We’re hearing that editorial cuts at Tokyopop include Rob Tokar, Luis Reyes, Paul Morrissey, Hope Donovan and Tim Beedle. Which means the two editors in charge of the Manga Pilot Program. who were defending it just last week, are now gone. Oops.

We’ve also heard that marketing and sales staff have been cut, rumored to be because Tpop is now using Harper Collins’ sales and marketing staff.

1 COMMENT

  1. Heidi, I know that blogs don’t have to adhere to any kind of real journalistic standard, but I do expect a little better both from you and from something written under the Publishers Weekly banner. To make a snide insinuation that Paul and Hope lost their jobs either because of anything to do with the Pilot Program — or worse that they somehow deserved it — is incredibly insulting and flat-out wrong.

  2. Jim, I didn’t read it that way. I interpreted it that TPop just fired the two people left in the room to defend Manga Pilot and now there won’t be anybody else to do it.

  3. I doubt she’s making any kind of connection, other than how completely unexpected the restructuring this must have been to many within Tokyopop. Few would stick their necks out for their boss if they knew they would be let go three days later…

  4. I doubt she’s making any kind of connection, other than how completely unexpected the restructuring must have been to many within Tokyopop. Few would stick their necks out for their boss if they knew they would be let go three days later…

  5. Wow, that’s a lot of talent. Tim in particular was not only a good editor, he was one of the few who embraced the website and used it to talk about the books he was working on. I always enjoyed his blog posts, and I hope he finds another job soon.

    Susie, I’m with you. It’s more like, these people went to bat for their company during a tough time—and were promptly thrown under the bus. Classy move, Tokyopop.

  6. Jim, I appreciate your defense of Morrissey and Donovan — I don’t know either of them but I’ve heard consistently good things bout most of the editorial staff at Tokyopop so to see so many good people gone is sad indeed.

    However, I think you’re guilty of projecting things that weren’t said here. I didn’t insinuate ANY of the things you suggest, aside from the general irony that two people who just days ago were putting their reps on the line to defend an unpopular programme by the company have now been let go as a reward for their hard work.

  7. JIm, I didn’t read Heidi’s enrty in that way at all.

    This has always been a site combining reporting and opinion — and it’s been always clear which was which. In this story, she never stated or implied there was a cause and effect. The only personal comment she made was “Oops”, which I took as nothing more than an ironic aside — a sort of ‘that’s show biz’, if you will. One week Paul and Hope were the very public face of TokyoPop — and the very next week they were gone.

    I don’t see a characterzation of why they were fired in there.

  8. This is exactly why I HAD been staying out of all this online discussion — because I’m emotionally (and otherwise) investing in this matter, and therefore prone to not seeing things clearly. Please accept my apology, H. … I’ll crawl back to my hole and keep writing.

  9. Jim, don’t crawl anywhere. Hold your head up high for defending good people.

    As for that Kodansha rumor that’s rocketing around the net tonight…haven’t found ANY corroboration yet and believe me, if it had been “announced” at BEA, smeone would have commented on it.

    That said, Kodansha did have a booth there….hm.

  10. Kodansha Intl. is and has been an English language publisher for quite some time; notable recent releases include “A Geisha’s Journey: My Life as a Kyoto Apprentice” by Kodomo (a nome de plume) and “Izakaya: The Japanese Pub Cookbook” — along with a slate of Japanese Language titles (as in, learning the language), a number of drool-worthy coffee-table-grade art books, and the “Draw Your Own Manga” series of art how-to books (which may be the source of the error and rumor; though the first volume is 4 years old… nothing new here)

    http://www.kodansha-intl.com/

    The deal between Kodansha and Del Rey/Random House is a strategic alliance, and also a two-way street if my hazy memory of old press releases can be taken at face value — I don’t know which RH titles have been translated into Japanese, but if they’re out there at all then Kodansha is publishing them.

    Whatever the deal with Del Rey, Kodansha seems to have kept noted educational and cultural titles off the table, and reserved them for their own imprint. Gacha Gacha, though, is Del Rey’s for as long as they can stomach to publish it.

    Kodansha Intl. titles are distributed in the US by Oxford University Press.

  11. Matt, this has nothing to do with KodanInt. Kodansha apparently announced at BEA that it is starting a brand-new Viz-type vertically integrated *manga publishing* operation and is actively exercising their rights with current US manga licensors to terminate publishing rights to previously licensed manga titles and take over publication themselves. Based on the details of the individual contracts, some publishers will clearly have only a short time to liquidate stock. If Gatcha Gatcha has been licensed in perpetuity, that would be an…unusual…contractual arrangement. I suspect most termination clauses average 6 to 12 months from notification.
    Anyway, this has *nothing* to do with Kodansha International which has always been a completely separate operation in NY, reporting to a different division within Kodansha in Japan, and looks to remain that way.

