Category Archives: Manga Next

Rounding up Anime Diet’s Coverage of MangaNEXT

There you have it. Anime Diet’s first time at MangaNEXT, and just to sum it up. It was a great convention, and definitely as a fan of manga, a convention to not be missed. Take a peek through the posts I was able to write.. .and definitely don’t miss out on the next MangaNEXT, and consider AnimeNEXT in June.

Summing MangaNEXT 2012
Vertical at MangaNEXT
MangaNEXT 2012: Panels in a Nutshell
Yuri Panel at MangaNEXT
Gen Manga at MangaNEXT
Conversations with Felipe Smith at MangaNEXT
State of the Industry at MangaNEXT
Boys Love Mangaka Fan Q&A at MangaNEXT

Also Check out Anime Diet’s Flickr of images I took. ^_^

Boys Love Mangaka Fan Q&A at MangaNEXT

Just a week ago.. I was in New Jersey listening to the Saturday Fan Q&A panels for Tomo Maeda and Makoto Tateno. I ended up tweeting my way through the two Q&A’s, so here are my tweets and explanations in a linear fashion.

animemiz: Sitting at Makoto Tateno q&a..

animemiz: Correction at Maeda-sensei panel.

My game plan for Saturday was to stake out Panel 1, after my morning’s interview with Felipe Smith. I kept on thinking that Makoto Tateno’s panel was going to go first, when several other tweeters like @Toukochan and @Kaminomimemo were asking about it. So I made clarification.

animemiz: @JManga_official’s Robert Newman presiding at panel alongside the Japanese mangakas.

So getting back to the tweeting.. Robert Newman for was presenting the mangaka’s panel.

debaoki: @animemiz you should tweet w/ the #manganext hashtag. ;-)

animemiz: @debaoki thanks.. ^_^

As a tweeter and at events, I end up tweeting a lot as I hear of good clips and notes. Normally on the social medium of Twitter, would be good etiquette to use a hashtag. I normally forget, so Deb reminded me… Though at this point, might be better to see this on a PC.

The following are tweets I made, as fans asked questions. Since there was already another Fan Q&A session on Friday, questions were slow to come. Hopefully the tweets are pretty self-explanatory.

animemiz: Maeda-sensei gets ask what made her decide to be a mangaka? She drew for a long time and decided to continue when she debuted. #manganext

animemiz: She didn’t consult her family, since they are a different generation and doesn’t read manga.. but they are supportive. #manganext

animemiz: She gets an average 5-6 pages done. Only has an assistant when she is really busy. #manganext

animemiz: Since her editor is nearby.. Maeda mentions being an honor student on making deadlines. #manganext

The last tweet was made because a fan asked if there was a memorable situation on her as a mangaka not being able to make deadlines, as the anime Sekai Ichi Hatsukoi portrayed.

animemiz: She likes to read many artists from Shonen Manga. But lots are older.. and there are so much that there are no specifics. #manganext

animemiz: Watching Maeda-sensei at work. #manganext

animemiz: Tateno-sensei panel now. #manganext

animemiz: Tateno -sensei has 3-4 assistants on a rotating schedule. But she has about 10 so far in her drawing career. #manganext

animemiz: Tateno like to drink. ^_^ #manganext

animemiz: Tateno-sensei uses anime as a reference to draw. At times for series like Happy Boys or Nighthead, used live models. #manganext

animemiz: She’s always wanted to be a mangaka. So no other career choice. #manganext

animemiz: She loves to draw baddies.. ^_^ #manganext

animemiz: She got into bl genre as a freelance assignment. #manganext

animemiz: Tateno-sensei wants to try drawing Vocaloid, but editor rejects. So then how about bl Vocaloid? @JManga_official inquires. #manganext

animemiz: She love visual kei, anime and @LArc_official as music to listen to. #manganext

So the highlight for a lot of people in the panel was to see Tateno and Maeda sketch, and these were offered as raffle prizes.

animemiz: This is silly… 5mins and a photo I took still not tweeted.. >_<

animemiz: Raffle.. #manganext

It took a bit of a time to be uploaded, but I took a picture of the interpreter announcing the winning tickets. She went through a couple without any winners, therefore saying “Really.” It became a joke for the moment.

