Southern California-based manga publisher Digital Manga Publishing launched their third Kickstarter campaign to publish Unico, a kid-friendly comic about an adorable unicorn by Osamu Tezuka last week Friday. Within five days, DMP met their initial $20,500 funding goal. To celebrate, they announced today that they'll now be shooting to meet a new stretch goal of $26,000 by July 21, 2012. If they meet this goal, then they'll add yet another Tezuka title to their 2013 publishing line-up: Atomcat, an all-ages story about a cat who has the same powers as Astro Boy (a.k.a. Tetsuwan Atom), the robot boy .
Previous Digital Manga Kickstarter campaigns to publish Tezuka titles like Swallowing the Earth and Barbara were geared to more grown-up readers. With Unico and now Atom Cat, Digital Manga is aiming to publish stories that fans of all ages can enjoy.
Unico is about a tiny unicorn who is owned by Psyche, a mortal girl whose beauty has caught the jealous eye of Venus, the goddess of love. Determined to deny Psyche the eternal happiness that comes with the companionship of a unicorn, Venus commands Zephyrus, the West Wind to transport Unico to various times and places with the condition that he never stay long enough to earn the love of another person.
Unico was originally published in Lyrica, a full-color magazine from Sanrio, the people who brought you Hello Kitty and Little Twin Stars. As a result, it's one of the rare Tezuka manga that was originally published in full-color, and drawn in left-to-right/Western reading format. The full-color Japanese edition of Unico has long been out of print -- most editions available today are printed in greyscale/black and white.
Digital Manga's Kickstarter campaign for Unico aimed to publish this all-ages story in English and in full-color for the first time ever. Full-color printing is quite expensive, so as a result, Digital Manga's initial goal of $20,500 to publish Unico was more than three times as much as the $6,500 funding goal for their prior Kickstarter campaign for Barbara, another Tezuka title, albeit one geared for grown-up readers.
As of June 27, DMP's Unico campaign has attracted over 400 backers, and has raised over $24,000. Suggested pledge amounts ranged from $5, with a reward of 6 issues of the digital edition of Astro Boy Magazine on DMP's eManga website, to pledges up to $177 and up, which includes a variety of gifts, including limited edition Unico and Astro Cat t-shirts and posters, and membership in the "Unico Steering Committee." Members of the Steering Committee will be able to vote on various aspects of this publishing effort, including choosing cover designs and deciding whether Atom Cat should be titled Astro Cat instead.
Digital Manga's success with Kickstarter has gained a fair amount of attention in the blogosphere lately, both enthusiastic and skeptical.
Comics blogger, retailer and manga enthusiast Chris Butcher weighed in and expressed mixed feelings about Digital Manga's approach to getting more Tezuka titles out there. Johanna Draper Carlson from Manga Worth Reading chimed in and asked, "Do real publishers use Kickstarter?" Alex Hoffman from Manga Widget offered a few opposing perspectives on this controversy in his essay "More Thoughts About Kickstarter."
So what do you think about Digital Manga using Kickstarter to get 'pre-orders' and drive interest in these classic manga titles? Add your comments below!
Image credits: © Tezuka Productions, © Digital Manga Pulishing