Interview with Gutsoon!

by Isaac Alexander, Feb 4th 2003
Anime News Network has completed an interview with Executive Vice President of Gutsoon, Michael Palmieri.

ANN: Are you happy about the sales of Raijin Comics and Raijin G&A?

Michael: Sales have been great. We couldn't be happier with how Raijin Comics is being accepted across North America.

ANN: You recently signed a deal with Ingram to have Raijin Comics distributed in major bookstores. Can you provide us a rough target date as to when we can start seeing it on the shelf?

Ingram is the main distributor for bookstores across North America. Getting into the book stores is a major accomplishment for getting more manga in mainstream retail outlets. You'll begin to see Rajin Comics at your local Barnes & Noble or Borders in the month of May with issue 21. We're also hoping to announce a newsstand distributor for Raijin Comics. Appearing on newsstands will also start with issue 21.

ANN: What led to your company folding Raijin G & A into Raijin Comics?

Michael: We listened mostly to our readers, but also to the various distributors and retailers of Raijin. All we heard is that they liked the content of both publications, but the vast majority felt that they'd would work better as one edition. We decided to combine both publications in to one, but we also chose to keep the current price of Raijin. We see this as a great situation for our readers. Also, Raijin G&A will be in the future known simply as RGA.

ANN: Why not create a monthly magazine? Is this still a possibility?

Michael: We wanted to increase the value of Raijin Comics. Were we to move to a monthly magazine, we couldn't keep the magazine as current as a weekly publication. There's already plenty of monthly and bi-monthly anime magazines in North America. Raijin Comics is now a bigger bang for the buck. We're content to keep it weekly.

ANN: Do you think the market is growing for anime and manga magazines?

Michael: Our market research states that the current manga sales market in North America is about $500 million. The market grew 400 percent from 2001 to 2002. The manga market is penetrating into mainstream entertainment on the continent. So yes, we do believe the market is growing, and we intend to help make the market larger, and profit from it.

ANN: How tough has it been, setting up your new venture?

Michael: It's involved long nights and lots of travel time between here and Japan. Hopefully, less travel time for me in the future. When we started, the comics industry in North America had never published something like Raijin Comics in a weekly format. We had to create our own marketing plan from scratch on how we planned to release manga. We believe we have created a plan that will gradually grow with the company over time.

ANN: What will become of the Raijin G&A magazine's website, as well as your other websites, such as gutsoon.com?

Michael: We're looking at integrating the content of all three websites(RGA, Raijin Comics, & Gutsoon) together in the near future. They'll all still be around, though. The integration of content will take place in May when the two magazines merge into one. The websites for the time being will stay as they are. We also plan to incorporate more data from our parent company's website Coamix.

ANN: What is the status of your first graphic novel, Fist of the North Star: The Master Edition?

Michael: Actually, it's out now. Volume 1 came out in the direct market stores in late January. Volume 2 is coming out this month. Besides Fist of the North Star, we plan to announce our entire graphic novel lineup for 2003. Price, size and titles will be forthcoming in a press release.

ANN: Will your graphic novels also be available in major bookstores?

Michael: We're currently finalizing a deal to have Raijin Comics Graphic Novels available in retail outlets across the continent. Details will be announced very soon. You won't have to worry about not finding our titles in store shelves by the end of the year.

ANN: How is the Fist of the North Star DVD coming along?

Michael: It's progressing well in Japan. We hope to have the DVD be released this summer in North America. Also, we hope to be able to announce in the near future our full release schedule for DVDs. Not just Fist of the North Star, but other titles as well.

ANN: Can you tell us about the International Manga Awards?

Michael: I'd like to point everyone to the contest site's main page for information. We're really excited about this. We're hoping for a large amount of submissions. Winners for the second annual awards will be announced in May. People can send in their work for the third International Manga Awards by Sept. 30, 2003

ANN: How big is Gutsoon! Entertainment in terms of employees?

Michael: We have roughly 15 employees at this time.

ANN: Do you plan to participate in Free Comic Book Day this May?

Michael: Unfortunately, no. We've allocated our marketing towards other avenues of promotion. However, we believe Free Comic Book Day is an excellent way to promote manga in North America. We hope to be able to participate in it next year.

ANN: Do you have any final statements you wish to make?

Michael: Please keep sending us your feedback on how we can make Raijin Comics a better product.

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