After these panels, there were autograph sessions. So hopefully this entry review wasn’t as hard to read, and definitely fans present for these panels were pretty happy. It really is not often that a mangaka ends up around an area where you live, so the the experience was pretty magical.

State of the Industry at MangaNEXT: Transcript

On MangaNEXT’s Sunday there were a couple of panels to attend, but by far the one I found the most important to attend was the State of the Industry panel. This post is compiled from my notes and a transcription from a press friend’s recording. On the panel as depicted by the photo above and from the left there was:

Since there was no official moderator, EC became the de-facto moderator.

EC: Not sure of where the conversation is going to go, but going to play it by ear. The format of this panel is going to bring up ideas that would possibly lead to questions. A couple of us will have points to make and would be making our case. The panelists are here representing an interesting and diverse part of the industry, with original doujins, webcomics, print and publishers. It would be interesting to get their perspective. How does everyone feel about the current playing field, the industry right now? There have been many changes over a short period of time, [in the] last two years or so, and there have been many changes positive and negative. Manga as we know it has existed in the United States for about the last 20 years or so, but it hasn’t taken off until the last ten years or so. Amazing considering the fact that there have been conventions, but there have been so many formats and genres that are now being catered to.

Let’s start with Robert McGuire.

RM: I’ve been a manga fan since early 90’s, before Tokyopop began. I was collecting Fist of the North Star. So I saw the progression and popularity grow as a fan. I worked in Japanese publishing for a while. I learned the traditional route of how the manga publishers did things until now. At least how Vertical does it: they get the rights of already published manga to translate over here in English.

I think one of the reasons though why the industry is changing, and why publishers are considering my idea of when to publish manga is this: scanlation is obviously a problem, and readership is up. You see New York Comic Con is packed. There is so much readership, but over the past ten years since Tokyopop came out, manga sales have consistently gone down. So how can sales go down when readership is up? If you google the name of any manga, one of the first links that come up is a scanlation site. I had kids come up to me at New York Comic Con and looked through my manga. They asked if this was on MangaFox. So I asked back, “you’re asking me if this is on an illegal site.” They ran away, and so this got me thinking: no one wants to go out stealing or ripping off manga artists. Readers just want to read their comics, and don’t want to wait for it.

I have been a huge fan of Vertical, they do these classic comics. But many manga comes out six months after it is published in Japan, and people know about it here. Readers are like, I don’t want to wait and I need to find out what happens, so they want it quickly. I was thinking, how about publishing it at the same time? Of course I publish doujinshis/indie comics, since I don’t have the money to publish mainstream manga. Gen finds an untapped doujinshi market/independent creators and one of our artists did use to work for Shonen Jump back in the 1980’s. So many of our artists do their own comics or doujinshis and we translate it into English as it is being published. So the artist would give me five pages, and I translate to release and place out. We started it in May-June and that took off, so it is going really well now. I know Viz started Alpha which is simultaneous publishing six months after us, that’s a coincidence. Then I know Yen is doing it as well.

So the idea did change the way people think about manga. There’s a huge readership of manga in Japan compared to the United States, but since there’s a readership here, Japan knows about it. So it is just a matter of getting through to the readers. So I know JManga talks with a lot of publishers.

EF: We are in a “pre-Gutenberg” press space. So there was a time when there are a lot of monks. Some are doing a better job than others. So every monastery in Europe had these monks drawing books. But a guy named Gutenberg created a standard, simple way of releasing books. This changed the world.

We don’t have a Gutenberg press right now, but we have a lot of monks and they’re all scrambling to do things in print. So it costs a lot of money to physically get the properties every year. Digitally you’re all like orders ahead before the publishers can jump in there. Technology slams you in the face, and in trying to do the hottest new things you forget the tried model to move onto a newer model. There is no Gutenberg press yet, but we have a ton of different hardware or format models, and readers out there with a homogeneous need to read manga for free. So the model is changing so quickly, that the industry is trying to serve the needs and of course sell. So capitalism is getting in the way.

