Compared to the firestorm of commentary that accompanied the layoffs at TokyoPop earlier this year, the recent restructuring at Digital Manga Publishing was met with muted murmurs and conjecture. Now DMP is breaking their silence by confirming more details about their recent personnel changes, cutbacks and delays in their 2008 - 2009 release schedule, and putting to rest the rumor that their 801 Media yaoi manga imprint is folding.
I corresponded with Michelle Mauk, graphic designer / production artist for DMP and Yoko Taniguchi, DMP's new head of sales and marketing to get some clarity on the recent personnel changes at this Gardena, California-based manga publisher. Here's how the dust settled:
Five Staff Members Affected by Mid-September '08's Restructuring and Layoffs
The five affected employees include two that resigned based on prior plans to leave the company. DMP's former marketing and publicity lead, Rachel Livingston falls into this group, as her plans to relocate to the East Coast pre-dated the layoff announcement. Both positions were filled by other DMP employees who were re-assigned to fill the vacancies. One full-time employee was transitioned to contractor status and two employees in the production department were laid off.
As Mauk explained it, "If you've been in the creative industry a long time (as I have) you know that businesses rise and fall with the tides." She continued, "Basically, as I'm sure you know industry wise both in Japan and the U.S., the manga market has hit a bit of a hard time with the general economic situation, the rise in printing costs, and generally weaker sales all around. Hopefully, things will pick up."
Fewer Titles Released Per Month, Several Series Pushed to 2010
Mauk also mentioned that DMP's release schedule is also affected by these budgetary concerns. "We're reducing our title output from twelve a month to seven in this coming year to combat all those things," said Mauk.
"The seven titles per month is a mixture of new and existing scheduled titles. In essence, to make room for titles that are more in demand, some titles got pushed into 2010. So each month, there is a mixture of new June, one 801 Media title (per usual), continuing series from June, DMP, and usually one or two novels per month. It's a little more diverse that way -- and because of the current market at the moment, we want to push the titles that the fans have really been asking us for."
One of these fan-favorite series is Flower of Life, so fans will be happy to hear that the long-awaited Volume 4 of Fumi Yoshinaga's hilarious high school manga series is scheduled for release in May 2009.
Other continuing series that are on DMP / June's 2009 release schedule include:
- Our Kingdom Volume 6 by Naduki Koujima - March 2009
- Il Gato Sul G Volume 3 by Tooko Miyagi - June 2009
- Steal Moon Volume 2 by Makoto Tateno - September 209
- A Strange and Mystifying Story Volume 2 by Tsuta Suzuki - August 2009
- Vampire's Portrait Volume 2 by Hiroki Kusumoto - December 2009
- Selfish Mr. Mermaid Volume 2 by Nabako Kamo - September 2009
- Love Control Volume 2 by Ai Hasukawa - July 2009
801 Media: Still Sexy, Still Alive and Kicking
Despite earlier reports, Mauk confirmed that Digital Manga Publishing's 801 Media imprint is still an active part of DMP's publishing family. So what spurred the rumors of the early demise of DMP's somewhat sexier yaoi manga imprint?
"801 Media books are still on schedule," said Mauk. "Because they had been running late, the big thing with those is that the next coming months they HAVE to be on time."
She continued, "801 Media is also not being absorbed into June. It will continue to remain its own entity, and will continue with the scheduled one book a month."
NEXT: Updates and exciting doujinshi developments from DMP's eManga service, a new e-commerce website for yaoi manga goodies and DMP / June and 801's new licenses and featured pick hits for 2008 - 2009 from Yaoi-con 2008.
For other perspectives on the current state of the manga industry, check out what representatives from Dark Horse, Del Rey Manga and Yen Press had to say at "The State of the Manga Industry" panel at New York Anime Festival 2008 in Part 1 and Part 2.
Image credit: © Digital Manga Inc.; © Fumi Yoshinaga / SHINSOKAN