers about the change well in advance of the change-over, so they know where to go to get the information. Buying any kind of niche comic can be challenging, and buying adult comics can be awkward. The retailer-PDF strategy seems designed to exacerbate the hassles that publishers, retailers and consumers already face. The plan seems like it would inconvenience everyone but Diamond.

    Here are some other links on the development:

  • Two pieces from Simon Jones of Icarus
  • Tom Spurgeon at The Comics Reporter
  • Johanna Draper Carlson at Comics Worth Reading

  • 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?


    Monday links

    May 14, 2007

    ComiPress provides a fascinating look at the uncomfortable position faced by some Chinese fans of Japanese manga and anime:

    “The question of ‘Is enjoying Japanese manga and anime an unpatriotic act?’ has been a great point of debate in China. The topic has caused many problems, and many young Chinese people are torn between their anti-Japan feelings and their love for Japanese manga.”

    *

    I’m always glad to see Fanfare/Ponent Mon’s books get the attention they deserve, so this piece in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin (found via MangaBlog) was much appreciated. I like this introductory analogy, too:

    “But it’s a bit like wine in a sense: Sure, there are products for the masses, but there are also products that true connoisseurs can enjoy even more.”

    I do think the pleasures of Kan Takahama’s Kinderbook are much more readily apparent than these reviewers did, though.

    *

    At Kate no Komento, Katherine Dacey-Tsue casts an understandably wary eye upon the next evolution of Tokyopop’s web presence:

    “What I don’t like about the site are the gimmicky labels that Tokyopop has assigned to the buttons on the navigation bar. They seem like the handiwork of a marketing consultant, rather than someone who actually uses websites.”

    Glancing at the image, I tend to agree that the tags aren’t immediately useful in terms of navigation. I’ll readily admit that this might be a generational thing for me.

    *

    At the Manga Recon blog, Dacey-Tsuei increases my anticipation for Morim Kang’s 10, 20, and 30 from NETCOMICS:

    “Those deformations, oversized sweat drops, and flapping arms capture the way we really experience embarrassment, fear, betrayal, and attraction: in the moment, one’s own sense of self is grossly—even cartoonishly—exaggerated, even if that moment seems trivial in hindsight.”

    This reminds me very much of my reaction to Rica Takashima’s charming, low-fi Rica ‘tte Kanji!? (ALC), which is a definite inducement to give the book a shot.

    *

    For this week’s Flipped, I talked (via e-mail) to Simon Jones about ero-manga imprint Icarus. So you know at least one smart person was involved in the creation of this week’s installment.


    Art and commerce

    December 8, 2006

    At his (probably not work-safe) blog, Simon Jones pointed to this thread at The Comics Journal message board. As usual, Jones insists on making sense:

    “Art comics, by their nature, holds art/self above all else, while the priority for most manga published here is the audience… it’s a very commercial product. Manga is going to be no more, and no less, relevant to the alt comix crowd as superhero comics.”

    The TCJ thread is covers familiar, stereotypical territory from those who adopt the “All manga is cookie-cutter girly crap” position. (Would they quail if they knew their critical assessment of manga is identical to some spandex aficionados on other, undoubtedly lesser message boards?) On the bright side, Shaenon Gaerrity is around to provide a slightly different perspective.


    February debuts

    December 3, 2006

    Here are the manga, manhwa, and global manga debuts from the latest Previews, covering titles shipping in February. Whenever possible, I’ve linked directly to title information. As always, if I’ve missed something, let me know.

    ALC

    Works, by Eriko Tadeno

    CMX

    The Time Guardian, written by Daimuro Kishi and illustrated by Tamao Ichinose
    Go Go Heaven!!, by Keiko Yamada

    Dark Horse

    Appleseed Book 1: The Promethean Challenge, by Shirow Masamune

    Del Rey

    Mamotte Lollipop, by Michiyo Kikuta

    Digital Manga Publishing/Juné

    The Moon and the Sandals, by Fumi Yoshinaga
    Wagamama Kitchen, by Kaori Monchi

    Drmaster

    Chinese Hero, by Wing Shing Ma

    Icarus Publishing

    Taboo District

    Ice Kunion

    You’re So Cool, by Young Hee Lee

    Kitty Press

    Thunderbolt Boys Excite

    NBM

    Unholy Kinship, by Naomi Nowak

    Netcomics

    In the Starlight, by Kyungok Kang

    Tokyopop

    Divalicious, written by T. Campbell and illustrated by Amy Mebberson
    Kedamono Damono, by Haruka Fukushima
    Metamo Kiss, by Sora Omote
    The Twelve Kingdoms, by Fuyumi Ono

    Tokyopop Blu

    Innocent Bird by Hirotaka Kisaragi

    Viz Shojo Beat

    Backstage Prince, by Kanoko Sakurakoji
    Gentlemen’s Alliance, by Arina Tanemura

    Yaoi Press

    Yaoi Volume 1: Anthology of Boy’s Love, by Izanaki, Wilson, and Studio Kosaru
    Desire of the Gods, by Insanity Team


    Civics

    November 2, 2006

    Civic-mindedness seems to be the theme of the day in the manga blogosphere today.

    Simon Jones of Icarus Publishing ponders the recent SF Weekly piece on yaoi and its consideration of a potential conservative backlash against the category, then moves on to remind publishers of every stripe that they have a vested interest in protecting and promoting freedom of expression:

    “Most people bring up the First Amendment only when their own rights are at stake. They support majority rule as long as they’re in the majority, they are okay with exceptions as long as they are not the ones being excluded. Is it really difficult to see the fallacy of this kind of thinking? It doesn’t take courage to be part of the crowd. Popular ideas don’t need to be defended from the masses, as they don’t come under attack by the masses.”

    At MangaBlog, poll volunteer Brigid wants to make sure everyone’s ready for next Tuesday’s election:

    “Every year there are stories of people who are turned away from the polls or have their votes stolen in some way. (Don’t believe me? Check here and here for updates on election issues.) A bit of advance work can prevent a lot of hassles.”

    At MangaCast, Ed Chavez freely expresses his appreciation of the improved web sites of DrMaster and Infinity Studios:

    “Have they both simultaneously figured out that communication with their small fan base will be the key to their futures. Either way site improvements are one of many steps both groups need to take to keep and expand their readership. Both of these pubs have many other hurdles to overcome.”

    Love Manga’s David Taylor relocates to a different precinct, joining the MangaCasters, but exercises his right to appreciate DramaQueen’s new Rush anthology before he closes the shutters:

    “So that left me pondering what should I write about on my last post here, and well I‘d thought I’d talk about one title that has been published this year which made an impression or just stood out for me. Boy that was a stupid idea.”

    Speaking of manga that stands out, PopCultureShock’s Katherine Dacey-Tsuei reminds us that, sure, Vertical’s release of Osamu Tezuka’s Ode to Kirihito is amazing, but Viz – Signature’s production of Tezuka’s Phoenix is separate but almost equal:

    “Do you have a friend who won’t touch a comic book unless a New York Times critic pronounces it a ‘brilliant graphic novel’ by a ‘major artist’? Well, I have the manga for you.”