There’s an audience and there’s a market. The market is the one willing to put the money out, and what happens is that people in the market think that the audience is the same size, but that is not true. There may be tens of thousands in the audience, but the market is only in the hundreds. This puts a gap in the perceptions of fans. Ed right now is largest company in this panel, well maybe JManga with Shueisha.

Publishing is a miserable industry, because no one has ever made any money save for Danielle Steele or Stephen King. There are 800 different layers, and we’re repairing those thin layers in dollars, so the audience may be like, they don’t want to pay $10 for a manga, but publishers usually don’t eat lunch tomorrow.

RM: In Japan people buy manga because it is part of their culture. They go to the konbini to buy food and manga.

Family Mart

EF: That brings up another issue of distribution. It is a giant ax that lives over American manga publishers’ heads, where people are saying it should be easy. Yes, in an ideal world it should be easy, but in reality there are no bookstores left, our convenience stores do not carry manga—why would they when it makes no sense? In Japan they are very efficient in distribution that has an established history. People in the United States come into manga and expect it to be as good as Japan, but it is so much more scattered. In America we only have Diamond as a distributor, and nothing. Even now Diamond is not saying anything. They don’t care, so where are we left? But it should be easier.

EC: Your point about distribution is quite critical, because in Japan it is a funny situation, because publishers exert pressure over distributors, and they exert pressure over stores. In the United States, distributors are ordered, and fueled by the cash given. So if you’re like Random House, maybe.

EF: Can you imagine Vertical exerting pressure over Walmart to get their books on their shelves?

EC: We tried, but they were like why? Serious, yes occasionally you guys [Vertical] pop in there, but we only want to order the top ten in the New York Times. We already have plenty of Naruto.

RN: The reason why manga is so well read in Japan is because there’s an existing infrastructure. We can go to a konbini and find a variety, more than Shonen Jump, classics like Golgo 13. I worked in Akihakara, and I literally tripped over manga on the streets. There’s manga everywhere.

Now specifically in North America, there’s a huge audience, tons of people, but the infrastructure created here is scanlation and illegal content. For readers it is great since it is for free, you can get it anytime. Unfortunately it takes a serious toll on the overall industry, especially on the artist. What we have to do in North America, is that we have to rebuild the infrastructure, and make it so that we can see manga in everyday life. I believe we should go to any Walmart to get a Vertical title.

EF: The other thing that is happening is that the audience is not the market. This lack of infrastructure makes you a potential victim of obscenity laws. You can think of your computer and your phone as your private rights, and can’t be seized. However the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) would think otherwise. They would definitely want to keep out pornography or the obscene content. So your yaoi and yuri doujinshi might be okay…but Canadian boarder guards might not.

RM: I want to make a clarification that not all doujinshi are hentai. It means indie. But really it is not about scaring the kid who wants to read comics. The people, who put them up there, are also people who are reading it. If I had a $10 allowance, one comic book can take me two weeks to get. If I can read unlimited comics for free, the temptation is immense. How can I make it easy for the kid to get the comic book at a reasonable price? So I think digital solves this issue.

EF: Definitely, so that’s why we’re in this early stage of pre-Gutenburg. Scanlation is something I supported back in the day when I can’t get anything. Now people who scanalate are doing it out of love. So I am not trashing scanlations or people who carry doujinshi around. But I want to say that there are issues to be aware of. Of course children who read scanlations who do not get punished learned that it is not an evil thing. There’s no sense of consequence or moral weight to the concept of downloading. But I am not angry at scanalators or at people who download; still everything must have a weight and consequence. [Erica brings up the Brandon X case, which is an ongoing issue.]

RM: So that issue is scary, that brings to the fact of the second point. But if the price is affordable, would you buy it? Scanlations are something amazing pieces of translations for amateurs, and at times terrible. Would you pay a little or reasonable price for a better quality?

EF: Isn’t that what JManga or DMP with DMG (Digital Manga Guild) doing? They’re gambling on the fact that people would pay for a decent scanlation translation.

RN: Erica and I were talking about this earlier. Let’s say this is the 80’s, and you found a manga you really like and want to share it with you friends. You translate it yourself and make a couple of copies to pass it off to your friends. It wouldn’t be an issue. Because if the mangaka were to know that this happened in another country with being translated into another language, they would be happy. That a fan in another country would have the passion to recreate their work to pass it along.

