§ Japanator weighs in on the Kodansha mystery with a pretty unequivocable Rumor squashed: Kodansha not making a move into the US market, based on a conversation with Ali Kokmen of Del Rey Manga.

After a bit of a laugh at it, Ali told me that it was totally false. He was at BEA, and heard nothing of Kodansha’s move, and when the rumor hit that Kodansha was coming in, Del Rey had someone in Japan setting up new Kodansha licenses for 2009 and 2010. So, that would seem to be a rumor that got busted.

Unless of course, I’m going to be proven wrong, and just need to “wait and see.” The biggest indication towards this whole rumor being true, in my mind, was the massive pullback of Tokyopop’s titles. But, that’s just to keep themselves from losing more money through cannibalization.

Quashed? Well, er, yes and no. We keep hearing rumours of Kodansha getting into the US market from reliable sources not named after an HP Lovecraft character, which is not exactly the same rumour as Kodansha pulling all its licenses from Del Rey and so on. We’ll just put a big question mark next to this one for the time being…there’s definitely more than a surface ripple here.

§ ICV2 sits down with former Tokyopop publisher Mike Kiley for more info on the restructuring (note: Kiley is still with TP, but his new position hasn’t been named yet.)

At a fundamental level, we wondered about the reasons for the corporate reorganization into two business units, and asked why two lines of business led to the decision to split into two companies. “I think the most immediate and practical answer is that we wanted to set things up in ways that would very clearly and definitively allow those businesses to focus on what they need to do to succeed,” Kiley responded. “The goals in each company are different and the achievement of those goals is more realistic, more possible if everyone working in each of those companies is very clearly focused.”

Added bonus: this interview with Kiley is the first time we’ve ever heard the term “rightsizing” used to mean “downsizing,” which itself means “layoffs or cuts.” Truly corporate euphemisms are a wonderful, wonderful thing. We’d like to attend the seminar where they invent them some day.

§ Bonus Tpop gossip of the day: Several OEL creators are even now attempting to buy back the rights to their books. Whether they will succeed or not — how much does Tokyopop need to money? — is unknown. One of the reasons for the big restructuring, we’ve been hearing, is massive returns from Borders recently, to the tune of 80% — part of Borders own massive financial woes.

ALSO, don’t expect to see too many exit interviews with Tokyopop editors.

§ MORE rumours! While Tokyopop remains the most chattered about company right now, Wizard is a close second. Everyone told us that Wizard World Phily was horribly attended — one exhibitor told us they made $14 on Saturday, and that was from someone who normally pays for travel expenses at the very least from booth sales. Most people doubt they’ll be going back. Wizard World Chicago , normally their biggest show of the year and arguably the second biggest comics show in the US, is in three weeks and no one seems particularly enthused. There’s been a lot of chatter about whether there will even BE Wizard World conventions next year — one rumor we heard a few times is that Wizard and Reed Exhibitions, which puts on the New York Comic-Con, may be in some kind of negotiations.

Dept. of Newsarama: Sharp-eyed readers may have noticed that Graeme McMillan is no longer blogging for Blog @ Newsarama; he’s devoting himself full-time to i09, Gawker’s somewhat chimerical SF blog. Speaking of Newsarama, the new-look site apparently arrived so suddenly that the [email protected] crew didn’t even know it was happening until the site went offline. Long-time posters are predictably annoyed by the changes, and if you’re a really a masochist, you can read some of the pain here. From our standpoint, anything that makes Newsarama posters have to think just a bit more before they post may be a very good thing indeed.


  1. Wow, fired TP emplyees have to sign paperwork to get their severance pay. Is that even legal?

    Mike Kiley uses the word “rightsizing.”

    I didn’t need any more proof that TP is a bad citizen in the comics community, but for the two people left out there who did, there it is.

  2. I hope something happens with WWChi. That town deserves better than that travesty of a show (I guess that applies to all the WW show towns). The final straw was showing up last year and realizing Quimby’s didn’t have a booth! Chicago needs a MOCCA, APE, SPX or at least a show that isn’t overtly hostile to the people who attend those shows. If Reed can do for Chicago what they did for NYC then many, many fans and creators will be very happy.

