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NEWS: Del Rey Interview on TCJ




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LydiaDianne



Joined: 28 Jan 2006
Posts: 5629
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 19, 2006 10:45 pm Reply with quote
Dang! I sent this to the newsroom at 8:26 pm California time and it is now 8:43! You guys are QUICK!!!

Thanks for putting up the article. I found it to be very interesting and Mr. Middaugh quite the spokesman.

Quote:
Bookstores aren't ordering everything they can get their hands on, any more. There are levels to manga sales like in any other category, and it works in much the same fashion as other categories. There are the top-level bestsellers -- your Narutos, your Fruits Baskets, your Negimas -- that get all the attention and continue to demonstrate the health of the market. Then there's a body of midlist titles that do respectable business and make a majority of the sales, and a bottom level of titles that are selling 2000, 3000 copies; nothing to write home about.

It's possible to make mistakes in the manga market. ADV had an aggressive line of titles a couple of years back, but discovered that they'd overplayed their hand and cut back accordingly.


He makes a very good point here. I think that all of the manga companies have slowed down and aren't tossing titles every which way to the public. They're slowing down and actually taking time to see what might actually work with American manga readers instead of shoving crap onto the bookshelves.

Quote:
DEPPEY: I must admit to being utterly fascinated by Western comics publishers' inability to learn from the lessons offered by manga's current success, especially the way that manga sales have shattered beliefs that the U.S. Market has been cultivating over a decade, now -- "Girls don't read comics, there's something in how their brains are wired that just doesn't respond to the way comics work." I've actually heard people use that argument, believe it or not, and now it's impossible to pretend that this is the case. Why do you think Marvel and DC have been unable to attract the kinds of readers who've turned to manga?

MIDDAUGH: Well, the short answer is to quote back what you wrote in that essay ["She's Got Her Own Thing Now," TCJ #269]: They're asking how they can get manga readers to read Spider-Man, and that's the wrong question to be asking. What they should be asking is, "How can we tell stories that will resonate with ordinary people outside the confines of comics shops?"


The essay "She's Got Her Own Thing Now" is also a must read. It's very interesting to see what the American Comic market thinks of us.

From "She's got Her Own Thing Now":
Quote:
Speaking for myself, the straw that broke the camel's back fell during this year's Emerald City Con in Seattle. I'd stepped out to smoke a cigarette and was watching the passersby. I noticed a family leaving the convention -- a Mom, a Dad, and a little girl no older than eight years of age. The girl was decked out in a beautiful, elaborate kimono and clearly distressed by what she'd just encountered. "But they didn't hardly have any manga at all!" she said as they walked away.

When I was done with my cigarette, I went back inside and relayed this story to an acquaintance prominent in the art-comics publishing scene. "I hate to say it, but good," was his reply. Indeed, I told the story several more times that day, to both indy-comics and superhero-comics professionals, and the reaction was more or less the same each time. A young reader disappointed by the selection offered to her? Good. The future of comics walks out the door, unable to find what she wants? Good. I left the convention early, lost in a foul mood. I swear: I love the comics art form with a passion, but my utter contempt for the American comics industry grows like a cancer with each passing day.


"Good"?? Are these people out of their minds? From things that I've read the American Comic market is hurting and they think its GOOD that a little girl, the future buyer of their product, walked away dissappointed. They are very strange.

Quote:
DEPPEY: Do you see any indication that Western comics publishers are learning from manga's success?

MIDDAUGH: Not really, no. If anything, they're getting worse. I tried to follow that recent miniseries that DC did, Infinite Crisis, and it was just impossible to read without having a Ph.D in superhero trivia, you know? I've been reading comics all my life, and I still couldn't make heads or tails of it. You've got Superman, Earth-II Superman, Earth-Prime Superboy, a Superboy clone, and all of these obscure references to past storylines piled on top of one another. Unless you're already deeply into that sort of thing, it just doesn't make any sense at all. You can't build a market that way. It's odd that these people keep hoping for a manga bust, when it's the American model that's more likely to come tumbling down.


Well, seeing what the people said about that little girl in the previous quote, I hope they get what they deserve.

Quote:
DEPPEY: I don't know; I found the whole Tenjou Tenge fiasco to be woefully symptomatic of DC's general approach to comics. They just shoved it down readers' throats and ignored the reaction from fans, which is easy to do if you own the environment the way they do in comics shops, but far dicier when you're a minor player entering a new market.

MIDDAUGH: We found the Tenjou Tenge controversy to be very instructive: The readers want the original work, as the author intended it to be read. When we'd earlier found ourselves in a similar position with Negima, we listened to the fans, released the series with an older age-rating and shrink-wrap, and we've done just fine with them.


Thank God!! He (and/or Del Rey) actually know what they're doing and how to market to us!

I really enjoyed reading Mr. Deppy's interview with Mr. Middaugh and Mr. Deppy's essay "She's Got Her Own Thing Now." Both gave me a lot of insight to both the manga industry and the American Comic industry. To me it looks like the AC industry is going to have to work hard(er) to keep it's fan base than anime and manga are going to have to.

Quote:
DEPPEY: Oh, I don't think the Direct Market's headed for any kind of dramatic crash; I think the decline of the current American model will likely take decades. There's no real entryway for new readers, but there's still a sizeable pool of die-hard fans willing to spend money, so in the short term, there's no real reason to affect any kind of real change to the way things are done. The problem is, the current Direct-Market client base averages between 25 and 35 years of age, which means that 10 years from now, it'll be between 35 and 45 years old. In 20 years, it'll be between 45 and 55 years old, and readers will drop off through sheer attrition along the way. It won't happen tomorrow -- hell, in the short term, there's even room for growth, as readers with more spending money than they had when they were teenagers buy up paperback collections of the comics they've got bagged and boarded, and companies pump up comic sales through miniseries, special-event comics and variant editions. But it can't last.


