OEL creators are beginning to talk about what’s happening. Rikki Simons:
I haven’t heard otherwise, so I am assuming that ShutterBox is not part of the cut. In fact, we signed our schedule for ShutterBox Book Six last month, which requires that we turn in the first 25 pages by July 5th of this year. This was only surprising to Tavisha and I because we usually aren’t given a schedule for a new book until a few months after we finish the previous book. This is the first time Tokyopop has rushed a schedule to us a full month before we turned in our current project. I suppose this means that this restructuring has been in the works for some time, and that if they were planning to cut our book, they wouldn’t have sent a schedule at all. So we’ll just do as the new schedule says, unless we’re told to stop.
In other news, Tavisha and I signed a two year agreement with GoComics to distribute our old Super Information Hijinks: Reality Check! digitally. The whole thing will be transferred to their site and they’ll also be setting it up for mobile phone distribution. I suppose I should say things like, “we are excited to announce” and the like, but I hate writing up that sort of bloat. I’m never excited about anything unless it’s cute and round and artificially intelligent or on the menu at a Cold Stone Creamery. So I’ll just say, “Should be neato! I hope!”
Honestly, I’m happy this happened. I was expecting bankruptcy by November 2007. Instead, for perhaps the first time ever, Tokyopop has made the right move by cutting back on how much spagetti they throw at the wall to see what sticks. I don’t doubt the turmoil will take several months to settle down and many of us creators will be cut, but from a business perspective, this means that in the long run, they could potentially be better off. They cut back also by deciding not to exhibit at San Diego or Anime Expo which means less time spent going to conventions and more time focusing on actual creative material; it’s the little things that count, and when employees run up a thousand dollar tab just on drinks, that hurts not just the company but the creators as well.
And not only that, but Stu Levy is no longer head of the book publishing division. Doth my heart dare leap for joy? I feel that part of the reason the actual PUBLISHING aspect of Tokyopop has suffered so is that he has his baby now (Princess Ai) to the affect of forgetting to pick up the step children after school. I feel often that we’ve been left on the side of the road in the hopes that we’ll either just disappear or somebody else will pick us up and adopt us.
She goes on to say that the third volume of STEADY BEAT is in the works (above), and she’ll get paid to finish it even if it doesn’t come out. If Tpop doesn’t publish it, she hopes to put it up on the web.
Now, to be honest, I no longer work for Tokyopop. Roadsong is over with book 3 hot off the presses this month, and I’m involved in a new project with a new publisher. All’s well in paradise, you might say.
But you know, it still sort of hurts to see what feels like the entire comics industry heaping scorn on my former publisher, where a lot of my friends work or have projects. Especially when I’ve got no friendly word to defend them with. I’m no fan of the “pilot program” (or whatever it’s called), I’m not fond of the way they treat their creators, and seeing the astounding list of layoffs makes me wince. Oh yeah, and putting up with the constant “OEL/OGMs SUCK, THEY’RE NOT REAL MANGA, NON-JAPANESE LOSERS GO HOME” sentiment hasn’t been a picnic either. I’m tired of feeling like everyone must look down on me for working with Tokyopop. That ain’t the way it should be. I hate being made to feel ashamed of my own accomplishments.
But lemme just say that I’ve made a lot of friends through Tokyopop whom I really love, and it’s exhausting to see them have to deal with with all this crap, too.
MEANWHILE, TP alumna Svetlana CHmakova is working on her own animated series:
My Life Me, a new animated series created by Svetlana Chmakova of Tokyopop’s Dramacon and animation vets JC Little and Cindy Filipenko, is going into production for an eventual fall 2009 release. Fifty-two 11-minute episodes are slated, along with 26 original shorts for mobile and VoD platforms. The target audience is kids 8-12.