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San Diego Comic-Con 2009: 30 Most Memorable Manga Moments

By July 28, 2009

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The carpets are rolled up, the displays are taken down and the fans, celebs and comic pros are all headed home. Yep, San Diego Comic-Con International 2009 is a done deal, and what a weekend it was. Over 125,000 pop culture fanatics came out to play at this solidly sold-out annual event at the San Diego Convention Center from July 22 through July 26, 2009 at the San Diego Convention Center.

I was there from Preview Night on Wednesday until the last fan was shoo'd out the door on Sunday afternoon, and I can honestly say that it's just not humanly possible to take in every single fabulous manga panel, booth and artist appearance that was scheduled this weekend. There were so much noteworthy news that happened that weekend and so many cool photos that I shot, it'll take me days to post them all. But to tide you over until I do, here's 30 memorable manga-centric highlights from this weekend:

  1. Nina Matsumoto Wins an Eisner Award
    After several years of watching manga nominees getting passed over for more mainstream American fare, it was a delightful surprise to see Nina Matsumoto take home a win in the competitive "Best Short Story" category for her work on Murder He Wrote - a Simpsons Death Note parody by Matsumoto, Ian Boothby and Andrew Pepoy that was featured in The Simpsons Treehouse of Terror #14.

    Del Rey Manga also announced two bits of Matsumoto news at their Saturday afternoon panel: Yokaiden Volume 2 is due out in November 2009, and Matsumoto will be drawing the prequel chapter in the upcoming graphic novel adaptation of M. Night Shyamalan's next flick The Last Airbender.

  2. Hayao Miyazaki Presents Ponyo at Comic-Con
    Fans lined up for hours for a chance to see this animation legend in the cavernous Hall H, and one can only hope that their patience was rewarded as Miyazaki-sensei made his Comic-Con debut at the Disney Animation panel. I wasn't able to spare several hours to sit in line, so instead, I will direct you to articles written by writers for Entertainment Weekly and Time Magazine who did experience the contact high of being near the creator of Ponyo, Totoro and Princess Mononoke.

  3. Hiroyuki Takei and Stan Lee Meet Ultimo Fans
    In his first appearance at an American comic or anime convention, Shaman King creator Hiroyuki Takei joined forces with his Ultimo co-creator Stan Lee for some funny banter at Friday's Shonen Jump panel. Later that afternoon, both comics creators gamely signed a whole bunch of autographs for lucky fans who got tickets for this event. More on this as I transcribe my interviews with Takei-sensei and Mr. Lee.

  4. CLAMP Manga Announcements from Dark Horse, Yen Press and Del Rey Manga
    2009 marked the 20th anniversary of this superstar comics collective's long and prolific career. Therefore, it seemed only fitting that not just one, but THREE American manga publishers had CLAMP announcements.

    Dark Horse had the most CLAMP news with the announcement of their plans to re-release deluxe omnibus editions of Chobits, Magic Knight Rayearth and Card Captor Sakura, all fan-favorite titles formerly published by TokyoPop. These deluxe double-sized editions will be edited by Carl Horn (who also did work on Dark Horse's recent re-release of Clover) released in 2010 at dates yet to be determined. Dark Horse is also publishing Okimono Kimono, a full-color artbook by CLAMP featuring manga and illustrations relating to wearing traditional (and non-traditional) Japanese garb.

    Yen Press also had big CLAMP news to share, with the announcement that they acquired the license to publish Kobato by CLAMP in May 2010. "This is our biggest licensing announcement of the year," said Yen Press Publishing Director Kurt Hassler. Kobato focuses on Hanato Kobato, a young girl who works at a local kindergarten. She's on a mission to fill her magical bottle as she helps others heal their hurting hearts. But what is the wish that she hopes to fulfill by filling her bottle?

    Del Rey Manga's CLAMP news was partly disappointing at first, but turned into good news indeed as Associate Publisher Dallas Middaugh revealed the reason why their CLAMP in America book's release date was pushed from Summer 2009 to Spring 2010. "CLAMP sent over so much amazing art, we couldn't fit it all in our originally planned 160-page book." So now look for the super-sized 384-page version of CLAMP in America by Shaennon Garrity to hit the stores in March 2010.