  3. “Wow, fired TP emplyees have to sign paperwork to get their severance pay. Is that even legal?”


    It also could have been far worse. Instead of an NDA, it could have been a 2-year non-compete…

  4. I know I used to work there and all, so you can take this with a grain of salt, but I don’t think WW Philly was that poorly attended, particularly considering the fact that I’ve been at almost every Wizard show for the past 3 years.

    Yes, Friday was dead, dead, DEAD, but things picked up Saturday and Sunday was surprisingly lively. It was nothing like an NYCC or SDCC, but for a regional show, it seemed to have a decent number of fans.

    Now, whether they were there to buy comics from retailers and artists or whether they were there just to get Starbuck’s autograph is an entirely different story.

  5. I would love for Reed to take over hosting a con in Chicago. Like actually in downtown Chicago and not by the airport in the burbs.

    In Chicago with all the great museums, restaurants, bars, clubs, hotels, parks, beaches…not out in Rosemont with hotels and corporates offices.

    As a Chicago resident and comic creator I attend WWC every year and was blown away by NYCC. A great con in a great city.

    The city, fans, and creators deserve better.

  6. Heidi,

    I’ve attend WWP every year and the 2008 show was larger than the past few years and the attendance seemed about normal. Unfortunately the WW shows are starting to become a bit of “same old, same old”. With respect to the creators and celebrities that did attend there wasn’t that “must see” personality this year (Kevin Smith where are you when we need you ??) . As for the vendor who only made $14.00 on Saturday, what were you selling ? Artist alley is always hit or miss and most of the discount trades and back issues I searched through were the same overstocks that every other vendor had.

  7. “Lea, that’s pretty much SOP everywhere in corporate America.”

    Which doesn’t mean it’s okay, or shouldn’t be commented on, as you know. I fight and comment where my expertise is.
    I am excited by how comics has changed in the past five years, which makes TP’s sins all the more obvious.
    As other companies begin to publish graphic novels and don’t require surrender of rights, TP will become pleasingly irrelevant. Yeah, the very Platinum of manga.

  8. Yeah, I’m another biased former Wizard dude, but WW Philly *felt* well-attended and well-organized to me. It wasn’t NYCC or SDCC, but frankly, I wouldn’t want it to be.

    That said, I’m pretty much a meat and potatoes super hero guy, so I can’t speak to whether or not the show satisfied the criteria outside of my very specific demo. That said, I had fun (and am not under contract to say so).

  9. Wizard World Chicago , […] arguably the second biggest comics show in the US,

    Honestly, is anyone still arguing this?

    NYCC passed it in Year Two, if not their inaugural. Heck, Heidi doesn’t go anymore- how relevant can it be?

    Because of economics, WWC is the only “big” show I can attend. Until last year I’d gone every year since ’96. Last year, I passed but my friends went. They said it was no different than the previous year. Maybe worse – the loss of Knockers/Sluggers/KickersInc. (whatever that Hyatt sports bar was called) took away a central point in the evening activities.

    This year? Who knows? The move away from SDCC doesn’t seem to have drawn a greater number of guests. The line-up is fair-to-middling. A couple of creative types I’d like to see, but otherwise not my cuppa’. The celebrity list is weak – excepting George the Animal Steele and The Iron Sheik – and yes, I’m counting Todd MacFarlane in that group. Even now, the only programming they list is about Batman Gotham Knight, not that “strong” and “WWC programming” have ever been credible in a sentence together. Add to these factors the rising cost of travel, and you’ve got a big expense for a little return.

    Why should anyone be excited about it?

  10. “From our standpoint, anything that makes Newsarama posters have to think just a bit more before they post may be a very good thing indeed.”

    POW! BAM! BIFF! That’s the best line I’ve heard all day!

    Lea, after a couple of downsizes (they didn’t attend the “rightsizing” seminar Heidi was talking about), I can vouch that that’s the way of the corporate world.

  11. I spoke to a store owner in Jersey on Saturday and he also had the same negative comments to make about WWP.

    I did hear a funny story, from someone else that attended, that the image of the show was seeing Kevin Nash chatting some HeroClix players in one of the hotel bars Saturday night.

