Manga industry update

200902170322§ While many folks were worried that Marc Weidenbaum’s departure from Viz meant their original manga program was on hold, all indications — including the fact that they are hiring an editor — are that the program is still going forward. So, good news there.

§ Meanwhile, news that US manga sales dropped 17 percent last year have many people talking and examining, including David Welsh, who sums up current trends and developments. Perhaps his most worrying finding? No NEW manga mega-hits.

§ Chris Butcher continues to unpack recent Diamond developments, including the fact that they will no longer carry some 1018 individual volumes, including critical darlings like Drifting Classroom, Golgo 13, Vagabond and Phoenix. Butcher’s reaction is mild:

Here’s where I editorialize: Are You Fucking Kidding Me? I don’t think much else needs to be said. This move is, frankly, unbelievable. I knew about this when writing my post about the Diamond minimums and didn’t really realize it hadn’t been made public yet, it certainly informed my post, specifically my assertion that Diamond Comics Distributors can no longer effectively distribute comics…


§ HOWEVER, Brian Hibbs responds with what some may regard as harsh truths:

I think that most of us can agree that DRIFTING CLASSROOM was the big “wait, what?!?” on the Diamond de-listing list — thems some fine comics.

But when I search for DRIFTING CLASSROOM on B&T’s inventory, for their west Coast warehouse (they have four: East, West, Midwest, and South) this BOOKSTORE FOCUSED distributor only has inventory on hand for two volumes, and their thirty day demand for ANY of the eleven volumes is… wait for it! ZERO COPIES.

Same thing for GOLGO 13.

Same thing for Tezuka’s PHOENIX, pretty much — 2 of the volumes have single copy demand, wow, big seller.

The secret reality of things is that a huge chunk of things that YOU like, or maybe even things that Butcher or me could sell a bit… don’t sell at all well out in “the real world”


While we can’t fault Hibbs’ pragmatic journey into fact-finding, it’s extremely frustrating that hugely entertaining titles like the four mentioned above — all of them satisfying chunks in the truest sense which would, in a sane world, be the backbone of a lasting backlist for older readers — have failed to get any kind of afterlife in the US. It’s really sad. If just a few of the “event junkies” out there could somehow be given any of these books in an unprejudiced setting — perhaps in some Folgers-like taste test with the names Geoff Johns and Oliver Coipel put on the cover — we think a few of them would be won over. The poetic artistry of Inoue, the bone-jarring horror of Umezu, the rich storytelling of Tezuka, the bold adventurism of Saito — these are the things that makes comics great. For a long time, folks have been wondering if all the manga reading kiddlets will grow up and convert to older material — so far, the conversion rate seems to be low, alas.

Comments

  1. Tommy Raiko says:

    “For a long time, folks have been wondering if all the manga reading kiddlets will grow up and convert to older material — so far, the conversion rate seems to be low, alas.”

    Is it possible that those manga-reading kiddlets *have* converted to older material, just not older manga material? I mean, all those new readers who are keeping WATCHMEN and KILLING JOKE at the top of the best-seller lists have to be coming from somewhere, right?

  2. Inoue’s drybrush trailing sumi guided action lines… masterful.

  3. hcduvall says:

    Well, at least for Inoue, perhaps Viz itself isn’t supporting it in favor of the Vizbig editions? I don’t know how it did, but I imagine that if Cat Eyed Boy did well, Drifting Classroom could get a reissue as well.

  4. Charles Knight says:

    “If just a few of the “event junkies” out there could somehow be given any of these books in an unprejudiced setting — perhaps in some Folgers-like taste test with the names Geoff Johns and Oliver Coipel put on the cover — we think a few of them would be won over.”

    Indeed, the great unwashed constantly need their betters to direct them in their reading choices. Why just the other day, I saw some street urchins listening to that Hippy hop music, I tried to explain to them the virtues of Alessandro Scarlatti but to no avail. Next time I call them junkies and hopes that has the desired effect.

    When will the masses learn to like the entertainment that has moral worth?

  5. I was very surprised and pleased to hear anecdotal evidence from Robin Brenner at NYCC that her library’s teen manga readers ARE making the crossover to other kinds of comics… but the surprise came from never hearing that story anywhere else. :/

Speak Your Mind

*