As I noted a few weeks back, Tokyopop, the company that came in changed comics and then crashed and burned, suspending publication for the most part back in 2011, is coming back as announced on a panel at Anime Expo with plans to begin publishing again in 2016″ announced by founder Stu Levy.
The company is seeking to license “hidden gems that are not yet noticed” from small or independent publishers.
In addition, Tokyopop plans to publish art books and collectors editions, and will consider light novels.
The company’s once-ambitious media plans continue with 20 properties—including Knockouts and Riding Shotgun— in development and a series of vidoes on the Tokyopop YouTube channel. Other plans include an anime review series on YouTube, “Pop Comics” a sharing app for iOS and Android for community sharing of comics.
This move was met with a mix of curiosity and hostility online which you can see developing in this ANN comment thread. While some former fans hoped for Tokyopop to finish series that were left hanging in 2011, others recalled the past sins of the company and vowed never to give Levy another penny.
If you’re wondering about the sins—which I covered in detail over the years—a tweet from Darryl Ayo sums it up:
TokyoPop can do comics three favors: 1) GIVE back the IP to the creators. 2) pay those creators backwages. 3) Fade Away And Never Come Back.
— Killjoy McCoy (@letsgoayo) July 2, 2015
One of the more interesting things about Tokyopop’s new plans is that when users upload their own comics to the “Pop Comics” app “Users keep the copyright and 100% creative control of their uploaded works.” according to ANN. This was not always the case with Tokyopop, and much of the animus towards the company stems from their publishing history of signing up a lot of original creations by very young creators and refusing to give them the rights back, despite being long OOP (although the rights CAN be purchased back.) Among those creators: Brandon Graham, Becky Cloonan, Felipe Smith, Amy Reeder, Svetlana Chmakova, Rivkah la Fille….yeah kinda a pretty good lineup of people. Most of them don’t even like talking about their Tokyopop experiences any more but a few do:
@royalboiler @emmahouxbois I *think* some bought their rights back. I know the Off*Beats kickstarter mentioned having to do that.
— Ken H. (@LostPhrack) July 3, 2015
I'm not prepared to forgive or support Tokyopop going forward as they don't seem to recognize that they ever did anything wrong.
— Christopher Butcher (@Comics212) July 2, 2015
And yes, there were good people who tried hard that worked at Tokyopop, some of them I count as friends. That doesn't excuse the company.
— Christopher Butcher (@Comics212) July 2, 2015
You can read our past coverage of the company as it happened here. And Brigid Alverson has her own summation post right here. But I’d like to list a few contemporaneous accounts for those who want to revisit history via blog posts.
Tokyopop: Hey, dude, totally bad contract!
Tokyopop: the other side
Yet more on Tokyopop
Tokyopop letter to creators
Yet MORE Tokyopop stuff
Platinum and Tokyopop drama continues
Mystery solved: why would anyone sign that Tokyopop Manga Pilot Program contract?
Pavia updates Tokyopop
More on KING CITY’s move
Tokyopop follow-up: Is Stuart Levy the Charlie Sheen of comics?
Tokyopop updates: Who owns what
Must read: Chuck Austen’s advice to Tokyopop creators: ‘Move on’
Can creators really get their books back from Tokyopop?
Plus, Becky Cloonan on never being able to finish her East Coast Rising book.
The first blog post of 2011, or How Cannonball Joe Quelled the Suffocating Death
There’s lot more if you Google around (god people were so loose lipped back in the day! In this day of FB and Twitter no one says anything!). This is not to say that Tokyopop might not come back with a new resolve and a business plan that’s 2015-ready. But at the very least some acknowledgement of past mistakes and a pledge to do things differently would be a great way to get a fresh start.
Im curious as to the face expressions of the panelist and the audience at this announcement.
Just some quick back-of-the-envelope math: TP paid out more than $2 million in page rates over a very short period of time to creators who were never previously published. Most very young. Much more than half female. I’ll guess that for 80% of them, they haven’t made as much money-per-page since. That was a pretty unique commitment that I don’t see ever happening again.
Moreover, there are a few known publishers who currently pay the same rate (about $100) and take the same rights (50% of at least publishing, sometimes also all media). That’s a terrible deal, but it is not unique to TP. TP’s OEL initiative was a complete failure. Every title lost money (they liked to pretend Dramacon was the one comic that saw a profit). It could have at least been remembered as interesting and ambitious, but the company always stuck to their bad practices–and they have always been blind when it comes to PR.
hope any one crazy enough to be part of the new tokyo pop is smart enough to have a lawer read the fine print of any contract they give for fooled one shame on you fool me twice same on me. we shall see if tokyo pop has been reborned and learned from its mistakes including screwing creators .
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