So I don’t think the scanalators are at fault. There are some scanlators that may be putting out work for ad revenue, but for the most part, scanlators are people really into the art and have a passion for that. Yet as Robert mention, some are poorly done. Though there are masterpieces, and I have to meet these people, but that is a rare situation. What I see is happening with the manga industry is similar to the music industry a couple of years ago. Something like Napster.

EF: So you can say sites like Mangafox and other aggregators is the Napster of this industry. We have to rebuild it because we have complication of dealing with Japanese companies who have their own models, methods, requirements, and their own expectations, so we’re trying to balance those needs. Now I also license original Yuri doujinshi, not parodies from circles. Even Takashima Rica also began like this, so I can go directly to them and ask them if I can do this. I have heard of decision making as yes and no.

RM: You can go directly to creators to ask.

EF: Especially now with Twitter.

RM: So yes, manga in Japan is a different culture. Mangaka may or may not know much about what is happening over here. They do know that they want to continue to create manga. Why it is costing so much is because of the layers, and everyone wants a cuts. In the U.S. it is the distribution cuts. So guess who gets the smallest cut? Publishers get the second smallest cut.

EF: How the editors then?

RM: Seems like there is an unfair balance.

RN: Changing the question, I have a question for Robert. Doujinshi is an integral and important part of the manga scene in Japan. It is a dream that makes the industry happens. A constant flowing feed of people with this passion of manga working really hard to achieve that goal. I think in the United States, the closest to the doujinshi scene is the scanlation. Do you see?

EF: There are a few independent groups. Small, but whether they have original content is an aspect, since fans really want certain products. There’s not a lot.

EC: It is also challenging, since you want to hit the circuit, it is a lot more complicated.

EF: If you hit Anime Expo, you definitely would see more of these semi-established groups. There’s an artist alley of original content. Scanlation is like fanart or fanfic, you start somewhere. The United States manga industry is really only about five years old.

RM: Tokyopop really exploded the manga scene, they didn’t cut corners, and they didn’t flip it, people liked it. So before for many Tokyopop was the gateway. However in this day and age you don’t really the middle man. That’s where scanlation, and the internet comes in. What I find is that people do know about the circles, but they’re all in Japanese. So how about I translate some, and go from there. You’re never really going to earn money from publishing. But why some companies get big, is because they get a property like Naruto, and then you get the toys.

EF: So if Soul Eater was just the manga, would it get as popular? Now there’s an anime, and people see it. So with a visual component, it can explode the scene. Bleach, Naruto, One Piece are typical Shonen Jump titles, but this is effects of Japanese distribution. In Japan I walk into a konbini, and there’s anime branded everyday ordinary goods. So everywhere you look, there is anime branded goods. Your eyes get bombarded with One Piece this and One Piece that, oh and remember it is Shonen Jump.

RN: That’s the infrastructure.

RM: We have a culture of where people really don’t read. The Japanese has a culture and history where everyone reads.

EF: People’s magazine might be the only thing they read.

RM: The only way we can do is understand how Americans would respond. Now we have a roomful of fans who want to read manga and how they want to get it. Digital might be the answer, but then what is the format they want to get it in? Do they want to see branded goods? What do they want to see? Now going to the NYCC, there was so many people, that there is definitely more manga fans than there was comic book fans. Young people are into manga.

EF: There are the expectations of fans, and definitely business looking in. However businesses also have the pay the bills.

RM & EF gets into talking about the middle man, and the necessity of a conduit, since there is still a language barrier. RM mentions that circles are quite popular in Japan, since it is a creative circle.

EC: What do you see in the future of digital manga, how are you making it in this transition period, and what should we expect from the future?

RN: That’s a great question. JManga’s medium is working in digital, but we work close to 40 print publishers, and majority has a great passion for paper. Though I work for a digital platform, I still love paper. There is a way for paper and digital to coincide harmoniously. It takes a lot of the cost down and takes risks away doing it digitally, so on JManga, we’re releasing a lot of niche titles that is quite difficult to release in print. However I think there are still those fans who always want to have that physical copy, so you can physically share with.

EC: That is the issue with this much formats, but we can’t just share it quite freely as of yet.