  12. One cannot link to a presentation made orally in a conference room at a convention. I had heard from Japan of this move by Kodansha several weeks ago but had been asked to keep quiet. However, an attendee at BEA emailed me in shock with news of the announcement, which dovetailed precisely with the info I had and to which the reporting party was not privy. There seemed to be no point in my remaining quiet. As I was not present at the presentation, and no PR of any kind seems to have yet been issued, I chose the word “apparently.” It’s quite reasonable on your part to exercise skepticism until a linkable PR hits the web. However, I have my very excellent sources here and in Japan and it all fits. I am quite interested in the details, however, especially how aggressive they plan to be in transferring titles to themselves. It is not unusual for a Japanese company to make a co-operative agreement with a foreign company, learn the ropes, then strike out on their own. Being the largest publisher in Japan, they certainly do not lack for resources. And they could pick up some knowledgeable, trained, and talented US manga publishing people quite easily right now, couldn’t they?
    Most interesting.

  13. “Kodansha apparently announced at BEA that it is starting a brand-new Viz-type vertically integrated *manga publishing* operation and is actively exercising their rights with current US manga licensors to terminate publishing rights to previously licensed manga titles and take over publication themselves.”

    Everything old is new again. I was talking about Ko and their alliance with DR/RH, and wondering if this was like Shogakukan and Eclipse. Shogakukan published with Eclipse, then broke off and opened Viz, which was always the plan.
    I wonder if the Ko/DR/RH was the same sort of plan?

    Cthulu, you’re right. Now plenty of people with TP experience looking for jobs.

  14. Could one perhaps link to the blogs of others who also attended the oral presentation of, what one must assume, was a public announcement?

    I hate to be the guy arguing on the internet at midnight (local time) but

    strike that. I hate to be that guy. You win.

    –and now, an aside that has no bearing on this now past and as far as I’m concerned absolutely dead discussion of K. and manga and the like.

    The production lead time on books has certainly shrunk in the past decade, but even if one has a finished, typeset manuscript (or, if one one posits a graphic novel, a set of PSD of XCF files, perhaps) but given the current publishing and retail model, there is still a 6-9 month lead time on new books

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/03/books/review/Donadio-t.html?ex=1359867600&en=4b581eac827b59ad&ei=5124&partner=permalink&exprod=permalink

    From the above linked Times article:

    “Chain stores like Barnes & Noble and Borders generally buy books at least six months before the publication date and know about particular titles even farther in advance. Much to the anxiety of midlist writers clamoring for attention, chain stores determine how many copies of a title to buy based on the expected media attention and the author’s previous sales record.”

    So if one had a new manga line (and as noted above, I give: you have your new manga line and it is all that, a bag of chips, and a side of fried chicken) and you were perhaps looking for placement in the major chain stores (I’d call that a given, but you can figure out your own business models) then I’m guessing, it wouldn’t be an “oh by the way” announcement at a trade fair, your would have potentially shopped the idea around at B&N and Borders (combined book sales of around $8 billion last year, and estimated sales of $98 Million in manga — assuming the % of manga sold through B&N/Borders is a constant fraction that directly relates to overall book sales)

    So, just looking at the prospect from a publishing perspective:

    Either Kodansha has been planning this in secret for at least 6 months and has convinced the B&N and Borders buyers to sign on to a brand new company, sight unseen with no sales record, just because it’s ‘manga’

    Or they’re going to screw their current American partners, look for new manufacturers (unless they’ve been printing English manga on Japanese presses in anticipation of this announcement) *and* are willing to wait a half-a-year for the shakedown, whiplash, possible court case, and in the mean time lost sales….

    Well Sure. Makes all kind of sense.

    And while I’m “not arguing things on the internet” — an announcement, almost by definition, is public: again, where’s the link?

  15. I’m not privy to the news “Cthulu” describes, but it does make total sense, and while not a cause of Tokyopop’s woes (they haven’t had any strong new Kodansha titles in years), this rumor is intrinsically tied to Tokyopop’s woes. Manga licensees (like Tokyopop, Del Rey, Dark Horse) are effectively powerless to shape the content. They are wholly at the mercy of licensors to create content that will resonate with the American aftermarket for a Japanese product. Savvy licensing can lead to a stronger catalog, but after 8+ years working in manga, I’m convinced that licensees can’t make a hit. Awareness of the Japanese market via the more hardcore fandom generates the buzz that determines the majority of hits in the US. Most of the hits in the US were hits in Japan (although popularity in Japan sure as hell doesn’t ensure popularity here), and it was the Japanese publishers who built the hit series into what they became. For a while there, the content void made manga licensing a virtual license to print money, but if you can’t control the content, and with the market becoming ever more volatile, being a licensee is not a position for growth. I can understand the motivations for Tokyopop’s schizophrenic changes, even if I don’t always agree with the company’s actions. Through ups and downs, I’ve always tried to support my former employer and current publisher, but damn, if they don’t make it hard at times like this.

