Must read shocker: There is still a US Manga industry

201304081604.jpg Brigid Alverson shows us how it’s done in this comprehensive report on the state of the US manga market. The big shock is that despite sales shrinkage since the boom years, it’s still a relatively stable market:

At the ICv2 Conference on Comics & Digital II that preceded New York Comic Con last October, ICv2 CEO and industry analyst Milton Griepp offered a grim take on the manga market: while sales of comics and graphic novels as a whole were up, in his annual white paper on comics publishing, Griepp said that manga sales have declined for the past three years and were down 35% in the first half of 2012.

The next day, as if in some alternate reality, fans dressed as anime and manga characters crowded the halls of the Javits Center, lined up to get autographs from Moyoco Anno, packed a large room to hear Yoshitaka Amano speak, and competed enthusiastically in trivia games to win swag featuring anime and manga characters. What’s going on here? The manga market may be smaller than it was five years ago, but a substantial fanbase remains, and publishers contacted by PW for this article said they are optimistic that the decline has come to an end, that long-awaited digital initiatives are attracting readers, and that the manga market is stabilizing at a new, sustainable level.

While the market has gone through an incredible boom and inevitable decline, and many manga-only publishers have gone by the wayside, the ones left seem stable—Yen, Viz, Dark Horse, Vertical—and manga has been added to the art comix lineups at Fantagraphics, D&Q, and PictureBox:

Several smaller publishers are targeting older readers. Dark Horse’s swordplay manga sell well in comics shops. DMI specializes in yaoi manga (romances between two males) and recently added hentai (explicit adult titles) manga to its line, and they have run two successful Kickstarter campaigns to publish manga by the late and prolific manga superstar Osamu Tezuka. Vertical also publishes Tezuka titles as well as teen manga, and recently it began publishing josei manga, which is aimed at young women.

In addition, North American indie and small-press graphic novel publishers now actively seek out and publish literary manga, works much like the artists they already publish. Drawn and Quarterly publishes the work of such acclaimed literary manga-ka as Yoshihiro Tatsumi and Shigeru Mizuki; Fantagraphics launched a line of classic manga in 2010; and recently PictureBox, which specializes in publishing innovative literary and experimental indie comics, announced it was launching Ten Cent Manga, a line that will showcase manga influenced by America and other cultures.

PictureBox owner Dan Nadel says that the audience for these books is not the traditional manga reader. “It seems like it’s a lot of the same people reading other PictureBox books and authors like the indie anthology Kramers Ergot, Matthew Thurber, and Sammy Harkham,” he says. “There’s a couple generations of readers hungry for this broadening of the manga narrative.”

The “manga era” might be receding a bit into the the keepsake box of future millennial nostalgia but there’s still plenty of life in that category.

Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer Go “Live” at Bard College

The Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College in Red Hook, New York, hosted “An Evening with Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmeron the 6th of April, an event packed with poetry, prose, and musical performance numbers from Gaiman and Palmer alike, frequently in combination. Here are some photos and a few choice quotes from the Q and A session, which Gaiman and Palmer drew from a pool of fan questionnaire sheets left discreetly in the lobby before the performance.


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Disney/Marvel release first Captain America: The Winter Soldier photo and final cast

Production is underway on Captain America: The Winter Soldier — it will film in LA, Cleveland and Washington DC. Anthony and Joe Russo direct from a script byChristopher Markus (“Captain America: The First Avenger”) & Stephen McFeely (“Captain America: The First Avenger”).

The cast includes Chris Evans as Cap, Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, and Robert Redford in the Older White Man role as Agent Alexander Pierce, a senior leader within the S.H.I.E.L.D. organization. The BLack Widow will play a sizable role in the tale, as Cap teams up with her to battle a “shadowy enemy” who will remain shadowy to save time on the CGI.

Also in the movie Sebastian Stan (“Captain America: The First Avenger,” “Black Swan”) as Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier, Anthony Mackie (“The Hurt Locker,” “Million Dollar Baby”) as Sam Wilson/Falcon, Cobie Smulders (“Marvel’s The Avengers,” “How I Met Your Mother”) as Agent Maria Hill, Frank Grillo (“Zero Dark Thirty”) as Brock Rumlow and Georges St-Pierre (“Death Warrior”) as Georges Batroc, Hayley Atwell (“Captain America: The First Avenger”) as Peggy Carter, Toby Jones (“Captain America: The First Avenger,” “The Hunger Games”) as Arnim Zola, Emily VanCamp (“The Ring 2,” “Revenge”) as Agent 13 and Maximiliano Hernández (“Marvel’s The Avengers,” “Thor”) as Agent Jasper Sitwell.

The fun begins April 4, 2014.


Revealed! Red Sonja #1 Variant Cover Gallery

As part of the relaunch of Red Sonja by Gail Simone, Dynamite has released the entire #1 variant cover gallery with images by

Nicola Scott, Colleen Doran, Jenny Frison, Stephanie Buscema, Fiona Staples, and Amanda Conner

. This is one fine looking gallery.

“Red Sonja is one of the original female ass-kickers in comics, of COURSE I would want to write her,” says Simone in a statement.  “Any reader who likes sex, blood, swordplay, sassiness, red hair, adventure, and monsters getting stabbed in the face should get this book.”