RN: You can use the digital platform, to increase the emotional value of the paper edition. You can use digital to get the message out there, metaphorically make it the One Piece onigiri that everyone to see. But the paper for fans who definitely want it.

RM: We do both, digital and print. $2 for digital and $10 for print, we sold half and half.

EF: Everyone in this room grew up with print, it is a natural standard. Nowadays, children are exposed to iPads and so it would be as if that generation would be like this generation’s idea of looking at LP’s and thinking I don’t need the record, when I have the CD. It really is how we grew up, so most of the young people are not going to have that nostalgia for print. In ten years, attendees of MangaNEXT might be saying, why are we killing trees? It is not going to be the format of choice anymore. We like it because we’re use to it, but that would change, and it would be like the way we don’t have LP collections anymore.

RM: I thought of what Robert mentioned on getting digital out there as a promotional tool. What really it can be is a tool for accessories. The weeklies in Japan don’t make money, they’re phone books. Now the whole purpose of them is to get the tankobon out.

EC: It is really interesting to look into specific sectors of the manga industry, since I know in shojo. They can’t get the magazines out anymore; they’re doing a lot more packaging, the little purses etc. to try and get people to buy.

EF: We as a publisher know that our next release definitely has to have a digital imprint. We’ve already had people contact us to see if we’re going to do a digital imprint. What else we’re going to try to acknowledge is with a book, you can put it in your pocket or your backpack, carry it with you. But you don’t always have room for a book, but room for your iPhone. So if I have the digital copy, then I would always have a copy of that. I can promise that all ALC Publishing would be DRM-free. However right now we’re caught in a zone of wanting to be in as many formats and as accessible as possible, but that should continue to shift as time goes on. We currently don’t have a standard, but I know that everyone in the industry is trying to find their own standard methodology and a business plan that makes some money. As a fan it is frustrating if you want Yen, then you have to go their app, same with Viz. There’s no bookstore or library. There’s no frictionless way for you to sample lots of different things from different places. That’s one of the ways that JManga is attempting to do, make that a lot more frictionless. Right now a book has to exist.

EC: Can we imagine a one stop shop for all this in the near future? Or are we all going to continue with different platforms?

EF: This part is bizarre to me, but I honestly believe that every consumer has failed to make their voices heard. We allowed our hardware companies to make decisions, and why does that not enrage you? If Apple said to you, sorry digital manga, you can’t yaoi on your iPad because it is icky. I am so enraged by Apple people letting that happened, that if you want to see me rant for five minutes. So everyone allow overzealous hardware company…[Steve Jobs] St. Jobs… to make your content decisions for you. When Jobs put the iPad out, he said he’s going to protect the world from porn.

RM: I think that would work out, but right now is to focus on the way things are delivered. The future is obviously digital, but the content itself, obviously Japanese has different tastes than Americans. What I really like is how Vertical redesigns and repackages the product for Americans. That is probably a different conversation. Can you release everything in America?

EC: In theory, we’ll have the computer translating everything as it is printed, but that is not possible now. Do we want curators out there, to say this is an awesome book, great for a library or museum? Well at this point I do see Gen as being the one stop shop for doujins. I would to be able to someday have as a fan one place where there would be conversations and reviews to check this out. Social media I think helps.

RN: That is a mission and goal for JManga, to get manga and manga culture out there. There are already wonderful publishers doing wonderful things. That is a stop shop. Currently it is called the manga scene, there’s no real place to get that information on a constant flow. What we’re trying to do at JManga, is that there are some titles printed by Viz, you can get information about the title, read a little of it, and then go to Viz to get it. We’re trying to get the manga scene to the next level. Once we get there, we’re going to have an automatic one stop shop.

EF: Then people are going to complain of monopolizing. I think if we were to have a conversation like this, 20 years ago, it would be the retail comic store, which is your one stop shop. Then those died, so we are seeing what is happening with the corporatization of the comic industry now. So we’re struggling to put these concepts out. If I want to put a book out, how would I be sure that there is a print copy, a digital copy with its multiple formats? It would be just so much easier to do one thing, flick the switch, and everyone just pay me. I definitely didn’t get into publishing for money, but I do see JManga as being one step into being a one stop shop. I would like to see where it would be a place where there are recommendations, blogs, if you like this then you would like that. That is an Amazon of manga. Which they do a really bad job. We’re missing curating, if you like this then you would like that.

