A small but stable field of manga publishers brought their A game to San Diego Comic-Con this year, and if there wasn't the rush of new license announcements that we have seen in previous years, well, there was still plenty to talk about.
Yen Press editorial director Kurt Hassler at the Yen booth
Yen Press had the most new license announcements, along with the news that some of their books will be digital-first. Their new manga series will include BTOOOM!, by Junya Inoue, the story of a teenager locked in a life-or-death game on a desert island; Welcome to the Erotic Bookstore, by Watanabe Pon, a slice-of-life manga that will be the first digital-only release from Yen Press; and Another, Yukito Ayatsuji. Yen will release the four volumes of the Another manga as a single-volume omnibus and the novel as an e-book. Yen also announced some new graphic novel adaptations of non-Japanese books: Zoo, by James Patterson, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs, and The Way of Shadows, by Brent Weeks.
Viz had several panels and one of the busiest booths of the show, promoting their Neon Alley anime service, their Shonen Jump Alpha digital magazine, and their manga in general. The Shonen Jump Alpha panel included announcements of two new series in the magazine, Takama-Ga-Hara (which is new to Japanese Shonen Jump as well) and Blue Exorcist, which Viz has been releasing in print; the digital edition of volume 12 will be moved up, and Shonen Jump Alpha will run double chapters, so that the American releases can catch up to the Japanese. The panel concluded with a series of questions for the editors of the Japanese Shonen Jump about their magazine and the resemblance of their staff to the characters in Bakuman.
In another panel, Viz reps announced that they would be expanding their digital manga service to the Android platform, and that a new box set of Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind is in the works.
JManga will soon carry some Kodansha series that were originally published in English by Tokyopop and Del Rey—including new volumes never published in English before. The digital-manga site will also be expanding to the iPad and Android platforms soon. And aspiring translators should check out their Manga Translation Battle for a chance to translate some different types of manga—and possibly win a trip to Japan.
There was more news after the panel, when JManga business manager Robert Newman revealed that plans are in the works for a new manga site that would offer fresh chapters of a number of different series, updated weekly. Newman told me that the new site would be free, although a paid subscription would get you quicker access to the new chapters—and some series might only be available to paying customers. The individual chapters would remain available until a full volume has been complete; at that point, the volume would be available for sale on the main JManga site. It sounds a bit like Viz's SigIKKI and Shonen Sunday sites, with the tie-in to JManga instead of print books.
Kodansha Comics had just one new title announcement, Negiho!, a parody spinoff of Negima in which the main character is a kindergarten teacher. Director of publishing services Dallas Middaugh also announced that three new titles would be added to Kodansha's iPad app: Mardock Scramble, Ninja Girls, and Cage of Eden. Deb Aoki reports that much of the discussion at the panel was about Sailor Moon, with fans and editors discussing Kodansha's new edition of the books and the recent news that a remake of the anime is in the works in Japan.
At the Best and Worst Manga panel, five manga critics (including yours truly) gave our recommendations for what to read, what to avoid, and what to look forward to in the near future.
Seven Seas editor-in-chief Jason DeAngelis takes a call at his booth
Two other publishers had booths but no panels at the con; the books that seemed to be most popular at the Seven Seas booth were their Amazing Agent Luna and Alice in the Country of Clover series, while at the Vertical booth, advance copies of Moyoco Anno's Sakuran and the cute cat manga Chi's Sweet Home were moving briskly—and we heard that chef Anthony Bourdain stopped by to scoop up all four volumes of the wine-tasting manga Drops of God.