New York City Comic-Con is a whirlwind four-day ride through the world of comics, manga, sci-fi, videogames, pop movies, and is a hub for grand, new announcements and networking among talent, made and indie alike. Rumor at the Javitz Center floor was that the convention – which sold out of all tickets by Friday – hit 100,000 attendees in turnstyle count over the weekend, fast becoming a rival for San Diego Comic-Con’s spot in the sun.
This isn’t surprising, given that just a few of the promotions were Ubisoft’s “The Legend of Zelda: The Skyward Sword”; Marvel’s sneak peek at the “Avengers” movie, with more guests and directors than any other event before; and Del Rey’s yearly epic fantasy author showcase, at which was announced a new steampunk line of stories; and dozens of East and West comic publishers’ new wares, large and small press alike. Yours truly was on site to brave the crowds for manga news, and the name of the game was digital.
As I watched the electronic billboard outside the Javitz Center play ads for the new Batman game, in which the CG was so realistic it was hard to tell that it wasn’t live action, I came to the conclusion that today no project in the geek community can stand on its own, in one medium, without at least reaching out to the media. For instance, I was given a full-color comic adaptation promo of Game of Thrones; videogame tie-in novel sellers handed out pin-up posters of characters using real people as models; and I listened to sci-fi TV writers talk about in-character Tweets and webcasts to go along with “The Walking Dead.” Comic-Con made it readily apparent that trans-media storytelling is being embraced wholeheartedly in geek industries; indeed, multi-platform availability of products in the consumer geek world is a must for a company’s – and perhaps even a product’s – survival. American comics have games and movies, but manga have botched live action movies, limited game availability to the Western market, and little, if any, transmedia capacity beyond anime, since manga titles debut so long after the original Japanese releases. So how to keep up? Well, Viz Media, Dark Horse Comics, Kodansha Comics, and Yen Press had answers to share.
Dark Horse kept a low profile on its manga line during the convention, but assured us that manga is still safe in its heart; currently the company is looking to pick up titles from Tokyopop that had good sales. Some new titles from that search will hit the market as early as the spring, though a tight lid is being kept on which titles are among the lucky. Its pioneering digital manga store, specially made to help search for classic titles vs. new releases, is still going strong.
Kodansha made the biggest visible manga splash during the convention with multiple appearances and signings by guest manga author-and-artist Hiro Mashima, creator of hits Fairy Tail, Rave Master, and the newly Stateside-debuted Monster Hunter Orage. Together with the promotion of their new line of manga and Sailor Moon giveaways, Kodansha’s booth was well-sought by excited fans throughout the weekend.
The Kodansha team also announced during the convention the company’s move into digital, with an in-house-built comic reader app for the iPad, which went live at midnight the Friday of the convention. Additionally, several new books were announced to hit shelves as well, including omnibus re-releases of Genshiken and Kitchen Princess at the end of spring next year, and Japanese bestselling Attack on Titan, a post-apoc sci-fi where giants terrorize the planet.
Viz’s corner booth was a breakwater of fans coming out of the gaming showcase floor, and had exciting news to keep the fans reeled in. Viz highlighted the conversion of all American Weekly Shonen Jump subscribers to digital publication. Known as Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha, the digital distribution will go into effect early 2012 and include the titles Bakuman, Bleach, Naruto, Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, One Piece, and Toriko. The last American print version of Jump will be released in March 2012. Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha’s digital publication will publish content that is only two weeks delayed from the Japanese edition of Weekly Shonen Jump. Now no one has to be behind between Japanese and American releases. Also, fans can get legally licensed, up-to-date releases in a way that supports their favorite authors and the manga community as a whole – a first for the industry in America, and one that has been long-desired. A catch-up for the content skipped between the hardcopy and digital Jump publication will be available to readers digitally, through an initiative called Shonen Jump Digital Warp. More details on that can be found here.
Viz also promoted at the convention its Art for Hope initiative, a digital E-book anthology of anime-style art to raise money for ongoing Japan disaster relief efforts. More information for that can be found here. Kodansha has similarly partnered with another relief effort, the 3/11 Tsunami Photo Project.
Yen Press continued its East-West integrated brand with announcements of manga-style adaptations from the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare, and the Dark-Hunters series by Sherrilyn Kenyon. Clare’s new title is The Infernal Devices, a prequel to her bestselling series. The manga follows American teen Tessa Gray in Victorian London, with a host of well-looking and curiously meaning young gentlemen at her side. Kenyon’s feature manga is a two-volume adaptation of the Chronicles of Nick series, the prequel to the Dark-Hunter novels. The set is titled Dark-Hunters: Infinity. Other licenses announced by Yen are: Puella Magi Madoka Magica (the manga from the buzz anime of the same name), Alice in the Country of Hearts, Until Death Do Us Part, The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan, and Soul Eater: Not.
All in all, a fun time was had at Comic-Con, a lot of fans’ dreams came true, there are new things to look forward to from our favorite publishers, and we are drawing ever closer to the lives depicted in Ghost in the Shell.
Disclaimer: The author of this article worked at the Kodansha Comics booth over the weekend, but in the spirit of friendship and pursuit of good manga, she promises all things described herein are impartial, and impartially cool.