UNDERTOWN, the OEL/OGM manga by Jim Pascoe and Jake Mylar will be the lastest syndicated strip for Tokyopop, as this press release reveals. The book has also been picked up by Scholastic for their book club.

If the first name that comes to mind when you think of Sunday comic strips is Peanuts, you haven’t been tuned into the manga revolution that has been drawing kids back to the funny pages.

Jim Pascoe announced today that his original English-language manga UNDERTOWN will be the new property running in TOKYOPOP’s syndicated slot starting this Sunday, January 6, 2008. Since 2005, TOKYOPOP has provided a rotating selection of manga to Universal Press Syndicate, which distributes comics and columns globally to newspapers.

Over 50 papers plan to carry Undertown, including the Los Angeles Time, Denver Post, Vancouver Sun and Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Created and written by Jim Pascoe, Undertown is the story of Sama, a boy on the verge of ‘tweenhood, who knows that the answer to saving his father lies in a strange world under his bed. Pascoe paired with Jake Myler, whose unusually grand, audacious style complimented Pascoe’s dark mindscapes. The two collaborated for 14 months on the coming-of-age fiction fantasy.

“I wanted to create family fare … but with an edge,” Pascoe said. “My long-standing experience in noir fiction combined with my passion for creating content for ‘tweens led me to a magical place.”

Scholastic Books agreed. Late last year the publisher of Harry Potter bought the rights to produce their own edition of Undertown, set at a lower price point specifically for their book club.

“Undertown is unique from our past newspaper offerings in that we plan to run the story from volume one, unedited,” said Jeremy Ross, Director of New Product Development for TOKYOPOP. “We are looking to this property to take our newspaper presence to the next level.

The timing of this launch has a lot of meaning for Pascoe. Two years ago his father — like the father in Undertown — was put on the list to get a heart transplant.

“Last week was the two-year anniversary of my father’s successful transplant surgery,” Pascoe said, “and the syndicated strip appears in papers the day before his 61th birthday. I believe in magic and miracles, and I hope that readers can experience some of this wonder in Undertown every Sunday.”