Well, it turns out that Tokyopop wasn’t really dead…it was just resting. Since the manga pioneer closed up its LA office nearly two years ago, there have been eyelid flickers like a POD program for some popular ongoing manga and back issue sales via Right Stuf, creators reprinting or finishing their OEL books at other publishers, and the continued, thriving existence of the German branch of the company. Now, Brigid Alverson sums up all the activity on the company coming back to life with a relaunched website and online sales. Its STILL just a shadow of its’ former self: no new Japanese licenses or back issues, just the OEL and a few US licensed titles. And controversial owner Stuart Levy explained what’s going on at Anime LA last week:
What does all this mean? Tokyopop CEO Stu Levy was at Anime LA last weekend, and in the Tokyopop panel (liveblogged here by Mike from Anime Diet) he explained that Tokyopop never actually went bankrupt but instead became a “virtual company.” He began rebuilding the company in 2012, and Nerdist is now hosting the website. Levy said that Japanese publishers are “reluctant” to go along with the print-on-demand system, but Gentosha, the publisher of “Hetalia,” is the most amenable. Tokyopop published volume 3 of “Hetalia” as POD and is currently negotiating for the rights to volumes 4 and 5.
While Tokyopop’s business model grew increasingly erratic over the years, there’s no denying that it founded a whole culture of readers and otaku, who have been eager for its return. So, a new, hopefully more sensible chapter begins.
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.