“I had this idea to ask the top female artists in the industry to do the covers and Dynamite ran with it beyond my dreams, says Simone.  “Not only did all the artists we asked immediately agree, they all confessed their secret love for Sonja.  They adore her! Lots of the artists submitted multiple sketches because they couldn’t stop, and many top names submitted sketches without even being asked, they love Sonja so much, and are dying to see this project.”

As a long time Sonja fan myself, I approve and can’t wait to read Gail’s take on the book. The first issue comes out in June.







Exclusive Sneak Peek: Liberator

I’ve already pegged this as potentially the debut of the year, and with Liberator #1 now available for pre-order, we get a sneak peek at the new artistic team.

Liberator #1 - Tim Seeley

Liberator #1 – Tim Seeley

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Announcing three new comics shows for the NYC/tri-state area

Almost as soon as I walked into MoCCA on Saturday, the first bits of news I got were show-related. Cliff Galbraith of the much liked Asbury Park Comicon, announced that next year the show will be TWO days long, on April 19-20, and will be held at a nearby hotel.

Galbraith is also launching the Newark Comicon for a date in June 2014 TBA. Yes THAT Newark. Galbraith says he already has the city officials behind the event, and we suspect that come next year we’ll learn just how much Newark’s charismatic mayor (and probable senatorial candidate) Cory Booker likes comic books. It’s an area hugely underserved, and as Galbraith pointed out, the only city in the US with an international airport that doesn’t have its own comic-con!

Along with his partner, Robert Bruce, Galbraith is set on putting on a series of fun, nostalgic and comics-centric shows. Given the attention he got for the last Asbury Park Comicon, they might just pull it off. He says they were expecting 2000 people and got well over 3000 to last weekend’s show. People like comics an cartoonists.


Another show that is just getting some attention: the Grand Comics Festival which will be held this June 8-9th at Bird River Studios in Brooklyn. The show was put together by Pat Dorian, and will showcase local cartoonists like R. Sikoryak, Andrea Tsurumi, Blaise Larmee, Meredith Gran and so on, in a studio set-up. Sounds good to us. Check out the above website for more info.

MoCCA Awards of Excellence Winners 2013 and show wrap-up

Naked honesty: I’m too wiped out from this weekend’s MoCCA Festival to write much about it.

It was a blast.

But here are the winners of the inaugural MoCCA Awards of Excellence, as chosen by judges Karen Berger, Gary Groth, Nora Krug, David Mazzucchelli, and Paul Pope.

I had to jot them down and maybe the PR with all spellings will have gone out by now but as I wrote them down they are:


Kim Ku for Ghost Hotel. here is a short video of Ku and her award.


Andrea Tsurumi (profiled in our 24 Hours of Women Cartoonists here) for her new work, which I didn’t get the title of!


Jane Mai — also profiled in 24 Hours of Women Cartoonists.


Gregory Benton for B+F which I called “the book of the show.”


Kenan Rubenstein for Last Train to Old Town.

Honorable mention:

Nick Offerman and Simon Arizpe, the latter for his amazing pop up comics.

The winners are all incredibly accomplished, most newish on the scene, although Benton is returning after a decade long break from comics.

I’ll have a more detailed write-up on the show later but for now suffice to say that it was impeccably run, everyone was smiling, and all of the logistical problems that plagued old shows seem to have been cleared up by the new showrunners at the Society of Illustrators. If you want to read more about it, Johanna Draper Carlson called it “the best ever MoCCA Fest,” and Daryl Ayo Braithwaite was similarly complimentary — his posts lists all the improvements made this year like booth backdrops, tablecloths, signage and and on-site cafe. but this gets to the heart of it:

Comics is a hard business and even harder when the infrastructure is not supportive of the practical needs of the people in this business. 2013′s MoCCA Art Festival felt like a success because it sought to improve the morale of the community that uses the festival. I hope that the Society of Illustrators continues to move the MoCCA Art Festival in the direction that they’ve steered it.

The Armory is a huge, old building full of guns and mold. It is not climate controlled and can be too hot or too cold; it’s not a naturally hospitable environment. However this year’s show used signage and amenities to make it an attractive place that you wanted to hang out in. Even better, the art display in the back of the room—with treasures taken from both SOI and MoCCA holdings and including Roy Crane, Milton Caniff, Jillian Tamaki, Marie Severin, Peter Kuper and many others—was worth the price of admission by itself and set the scene for a show of srtists and creators. My only regret is that the art show wasn’t better publicized. There were some small glitches like this, but no one was complaining this time out, and many who remained skeptical right up until show time were won over by the tremendous efforts that went into this year’s event.

It’s too soon to say if the show will return to the Armory next year. While everyone seemed to feel the show was back on the right track, no one was quite sure what to do next to improve it even further. Some spoke of a new venue; others of a juried show. I’m glad I’m not in charge of figuring out which idea to prioritize; however I feel pretty certain that after resting up the SOI crew, led by Anelle Miller and the two Kates, and the steering committee, will have some solid ideas and the ability and resources to pursue them.

Social note: the closing night party co-hosted by comiXology Submit and The Beat was a smash, if we do say so, with dozens of folks enjoying a free pint courtesy of comiXology, and talking and jamming on comics late into a school night. Comics people are the best people yet again.