    A lot of good friends lost their jobs yesterday, and I wish them all a the best.

  16. This news is sad, but very familiar. (Stu Levy, I hope you’re reading this.)

    Tokyopop as an entity and its brand is not the problem. The geniuses in management — in particular the CEO (who by the way hired his best friend as his second man in charge of the company). You see, Levy never “founded” Tokyopop nor its brand. It had already existed prior to Levy’s messianic arrival as a concoction by someone else who was already dabbling in japanese pop culture products, anime, and manga. It was already a name before Levy made the offer to acquire it, then incorporated it as his own brand, and fused it with his then grassroots magazine and entertainment publication called MIXX Entertainment. (I’d hate to be the guy who sold the rights to the Tokyopop name to Levy as I’m sure, like thee OEL managa creators, he’s seeing his creation go high then debauchered by Levy.)

    Now about the firings and layoff, Levy started going into licensing japanese-made mangas under his new Tokyopop company, which at the time, was a small time operation in one of the UCLA buildings utilizing UCLA college students who were anime fans as his workforce. Were they credited or properly paid? Hell no. In the end, they were all slowly laid off and fired. No thanks given to them. (By the way, Stu, back then you wanted to “bump” and “b-ball” with the employees, and wanted to “deejay” with them, but really you were just plain creepy. A 30+ year old man trying to look and act “hip” just made you look more shady and creepy!) From the tokyopop brand name… to its pacman logo… to the ideas of bringing in the Initial D idea into the US… all of these ideas were by the initial dedicated staff members from the UCLA days… which Levy has notoriously claimed credit for and never given residuals or praise to the former people who deserve the credit.

    Levy, stop being hip… and be more kind to those who work for you.

    P.S. And, really… the old team thought you trying to rap and be “cool” and you doing the Initial rap music… was just plain creepy.

  17. Thanks Chris.

    And yes, in the past year-or-so, I’ve mellowed a bit, but I seem to recall an exchange (on comicsnob) where I mentioned that you could ignore anything I had to say. While I have since come to respect your opinion and insights, and I regret the earlier exchange, in fact: hell, you’re still welcome to ignore or override any of my comments (a special pass for Chris only: the rest of you still have to substantiate your claims.)

    That aside.

    Let me echo Jake Forbes and say, it is indeed a damn shame that so many creative professionals (many of whom no doubt thought they had found a home) are now out of work

    And:

    Even if something happens only in meatspace, and there is no way to corroborate it on the grand internets, and even if a general seal of secrecy is applied and all parties are sworn to not talk about it — in that case I guess the headline I’d expect to see is “Kodansha mum on new publishing initiative; Rumors abound”

    But there would still be a headline, right?

    To date, we have no headlines, no rumors. We just have anonymous comments. At least when I set out to embarrass myself with half-baked arguments and drunken commentary (complete with typos; see above) I put my email and a website addy on it.

    Cthulhu should either come forward with –at a minimum– a link,
    or perhaps keep her own council until the time is right and the whole story can be told.

    Unsubstantiated rumors and a recourse to things ‘heard in Japan’ that one ‘had been asked to keep quiet’ while hiding under an pseudonym just rankles more than a bit.

    I mean, when I pull this crap at least I try to link to primary sources and attempt an analysis…

    Sure, there are things I don’t know because they haven’t been posted. Yeah, fine, a cthonic lord is claiming that “Manga Will Never Be The Same.” It’s the internet, I should accept that there are things beyond my ken — Am I so far out of line asking for at least a *little* corroboration before writing off Del Rey and accepting that all my future Kodansha manga will be released by the Lords Under Dark without wondering, at least once, what their business model is?

  18. I’ve responded to the Blind One on Comics 212. I’m sorry he doesn’t like my nym. Perhaps he’d have preferred “Deep Throat.” After all, there can never be any possible reason to remain anonymous.
    In any case, he will be proven wrong. And I suppose it never occurred to him that Kodansha may have either screwed up on the distribution schedule, or perhaps has a more phased roll-out plan. I’m not exactly part of their high-level planning sessions.
    The announcement at the BEA I was told about remains a puzzle, and my source has not yet replied to my query as to where and when it was announced and why there was no PR. However, my personal knowledge–dating back some weeks–regarding their plans is not up for debate.
    I’m done for now. I should probably not have let myself leak this info on the say-so of a casual comics biz acquaintance, but I felt it would give hope to some of those who lost their jobs that there might be some room for them elsewhere in the near future.
    And I’d like to add a comment to what Mochiazn said: Stu Levy was simply lucky. If it wasn’t for the almost-forgotten Kurt Hassler, who actually got manga into Waldenbooks in quantity and made sure that the company pushed them hard: Mixx would still be Mixx…if that. Hassler is the true father of the manga boom.

