So, the very same day I speculated about Tokyopop license rescues, two of their old series were picked up by other publishers—and they weren't the ones I guessed at all: The prequel and sequel to the classic series Great Teacher Onizuka and the global manga that Tokyopop created to tie in with the World of Warcraft universe.
Ed Chavez, marketing director for Vertical, Inc., announced on May 26 that Vertical has acquired the licenses for the prequel and sequel to Great Teacher Onizuka, a.k.a. GTO. The first ten volumes of the prequel, Shonan Junai-gumi, were published by Tokyopop as GTO: The Early Years, but the sequel, Shonan 14 Days, will be new to American readers. What about GTO itself? Chavez told Anime News Network that Vertical would consider picking up that series as well if the prequel and sequel sell well.
GTO is a shonen manga about a former gang member, Ekichi Onizuka, who decides to become a teacher—the greatest teacher ever, as befits a shonen hero. He winds up teaching the "problem class" at a private school and must figure out how to win over both the smartest kids in the school and his rather dubious colleagues on the staff. GTO: The Early Years/Shonan Junai-gumi is the story of Ekichi's pre-teacher life as a biker with his friend Ryuji Danma, and Shonan 14 Days continues Ekichi's adventures after the action of GTO concludes. All three series were originally published in Japan by Kodansha, so you might think Kodansha USA would have first dibs, but Vertical is partially owned by Kodansha Japan, and Chavez used to work for the parent company. Vertical will begin publishing the two series in January 2012.
The other Tokyopop license to get a new lease on life isn't what we usually mean when we talk of a manga license: It's the World of Warcraft and StarCraft manga, which were created and published by Tokyopop under a license with Blizzard Entertainment. Tokyopop's manga tell stories based in the "world" of the games. Blizzard opted not to renew its license with Tokyopop shortly before the latter company announced it was closing its doors. At the time, the explanation was that while they were satisfied with sales of the books, Blizzard staff didn't want to commit the time and effort necessary to support the manga. Of course, they may have known the writing was on the wall.
The small comics and gaming company Cryptozoic announced last week that it would be carrying the Warcraft and StarCraft manga in its iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch app. They already have a number of volumes up, and to get things started, they are offering free downloads of Warcraft: Legends, vol. 1, through June 2 (PDT). As with other apps, they also offer free samples of the other books.