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Robert Boyd on Reporting Manga News
posted December 21, 2004

Robert Boyd
via the Internet

You asked, "I'm still curious that if manga has been the story three years in a row now, why are the particulars of American comics industry maneuvers more worthy of analysis than the specifics of manga company strategies?"

I want to propose a couple of answers.

1. Inaccessibilty of the creators. One thing about comics reporting about U.S. comics is that there is a lot of contact with the creators and secondarily with the editors. The artists are often the newsmakers themselves, leaving this book, complaining about this company, signing an exclusive, etc. Whether it's alternative comics or mainstream, there is a real strong focus on the creators.

We don't have that ability with the creators of manga. No one called up Akira Toriyama and asked him about Dr. Slump when Viz announced it last week. But this is an important series that was a huge hit in Japan and was what Toriyama did prior to Dragonball and Dragonball Z. Therefore it should be a big story. If Toriyama were an American artist, he'd be talking about Dr. Slump on every news site. Because the creators are in Japan (and also because the work is often quite old by the time it gets to the U.S.), there's a disconnect. Even if you could get Toriyama on the phone, he probably wouldn't be able to talk with ease about the manga publishing scene in the U.S. -- whereas Mark Millar or Brian Bendis can and will talk about the American comics publishing scene.

2. Inaccessible fanbase. I think it should be obvious that the fans of manga are not the fans of American comics, although the two groups overlap. When you see a 12 year-old-girl sitting in the aisle at Borders reading Kodocha, you know you aren't looking at a reader of The Comics Journal or Newsarama or Pulse or CBG. Furthermore, even if you could reach that reader, would she care very much about the ins and outs of the manga business. I remember when I was younger reading The Comics Journal, I was flabbergasted that they had so many stories about distributors. I couldn't imagine who wanted to know this arcana. I feel differently now, but I can see how it may be that a lot of manga fans probably just don't care about most industry information, even if they could get it.

This will change as more American manga becomes successful -- giving fans more news access to creators and giving fan-creators more of a reason to be interested in the industry.