Yep, it was true, Marvel and Del Rey announced a small — four book — but brainy venture. A shojo manga version of the X-men written by Raina Telegemeier and Dave Roman with art by Anzu, and a Wolverine shonen manga written by Antony Johnston. Both series are planned for Spring 2009 and will run for two volumes. Both will reimagine the characters for a YA manga audience, while keeping the elements that have made them so popular.

Below are some of Anzu’s VERY preliminary character sketches for the X-men. Wolverine is positively bishonen — it’s our understanding that he won’t be appearing in the shojo X-men book, however we missed the very start of the panel so we may be wrong on this.

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Official PR in the jump.



Marvel Entertainment and Del Rey Manga, an imprint of Ballantine Books at the Random House Publishing Group, announced today plans to publish two new manga series based on Marvel Entertainment’s highly popular X-Men series.

The manga, created with the cooperation and consultation of Marvel editors, will take the classic characters from the X-Men series and re-imagine them in a manga style. The first project, scripted by the husband-and-wife team of Raina Telgemeier (writer and illustrator of The Babysitter’s Club graphic novels) and Dave Roman (creator of the comic Agnes Quill), will focus specifically on the X-Men team. Indonesian artist Anzu will illustrate the two-volume series, which will go on sale in Spring 2009.

It’s the X-Men as you’ve never seen them before, with the storyline fashioned as a private school shôjo comedy. (Shôjo manga is aimed at girls and often covers popular subjects such as comedy, romance, and drama.) As the only girl in the all-boys School for Gifted Youngsters, Kitty Pryde, a mutant with phasing abilities, is torn between the popular Hellfire Club, led by flame-throwing mutant Pyro–and the school misfits, whom she eventually bands together as the X-Men.

A second manga series, to be published in Spring 2009, follows the adventures of Wolverine, a breakout member of the X-Men team known for his attitude and unbreakable adamantium claws.

Dallas Middaugh, associate publisher of Del Rey Manga, says, “The X-Men are some of the most well-known characters in the world, and it’s the strength of those characters-along with strong and unique storylines-that make the X-Men a perfect match for the manga form. It’s an amazing opportunity, and we’re eager to bring new interpretations to the fans through the prism of manga.”

The X-Men made their comics debut in The X-Men #1 in 1963 and have since become a mainstream pop culture phenomenon with the development of an animated television series, several video games and a blockbuster live-action film trilogy.

Ruwan Jayatilleke, Vice President of development of Marvel Entertainment, Inc., said “Del Rey Manga has been an innovative force in the manga landscape—consistently growing the medium and breaking the boundaries of print. We have found a partner who will bring the X-Men and Wolverine into the fastest growing segment of graphic fiction, with superior storytelling and visual fireworks. Comic book fans and manga readers have much to look forward to.”

Manga, the Japanese term for comics, is a Japanese cultural phenomenon that accounts for nearly half of all the books and magazines sold in Japan. Read by men and women of all ages, manga covers a wide variety of themes including adventure, romance, fantasy, and more. Manga has experienced incredible growth in the US and Canadian graphic novel market in the past few years. According to industry source ICv2 manga sales reached between $170 million and $200 million in 2006.

1 COMMENT

  1. Some manga fans are pessimistic about this. Marvel has two strengths: a history of exploiting whatever is popular at the time, and skill at creating alternate versions of their 616 characters.
    The Uncanny X-Men was once a popular title among female readers. I think it will succeed, perhaps even with fanboys. Other Marvel characters might require more revision.
    Let the speculation begin! Which characters would you mangafy, and how?

  2. Mangafy? Anything selling less than 100,000 copies per month.

    Time to get them sales numbers up where we can count em.

    Next step: get them Marvel mangas into the supermarkets and bookstores in periodical form, where the kids can find them on a regular basis.

  3. I’m gonna say something mildly controversial here and suggest that the presentation is going to trump the content. Are these going to be manga/digest volume or are these going to be monthly comics? Because one of those will sell far, far better than the other. I suppose Marvel could double-dip since the audiences don’t overlap that much, but that would suggest some reluctance to really embrace the possibilities (kinda like DC not allowing any of their franchise characters to appear in new content in digital form on say…Zuda.)

  4. I find it interesting that manga hit mega-popularity not long after Marvel and DC (along with the rest of the western comic community) started really pushing the “comics aren’t just for kids” angle and essentially shut children out. Sure, there are spots of American comics for kids here and there, but manga s far more successfully then the big two are doing right now. That’s not a jab at eastern comics, mind you. Marvel is striving to bring kids back (and you do have to appeals to a juvenile sensibility to do that) and I commend them for it. I just think it’s funny that we’re now turning to the very thing that we drove young readers to, so that we can get them back. I’d also ask this… If it works, then what? Do we pull a bait and switch? Does the whole comic industry gomanga? What’s our ultimate goal here? I know people get pissed when I bring this stuff up, and I’m not trying to stamp out manga or anything, but I’m just putting food for thought out there.