EC: At least in the present, we have publishers. All right this is definitely it. Thank you for coming to MangaNEXT, we need to have more events like this.

Conversation with Felipe Smith at MangaNEXT

Felipe Smith, mangaka of Peepo Choo was a guest at this year’s MangaNEXT. He is one of the few foreigners that have gotten a chance to work exclusively at Japan as a mangaka. Prior to that American readers may have known him from MBQ an OEL manga that was released from Tokyopop. I was able to interview him, with Brigid who wrote for Robot 6. Since Felipe spoke English fluently, it was quite easy to speak with him, and he ended up going on these great tangents. Below are notes from my interview and from his panel later.

What has been the most challenging aspect of going professional?

 Convincing editors to let me do what I want. Because to experience something different is going to be hard to accept.

Do you have a routine for outlining your stories? Is it on the spur of the moment, or would you talk with your editor on pitching ideas and storyboards?

It has also been a different experience in the United States and Japan. In the United States I was allowed free rein, since my editor liked a lot of my material. In Japan it is more of a joint effort, my editor and I sit down chapter by chapter… so it is a big battle. Going to Japan, my work from the states before doesn’t matter. I am technically not a new artist, but in Japan, I was treated as a 新人. So in Japan it depends on how much your work sells before your editor lets you go on your own.

Would you have any assistant helping with your projects?

Yes… One assistant for Peepo Choo. So you pay for your own assistant at about $100 a day. Now pay rate for a beginning mangaka is three times less. As a beginning mangaka, you’re just paying assistants, and royalties are what you would later earn. That why some manga series last for well over 10 years. You have to support your assistants and those are also artists who want to be in your spot. You need to feed yourself and in a Japanese shoebox apartment. Since I have to feed myself, inevitably I end up cooking for my assistant. I don’t use them for assisting me with cleaning, but that is usually part of their job. Time and money needed to be budgeted. “I have a futon under one desk,” so my assistant would work while I sleep and vice versa in an 11 to 12 hour work day. “Hardest part of this is dividing the work.” Now my [screen] tones are digital, so I can do a lot of the work myself. But the schedule of being a mangaka prevents you. I tried out seven assistants before choosing one. An assistant can also be testing you, like working slowly or doing something different.

What has been your inspiration?

I have a background in fine arts, so I would look at that and at other things.  Simon Bisley is an artist  that I have admired in high school, his comics had humor quite in your face, funny and crude. Also an Argentina comic known as Cazador that I have also enjoyed. I have been fortunate to meet all my art idols, yet as an artist I want to leave my mark and be known for my art, but I have learned that you can’t appease everyone. At this time, I have been wary of meeting artists that I have been inspired by, wary for how they would treat their fans. I try not to be like artists who would be bastards to fans though

Since 3/11 in Japan last year, how has it been as a foreigner living in Japan?

It has been the same… earthquakes happen all the time, so it is something to be of use to. I had gone to Japan for work. Lots of foreigners left. “Flyjjins.” Foreigners who stayed really liked where they are living. This event was a catalyst to get rid of lots of foreigners. My family was really worried, they called every day. Yet I was still working… but with an uncertainty as to what was happening. I did go to Los Angeles for two weeks to appease family. The main change from last year is that people realized what their situation was and natural disasters can happen at any moment.

Do you have any pets?

No pets. I like to play with friend’s pets though. Though being in Japan though can be the loneliest days of your life. I use to be a dog person as a kid, but too much responsibilities and no time.

Any more works that readers can expect?

I have been pitching plots for over two year. There are several projects, but can’t talk about it.

Now at his fan Q&A later, Felipe Smith spoke candidacy with audience. Here are my notes from that panel.

