Recently, TokyoPop announced their new online manga program. Sure, they've been offering sample chapters of many of their offerings on TokyoPop.com for a while -- but this is slightly different. Now, every Wednesday, a new chapter will be released from a TokyoPop original manga series that has been left in publishing limbo for one reason or another.
These are series that released one or two volumes in print, and then saw the release dates for their subsequent volumes slip into "wait and see" land. Both creators and readers of these series were left hanging -- a situation that no one was pleased with.
Other publishing possibilities being explored by TokyoPop include a print-on-demand (POD) option, which would allow readers to order and purchase single hard-copy editions of these books directly from the publisher. TokyoPop is also looking into offering these titles for sale as Kindle or eReader books.
To kick things off, the first chapter of PSY*COMM Volume 3 by Jason Henson, Tony Salvaggio and Ramanda Karmaga made its debut on Wednesday, August 12, with new chapters appearing each Wednesday through September 16, 2009, with the whole series available online thereafter.
Boys of Summer Volume 2, the sports-themed romantic comedy by Chuck Austen and Hiroki Otsuka will debut Wednesday, September 23, followed by new chapters from Stuart Moore and Chris Schons' sci-fi drama Earthlight Volume 3 on January 27, 2010 and Kat & Mouse later in 2010. Visit www.TOKYOPOP.com/MangaOnline for the complete schedule of weekly releases.
I wanted to learn a little more about TokyoPop's plans for this new online manga program, so I dropped a line to Marco Pavia, TokyoPop's Associate Publisher to get more details. I also wanted to speak with some of the creators whose work will be featured first in this initiative, so Pavia helped me connect with Moore and Schons to talk about Earthlight.
First up is Pavia, who shared more details from the TokyoPop side:
Q: What was behind the choice for these three titles? What made these three particularly appealing ones to start off with?
Marco Pavia: We looked at our production schedule for all of these titles, and Psy*Comm was probably the furthest along. In addition, it's been critically well received -- we even partnered with Kaplan to create a Kaplan SAT vocabulary-building manga with Psy*Comm -- so it made the most sense.
Boys of Summer was also very far along in its production process, so we decided to follow up with the conclusion to the series. These titles and the ones to come are all compelling stories from great storytellers.
Q: Will you be doing this with your other "on hiatus" titles, both original English language (OEL), Korean and Japanese series?
Marco Pavia: We have a number of other "OEL" titles on the schedule, which we'll release in the coming months. We currently don't have any Japanese titles on the schedule.
Q: Given that other U.S. manga publishers are moving toward a kind of "online magazine" format -- is this something TokyoPop is also considering? For example, presenting it as an online anthology, featuring multiple titles weekly in addition to articles and blog postings from editors/creators?
Marco Pavia: With regard to the online magazine question, our weekly Roboblast newsletter has definitely evolved along that direction, although at this time we're not planning to begin serializing full volumes.
We do plan to always launch new online manga excerpts/chapter previews of new series and new continuing volumes in the Roboblast. [NOTE: Here's where to sign up to receive the weekly Roboblast newsletter]
Q: Is this content available to readers in all territories? I know that due to licensing issues, a few other online manga stories are not available to readers in Japan, Canada or other countries.
Marco Pavia: Our content is available to everyone on the planet!
Q: Will these titles and their prior volumes be available to purchase via Kindle or other online readers?
Marco Pavia: We are in the middle of developing our strategy for the Kindle, iPhone, et al, and will make this public when it's finalized. At least one chapter will be available to read on TOKYOPOP.com, and from time to time, as our fans know, we'll open up entire volumes on a limited basis.
For example, we just serialized the entire backlist of Bizenghast in celebration of a new volume, which is on sale this week.
Q: Tell me more about the print-on-demand model that you're talking about. Would the pricing be comparable to purchasing the same book via the bookstore model?
Marco Pavia: I hope to have details about its launch, pricing, etc., in the relatively near future. Integrating the technology is extremely complicated, as everyone knows.
As we've told our creators, it is a top priority for us, and we want to make sure it's integrated as seamlessly as possible. They are all keen to see a physical copy of their book in print.
Q: Will the creators be receiving additional royalties for being published in this format, or if they are sold via Kindle or print on demand?
Marco Pavia: I'm not at liberty to discuss a contract between a creator and TOKYOPOP.
Q: Fair enough! How has the reception to this been so far from the creators and from the readers?
Marco Pavia: At Comic-Con last few weeks ago, we invited our creators to a summit, which was a very open and candid discussion about our philosophy and vision as an entertainment company.
During the summit we let our creators know we would begin to serialize these series on TOKYOPOP.com. The reception was very positive -- I noticed a few have tweeted about the experience -- and all of my conversations with the artists and writers felt very sincere.
Now that TokyoPop has reached out to their creators, I also wanted to get comments from some of the artists and authors whose work is now being featured online. Pavia introduced me to Stuart Moore and Chris Schons, the author and artist team behind Earthlight, a three-volume science-fiction / drama series published by TokyoPop.
Check out my interview with Moore and Schon for more about TokyoPop's online manga program from one creative team's point of view.
Also, for more from Pavia, take a look at Brigid Alverson's interview with the TokyoPop honcho about online manga and more on Comic Book Resources.
Image credit: © Christopher Schons, Stuart Moore, TOKYOPOP, © Jason Henson, Tony Salvaggio and Ramanda Karmaga and TOKYOPOP, © Alex de Campi and Federica Manfredi , TOKYOPOP, © Chuck Austen, Hiroki Otsuka, TOKYOPOP, © TOKYOPOP