SDCC 2013 - Making a Living in Manga: New Trends Worth Watching


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Making a Living in Manga: New Trends Worth Watching offers a short history of original manga/comics publishing in North America, from the rise and fall of "original English language manga" and the emerging trend of artists taking a do-it-yourself approach to publishing and distributing their work when traditional book and comic publishers are shying away from publishing original work by novice creators, especially ones that are influenced by manga.

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  • In the 1990's or so, manga got introduced to North American readers in a big waySailor Moon, Magic Knight Rayearth, Lone Wolf & Cub, Dragon Ball, Akira, Ranma ½ New generation of comics creators (many of 'em female) got turned on making comics inspired by manga
  • In 2002 TokyoPop launched Rising Stars of Manga, a talent search for new comics creatorsThis tries to mimic the Japanese model of finding and nurturing new talent through an open call to amateurs, many that have little to no experience in being published professionally.
  • Around the same time, TokyoPop also published a LOT of "original English language manga" by new creators. Other publishers like Seven Seas, Dark Horse, Slave Labor,Oni Press, etc. also did the same to varying degrees of success.Today, many comic shops are stuck with boxes of non-returnable manga that never sold, may never sell, even at bargain prices. Dominguez-Letelier, owner of Meltdown Comics in Los Angeles once showed me boxes and boxes of leftover manga that he said was only a fraction of what was gathering dust in his warehouse. He eventually held several $1 manga sales that still left him with a lot of unsold product.After having bad experiences with the first manga boom, many comic shop owners now shy away from stocking manga, and publishers are now quite a bit more cautious about taking chances on original stories by novice creators.
  • Webcomics enter the scene, and many creators self-publish this way. Megatokyo is an early example. Starfighter and Teahouse are BL success stories, with substantial fan followings. While many creators host their comics on their own sites, many also post their works on hub sites like Manga Magazine, Bento Comics or
  • N. American manga biz starts decline in 2007 and crashed in a big way around 2010 with the closing of Borders, many publishers, including TokyoPop and CMX close up shop.Compared to comic shops, bookstores were able to return manga to the publisher – sometimes years after publication, and require that the publisher refund them for the unsold books. This lead to many publishers getting financially draining hits to their bottom line when major bookstore chains returned books en masse – this was cited as one of the reasons why TokyoPop ended up closing up their publishing operations in North America. While they have returned to publish a handful of books, they are no where near where they once were, as far as publishing volume and influence in the manga publishing world.
  • Today, while Yen Press, Udon Entertainment, Shifty Look, and VIZ Media's VIZ Kids line offer some paying opportunities to draw stories based on licensed properties (e.g. Soulless, Voltron, Street Fighter, Last of Us (game adaptation by Faith Erin Hicks for Dark Horse)Meanwhile, many western artists who draw in a manga-influenced style have a hard time getting published via traditional comics publishing channels. 
  • Some brave souls have ventured to Japan to attempt to break into the Japanese manga biz. PeepoChoo by Felipe Smith was published in Kodansha’s Morning 2 MagazineJamie Lynn Lano worked as an assistant to Takeshi Konomi (New Prince of Tennis, published in Shonen Jump Magazine)Steven Cummings (Pantheon High, published by TokyoPop) still lives in Japan, and has illustrated two volumes of graphic novel adaptations of the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld for the N. American market. He draws and sells his doujinshi (self-published comics) at Japanese comic shows like Comiket.
  • Where are we now? Many artists are taking matters into their own hands. e.g. starting new publishing or distribution ventures. Getting funding via Kickstarter or Indie Go-GoStarting their own publishing and distribution ventures like Lounak Distribution or Bento ComicsSelling to readers directly via digital storefronts like ComiXology or MangaMagazine, DLSite, MangaReborn, or DMP's
  • Chromatic Press is a new, independent publisher of original comics, prose, and audio dramas in English for women and men across the globe. Based on a digital version of the “manga magazine” format used to publish comics in Japan, Chromatic titles will be serialized in the online, multimedia magazine Sparkler Monthly starting in July of 2013. 
  • Dire Hearts by Christy Lijewski (re:Play)Off*Beat by Jen Lee Quick (first published by TokyoPop, funded by Kickstarter campaign)
  • Awake(Audio drama) Written by Tory Woollcott and Barabara, directed by Rebecca Scoble, and illustrated by Angela ShamTokyo Demons by LianneSentar and rem (Soulless)
  • Founded in early 2012, is an open ecosystem of creators and readers who are passionate about manga and comics. The digital publishing site acts as a platform to support creators and connect them to readers who are looking for unique, eclectic and professional content. With more than 55,000 registered users, takes input from readers to create a curated reading and shopping experience that fosters higher-quality content.
  • Examples from Manga Magazine
  • Examples from Manga Magazine
  • is a creator-owned, creator-built anthology site showcasing little-seen works by comics pros. Read all the comics you want online for free! Then collect your favorites into a book which is automagically sent to for printing and shipping. Currently with 18 stories from 9 creators including never-seen new work from YALSA's 2010 Great Graphic Novels for Teens list creator Svetlana Chmakova (Dramacon, Nightschool) and Queenie Chan (The Dreaming, Dean Koontz's Odd Thomas), has grown from a fun idea into a community we're very excited to share with the comics-making, comics-reading community!
  • Holmes and Peter Pan are two anthology collections from Bento Comics, featuring short stories by different artists on literary themes.
  • Examples from Bento Comics
  • Since 2008 eManga has been the one stop ebook shop for manga and comics. We provide a variety of manga and comics to read online and download at the convenience of our customers. Our downloadable files can be used on all popular devices, such as iPad, Kindle, Nook, Sony, Kobo and Android based devices. Our collection of eBooks includes licensed titles that have been localized for the English market from over 50 Japanese Publishers. We have over 400 titles and counting, with new releases coming out every day.
  • Slash by Edward M. EchavezBoston Metaphysical Society -Emily Hu, Madeleine Holly-Rosing
  • Faith Erin Hicks, comics creator based in Halifax, CanadaAuthor, Friends With Boys (First Second) and co-creator, Nothing can Possibly Go Wrong (First Second), also comic adaptation of the video game, Last of Us, published by Dark Horse.
  • Cover and interior art examples from The Last of Us, published by Dark Horse.
  • SDCC 2013 - Making a Living in Manga: New Trends Worth Watching