  • Felipe has always wanted to write for a global audience. Publishers in Japan want to work with talent from abroad. But they definitely do not want artwork or style or storytelling to mimic others.
  • Felipe spoke about the concepts of Honne (本音) and tatemae (建前).
  • Lots of details he has written in Peepo Choo  may have went over Japanese readers. So many reactions are interpreted differently. Even flipping the bird is meant differently.
  • Manga is a good medium to skim through without needing to read it much in depth.
  • Prior to going to Japan, as an artist he used Sharpies and pens. Now he uses Nix Pens, and G pen is quite a popular nib. He doesn’t use traditional tones, but digital ones.
  • He did the translation from the Japanese releases. Volume 3 is his own words in Japanese. He wrote Volume 1-2 with assistant, initially he wrote in English, but has to end up rewriting it into Japanese. He has 100% control over English script.
  • Reading has a longer tradition in Japanese. So when his book was published there was a poll for audience in the Japanese market, and there were mixed reviews of half and half. No one believe he was English, until he went on television.
  • Really can’t veer too much from the norm in storytelling.
  • When asked what characters he loved to draw in Peepo Choo. Smith responded with an answer of being unable to choose. He named practically everyone in the cast.
Felipe Smith's random sketch
Jody as an octopus doodle

There are definitely some more images of Felipe Smith at MangaNEXT check it out at Anime Diet’s Flickr here.

Gen Manga at MangaNEXT

Robert McGuire

As one of the few industry companies at MangaNEXT, Gen Manga publishes new doujinshi’s straight from Japanese creators. On the Friday of MangaNEXT, Robert McGuire, editor and president of Gen Manga had a panel that was attended by a small group.

Doujinshi gets confused as fan made copies of licensed proprieties, but McGuire sets the record straight on doujins just being indie manga. Manga in Japan that are published by artists for free on their website or in their circles.

McGuire has lived in Japan and fallen in love with doujinshi. He wants to make it available at affordable prices for English readers/fans. There is the well known Comiket, but there is also Comita, which is a smaller but annual doujinshi convention.

At electronic subscription it is only for $2 a month. Subscribers can read/download issues at PDF formats.  Gen Manga can also be read through Still Gen Manga is starting to be available at specific bookstores for about $10 an issue. With releasing simultaneously, this is seen as a model to combat piracy. Viz and Yen has utilized Gen’s similar business model with their own properties.

Yuri Panel at MangaNEXT

Erica Friedman (@yuricon) and Sean Gaffney (@toukochan) hosts this panel on a genre of manga that does not get as much props as it deserves. Among the numerous titles out there. What is good? What are ones to perhaps avoid. This is not a panel that would suggest for attendees where there is just lesbian sex. Erica just happened to be cleaning house, so she was giving away Japanese goods to audience members.

Tweeting and generally wi-fi was horrible at Panel 2, but yes these three anime titles are suggested for yuri fans to view. These titles may not outright be yuri, but definitely for yuri-minded fans. Black Rock Shooter and Puella Magi Madoka Magica are available for free online via Nico Nico Douga and Crunchy Roll. Revolutionary Girl Utena as a clarification is available as a DVD set from

Since began last year, they have been releasing digitally titles that often may or may not get released in print.  Girlfriends, being the only exception is also available in print from Seven SeasLove My Life, and Poor Poor Lips are yuri electronic released titles. Erica gives much props to on bringing over Yuri titles to be read in English.

MangaNEXT 2012 Panels in a Nutshell

Yes you would have to have microscopic vision to see it, but in a nutshell, the image above was my schedule for MangaNEXT. The purpose of this entry is to highlight a portion of panels I was able to attend, yet do not have as much notes or tweets about, so I can easily sum up these panels in a nutshell.

MangaNEXT panels were split into either Industry or fan panels that spoke about manga recommendations, the process of creating manga, or Q&A’s with invited Mangakas. There were also other panels that interested attendees.


Ezera at opening ceremony

Opening Ceremony began slightly delayed, and was the only panel I saw that had a line before it began. Normally convention guests would be at the Opening ceremony, but there were none at this one, so convention chair Ezara Cudjoe spoke thanking the audience for their support.

Manga is relatively one of the subsets within this umbrella of Japanese culture, it is an established industry in Japan, but succeeding in the United States is another story. Still anyone attending MangaNEXT shows proof that there are fans.

