With Herculean effort, I managed to spend Friday at New York Comic Con. This is the second year in a row life has thrown spectacularly bad timing my way in regards to NYCC. Last year you may remember I was in the hospital, and this year I flew in from Japan the day it began. As a result everyone I spoke to was doing a slow spin as we stood there. ^_^
One Peace was created in 2006. They distribute globally. Recently they brought over the long-running manga Crayon Shin-chan and have the title Black Bard coming soon (which thrills my wife no end.) Robert says that they were actively looking for a Yuri title and Media Factory, publisher of Black Bard, made it possible for them to get Sasamekikoto. (For those of you not familiar with the series, I have an entire category on the topic, but be warned the anime is no longer available on Crunchyroll and the manga reviews will contain some spoilers.)
Robert confirmed that they’d be publishing the book in three 3-in-1 omnibus volumes. The first omnibus is scheduled for Spring 2014, the next is scheduled for Fall 2014 and the final one for Spring 2015. Editorializing a tad here, I think omnibus format is a great choice for the release. The price point for the pre-order on Amazon is a mere $12.43, and if the last two follow suit, you’ll have all 9 volumes for about $30 over a period of only a year.
When asked about e-formats, Robert replied, “One Peace plans to convert it and distribute to all major digital stores, kindle, nook, apple, etc.” I know I’m really pleased about that. I genuinely like reading comics on my tablet. In many ways, it’s the perfect device for them.
So, good price point, good value, good schedule and multiple formats. If the quality of reproduction is good – and I have every expectation that it and the translation will be – this could set a benchmark for Yuri manga in the west.
Robert and I spent a lot of time talking about being small press publishers and we discussed GEN’s plans a bit. Like ALC, GEN deals directly with the manga artists and does some really interesting doujinshi anthologies and individual volumes. Robert gave me and I read VS Aliens on the way home, which starts off as a kind of creepy story, but ends up as a utterly grin-making cheezeball romance. ^_^ GEN is broadening their focus a bit, as well, with an upcoming BL release, and they are continuing with their anthology, GEN Manga.
Robert assured me that One Peace is interested in other Yuri titles, so we’ll be talking again. (Additionally, we floated the possibility of a promotion here on Okazu, so keep your eyes peeled for that. ^_^) Robert assured me that One Peace intends to publish the whole series, of course, but it’s really up to the readers to make it successful enough to continue. Pre-orders go a long way to making bigger print runs possible, better longevity and more availability. (And let me take the opportunity to thank all of you who ran out and pre-ordered the first volume when I announced it! You are awesome super-fans. ^_^)
Thanks to Robert for taking time out to speak with me about Whispered Words. We’re all looking forward to it. ^_^
Moving on, in their pre-con industry conference, ICV2 reported that, generally speaking, comics sales are stable to good in America and that manga is filling up a good chunk of slots in the best selling comics lists. I urge you to look at the September best seller list. The mix of manga, superhero comics, indie and even comic strips looks…dare I say it?…healthy. Notably, Alison Bechdel’s stunningly fabulous autobiographical comic, Fun Home, is on the list, no doubt driven by news of the musical based on the book.
Walking around NYCC, the top cosplayed anime/manga series was definitely Attack on Titan. Which brings me to…
I had a chance to speak with Ben Applegate at the Kodansha booth for a very long time. We discussed the good timing of both anime and manga for Attack on Titan being simultaneously available – something that rarely happens in the west – and how that’s helped the series popularity. But, Ben made the point that the real reason the series is popular is that it is full of great characters – including, he feels, a strong lineup of female characters and androgynous /gender ambivalent character Hanji. I promised him I’d read it and let him know what I think.
I then attended one panel – CBLDF presented Carol Tilley’s discussion of the infighting, rivalries, misrepresentation and general bitchiness that led to Frederic Wertham’s infamous anti-comics screed, Seduction of the Innocents, and the Senate subcommittee hearings that led to the gutting of the American comic industry and the creation of the Comic Code.This panel was fantastic. You can read Carol’s article about her research on BoingBoing and I urge you to do so. Although the Comic Code is history and the CBLDF owns the rights to the name and images, the reputation comics acquired has lingered. In the 50s, the Senate went after publishers. In the 70s and 80s, lawmakers went after comics retailers and now, readers can find themselves targeted. Just in case you think that we’re done with that nonsense, I remind you of the September House hearings on videogame violence and the (non-existent) link to mass shootings.
The rest of my day was taken up with people. I was able to meet briefly with A Case Suitable For Treatment’s Sean Gaffney, Comic Fusion Owner Stacy, and an old friend of mine from high school whom I have not seen for 30 years. That was kind of amazing. ^_^
Had a lovely, dishy discussion about comics with First Comics publisher Ken Levin, who was responsible for bringing manga classic Lone Wolf and Cub to the USA.
And I met up with and had many discussions with vociferous campaigner for diversity and equality in American superhero comics and in the comics industry, rabid Stephanie Brown fan – and my dear friend – KyraX2, the infamous Batgirl of San Diego Comic Con. Time with her is always well spent. We debated much about our roles as women with opinions on the Internet and cognitive authorities. She is a much, much nicer person than I am, and wants people to communicate better. I suggest matches to the death. ^_^
For any one of these conversations, it would have been a great day – for all of them, it was a brilliant blur of mad genius. Short as it was, my attendance was highly productive both personally and professionally. I sincerely hope that next year I can make it there for more than one day and hopefully get a few more interviews for you!