At their Friday afternoon panel at San Diego Comic-Con, the Yen Press crew, including Publishing Director Kurt Hassler, Senior Editor JuYoun Lee, Editor Tania Biswas and Editorial Assistant Abby Blackman had news to share about new titles, the new online edition of Yen Plus magazine.
5 NEW TITLES FOR 2011: ZOMBIES, BRIDES, PIRATES AND 'SLASHY GOODNESS'
High School of the Dead (Gakuen Mokushiroku) by Daisuke Satō and Shoji Sato - 2011
The first title announced at Yen Press' Comic-Con panel was a real crowd-pleaser. "Last year at this convention, we got a request for manga with 'more testosterone'," said Hassler. "So we went looking for the most testosterone-y, most violent license we could find: High School of the Dead!" After Hassler's announcement was met with cheers, he added, "I guess a few of you have heard of this one! It's got hot girls, zombies and its set in a high school - it's a win-win all around!"
Currently featured in Fujimi Shobo's Monthly Dragon Age magazine, High School of the Dead has also been adapted into an anime series that was recently licensed for North American release by Sentai Filmworks.
After a world-wide pandemic turns many humans into zombies, a few scrappy student survivors try to fend off the undead from the not-quite safe confines of their high school. As society collapses around them, the students find that their own sense of right and wrong starts to morph into something almost as dangerous as the zombies who want to consume them.
Higurashi: When They Cry - Demon Exposing Arc (Higurashi no Naku Koro ni: Onisarashi-hen) by Ryukishi07 and En Kitou - 2011
The Higurashi: When They Cry series is known for being a multi-faceted, compelling and extremely creepy horror story. The rural town of Hinamizawa has so many sinister secrets, it has spawned numerous versions offering different perspectives on the events that unfold in the main story, as well as several side stories, like this one, The Demon Exposing Arc.
The events in The Demon Exposing Arc are not directly related to the main Higurashi storyline, but instead focuses on a young girl named Natsumi who finds that the Hinamizawa disaster has found a way to curse her with its bloody legacy. "It's a very creepy story," said Biswas.
Betrayal Knows My Name (Uragiri wa Boku no Namae o Shitteiru) by Hotaru Odagiri - 2011
Betrayal Knows My Name is a current title from the illustrator of boys love fan-fave Only the Ring Finger Knows. Also known as "Uraboku," this series is currently featured in Kadokawa Shoten's shojo magazine Monthly Asuka, and it has already inspired an anime series of the same name.
The story centers around Yuki, a young boy who was left at an orphanage shortly after his birth. Yuki has the ability (or curse) of being able to sense what others are feeling just by touching them. This has lead to many unfortunate incidents when Yuki was a child, so he is skittish about getting close to others. But when a mysterious older man comes to his rescue one day, Yuki begins to realize that his powers will be putting him at the epicenter of a multi-generational war between two supernaturally-powerful clans.
While not technically a boys love title, Betrayal Knows My Name "definitely has it's slash-y moments," said Biswas. It'll also be published in two-volumes-in-one omnibus editions, so readers will get "double the slashy-ness for your money."
Aron's Absurd Armada by Misun Kim - 2011, featured in August 2010 issue of Yen Plus
If you love the bishonen eye candy and wacky humor of Hetalia: Axis Powers, then chances are, you'll enjoy the silly swashbucklers of Aron's Absurd Armada, a new full-color four-panel (yonkoma) comics series from Korea.
"It's about a spoiled aristocrat who decides he wants to go on an adventure," said Lee. "It's a lot of fun. There are lots of very cute guys in it."
You can sample the fun for yourself for free - the first chapter of Aron's Absurd Armada is featured in the August 2010 issue of Yen Plus online, which is available to sample until September 2010.
The Bride's Stories (Otoyome-Gatari) by Kaoru Mori - 2011
This one was selected as one of our "most wanted but not licensed" titles in our Best and Worst Manga panel on Thursday. It was a top pick for good reason too, because Mori-sensei, the creator of Emma, has really taken her artistry to the next level with her current series. "The artist is really putting her heart and all of her effort into it," said Lee. "Everything is so beautiful."
If you have any doubts about Mori-sensei's skill as a manga-ka, watch these videos posted on Comics Natalie of her drawing an illustration from Otoyome-Gatari, from pencils to finished inks on (it's in Japanese, but the videos speak for themselves in any language).
Instead of Victorian England, the setting of The Brides Stories is the Middle East, circa mid-19th century. The "bride" is Amira, a young woman who is a skilled hunter and horsewoman. She has been sent to a neighboring village to marry Karluk, a young man who, at 12 years of age, is 8 years her junior. While her new family and young husband accept Amira, circumstances have changed with her family back home, so her brother has been sent to annul the marriage and bring her back.
"We are very, very thrilled and excited about this one," said Lee. Yen Press is giving The Bride's Stories the first-class treatment it deserves by promising a hardcover edition and a larger trim size to showcase Mori-sensei's exquisite artwork. I've read the first volume of the Japanese edition, so I've seen enough to know that this is sure to be a must-buy when it hits the stores in 2011.
YEN PLUS DEBUTS ITS ONLINE EDITION AT COMIC-CON
As was announced earlier this spring, the print edition of Yen Press' manga/manhwa magazine Yen Plus will be ending its run, but will be replaced by an online edition, which will be available via subscription for $2.99 per month. Each month, readers will get access to two month's worth of content: the current month and the previous month's issue. And for you readers outside of North America, take note: Yen Plus online is available to readers all over the world, not just the U.S. and Canada.
The online edition of Yen Plus went live on the day of Yen Press' Comic-Con panel, and gave the Yen Press crew a chance to explain a bit of what they have in store.
"The August issue is a beta," said Hassler. "It does not have any Japanese content at this point because contracts are still being finalized, but Japanese titles will be forthcoming, and we will be making announcements about this very soon." He also added, "We can say that a very enthusiastic green-haired girl will be making an appearance in Yen Plus soon."
Hassler also encouraged readers to give Yen Plus a try, and to send comments and suggestions via the feedback link on the Yen Plus website (below the chapter bar on the right).
I'll post more about this and the Q&A about Yen Plus soon when I finish editing my chat with Yen Press Senior Editor JuYoun Lee. We talked after the panel, and discussed Yen Press' future plans for Yen Plus online. Stick around, because that'll be posted later this week.
At the end of the panel, the Yen Press crew commenced with the real crowd-pleasing part of the panel: lots of giveaways, including a special autograph session with special guest YiShan Li (artist of the graphic novel adaptation of Lisi Harrison's The Clique and several How to Draw Manga books, including Shoujo Art Studio and Shonen Art Studio from Watson-Guptill).
So what do you think? Which new Yen Press title are you most excited to read in 2011? Add your thoughts below!
Image credits: © Daisuke Satō and Shoji Sato / FUJIMI SHOBO, © Ryukishi07 and En Kitou / KADOKAWA SHOTEN, © Hotaru Odagiri / KADOKAWA SHOTEN, © Kaoru Mori / ENTERBRAIN, © MiSun Kim, © Deb Aoki