Even before the day started, I knew that Friday at Comic-Con would be one of my busiest days. From a VIZ Kids press event in the morning to parties at night, plus an interview with Moto Hagio and an appointment to be interviewed by the TokyoPop Tour crew in between, I knew I was in for a long day at the show.
VIZ KIDS: HERE COMES MAMESHIBA AND PANDA MAN
My first stop that morning was the VIZ Kids press event, an invitation-only affair where the VIZ Media crew promised to announce some new titles for 2011. And sure enough, they did -- when I entered the room I was greeted by a bunch of giant Mameshiba plushes! Mameshiba is the latest addition to the VIZ Kids imprint of kid-friendly comics. The first Mameshiba books, including new original manga stories by creators from France and Spain, board books and sticker books are due to debut in Spring 2011.
"Mameshiba" means "bean dog," but Mameshiba are more than just "beans" - they are dogs representing all kinds of nuts and legumes including lentils, soybeans, coffee beans and even jelly beans. Each Mameshiba character is cute in its own way, but the truly quirky part about Mameshiba is their knack for showing up and sharing strange but true trivia tidbits. You can see for yourself in these short video clips featuring Mameshiba in action.
Besides Mameshiba, Todd and VIZ Media Editorial Director Elizabeth Kawasaki also showed off several other new VIZ Kids titles for Fall 2010: Panda Man to the Rescue, Taro and the Magic Pencil and Pokemon Adventures: Platinum. You can read more about these new VIZ Kids titles in my earlier report.
SPOTLIGHT ON SHOJO MANGA CREATOR MOTO HAGIO
Almost immediately after the VIZ Kids event, Eva Volin and I dashed off to the other side of the San Diego Convention Center to check out the Moto Hagio spotlight panel. It was one of the first panels of the morning, so it wasn't packed with people, but for those of us who did make it, we were treated to an interesting retrospective of Hagio-sensei's career, art and ideas.
Accompanied by manga scholar and translator Matt Thorn (who also edited and translated A Drunken Dream, a collection of short stories by Hagio-sensei published by Fantagraphics), Hagio-sensei charmed the audience with her self-effacing wit and matter-of-fact responses to questions from Thorn and fans who lined up for her Q & A session.
Gary Sassaman from Comic-Con International also presented Hagio-sensei with an Inkpot Award, an honor given by CCI to creators for their contributions to comics, sci-fi and movies. In past years, Hayao Miyazaki, Tite Kubo, and Osamu Tezuka have received this award when they've come to Comic-Con, so Hagio-sensei is definitely in good company.
I'll post more about Hagio-sensei's panel when I post the transcript of my interview with her - but for now, you can check out Shaenon Garrity's interview with this shojo manga innovator for The Comics Journal and Matt Thorn's blog post about his impressions of Comic-Con 2010 to tide you over until then.
YEN PRESS GIVES FANS ZOMBIES, BRIDES AND YEN PLUS ONLINE
After a nice non-convention center lunch at Nobu (mostly because it was a) close and b) didn't have an hour-long wait for a table), I headed to the Yen Press panel to see what kind of new and cool titles they'd reveal for the coming year. Sure enough, they gave us five new titles that gave almost everyone in the room something to cheer for. Whether your taste is for horror, romance, boys love or comedy, Yen Press has something in store for you in 2011.
The titles that got the crowd cheering the loudest was High School of the Dead, a "testosterone-y" horror series filled with zombies, cute girls and lots of gore-riffic action. Given that the anime version of High School of the Dead was recently licensed for North American release by Sentai Filmworks, look for the buzz to grow on this series as 2011 approaches.
I like zombies as much as the next person (perhaps less), so my big "whoo-hoo!" moment at the Yen Press panel was when they announced The Bride's Stories by Kaoru Mori (the creator of Emma). This was one of our picks for "most wanted/unlicensed manga" on Thursday's Best and Worst Manga panel, so this was an especially welcome surprise.
Read more about the new Yen Press titles, and stick around for more soon, as I'll have more to share about the new online edition of Yen Plus.
