Friday, October 9, 2009

An 800 Lb. Gorilla, Caught Between A Rock And A Hard Place

KODANSHA, that 800 lb. Gorilla in the world of manga publishing, has now established its office in NYC; publishing and selling it's manga directly into the US market under the title of KODANSHA COMICS. The re-release of the KATSUHIRO OTOMO epic AKIRA and MASAMUNE SHIROW'S cyber sci-fi masterpiece GHOST IN THE SHELL (including GITS: STAND ALONE COMPLEX) makes for a rather powerful statement... Furthermore, the fact that its office is rooted on Park Avenue South in Manhattan, mid-way between MARVEL & DC, can turn that statement into a declaration of war.

Kodansha's arrival in the US coincides with the companies 100 year anniversary celebration (Kodansha was founded in 1909), and their co-publishing arrangements with Random House and Del Rey Manga, who have been significant licensing partners since 2003. Kodansha admits that one of its motives for its US presence is the lucrative film licensing and market tie-ins that America leans rather heavily towards... In essence, Kodansha seeks to promote market growth in the long view scheme of things. They also seek to develop and change its format/pricings to accomodate the changing marketplace, which also includes digital publishing and their long term goals of bringing in original content from US creators here (therefore, I wouldn't be surprised if comic vets like PAUL POPE or JOE MADURIERA walk into their offices... Watch what I tell you.)

Considering the risks involved to launch a company amid a distressed U.S. economy and a manga market thats recently crested within the last years, Kodansha remains supremely confident in the long view of the market... And now that Kodansha Comics is 'on the air', the company seems to have no problem in taking possession of the OGN market--- a move that may change the marketplace in the 'brochure department'--- especially when you can, for example, purchase a 600+ page manga for the same price as four 24 page brochures whose cover prices are now reaching into the $4.99 range (Sorry, Joe... I DID say there was gonna be a quiz on this one later...)

"...I’ve stated publicly on many occasions that I’ve never seen the benefits of original graphic novels. The economics just don’t work and are poor for both the publisher, retailer and the creator, especially during this Marvel regime when so much of what we do gets compiled into a collected edition anyway. While I would never discount doing one, I don’t see the outward benefits nor does the model work..."
Now that the largest publisher in Japan has entered the American Comic Industry, it's time to put Quesada's words to the test and watch the sparks fly... And we get front row seating to the event!


Brian Miller said...

Wow... crazy news! But good for wanabe anime / manga guys like me!

RodBuddah said...


The advantages of the Manga giants setting up shop here is that we can get our manga/anime swag for much cheaper:)

The coolest part of all this is that soon, more overseas comic interests will be coming here to mine American talent! With the tidbit in mind, wannabe's like you and me can take part in the GLOBAL comics community where mainstream takes on a whole different meaning... Thanks for chiming in, Brian!