  19. I’ve nothing to hide.

    And Blind is my actual last name, not some handle.

    If one were to insist on honesty: Hi, My Name is Matt Blind and I’m a store manager for Barnes & Noble, I work at the Buckhead store (Atlanta’s ‘main branch’) and whenever I post I use my real name, typically with a link to a blog and to my email address. When I speculate about the future of the industry, I note that it’s my opinion, and while I am typically circumspect about my job and associations that’s only because, hell, my blogging might even get me fired.

    Is that enough honesty for you? You just got me fired. Hi, my name is Matt, and because I work for Barnes & Noble and have the temerity to blog about books I might lose my job.

    And I agree with you about Kurt Hassler, for whatever that’s worth.

    When did this become personal? You tried to leak some anonymous rumors about Kodansha, and I attempted to call you on it —

    If you can’t say, you can’t say… but don’t claim authority and anonymity at the same time.

  20. Well, there should be an easy way to confirm or deny that whole Kodansha thing. Somebody from Publisher’s Weekly, from Newsarama, from whereever, call em up and ask. Somebody call those other publishers up and let them deny or confirm that licenses are not renewed and/or lost. And if Kodansha is renting space in LA, somebody somewhere must know. Names must be on a lease. Companies must become incorporated.

    It’s called investigative journalism. You know, the thing that most American journos seemingly can only do if it involves a vagina or a penis in conjunction with a Hollywood celebrity or a politican.

  21. Final comment. My contact has now clarified, saying the information was overheard during a discussion with a distributor and was not a formal announcement, as I had mistakenly assumed. However, since it merely gave me a reason to publicly comment on what I already knew, that’s a minor point.

  22. “My contact has now clarified, saying the information was overheard during a discussion with a distributor and was not a formal announcement, as I had mistakenly assumed.”

    Now that’s convenient!

  23. MochiAzn, I actually know all the original TP people that you brought up. I was an intern turned employee through out their incubator days. A little correction for you, though: We were UCLA students. But the company was based in USC.

  24. Hey all – I’ve worked as a writer with Tim as my editor — he is very professional and easy to work with. I am really depressed to hear he has been cut. I sincerely hope he is snapped up by another company — he is a great, great editor.

  25. It seems to me that Tokyopop has never seemed to be able to get it’s finances straight and budget properly. While I was employed in the offices there a few years back, the threat of layoff hung like the Sword of Damocles over the staff, and we all basically knew we could be canned at any moment (And many of us were.) A year later it happened again. The only surprise in this is that T-Pop went so long between the previous waves of layoffs and this one.

    It’s a shame that so many good people and excellent employees lost their jobs. I’d like to think it’s the effect of the sluggish economy and not bad financial planning, but either way it makes little difference to those affected. I’ve known Tim for years, even before Tokyopop, and he was always quite enthusiastic about working on manga (even the bad ones) and really, and I mean REALLY, enjoyed being in contact with the fans. Paul Morrissey is a great friend, a great editor, and a guy I’d take a bullet for. Luis is one of the most energetic guys on the planet, full of ideas, and a boon to whoever picks him up now that he’s a free agent. I only worked with Hope while she was an intern, but she is a great friend and everyone I know speaks highly of her work. Rob Tokar is probably the guy I learned the most from…he is a great teacher, a humble, easy-going guy and probably my favorite boss ever.

    I honestly don’t know how Tokyopop will function without these talented individuals. Hopefully their loss will be someone else’s gain, because more stable companies like Boom Studios or IDW could really put these guys awesome abilities to use.

  26. This doesn’t surprise me at all. Tokyopop’s CFO has always been a buffoon, and Stuart Levy, aka DJ Milky, has always paid a few friends really well and cut loose the hardworking heart and soul members of his company whenever J.P.’s financial projections are wrong. (Which is YEARLY.) I got out of that sinking ship a little over a year ago, but my favorite part of the annual layoffs were the year that not a week after cutting several integral members of production, Levy was crass enough to post a newspaper article in the company breakroom hailing him as one of the “hot new entrepreneurs” who were millionaires under forty.

    No class. My condolences to those who had the rug pulled out from under them…but I really feel for the ones that are still there, waiting for the inevitable. The beast is dead, but the body’s still thrashing around…

  27. Hearing about TokyoPop letting go of some of their most talented editors is extremely saddening. Hope Donovan was the only reason I was still interested in working with TPop even after the contract for the Pilot Program was released; she was incredibly helpful in helping develop my story idea, and I wasn’t even contractually bound to TPop. Luis Reyes has been working for TPop for as long as I’ve been attending their portfolio reviews, which has been several years. If there’s anyway to get into contact with Hope or Luis, I’ll be the first person to send them my apologies.