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!


Brian Miller said...

Well said. I can't wait to see where all this change, upheaval, evolution and revolution takes things.

rodbuddah said...

I'm with you completely on that one. I believe if that becomes the case, I think the Majors would change up somewhat to compete... Remember, the majority of Japans' output is based on original thought rather than 'follow the leader'--- I think things are about to get really exciting!

John Aston said...

I don't think the big American comic publishers are willing to make too many changes, if any at all, in their publishing practices. One doesn't have to holding onto more than 50 percent of the monthly orders — the other should at roughly 25 percent of monthly orders but is content in becoming a niche in a niche market.

That said, another manga publisher will likely mosey along the American market and scoop up new readers in the coveted teen and early 20 demographics.

Rodbuddah said...

That's another thing: the demographic
of the youth market is more into anime/manga then of the Majors! Funny considering that Japan doesn't sell alot of capes and cowls (more like armored suits and monsters). Niche markets ARE the Majors! Marvel's got mutants, while DC has capes and cowls on a 'grander scale'.

We're merely the commercials in between--- for now.