ICv2 has its annual interveiw with Paul Levitz up in four parts, including his thougths on weekly comics, manga and more, with a few bonus comments from vp Stephanie Fierman. A few callouts:
On the changing audience:
It smells to me like the number of human beings who are regularly reading graphic novel formats in this country is now larger, or about to be larger than the number of human beings regularly reading the periodical formats. I think that’s a very interesting transition, because that has never been true before.
I think the weekly is kind of in the same list in my head. I’ve looked for 20 years at the consumer who comes into the comic shop every week and said, ‘There ought to be some combination of content and format that can take advantage of that weekly pace and make it work.’
Action Comics Weekly was a notable failure. The creative format we used in Superman books for a bunch of years under Mike Carlin where the stories flowed week to week to week was a more successful version of it, a subtler one because it wasn’t labeled as a weekly, but it still was an attempt to do that. It’s very difficult to work creatively and never expanded much beyond that to a wider range.
The common characteristics are that we’re focused in on is the range of manga that is fiction, that is compatible with what we see as one of the mainstream audiences for manga at this point, either the girls’ titles or the men’s action/adventure or science fiction/ fantasy stuff. We’ve looked at some titles that were nonfiction, we’ve looked at titles that were at a wider creative range. We haven’t yet felt that we’ve had enough strength to do that in the market.
We probably have a more limited range of what would be at the far edge of R-rated to X-rated content than some publishers. We don’t want to do material that is beyond the range we’d publish ourselves in our own lines. That affects the range that we look at as well. The Japanese culture is comfortable with any number of things in manga that American audiences are not necessarily comfortable with. We’re probably not going to be the company that is going to push the limits to the extreme there.
The pacing that you identify is certainly a piece of it. The level to which emotional acting is used in the characters is part of the power. How motion takes place. Underneath all of that, beyond my Iliad illustration, when I sit and talk to manga editors in Japan, they begin talking about a very different point of view in what makes a good story — different human characteristics they think drive story than I learned in an English lit class 30 years ago.
I think all of this will synthesize in some fashion. We will have people wanting to tell different types of stories and wanting to tell them in different ways. Some of the projects that we have in development for next year are, in part, steps along that path. I don’t think it’s anywhere near where that synthesis will end up, but it is creative work that probably wouldn’t have happened that way if it hadn’t been for the influence of manga in this country. The writer and the artist are setting out to tell a different story.