Hello! Being that it's your licensing poll season, I've been wondering: do you guys look up titles people suggest, regardless of the number of votes? Only if you are unaware of them, of course. Additionally, is it easier or harder to work with small publishers? Lastly, and I know you said you don't have the staff for other Asian comics, but do you know how manhwa and manhua generally sell compared to manga? Thanks! PS. Can't wait for Ajin/Demi-Human!
First, the survey is not a poll. This is not a democratic voting process. We have stated this following fact many times - the higher a title is on the list in terms of submissions the less likely we will be able to license it. Now there are many reasons for that but the biggest reason is that most publishers are already going after those titles, so there is more competition for those works. And being one of the smaller publishers (in terms of content released) that puts us in a tough spot.
The majority of our licenses have come from these surveys. And most of them have fallen in the middle-of-the-pack or lower in our surveys.
Here are examples of titles previously listed:
- Lychee Light Club
- Mobile Suit Gundam THE ORIGIN
- Knights of Sidonia
- What Did You Eat Yesterday?
- Summer Wars
- Tropic of the Sea
- Helter Skelter
- Witchcraft Works
Out of the titles above only What Did You Eat Yesterday? and Knights of Sidonia ranked high on our surveys; the rest ranked in the middle or only got a couple of requests. ORIGIN was pretty low on the list. Summer Wars only received maybe four or five votes; same for Tropic of the Sea. Most of the top submissions receive hundreds of requests. And we obviously check consider them closely but we look at almost all submissions (there are some we ignore immediately though…like the requests to license TWIN SPICA, AJIN and BLACK JACK. Which we already have licensed.)
How easy is it to work with smaller publishers? It depends. We work with a few small publishers:
- Ohta Books is an indie alternative manga publisher. They only publish one magazine, with new issues every two months. They are tiny.
- Magazine House is another alternative manga publisher. They are so small they no longer even have a manga magazine. They were a little larger in the 90’s but they have never been a major (or even mid-sized) manga publisher.
- Shodensha is a josei and fashion magazine publisher. While they are the premiere josei publisher for young women, they are mainly a fashion magazine publisher and they have a pretty small office in Jimbocho.
- Shinchosha, Media Factory, enterbrain each are parts of larger publishing companies that release a lot of other forms of media. But these manga divisions are small, and well curated.
For the most part our partners are great to work with. However as is the case with relationships details can make a difference. Every contract is different. We might have global rights for one book from one publisher and not for another book with the same publisher. We might get eBook rights for one book and not for another. We might not have digi-files for one book and not for another (even when they were made in the same year…2012!!!). So there will always be issues, but for the most part size doesn’t matter.
I will say one thing though… Sometimes when publishers have little international exposure they might not be fully prepared for what foreign publishers need - digital files, unlayered color pages/cover art… extensive accounting departments.
The last question… We have not published Korean or Chinese comics, so I do not have first-hand data. However, the data I have researched from BookScan and Diamond is not very good for either. While there have been a few exceptions, most Korean titles do poorly in the US. And Chinese/Taiwanese titles have done even worse. Hong Kong comics briefly did well when that was a thing in the early 00’s but sales in the US were limited to a few regional markets - LA, SF, and NYC.
So while I do not often read comics from outside of Japan (I do not read many American comics either, by the way) I do know of some good works from other Asian territories. Marketing the best of the best could work for publishers like Yen, Seven Seas and Dark Horse. But even A- or B+ titles will have a hard time in the US without a lot of marketing money since those titles often do not have cross-platform media connections. (Seriously the most popular manga titles are almost always titles with anime or video game connections.)
So I made the mistake of filling out the survey before reading Insufficient Direction! If I had read it before hand, I would have requested more autobiography style manga! Are there any other translated manga in this style??
Nope. Actually bio manga (or a Essay Manga as it is called in Japan) rarely comes over. There are only a couple but none of others are comedies - Doing Time, Disappearance Diary (both are dark and kinda sad dramas).
The closest thing is Fumi Yoshinaga’s Not Love But Delicious Foods, where Fumi raves over her favorite places to eat (the places are/were real dining spots in Japan).
OMFG “What Did You Eat Yesterday?” by Fumi Yoshinaga is getting released in English in March I MUST HAVE IT!!!!!!!
q0q you guys should totally read it (ORDER IT HERE) it is such an adorable manga, it’s a slice-of-life series about a middle-aged gay couple (a lawyer and a hair-stylist) and their daily lives, and has a section each chapter or so about the lawyer cooking up awesome food (with cooking tips included!)
I love Fumi Yoshinaga’s work aaaaaaaaaaaaaaa
Yeah, we are excited about this also!
Hi there! I saw the comment you left on my Kyo cosplay. Was the manga you were talking about the one that comes with a Blaster Blade promo? My friends have been talking about it, but more for the card and not so much reading. Haha, got any insight on what's in store for it? I'm curious myself since I really only play the game more than follow the anime/manga
Yup. We will begin publishing the Vanguard manga starting next month. The first printings for each volume comes with a Vanguard PR card. And volume 1 comes in two versions:
- Regular edition - volume 1 with Buster Blade PR-046EN (featuring an alternative design) $10.95
- Special edition - volume 1 with Buster Blade PR-046EN (with alt design) and 2 25-card Flash Fight half decks and expert play guides. $19.95
As noted all volumes will come with its own PR card. We’ll be announcing the card for volume 2 in a few weeks.
Are you guy concerned about being undercut by Kadokawa's planned ComicWalker app? Is this going to affect your relationship with them in the future? And will it discourage you from licensing any titles that they include on the app?
At this time, not really. We really do not know too much about the service. However, I do wonder what this means for future licenses from us. As we are kind of in the dark, we do not know what licensing will be like or even if licenses will be available for titles on the app that are not in print in the US.
I hope we will continue to have a relationship with Kadokawa. They are a major licensor for us. Wolfsmund, Gundam the ORIGIN, My Neighbor Seki, Summer Wars all come from the Kadokawa Publishing group.