AN ENCOUNTER WITH THE TOKYOPOP TOUR CREW
Shortly after the Yen Press panel, I met up with TokyoPop CEO Stu Levy and the TokyoPop Tour crew, as they turned their cameras on me as I chatted about manga with Meera, while Sully and Dice figured out the best camera angles and sound set-up for the interview. It was a sunny day, so we did our filming outside, with the San Diego Harbor as our backdrop. I also had fun chatting about manga and movies with Levy, as he talked about his upcoming stint in Hall H to introduce the manhwa-to-movie adaptation of Priest at the Sony Pictures panel.
San Diego Comic-Con was the 11th city on their 25-city tour criss-crossing the U.S. on their search for "America's Greatest Otaku." The crew was clearly having a blast taking in the sights and events along the way; we had chatted on the phone earlier on the tour, so it was nice to meet them in person.
The one downside to the TokyoPop Tour? With so much time and resources going toward putting the bus on the road, it meant that the TokyoPop booth in the Exhibit Hall was a lot smaller than usual, so it was a little harder to find. They had free manga samplers and stickers to hand out, but they didn't have as many new titles on display and none for sale at the booth, so that was a bit of a bummer. But TokyoPop definitely did have more new manga news to share, which they did at their Saturday afternoon panel.
THE VOICES BEHIND VAMPIRE KNIGHT ATTRACT A FULL HOUSE CROWD
Due to schedule conflicts, I wasn't able to check out VIZ Media's Vampire Knight panel, so I sent Eva in my place - only she wasn't able to get in either. Apparently, more than a roomful of Vampire Knight fans came out in force to check out what VIZ Media Editor Nancy Thistlethwaite, and voice talents Mela Lee (Yuki), Vic Mignogna (Zero), and Ethan Murray (Kaname) had to say about Matsuri Hino's mega-popular gothic shojo manga romance.
I did pop by the Vampire Knight autograph session the VIZ Media booth and saw a good-sized crowd line-up to get Vampire Knight posters, graphic novels and cards signed by the cast, and sometimes a few hugs thrown in the mix too. Look for the first Vampire Knight anime DVDs to hit the stores soon, and check out the latest episodes of Vampire Knight on VIZAnime.com too.
UDON CELEBRATES 10 YEARS, TATSUMI TAKES TWO EISNERS
The rest of Friday was jam-packed with so much else to do, there was no way to do it all. I unfortunately missed Udon Entertainment's 10th anniversary panel, Jason Thompson's Future of Manga panel, a spotlight panel with French comics creator Emile Bravo (My Mommy Went to America and Met Buffalo Bill, and the upcoming Goldilocks and the Seven Squat Bears), and the Eisner Awards ceremony at the Hilton Bayside ballroom.
In years past, I had gotten so used to spending many hours at the Eisner Awards only to see many worthwhile manga titles get nominated and then passed over for a win, I opted to skip the ceremony in favor of relaxing and conversing with friends at another after-hours event. My only regret? Missing hearing Drawn and Quarterly's marketing and PR honcho Peggy Burns give what was by all accounts a moving speech upon accepting two Eisner Awards on behalf of Yoshihiro Tatsumi, the creator of A Drifting Life. Tatsumi-sensei's wins in two categories, Best Reality-Based Work and Best U.S. Edition of International Material-Asia, marked the first time that a Japanese manga title took home multiple awards in one night. Comic-Con goers took notice of this honor too, as D&Q reported selling out of their stock of A Drifting Life at their booth by Saturday afternoon.
See the rest of the 2010 Eisner Award winners and see which worthwhile books and notable comics creators took home one of comics' greatest honors.
Also, here's the report I wrote about Friday's notable news from Comic-Con for MTV Iggy.
NEXT UP: Saturday at Comic-Con. Friday was probably my busiest day at Comic-Con, but there was no time to sleep in late the next day - Saturday was also filled with things to do and people to see, including the Shonen Jump, TokyoPop and "International Graphic Novels" panels, interviews with Felipe Smith and Kodansha editor Kaori Kitamoto, and a visit with the crew filming the Comic-Con documentary.
Image credits: © Deb Aoki, © Kaoru Mori / ENTERBRAIN, © TOKYOPOP