§ While many folks were worried that Marc Weidenbaum’s departure from Viz meant their original manga program was on hold, all indications — including the fact that they are hiring an editor — are that the program is still going forward. So, good news there.
§ Meanwhile, news that US manga sales dropped 17 percent last year have many people talking and examining, including David Welsh, who sums up current trends and developments. Perhaps his most worrying finding? No NEW manga mega-hits.
§ Chris Butcher continues to unpack recent Diamond developments, including the fact that they will no longer carry some 1018 individual volumes, including critical darlings like Drifting Classroom, Golgo 13, Vagabond and Phoenix. Butcher’s reaction is mild:
Here’s where I editorialize: Are You Fucking Kidding Me? I don’t think much else needs to be said. This move is, frankly, unbelievable. I knew about this when writing my post about the Diamond minimums and didn’t really realize it hadn’t been made public yet, it certainly informed my post, specifically my assertion that Diamond Comics Distributors can no longer effectively distribute comics…
§ HOWEVER, Brian Hibbs responds with what some may regard as harsh truths:
I think that most of us can agree that DRIFTING CLASSROOM was the big “wait, what?!?” on the Diamond de-listing list — thems some fine comics.
But when I search for DRIFTING CLASSROOM on B&T’s inventory, for their west Coast warehouse (they have four: East, West, Midwest, and South) this BOOKSTORE FOCUSED distributor only has inventory on hand for two volumes, and their thirty day demand for ANY of the eleven volumes is… wait for it! ZERO COPIES.
Same thing for GOLGO 13.
Same thing for Tezuka’s PHOENIX, pretty much — 2 of the volumes have single copy demand, wow, big seller.
The secret reality of things is that a huge chunk of things that YOU like, or maybe even things that Butcher or me could sell a bit… don’t sell at all well out in “the real world”
While we can’t fault Hibbs’ pragmatic journey into fact-finding, it’s extremely frustrating that hugely entertaining titles like the four mentioned above — all of them satisfying chunks in the truest sense which would, in a sane world, be the backbone of a lasting backlist for older readers — have failed to get any kind of afterlife in the US. It’s really sad. If just a few of the “event junkies” out there could somehow be given any of these books in an unprejudiced setting — perhaps in some Folgers-like taste test with the names Geoff Johns and Oliver Coipel put on the cover — we think a few of them would be won over. The poetic artistry of Inoue, the bone-jarring horror of Umezu, the rich storytelling of Tezuka, the bold adventurism of Saito — these are the things that makes comics great. For a long time, folks have been wondering if all the manga reading kiddlets will grow up and convert to older material — so far, the conversion rate seems to be low, alas.