Monday, May 11, 2009
Kodansha as a noun and a verb
The manga phenomenon that is GHOST IN THE SHELL and its elusive creator, Masanori Ota
Better known to the world under his pen name, MASAMUNE SHIROW. Note the Dark Horse
label in the bottom right hand corner... It's the last time you'll see it there.
Comics, and the industry in general, seems to be in a state of flux right now... No one appears to be safe it seems ( Slave Labor gets a slap from Diamond, David Lapham actually loses a title, etc.)... The biggest thing I notice more regularly is the acquirement of licensed properties. If you open a Previews ( Diamond's premiere world domination catalog ) at any given page, you're going to find that from Devil's Due to You-Know-Who is shovelling out cash to outside media outlets in an effort to attract more readers or quell the bloodlusts of the cult fanboys who want to find out what happens next in G.I.Joe, Transformers, Star Wars, or--- God forbid--- Jason Vs. Freddy Vs. Ash... Either way you go, whether good day or bad, you still have to pay the price as you roll the dice on stuff like this.
Don't get me wrong--- if done right-- like Evil Dead by way of Brian Bolland or Nick Bradsher, or the upcoming Richard Stark adaptation 'The Hunter' by Darwyn Cooke--- licensed props can be that shot in the arm that we all need. If they're just done to be done, it's nothing more than a bullet in the head. But I digress...
Dark Horse, though not the first, practically pioneered the field in the way of licensed properties, thanks to marketing mastermind Mike Richardson. One of their more interesting purchases was the American rights to distribute the works of Japanese publishing powerhouse KODANSHA. Of course, with manga legends like Shirow and Otomo (once the rights of AKIRA passed from Marvel into Dark Horse's hands), selling like hotcakes was a no-brainer.
Well, it seems that particular era may be coming to an end. Dark Horse has confirmed that they will no longer publish and re-distribute such masterworks as Ghost in the Shell, Appleseed, and Akira. That task will now revert back to Kodansha, who have already acquired office space in San Diego, California... Conveniently located within the heart of Comic Con country. Beginning as early as October of this year, Kodansha will retake the reigns of the aforementioned titles, with a HEAVY back catalogue of original titles behind them!
I personally think the turn around is fitting. Manga's true roots began with Tezuka trying to recreate the American Disney style, in the process refining it. Now, like Mickey Mouse as an iconic image, Manga is the most widely recognized artform in the world! With Kodansha renewing its hold on America, they will become the noun as well as the verb--- the driving force that bends comics to it's will!