Looking to add formats, genres and new content brands to its kids’ publishing list, manga publisher Viz Media is relaunching its VizKids imprint, renaming it Perfect Square with plans to launch a comprehensive new children’s publishing program. Announced at the San Diego Comic-con International, Perfect Square will launch with a new series of books in 2014 based on Bravest Warrior, the popular animated web series created by Pendleton Ward that airs on the Cartoon Hangover YouTube channel.
Perfect Square (PerfectSquare.com) will specialize in manga, book format comics, and a variety of children’s book formats that will focus on imaginative storytelling, humor and empowerment, according to Beth Kawasaki, senior editorial director, children’s publishing at Viz Media, who will head up the new imprint. In a phone interview, Kawasaki said that while the VizKids line has had success publishing series like Pokemon and Legend of Zelda, the VizKids line is also tied to manga and Japan and “the global market is changing and we wanted to find new voices and kid’s books that will resonate. So as part of that search we decided to go with a new name.”
“We’re still part of Viz, so manga is not going away but there’s so much new content and also content produced here in the U.S.,” Kawasaki said. “Things are changing and we’re a part of helping that change.” Kawasaki said the imprint’s name, Perfect Square, is meant to invoke “a window into a great storytelling,” and said, “We’ve got a great mix of content for every kid. Whether they like fantasy or comedy, epic adventure or Pokemon, we’ve got something for them."
Kawasaki said Perfect Square will be “mostly comics but we will do other kinds of content and do books with other brands.” Perfect Square will likely publish 40 to 50 titles a year, “a little less Pokemon and a lot of new stuff,” she said, pointing to Bravest Warriors “the big title on the new list.” Viz Media distribution to the book trade is by S&S (in addition to some works through Scholastic). Viz will also release a Perfect Square app for the iPad and iPad Mini.
Produced by the Frederator Studios for Cartoon Hangover, its YouTube Channel, Bravest Warriors is the story of a cute band of warriors operating in the future who use the power of their emotions to fight and defeat all manner of alien threats. Since it launched in November 2012, the award winning show has averaged more than a million views per episode. Season 2 of the Bravest Warriors will open in the fall after a series of 1 minute mini-episodes begin airing in August.
The legacy VizKids catalog, including manga and such series as Ben 10, Mameshiba, Pokemon, Dragon Ball and Hello Kitty will move to the new imprint and Perfect Square will release new original graphic novels based on these series. Also look for books based on the popular plush toys Uglydoll and Max Steel, the action figure line; as well as more Pokemon “pocket comics,” 300-page “brick” collections of the comics. At the San Diego show, Viz will be showing off graphics from the Perfect Square line as well as providing samplers of forthcoming comics and much more swag for the fans.