  5. While it throws terror into many peoples’ hearts to think of their favourite characters being Mangafied, this of course could be yet another Universe for Marvel.

    Create Managa Universe versions of the Marvel characters, sell billlions of the things, and merchandise it to death.

    And leave the “real” characters alone, for their usual direct market sales.

    Marvel can grab this Manga wave and (Silver) Surf it into a new form. That is, in plain English, they can create and produce something saleable that is a MORPH between the Marvel House Style and the Japanese “many scratchy lines and big eyes” stuff.

  6. If there was a character I’d love to see mangafied, it would be Magick from the New Mutants…..or toss the rest of the New Muties in there too. She’s got this great back story that’s soap-opera ready, she’s got a fantasy background and possibly some of the coolest powers I’ve seen in superhero comics. Oh, and angst angst angst! Unlimited storytelling potential there.

    But Kitty Pride is a close second. ‘Specially neophyte Kitty. And Longshot as a distant third. But that’s just ‘cuz I love Longshot, and he’s already a bishonen.

  7. while I’m not excited at the idea of another “mangaverse” I do think that stand-alone, non-continuity “manga” titles are a good idea. As for obscure characters I’d like to see “mangafied” I’d say Cloak and Dagger. Take them out of the context of the rest of the marvel U and give them their own, bookstore-market manga volumes and they’d do very well.

  8. Lots of Marvel and DCU characters would work in non-continuity manga stylrd. I’d love to do one, myself.

    And y’all quit harshing on this one. Dave and Raina are both good artists and writers. It is a pretty sure thing this will be a good book, and a fun read.

  9. Hm. Cloak and Dagger. I like the sound of that. Nicely melodramatic, strong visual identity. Good idea. I mean, sure, they get their powers from smoking crack*, but, pfft, who doesn’t?

    The pretty Wolverine makes me sad, though.

    //Oo/\
    * – okay, shooting up. The point remains intact!

  10. Eh, another Marvel Mangafied book. Ben Dunn already did this, and if you want to see a manga Cloak and Dagger, check out some of the old Runaways issues where Take did the pencils.

  11. I don’t much like the doe-eyed Jean Grey (way too much mascara? it looks wrong), but I’m amused by how… un-rugged Wolverine is in those pictures. In a positive way. He looks like something out of a CLAMP manga, jeez. I’d read it in the store, at least. The concept of the piece sounds pretty cool; I always felt the canon origin of the X-Men was… well, kind of boring, and this seems a little more nuanced (also, nice inversion of the standard “opposite sex in a single sex school” manga plot).

    Also, Wolverine being “known for his attitude” is hilarious. i love press releases

    Oh, and while we’re talking Marvel manga (marga? manvel?), I’d just like to take the opportunity to make a noise about Tsutomu Nihei’s “Wolverine: Snikt”. The paperback needs reprinting, the obnoxious ads for the Hulk movie every other page in the original comics make the manga pacing completely unreadable! I need a paperback! waah, cry, bitch, moan

  12. Tinpan: I did do the Punisher with Peter David, and I’d do her again. I don’t care how wrong that sounds.

    Cloak and Dagger are natural for manga. I’d do a Cloak and Dagger shoujo in in an instant.
    Or New Mutants, especially Rahne and Magik.

    In an instant. Just sayin’. It’s a good direction for Marvel, if it’s treated as a chance to include audiences.

  13. Lea, as much as I would love to see you do a Cloak and Dagger or Wolfsbane manga, those are the exact characters I would want to do. Would you mind waiting for me to get discovered as a fresh, up-and-coming writer? No? Well will you at least put Dani Moonstar as a guest star in the Wolfsbane manga?

  14. Who the hell does Johnston think he is?! Wolverine is the SACRED TOTEM OF THE WOLF SPIRIT. THE! WOLF! SPIRIT! Where does he get off turning him into one of those feminized men?! What’s his motto going to be? “I’m the best at what I do and what I do is male escort?!” They SHOULD have hired John Byrne to show these little girl manga readers what Wolvie…er..Wolverine SHOULD look like!!!!

  15. That wolvie pic is a concept drawing for the Dave & Raina X-Men book, not the Johnston Wolvie solo book (which does not have an artist yet.) It’s also a CONCEPT. No art has been finalized.

  16. I like manga… I’m not really a fan or marvel but i do enjoy x-men..
    but for goodness sake this shouldn’t be done o_0;;!!! I’m pretty sure it would be nothing but shite story and a sell-out thing.

  17. I’m still waiting for “Watchmen Babies”.

    As long as this doesn’t effect the original X-Men, I just don’t care. If Marvel wants to experiment with a genre they don’t understand, it’s their money.

    Seriously, I’m still waiting for “Watchmen Babies”.

  18. Just…no. What the hell have you done with Wolverine? You can make him ‘sexy’ without turning him into a prepubescent boy.

