Founded in 1997, TokyoPop was one of the most influential publishers of the Aughts, driving the manga boom in the US as the first publisher to print manga in its original right-to-left format, a move that helped cement its authenticity among young readers. Later on their “original English language manga” line developed an entire generation of young creators working in a manga style, including Becky Cloonan and Amy Reeder Hadley. But it all came to an end in 2011 when the company shut down except for the German office. Owner and founder Stuart Levy went on to make a documentary about the Tohoku earthquake, even amidst continuing controversy about the reversion of rights to creators However there have been flickers of life since then, with some new digital publishing, licensing OEL books like King City to Image, and a TokyoPop-branded newsletter that was part of Nerdist’s adventures in that area.
Since TokyoPop never went bankrupt, it’s entirely possible that Levy can bring it back, as promised on the company’s about page:
Although the road has been rocky for TOKYOPOP of late, you can’t keep a good Robofish down. The company is in the process of reincarnation, with a focus on digital media and Asian pop culture. Stay tuned – the future awaits!
Going to AX or SDCC? Come check out our panels for cool announcements and giveaways!
Thursday, 7/2/15, 12:45PM
LACC Room 409AB
Saturday, 7/11/15, 6:00PM
All attendees will receive a FREE ‘Knockouts’ comic!
Knockouts, above, is a comic based on a film of the same name, to be directed by Leo Kei Angelos, and from what we can glean produced by TokyoPop. The film is still in the concept stages, so obviously this is all part of getting some capital back drop by drop.
On his blog, Levy expanded on whats going on:
However, I’ve been thinking a lot about TOKYOPOP lately so I might as well let you into my mind (a scary place to be!). In a nutshell, I’m really excited about rebuilding TOKYOPOP.
But “rebuilding” isn’t the right word. It’s a convenient word to describe the process we’re going through now, but it’s not entirely accurate. My goal is not to return to the
TOKYOPOP of previous times; after all, what would be the point? The world has moved on, and our contributions at that time were for that world.
No, if TOKYOPOP is to mean anything in today’s world, we have to contribute something relevant now. And I truly believe we can.
Sure, the odds are typically against comebacks. Bands that have passed their peaks; athletes who can’t play like they could when they were younger; actors who can’t open films anymore; brands and businesses that are no longer relevant — all of these patterns are commonplace. But every now and then a true comeback occurs, whether it be John Travolta in Pulp Fiction; Tina Turner in the early 80’s; Apple from almost bankruptcy to mega-brand; or even Marvel from actual bankruptcy to world domination.
I think we can do it.
Hey, even manga evolves, right?
And the key aspect of our strategy is to EVOLVE.
Stirring of life from a warehouse…or a true evolution? Time will tellm but even if there’s no money in comics, it’s hard to leave it all behind.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.