This was a sparse year for new license announcements at Comic-Con International, but every manga publisher there had something interesting to say. Yen Press, Viz Media, JManga.com, Udon, Vertical and Kodansha Comics all had news for their fans.
Yen Press had the biggest group of new title announcements, with three new manga licenses: Btooom!, the story of a teenager trapped in a video game come to life; Welcome to the Erotic Bookstore, an "essay manga" about a girl who works in a bookstore that also has a special section devoted to sex toys; and Another, a horror-mystery manga by Yukito Ayatsuji and Hiro Kiyohara, which will be published as an omnibus collecting all four volumes of the original. Yen is also leaning a little farther into the digital space: The novel on which Another is based will be released as an e-book, and Welcome to the Erotic Bookstore will be a digital-first release.
Yen also has three non-Japanese graphic novel adaptations in the works: James Patterson's thriller Zoo, to be illustrated by Andy McDonald; Ransom Riggs's Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, and The Way of Shadows, the first volume of the Night Angel Trilogy, by Brett Weeks.
Some new titles are also in the wings for the digital manga site JManga. At their panel, business manager Robert Newman announced that Dousei Ai, by Setona Mizushiro (creator of the Eisner-nominated Afterschool Nightmare), Mythical Detective Loki, and Yuichi Yokoyama's Garden, would be joining the lineup. During the panel, Newman received e-mail confirmation that JManga will also pick up several former Tokyopop and Del Rey series from Kodansha; these will be the first Kodansha manga to run on the site.
Newman also announced that JManga's Android and iOS apps will be available in October, and the site is hosting a manga translation contest sponsored by the Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs. There was one other piece of JManga news that was revealed after the panel: JManga is working on plans for a new digital manga magazine that will feature new chapters of a number of different series every week. Once a volume is complete, the individual chapters will disappear from the site and the whole book will be available for purchase on JManga. The content on the weekly site will be free, but a paid subscription will get the reader quicker access and perhaps exclusive access to some titles. The manga on the site will be a mix of old and new titles.
Viz announced one new series,Takama-Ga-Hara, a new battle manga that runs in the Japanese Shonen Jump magazine and will run in Viz's digital manga magazine, Shonen Jump Alpha. Blue Exorcist, which is already licensed by Viz, will also join the Shonen Jump Alpha lineup, and Viz will release volume 8 digitally ahead of print so readers will be up to date when the serialization begins. This panel also featured four editors from the Japanese Shonen Jump, who answered questions about the manga they edit and the relationship between the manga Bakuman (the story of two aspiring manga creators) and the reality of the Shonen Jump offices.
In other panels, Viz staffers highlighted Neon Alley, a new anime channel that will be available through Playstation 3 devices, and announced that Viz's digital manga service will now be available for Android devices.
Viz will also publish a Street Fighter x Sanrio book and sticker book featuring Hello Kitty and her chubby, round-faced friends dressed as characters from the Street Fighter game.
Udon Entertainment had a handful of announcements, including two game-based manga, Captain Commando, which marketing director Christopher Butcher described as "an old school beat 'em up manga" and Sengoku Basara. Udon also announced five anime art books, including three based on the Evangelion franchise and one each on Read or Die (RO.D.) and x
Kodansha Comics and Vertical Inc. shared a booth (both are distributed by Random House), but the stock couldn't be more different. The Kodansha table was piled high with bubble-gum pink copies of vol. 5 of Sailor Moon, and visitors got matching bags and posters. Meanwhile, copies of Moyoco Anno's Sakuran, the story of a prostitute set during the Edo period, were flying off the Vertical table, along with the wine-tasting manga Drops of God and the cute-cat manga Chi's Sweet Home.
Much of the talk at the Kodansha panel was of Sailor Moon, which director of publishing services Dallas Middaugh said is the best selling manga in the U.S. Middaugh did have one new announcement: Negiho, a single-volume spoof of Negima in which the lead character is an adult teacher who must deal with the unwanted attentions of a class of kindergarteners.
Middaugh also highlighted several upcoming books, including Battle Angel Alita: Last Order, Natsume Ono's Danza, and Ema Toyama's Missions of Love. Ono is the author of the critically acclaimed not simple and House of Five Leaves, both published by Viz. On the digital front, Kodansha will start updating its iOS app, which has lain fallow since it was launched last October, and will add three new series: Cage of Eden, Mardock Scramble, and Ninja Girls.