If you don't provide a product that attracts the young, you don't continue to make money. Every time I go into the bookstore, MEN who are my age (37) and older are seen on occasion looking through the collection of American Comics that are in hard and soft cover collections on the shelves. But PEOPLE my age and younger are always looking through the manga shelves. I've noticed this: As the manga SECTIONS get larger, the American Comic SHELVES grow smaller.
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AstroNerdBoy



Joined: 03 Feb 2004
Posts: 373
Location: Denver, CO

PostPosted: Thu Jul 20, 2006 12:04 am Reply with quote
That was an excellent interview. I didn't know Mr. Middaugh worked at Viz, but clearly he learned how things could be done better and brought that to Del Rey. The translator notes in their manga just rock!

I liked how he noted that when Del Rey had initially planned to censor Negima!, they listened to the fans (which we already knew) and changed their plans accordingly. It was nice to hear it "from the horses mouth" that they are interested in what fans have to say. So no CMX stuff for Del Rey, which is why I'll remain a loyal customer.
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freshkazuki



Joined: 27 May 2005
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Location: Texas

PostPosted: Thu Jul 20, 2006 11:11 am Reply with quote
Wow, I was really impressed by this interview, mostly by the fact that Middaugh's respect and committment to manga really came through. It was nice to hear that Del Rey actually learned from CMX's mistake and that they chose "the customer is always right" over stubborness and arrogance, as is the case with CMX. Is the essay "She's got her own thing now" available online? Although I find their reliance on "sure sells" a tad disturbing, this is the real world where you have to make money, and there are plenty of other manga companies out there willing to take risks on lesser known or more experimental titles so I guess it all balances out in the end. And I wonder how much longer this having it both ways view of scanalations will last? Overall, I think Del Rey is doing a good job. Even though I read just one of their titles, Genshiken, I still respect their work and quality of presentation for the fans of their other series.
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LydiaDianne



Joined: 28 Jan 2006
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 20, 2006 11:15 am Reply with quote
freshkazuki wrote:
Is the essay "She's got her own thing now" available online?


There is a link to it in the 4th paragraph down in the section titled "Decline and Fall of the Western Emipre." Just click on the title. It's a good VERY good essay!
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jsevakis
ANN Director of New Media


Joined: 28 Jul 2003
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 20, 2006 11:42 am Reply with quote
Agreed. Here's a link, for the lazy...
http://tcj.com/​269/​e_own1.​html

Dallas is one of the smartest people in the industry these days, and I was very lucky to meet him at AX this year.
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Help_me_Im_a_n00b



Joined: 21 Sep 2005
Posts: 34

PostPosted: Thu Jul 20, 2006 12:35 pm Reply with quote
Wow. Those were great reads. I finally understand how Del Rey met success, because I was thinking...bbbbut they're an American publisher who before was not even associated with anime / manga fandom!!! (unlike Viz, Tokyopop who cater specifically to it)

Kudos to LydiaDianne for finding this article...I'm not a reader of tcj...why would I since I don't follow American comics, and their 'virtual storefront' of a webpage reminds me of the Direct Market shops...hiding the fact that they have plenty of manga-related stuff inside.
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LydiaDianne



Joined: 28 Jan 2006
Posts: 5629
Location: Support Breast Cancer Research

PostPosted: Thu Jul 20, 2006 1:15 pm Reply with quote
Help_me_Im_a_n00b wrote:

Kudos to LydiaDianne for finding this article...I'm not a reader of tcj...why would I since I don't follow American comics, and their 'virtual storefront' of a webpage reminds me of the Direct Market shops...hiding the fact that they have plenty of manga-related stuff inside.


Actually give thanks to Right Stuf International. I found it on their home page and then sent it to ANN, who very quickly got it on THEIR home page! So thanks to Right Stuf and ANN!
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Dargonxtc



Joined: 13 Apr 2006
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 20, 2006 2:06 pm Reply with quote
Thanks to Lydia, TSRI, and ANN. Very interesting read. Usually you read about how the Japanese can be stubborn, but here it is just the opposite.
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Kagemusha



Joined: 20 Feb 2004
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Location: Boston

PostPosted: Thu Jul 20, 2006 2:39 pm Reply with quote
As expected from TCJ, an exellent article. It's nice to see an interview that isn't just some souped-up press release like that recent Viz one was, and that actually addresses issues like the slow-down of manga sales recently. The one thing I would have liked is a more focused discussion on their Mature-line and the possibility of expanding manga readership. Personally I've been disapointed with their initial picks, as they've been pretty juvinille in the story department (Basilisk is fairly decent for the fight scenes, but Suzuka is standard harem crap). Still, that's what sells (unfortunatally). Anyways, exellent all around.
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AstroNerdBoy



Joined: 03 Feb 2004
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 20, 2006 2:51 pm Reply with quote
Actually, there's one thing I would like to have had asked -- will Del Rey branch out beyond their relationship with Kodansha?
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Kagemusha



Joined: 20 Feb 2004
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 20, 2006 7:07 pm Reply with quote
AstroNerdBoy wrote:
Actually, there's one thing I would like to have had asked -- will Del Rey branch out beyond their relationship with Kodansha?

I don't see why they would need to. The only real reason is if they wanted to licence a mega-hit, and Viz has dibs on Shueisha/Shoga titles. I suppose it's possible, but it isn't like Kodansha has a lack of sure-fire hits.
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