by Austin Lanari
When “The Biggest Attack on Titan Manga Announcement Ever” panel was announced, including the likes of long-time and super-well-connected editor Jeanine Schaefer, the assumption was that some type of western comics homage to the best-selling Japanese manga was in the works. My personal guess was a miniseries or two from a couple of creators.
The reality is much bigger than that.
In Fall 2016, Kodansha Comics is releasing a 250 page, full-color Attack on Titan anthology featuring stories fromfrom a talented pool of artists and writers with diverse styles including Gail Simone, Cameron Stewart, Afua Richardson, Michael Oeming, Scott Snyder, Paolo Rivera, Faith Erin Hicks, Damion Scott, Genevieve Valentine, Kevin Wada, Ronald Wimberly, Babs Tarr and Brenden Fletcher. New names are being added to the project, with Schaefer pointing out that two more creators whose names she wasn’t yet at liberty to share had agreed to participate just before the panel.
Associate Director of Publishing for Kodansha, Ben Applegate, suggested the idea for an American Attack on Titan anthology a year ago to the Kodansha higher-ups in Japan. To Applegate’s shock, they liked the idea, and the rest leads up to Thursday’s big (Biggest) announcement.
Though I’m sure some fans of the manga or anime are scoffing at this idea, it screams respect for the original material and is a huge step forward for manga in this country.
Some perspective is required here: this anthology is unprecedented. Kishimoto, author and artist of Naruto, created a book with a massive global fandom and over 200 million copies sold worldwide. There is no English anthology of Naruto homages to be found. Toriyama’s Dragonball Z had an anime that shaped a generation of viewing and was essentially the flagship of anime ambassadors to America. No western anthology there, either. Nothing like this has ever been done.
More importantly, it’s not just being thrown together. The talent here is serious and stylistically diverse. One of the most vital things in adapting anything is in offering a novel interpretation. Here, it appears we’re going to see dozens of novel interpretations, both in how these characters, themes, and battles are explored, and, most excitingly, in how Isayama’s world is presented visually.
This project speaks to Attack on Titan’s impact right off the bat. Though some of these artists or writers may have checked out the series after the fact of being asked about the anthology, several creators on the panel admitted to personally enjoying the series prior to being asked to participate in this project.
Again, I think the takeaway here should be that the reach that Attack on Titan has is not itself unprecedented; rather, a lot of pieces that don’t usually fall into place did in this case, adding up to an unprecedented and very exciting project that hints at a continued growth in the international dialogue of comics.
Art above by Michael Oeming