  5. VIZ Launches Eight New Manga FromIKKI At SigIkki.com
    After giving us a taste of IKKI goodness with their online serialization of Children of the Sea, VIZ Media launched more titles on SigIkki.com, including Bokurano: Ours, Saturn Apartments, Dorohedoro and I'll Give It My All... Tomorrow, with four more titles, Tokyo Flow Chart, House of Five Leaves, Kingyo Used Books and Afterschool Charisma to join them on July 30, 2009. IKKI editor in chief Hideki Egami and Bokurano: Ours editor Yuji Sato came to Comic-Con to celebrate this launch, and got a train-themed party in their honor too.

  6. Previews of the New Astro Boy Movie Get a Warm Reception
    Director David Bowers, producer Maryanne Granger and stars Freddy Highmore (Astro) and Kirsten Bell (Cora) showed off two new clips and the latest trailer from the upcoming Summit Entertainment / Imagi Films release, Astro Boy. Osamu Tezuka's iconic robot boy gave fans something to laugh and cheer for as it was the most enthusiastic reception from fans that I've seen for this film since they first started promoting it in July 2008 at Anime Expo. Look for Astro to make his big screen debut on October 23, 2009.

  7. Shonen Sunday's Online Manga Line-up Is Revealed
    IKKI wasn't the only online magazine unveiled at Comic-Con. VIZ Media's Shonen Sunday online magazine also made its big debut on Wednesday, July 23 at ShonenSunday.com, giving fans a glimpse at new titles like Arata: The Legend, MAOH: Juvenile Remix, Hyde and Closer as well as giving Rin-Ne and Kekkaishi a place in the Shonen Sunday online universe.

  8. Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service Movie Is In The Works
    Dark Horse loves to remind us that "They Love Comics Too" -- but they also love to make their comics into movies! Case in point: their Saturday announcement that a live-action movie version of their Japanese horror manga titles Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service and MPD-Psycho are in development with Universal Studios. Look for more news to arise as this project simmers in the coming months.

  9. Bakuman and Toriko Added to Shonen Jump Line-up
    Besides hosting the Stan and Hiroyuki Show at Friday's Shonen Jump panel, the SJ editors also announced the addition of two new titles: Bakuman by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata (the creators of Death Note) and Toriko -- an unusual combination of shonen manga fightin' action and food. Both are on the roster for 2010, with exact dates to announced later.

  10. Twilight Manga Mania at Yen Press
    The Twilight manga, ehr... "graphic novel" project was announced several days prior to Comic-Con, thus giving the Yen Press editors many reasons to smile. With scheduled appearances by the stars of New Moon, the latest movie in Stephenie Meyer's vampire romance saga on Thursday, legions of fans descended upon Comic-Con, and of course several squealed with delight upon seeing Yen Press' display previewing this upcoming release.

  11. Vampire Knight anime Release Announced for 2010
    Speaking of sexy vampires, VIZ Media announced on Friday that they secured the license to release Matsuri Hino's Vampire Knight anime series in 2010. No word on exact dates or if it'll be shown on network or cable TV, but given that Vampire Knight is one of the most popular manga series out today and features the current hot horror/romance zeitgeist, you can look forward to more news on this front sooner rather than later.

  12. "Women in Manga" Panel Gets an Overflow Crowd at Its Comic-Con Debut
    A diverse array of panelists, including Robin Brenner (author of Understanding Manga and Anime), Lillian Diaz-Pyrzbyl (TokyoPop), Leyla Acker (VIZ Media), JuYoun Lee (Yen Press), Becky Cloonan (Pixu, Demo), and myself were lead in a lively discussion about how manga speaks to female readers, and various challenges associated with careers for women in manga. We got a full house for this discussion, the first time that this topic was presented at a Comic-Con panel. Look for more on this when I post the transcript later this week.

  13. A New Game Project From Katsuhiro Otomo: Yoroinu
    This was a discovery that came completely out of left field for me. The Bandai - Namco booth was showcasing Yoroinu (yoroi = "armor" and inu = "dog"), a new game in development featuring character designs by Katsuhiro Otomo (Akira). I got a sneak peek at the concept and the character designs, and I spoke with the rep from Bandai who is shopping the game and its characters around to various licensors. I'll post more details on this soon, but in the meantime, take a look at Yoroinu.com for a taste of what's in the works.

  14. NaRae Lee Meets n' Greets Maximum Ride Manga Fans
    She came from Korea for her first American comics convention appearance, but NaRae Lee had to miss the first of her two scheduled autograph sessions because she was feeling under the weather after her long flight. Fortunately, she was able to greet Maximum Ride fans on Saturday and spared a few minutes to chat with me before her signing. I'll be posting my interview with NaRae Lee soon, so stick around for that.