  19. This is just another cheap ploy for Marvel to try and hook a wider, specifically female, audience, without even trying to understand their target audience at all, and so instead coming across as half-arsed and patronising. They’d do better getting the licences to some actual damn manga and releasing them in English under a sub-label than wasting time with this sort of silliness.

    Sure, this might hit a few very young girls who have just read Angel Sanctuary, but what about the hardcore female manga readers with the disposable incomes to really make an impact on the sales? They’re too well-read to fall for this cheap imitation of the genre they enjoy, which has been the problem with female-orientated ESL manga in all its forms since the US decided to jump on board the ship. And still marketing it as “YA” and “shoujo”, when the attraction of manga to Western audiences from the get-go has been the fact it caters to all ages and genders in society? Not a smart move. This sort of rubbish just puts the genre in the West about 20 years behind (both in writing and in art) what’s being released in Japan right now, and what the hardcore big-spending women are importing themselves and stealing off the internet and loving here and now.

    Maybe, if Marvel really wants to attract some young female audiences (or at least their wallets), maybe it should start writing some decent young female superheroes in it’s normal range. It was something it wasn’t terrible at, a long time ago, it’s just now it’s lost it’s way and has forgotten how to address a female audience in a form that isn’t patronising or downright insulting.

    Unless Marvel’s also going to release the required tie-in love game with the clear harem manga that this is. ;)

  20. Oh, I see. So I wasn’t an existing demographic for the NORMAL comic books, but now that they’ve prettied it up, boy howdy, I’m going to shell out my cash! I was hesitant to spend my money before. Now I’ll be falling all over myself to get this!

    Pull the other one, Quesada.

    You want to capture the female market? Write believable female characters, hire female writers and artists, and let it rip. Stop marketing what you think young women want and, you know, ASK THEM. Simply changing the aesthetics is only going to drive dedicated female comic book readers (since they are the best source of advertising by word-of-mouth to other girls, who knew) farther away. Stop patronizing and assuming the nature of the demographic. Stuff like this only convinces me that no research is really being done.

    I don’t want sparkles. Try again.

  21. omg I hope they Rogue and Gambit I mean they are so classic and I could just see Rogue in cute knee highs and Gambit is just perfect enough said if they don’t appear I’ll still read it *-* but I’ll still be heartbroken

  22. The problem with the “pop” manga style is that it is not sufficient enough in itself to show character. Hence, you have a Wolverine who looks like some anorexic emo-punk kid who hasn’t even graduated from puberty yet.

    Not all manga translations are bad though- The guy who drew Wolverine: Snickt! did a good job, and Kia Asamiya did retain the super-hero factor when he drew for X-Men. Personally, I think they should get better artists, those who can actually portray character rather than just say, “LOOK AT ME! I LOOK PRETTY!!”

  23. Oh dear.

    Now my inner manga otaku and my inner comic book geek get to have a Thunderdome battle to decide once and for all who is more disturbed by this. This is going to be difficult, as they’re the same person.
    *has no brand loyalty and will go anywhere there’s decent writing and pretty art*

    Obviously I’ll give them a chance, because I like to think I’m a reasonable chick. Yeah, it’s an obvious outstretched hand for my money, but so what? I’m an anime/manga fan; once you’re hooked you lose all respect for your wallet anyway. Besides, the thought of X-Men as a reverse harem is hysterical – every female-authored fanfic EVER regarding that school seems to fall into the love-quadrangle category anyway, so it’s nice to see them acknowledge that part of the fanbase ! ^_^

    Bishie Logan, however, makes my brain hurt. *taps the artist on the shoulder* Pardon me, sir/ma’am, but *I’m* a female and (mostly) straight manga reader, and I have had a crush on the gentleman in question since I was *five*. Just what about that says “scruffy and masculine = unmarketable to young women”? Have you never read Hellsing? Or, heaven forbid, Lupin III? It IS stylistically possible in this medium to have an attractive male character who isn’t *pretty*, ya know.
    And, did mine ears detect the word “shounen” floating about (not here, but definitely somewhere in relation to this topic)? Seriously? ‘Boys comics’? The repository of youthful optimism and trust in the honour of your friends? And you want to make *Wolverine* the main character?

    *headdesk*

    He’s a “seinen” (intended for guys 17+) character if I ever saw one! Snarky as hell? Check. Chainsmoker? Check. Heavy drinker? Check. Loner (and I mean a REAL loner, not “angsty barely-post-pubescent fangirl bait in ‘edgy’ black clothes”)? Check. Tends to kill people a helluvalot? Check. Still a (semi) decent guy in spite of all this? Check. Hell, make him a priest and you’ve got Genjyo Sanzo of Saiyuki fame (admittedly a ‘josei’ [chicks 17+] title, but also a violent-as-hell crossover success of which aspiring manga-esque writers/artists should take note)! What were you thinking?
    – Crazy-lady rant complete –
    *wanders off to stuff Nick Fury in a closet before they decide to ‘manga-fy’ him, too*