    1. 1. + Making a Living in Manga: New Trends Worth Watching San Diego Comic-Con 2013 July 18, 2013
    2. 2. + A short history of manga-making in North America From Boom to Bust to New Possibilities
    3. 3. + 1990’s – early 2000’s A new generation gets introduced to manga… in a big way
    4. 4. + 2002 - 2008 TokyoPop’s “Rising Stars of Manga”
    5. 5. + 2002 - 2011 “Original English Language Manga” Boom  Bust
    6. 6. + 2000 - now Growth of webcomics - Megatokyo - Starfighter - Teahouse - Manga Magazine - Bento Comics - Yen Plus Magazine -
    7. 7. + 2008 - 2011 Manga Bust: • Borders Closes • CMX, TokyoPop close shop • Manga publishing ramps down dramatically
    8. 8. + Today “Original Manga”  Licensed Adaptations • Yen Press • Dark Horse • VIZ Kids / VIZ Media • Udon Entertainment • Shifty Look
    9. 9. + Big in Japan… or not. A handful of North American comics creators try to break into the biz in Japan… …to varying degrees of success.
    10. 10. + DIY – Do It Yourself Comics creators are forging their own way - Self-publishing via web or print - Crowdfunding – Kickstarter / Indie Go-Go - Digital storefronts - ComiXology - Manga Magazine - - Manga Reborn - PIXIV -
    11. 11. + Meet Our Panelists! Artists + Publishers
    12. 12. + Lillian Diaz-Pryzbyl Editorial Director, Chromatic Press Previously: Editor at TokyoPop
    13. 13. + Chromatic Press
    14. 14. + Chromatic Press
    15. 15. + Victor Chu Founder & CEO, Manga Magazine
    16. 16. + Manga Magazine
    17. 17. + Manga Magazine
    18. 18. + Myung Hee Kim Comics Creator, Contributor at Bento Comics
    19. 19. + Bento Comics
    20. 20. + Bento Comics
    21. 21. + Fred Lui Editor-in-Chief, Digital Manga
    22. 22. + - Indies
    23. 23. + Faith Erin Hicks Comics creator Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong Boys With Friends (First Second) The War at Ellsmere (SLG Publishing)
    24. 24. + Faith Erin Hicks
    25. 25. + Any questions? Bring it on!
    26. 26. + The audio transcript of this panel will be posted at: Thank you!