  15. Dororo by Osamu Tezuka Wins an Eisner
    The line-up of notable nominees was full of winners, but in the end, only one took home the Eisner for The Best U.S. Edition of International Material - Japan, and that lucky book was Dororo by Osamu Tezuka from Vertical Inc. Vertical's Marketing Manager Ed Chavez picked up the prize and was clearly tickled by the win for the Godfather of manga's supernatural shonen manga action series.

  16. New Osamu Tezuka and Manga Kamishibai Art Books from Abrams
    With the Astro Boy movie on the horizon, several publishers are hoping that some of that movie magic rubs off on other Tezuka tomes. Perhaps the classiest effort will be The Art of Osamu Tezuka, God of Manga, a luxe hardcover art book by Helen McCarthy from Abrams that's due to hit the stores in October 2009. Also cool and noteworthy is Manga Kamishibai: The Art of Japanese Paper Theater by Eric P. Nash, a September 2009 release that showcases the traveling storytellers who created the missing link between ukiyo-e and manga.

  17. Yoshinori Natsume Does Batman Sketches for Fans
    Manga artist Yoshinori Natsume did four autograph sessions for fans at the DC Comics / CMX Manga booth, and wowed fans with his rapid-fire sketches of Batman and The Joker.

  18. Best and Worst Manga Panel Shares Cheers and Jeers For 2008 - 2009
    My first ever stint as a Comic-Con panelist was with Jason Thompson, Ed Chavez, Kai-Ming Cha, Eva Volin as we offered our take on the best and worst manga that was released in the past year, while Gia Manry from Anime Vice did her best to keep us on track. Some choices were no-brainers (Pluto, Berzerk, Nana as some of the best) and others were controversial (Sundome and Rosario + Vampire made it onto the "worst" list) -- but overall, it made for a fun and lively conversation for comics fans. I'll be posting the full list, plus quotes from our panelists later this week.

  19. TokyoPop returns to Comic-Con After a Year's Absence
    After pulling out from Comic-Con 2008, TokyoPop returned to San Diego Comic-Con Exhibit Hall in 2009 and brought with them a pile of Domo posters, the winning artwork from their Pocky art contest and the Fruits Basket fan scrapbook that will be presented to Natsuki Takaya. TokyoPop Public Relations Manager Kasia Piecarz also reported brisk sales for Bloody Kiss Volume 1 and DNAngel Volume 12, two titles that are due in the stores on August 4, 2009.

  20. VIZ Media Announces Release Dates For Monster Anime Boxed Set
    Naoki Urasawa's Monster missed out on another Eisner award, but hey, at least VIZ Media announced that the long-awaited Monster anime boxed set will finally be available in December 2009.

  21. Publishers Wrestle With Scanlations Threat
    When asked about the effect unauthorized scanlations have on their business, several publishers responded. Kurt Hassler, Publishing Director of Yen Press explained that while it's difficult to quantify the exact effect that these illegal online fan translations have on manga sales, he did contend that "scanlations are a rare example of fan enthusiasm hurting something they love."

  22. Becky Cloonan to Collaborate with Gerard Way and Shaun Simon On New Comics Project
    This new project from the creator of The Umbrella Academy and the Eisner Award winning artist of Demo will be published Dark Horse, and will be called The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys. According to Way, it will be an "ultra-violent" six-issue series about "a guy who wants his Ramones records back." Look for this one to debut in 2010.

  23. Udon Hits the Top of the Charts in Amazon Japan
    This tidbit came out in conversation with Udon Entertainment production manager Jim Zubkavich when he revealed that their new Dark Stalkers Tribute art book is not only a bestseller at Otakon and San Diego Comic-Con, but on the week of its release, this Udon title was the best selling foreign language book at Amazon Japan -- Not just bestselling art book or manga-related book, but bestselling book, period, beating out several notable English-language novels. Pretty impressive for this North American art book anthology!

  24. Chynna Clugston Joins the CMX Manga Staff
    A pleasant surprise at the CMX Manga panel was finding out that the new assistant editor at CMX Manga is Chynna Clugston. Clugston should be familiar to indie comics fans as she's the creator of Blue Monday and Scooter Girl. Clugston joined the CMX Manga family a few days before Comic-Con and is already presenting at panels and working on coming attractions for 2009 - 2010.

