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It's been well over 25 years since the first Japanese comics were imported and translated into English for American readers. We've seen magical girls, giant robots and ninjas capture the imagination of U.S. readers -- but are American manga fans ready for something more?

That's the question that VIZ Media and manga editor Hideki Egami are hoping to answer as they launch SigIKKI.com, their new online manga magazine featuring nine cool, crazy and creative comics series, all available online and free for the reading. The site launched in June 2009 with weekly installments of Children of the Sea by Daisuke Igarashi. This story has since been joined by eight more series, ranging from mind-blowing sci-fi (Dorohedoro) to quirky slice-of-life comedy (I'll Give It My All... Tomorrow) and much more.

To celebrate the launch of SigIKKI.com, VIZ Media brought IKKI's Editor-in-Chief Egami-san and Yuji Sato, the editor of Bokurano: Ours to meet comics fans at San Diego Comic-Con 2009.

I got a chance to chat with Egami-san before all of the "IKKI-palooza" fun kicked off that weekend. Check out my interview with Hideki Egami, and find out more about IKKI's beginnings, his hopes for IKKI's influence upon the American comics scene and the surprising way he recharges when he's not editing IKKI.

If you haven't already done so, get yourself to SigIKKI.com to check out these cool new comics that are much more than your average everyday manga:

  • I'll Give It My All... Tomorrow by Shunju Aono - Life begins at 40 -- or so former salaryman Shizuo Oguro thinks, as he embarks on a mid-life career change to become a manga artist.
  • Dorohedoro by Q Hayashida - Life's pretty tough when you live in "The Hole," especially when a group of powerful wizards are using The Hole's denizens as human guinea pigs for their magical experiments. But what happens when one of these 'experiments' decides to fight back?
  • Bokurano: Ours by Mohiro Kitoh (the creator of Shadow Star) - 15 kids on a trip to seashore find more than they bargained for when a mysterious man asks them, "Would you like to play a game?"
  • Afterschool Charisma by Kumiko Suekane - The students of St. Theo's Academy are gifted and talented, but that's mostly because they're all clones of famous historical figures like Marie Antoinette, Sigmund Freud and Napoleon. So what's a guy to do when he's the only 'ordinary' boy in school?
  • Kingyo Used Books by Seimu Yoshizaki - In the seemlessly endless shelves of Kingyo Used Books, customers rediscover their past and perhaps their forgotten dreams in manga.
  • House of Five Leaves by Natsume Ono - Akitsu Masanosuke is a masterless samurai or ronin, which basically means he's unemployed and near starvation. So when Yaichi, the leader of a gang called The Five Leaves hires him to be his bodyguard, Akitsu doesn't think twice before accepting the job -- but finds that maybe he should have.
  • Saturn Apartments by Hisae Iwaoka - In the future, Earth has been evacuated and turned into a nature preserve. Hovering above the planet is a giant ring of apartments that houses humanity, and with so many apartments, someone's got to clean the windows...
  • Tokyo Flow Chart by Eiji Miruno - You've never seen a four-panel comic strip like Tokyo Flow Chart, because it's exactly as the title suggests -- it leads the reader through a surreal flow-chart of related / tangental events for a mind-blowing ride.

Also, see more of the cool events and sights from San Diego Comic-Con in my Comic-Con 2009 Photo Gallery. There's still more interviews to come -- so stick around. Next up: NaRae Lee, the artist for James Patterson's Maximum Ride.

Image credit: © Deb Aoki, OREWAMADA HONKIDASHITENAIDAKE © 2007 Shunju AONO / Shogakukan, DOROHEDORO © 2002 Q HAYASHIDA / Shogakukan, SARAIYA GOYOU © 2006 Natsume ONO

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