Cosplay Burlesque

After attending a couple of anime conventions last year.. and missing this event every single time. I am finally able to see a portion of this at MangaNEXT . Yes you have to be 18+, and no you can’t take photographs. So armed with a set of earplugs. I made my way over to the Burlesque with my friends. Participants in this show showed up in cosplay and stripped down to undies and pasties. Cell phones were also not allowed at this event. One thing I can say that was a memorable act, was the Angry Birds skit.


I happened to attend Ed Chavez’s Indie Manga panel, that was woefully cut short due to technical difficulties. Hopefully Ed would be having the powerpoint up soon. Heard Natsume Ono’s name several times. Felipe Smith was also in the audience, so there was an interesting dialogue between these two industry people.

Vertical at MangaNEXT

Vertical Panel was an industry/Publisher panel ran by Ed Chavez (@vertical_ed), who has been dangling the announcement of three new titles prior to the convention via twitter. He had a similar presentation to last year’s industry panel at AnimeNEXT. Here are some of my notes:

  • Chi’s Sweet Home with vol 8 has caught up with Japanese releases. Releases shall be slower, but vol 9 will be out in May and English version looking for an August release.
  • Drops of God is only going to be 5 volumes. Not enough in sales to justify bringing out the entire 40+ volume series. has retail prices of individual wine from manga if you want to taste.
  • Dororo is to be released soon. Meant as a value release in only paperback. Going to be keeping the same cover as previous volumes, and paper quality would be like Drops of God.
  • Vertical catalog is going exclusively on ebook format.
  • Flowers of Evil from Shuzo Oshimi is releasing in May. This was run in the same magazine as Attack on Titan, may appeal to Love Hina fans.
  • Five Centimeters per Second from Makoto Shinkai’s noted movie. This is an omnibus trade paperback out in June. Take a look at the cover here.
  • Heroman from Stan Lee and Tamon Ohta is a new property. Looks to be a September release. Great way to get into manga from not necessarily a Japanese property.
  • Message to Adolf part 1 out August in Hardcover format with 614 pages.
  • Sakuran from Moyoco Anno is releasing in July.
  • Limit from Keiko Suenobu is a new title. Her previous work Life was released from Tokyopop.
  • Queen’s Blade Perfect Visual Collection is releasing in November with hard cover treatment. Vertical will get into artbooks, so “why not go in fists flying?”

Some issues brought up from audience on potential for more Usamaru Furuya works. Sales have been limited, favored title for Academic, so it is up to mangaka on willingness for more English releases.

Summing MangaNEXT 2012

I am glad that this year I was able to attend MangaNEXT. It is an intimate convention held this year at the Sheraton Meadowland Hotel & Conference Center that was one train ride from New York City on the New Jersey Transit paired with a complimentary shuttle from the hotel.

MangaNEXT is known as the only convention in the United States that focuses on manga/graphic novels/comic, so for any manga supporter/fan/amateur artist, it is the convention to be at. Starting from 2006, its history as a convention is quite new, so there is potential and room to grow. This is the sister convention to AnimeNEXT, and typically held around October, however due to NYCC being held around the same time MangaNEXT last year ended up skipping 2011’s convention year and resumed 2012.

At MangaNEXT, one floor covered panels, artist alley, dealer’s room, and any other normal (anime) convention activities like Manga Swaps, Workshops, Games, Sake Tasting and the updated/convention traveling Manga Library, that I have seen at other conventions like AnimeNEXT, Otakon, Anime Boston, and New York Anime Festival. The programming of this convention was only one page on my PDF viewer. So for convention goers, this is a typically light convention. For people on Twitter, check out #manganext for the ongoing conversation about this convention.

Winners of 24C at Artist Alley

One activity that stood out as an unique activity was a 24 hour challenge/contest in model building. I spoke with the organizer on Friday, as attendees can sign up for a kit and build models. Then I observed over the two days as participants built their models around the convention. I happened upon the winners at Artist Alley on Sunday, who won based on artistic creativity that included pipping and pegging the model. Winning the contest, certainly includes bragging rights, a nice trophy, and definitely time well spent on building a beloved figure. More pictures of this are up over at Anime Diet’s Flickr. As the organizers closed off this year’s MangaNEXT. Look forward to AnimeNEXT in June 2012.