  25. Fanfare-Ponent Mon Debuts and Sells Out A Distant Neighborhood, Summit of the Gods
    UK / Spain publisher Fanfare - Ponent Mon didn't win an Eisner Award for Jiro Taniguchi's Quest for the Missing Girl, but they did manage to sell out all of their early advance copies of Summit of the Gods Volume 1 and A Distant Neighborhood Volume 1 by Friday, a good sign for these two new Taniguchi titles.

  26. Sneak Peek of Fluffy LIttle Gigolo Pelu at Last Gasp
    San Francisco-based Last Gasp also reported that they sold out of their preview allotment of Fluffy Little Gigolo Pelu, their new Junko Mizuno graphic novel. Missed out on getting your copy? Don't worry -- it'll be out in the stores in early August '09.

  27. Sherrilyn Kenyon Celebrates Big Debut for Dark Hunters Manga
    On the week it came out, the first volume of the manga adaptation of Kenyon's Dark Hunters series grabbed the #4 spot on the New York Times Graphic Novels bestseller list. On the week of Comic-Con, it was still holding on to a spot in the top 10. All in all, a strong showing for Kenyon's first foray into graphic novels with Claudia Campos.

  28. New Manga Themes for iGoogle
    Google sponsored free WiFi Internet for Comic-Con attendees, but they sweetened the deal by showing fans that they know and appreciate comics too by promoting their new comics themes for iGoogle, featuring manga titles and themes such as Children of the Sea by Daisuke Igarashi, Rin-Ne by Rumiko Takahashi, two TokyoPop themes and the Shojo Beat.

  29. Lost In Translation Manga Panel Reveals the Reasons Behind the Words
    Led by translator William Flannagan, a cast of manga translators including Jonathan Tarbox (Oishinbo, Black Cat), Mari Morimoto (Naruto), Jason Thompson (The Complete Guide to Manga) Stephen Paul (Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad), Mark Simmons (Consultant for Bandai Entertainment) and Julie Davis (former editor-in-chief of Animerica Magazine) gathered to talk about the unique challenges of their profession.

  30. Del Rey Announces Pride and Prejudice and Zombies Graphic Novel
    It's not really a manga news story, but hey, I'm a Jane Austen fan, so sue me. Del Rey Manga announced the March 2010 debut for their upcoming graphic novel adaptation of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Dr. Who comics scribe Tony Lee will be adapting this "unfaithful adaptation" of this classic story, with art by Cliff Richards (Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics artist). "You have to buy it, so I can do Sense and Sensibilty and Sea Monsters," chuckled Lee.

Stick around, I'll be posting photos from this weekend, more reports from the various panels and interviews with some of the amazing artists who came to Comic-Con.


July 28, 2009 at 8:41 pm
(1) Mike S. says:

My Fiancee and I attended your “Best and Worst” manga panel. We both felt it was the most informative panel we attended at Comic-Con. To give you some background, i’ve long been interested in manga but haven’t read any since I finished Maison Ikkoku a few years ago. My fiancée hadn’t read any manga at all before your panel. Thanks to your great suggestions, my fiancée has devoured Pluto and 20th Century Boys. We’ve also read Solanin. Can you post the recommendationa from the panel? There are other titles mentioned that I can no longer remember. Also, do you have any further recommendations? My fiancée likes post-apocalyptic, conspiracy-theory type settings, while I like mysteries, fantasies, and light-hearted “charming” fair.

July 29, 2009 at 4:31 pm
(2) Steve says:

About scanlations – I’m of two minds about scanlations of unlicensed (not officially translated or about to be) manga. Clearly, it’s made a lot of stuff available to people who are illiterate in Japanese and who would otherwise (because it’s unlicensed) miss the chance otherwise.

On the other hand, what effect does it have on development and marketing of official, licensed translations? I work for a (non-manga) publisher, so I think the decision is being made half in the dark by each licenser-publisher.

As for posting scans of licensed manga, I find the “support your favorite manga-ka by purchasing this title” messages on scanlations unconvincing. Yeah, I read a few, but I stopped.

Here’s one way scanlations are supporting the industry. I don’t have much of a budget, but I am buying manga titles I’ve discovered first through scanlations, something I hadn’t done for over a decade, till I ran across my first scanlation last year.

I wonder if an iTunes sort of licensing arrangement might take hold in the next few years.

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