Word is going around that LA manga publisherToykopop has laid off several more people — including editors Lillian Diaz-Przybyl and Troy Lewter. The staff is now reduced to a mere handful of people — including owner Stu Levy and publisher Mike Kiley.
Although a giant and founder of the American manga boom with their authentic right-to-left manga, Tokyopop has been downsizing significantly over the last few years. The moves come just as the company had launched its “America’s Greatest Otaku” TV show on Hulu, and it had recently announced several new manga licenses, as well.
Diaz-Przybyl is particular had been a standout at the company over the years, helping introduce many creators in the amazing wave of talent in the “Original English Language” or OEL manga line. Just a few days ago she blogged about how manga titles get canceled before they are finished.
We contacted Tokyopop for comment, but email for the last PR person we talked to there bounced back.
UPDATE: Lots of Twitter talk about this. Managing editor Asako Suzuki, who previously worked at DC’s CMX imprint, was also laid off.
Freelancer Daniella Orihuela-Gruber has been tweeting all afternoon about the shake-up. She reports: “There’s still Cindy Suzuki and a managing editor, but now the rest of editorial and most of design and production are freelance.”
Tokyopop has seen lots of waves of layoffs before, the last one about a year ago, when previous marketing manager Marco Pavia left, among others. According to Orihuela-Gruber, “Before Nov. 2008, it was a 100-person company. Afterward it was more like 30-50. Now it’s like 20-30 or something.”
Meanwhile, someone is still manning the Tokyopop Twitter feed, tweeting:
A lot of great titles are coming out this month, or even this week! Which titles will you pick up?
Thank you, Ed. We appreciate it. RT @edsizemore: Stay strong @TOKYOPOP! I’m rooting for ya!
However, company founder Stuart Levy seemed to be already moving on to something else with this tweet:
Wow #GDC2011 is blowing my mind. Why have I been stuck in such an old-school, out-of-touch industry for so long?! (yes I mean books!)
and then vowing to tell the whole story to PW’s Calvin Reid:
For all of you who keep analyzing, tweeting, talking, maybe I’ll just give Calvin the TRUE STORY so then you’ll know.
Johanna has more commentary and reportage.
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.