  12. i think the 14 buck dealer is in need of having some product…what did he have, a kissing booth?

    the con had a ton of people sat and a decent sunday and the few dealers i know more than made their money back. friday out of the gate was decent…but nowhere as good as the weekend.

    can you let us know what this dealer was selling?? really curious here.

    i did three panels that were standing room only , not a seat to be had. thats a pretty good showing…makes me think people came to the con for the right reasons.


  13. “Lea, after a couple of downsizes (they didn’t attend the “rightsizing” seminar Heidi was talking about), I can vouch that that’s the way of the corporate world.”

    Magoo, I don’t live under a rock or in a bubble. I’ve likewise been in the corporate world and seen how fast management will throw people under the bus to keep their jobs.

    Again, just because this is standard behavior still doesn’t make it right. Or, for that matter, good business. I’m failing entirely to see the point of telling me “this is SOP.”
    Maybe you can explain to me.

    Excusing this as standard assists the other side and normalizes bad business, and suggests that it’s not worth commenting on.
    Or did you miss Tom Spurgeon saying the same thing?

  14. I had posted my thoughts on Wizard Philly if you go to my art blog and scroll down (http://scottneelyart.blogspot.com/) but suffice it to say that Friday was weak and has been weak every year except for the second year Wizard has had the show in Philly. That Friday I did better than the rest of the weekend.

    I’ve done the show every year in Philly and each year is getting worse. I doubt I’ll do it next year. I may just get a pro pass and then walk around and sell original art to people I know in a prearranged setting. It’s not worth the $300 table fee anymore. Saturday was busy but it was a weird vibe that was more low key and subdued this year. Not many kids either again, just the same nerds. Even as I walked into the show this year, I felt like it was the same old, same old and I only do two shows a year! It must be con fatique or the fact that there are too many shows going on now.

    Saturday was busy, and let’s be honest, it’s really a one day show. Get in and get out if you are a pro trying to make the money. Baltimore is a one day show as well. Heroes Con is going that way too (San Diego is garbage and comics and their creators are only 20% of the whole show now). Sunday was dead at Wizard Philly but surprisingly busy around 2-4pm and I made around $100 for the day which is shit in the grand scheme of things. I made my money all on Saturday and I made my goal financially that I was looking to make. Wizard Philly has seen it’s best days I think…it may be time for new blood or some kind of revamping to it.


  15. I sympatheize with that dealer. Be lucky, it wasn’t a disaster like yesterday’s LA Shrine show. I don’t think William Shatner doing a book signing didn’t attract more than sixty or seventy-five people. He was in and out of the building within fifteen minutes.

    I only made a $5.00 selling two copies of my new book.

    If it wasn’t for that damn porno convention five blocks away…

    But if you had a choice – which would you rather see? Thousands and thousands of wall to wall adult film stars or goddamn Shatner’s toupee that makes your skin crawl?



  16. Plus, it proves that the back issue market is in the toilet. There were TONS of $1 bins and $.50 cent bins of comics all over the place not to mention $5 trades and $10 hardcovers. You could have gotten a run of Ultimate Spidey trades for $2 bucks a pop!! There were major deals to be had if you were looking for books. Sadly as a inversed idea that if you want to resell your books and think you’ll get top dollar for some book, you sure won’t. The market is dead. There also were a TON of toys as opposed to comics again this year. I saw it as 60-40%, toys to comics, and little Manga to be had. I took a friend of mine with me as a guest so he could get in for free and he only bought 3 manga volumes of some series. That was it! There was nothing else there he was looking for. It was just sad. NYC Comic Con had more Manga…

  17. Yeah, the dealer friend I mentioned earlier said that there was a dealer he knew that took tons and tons of quarter books. Good Grief, how many of those would you have to sell to make your table fee back?

    Last year, I only did one day of Baltimore, partially because I was dis-spirited over my first (lack of sales), and partially because I saw just about everyone I wanted to see. I also didn’t help that for the first time in years, I was commuting from home (an hour away) and didn’t have a hotel room right next door.

  18. I’m kinda curious what the $14 Dealer was selling too. I had a friend who was selling knit hats and made back her table money and then some. She wasn’t charging enough for her husband’s liking either.