Interview: Unified Pictures and Vampire Hunter Dby Daryl Surat,
In June of 2015, it was announced that a new Vampire Hunter D animated coproduction was in the early planning stages, but since that time there have been no further publicized developments. Ahead of their Anime Expo 2016 panel, we touched base with Kurt Rauer and Scott McLean from Unified Pictures to talk about the status of the project from the US half of the production, and their just-launched Kickstarter.
Daryl Surat: It's been roughly one year to the day of this interview that you two made the announcement regarding a new Vampire Hunter D anime, but we haven't really heard anything since. What has happened over the last year?
Kurt Rauer: Our two production companies, Unified Pictures and Digital Frontier, have grown closer over that year. The relationship has broadened and deepened, so it's been important to really lay a good, solid foundation of trust. It's a little bit time-consuming in that doing something with a Japanese corporation, being sensitive to their structure, and them understanding our structure has been a bit of a learning curve, but we've had the patience to do this with them and I think it's actually going to prove very beneficial during production because there is a higher level of trust between the two groups. Along the way we've had interactions with [Vampire Hunter D original light novel author Hideyuki] Kikuchi-sensei and that side of things via Digital Frontier, so there's also additional trust built on that front. We have been visually developing what the series can look like. We've been working on the writer as well as the show structure front to put together a presentation package that we'll take to a myriad of outlets here in the United States, and we intend to do that in the next two to three months at the latest. We are first going to go through Anime Expo, as we are now beginning what I would call a bit of a test market at the same time as providing the fan base with what we hope is some additional new material presented in a palatable way.
To do that, we're creating a comic series of a short story that Kikuchi had written, and we're doing that in a multi-part issue basis. That's what our push will be through Anime Expo here and over the next month: to let everyone know that we intend to Kickstart a comic book based around these issues of a short story from Kikuchi.
Daryl: Last year you noted that you'd use a traditional pitch for the series, but Kickstarter is a new innovation as far as getting projects out there goes. What prompted the change in approach?
Scott McLean: The approach for the television series hasn't changed. We are only doing the Kickstarter for the comic book, not the show. With the comic book, a VHD adaptation has never been done for American style comic books so we have the questions of “how many people would want this? How popular could this be?” From the feedback we've gotten asking different groups quietly about this--some of it quite anonymously--we learned that there are quite a few people very interested in a Vampire Hunter D comic book. So by offering it as a Kickstarter, it gives us a way to let fans preorder it in a way that we can show it to Kikuchi-san and his agent because they are very unfamiliar with the American comic book market. At the same time, there hasn't been any new official Vampire Hunter D merchandise for fans to get their hands on in almost a decade. So this Kickstarter will also let us create a number of things that will be unique to it for fans that want some of those items, as well as give us a chance to showcase a lot of the art.
Daryl: It sounds like there has been quite a fair share of movement from the pre-production side of things in the last year. In the previous interview, you mentioned the website http://vhdtheseries.com would provide updates over time, such as development blogs and videos talking about the process, though when that interview was first posted a year ago it was just a teaser page. That page is still the same now as it was last year. Why did the plans for all of that change?
Kurt: It's really a matter of getting our feet underneath us from a production standpoint, and it being a necessary evil of taking that extra time to get off the ground. It's sort of a relationship building thing. We have been very hesitant to grab the ball out of anyone's grasp in Japan and try to run with it. By working all together, we've built a more substantial foundation and we've built a more substantial package to take with us to studios so it is less spur-of-the-moment, shoot-from-the-hip. The downside is that because we still haven't yet taken that tour to studios, we wanted to keep the viz dev artwork private, and rightly so. Unfortunately, we haven't been able to share as much with the fans as we wanted to as a result. To make up for that, doing something like working in the comic medium that's a little more immediate can provide a very quick feedback loop to what you're doing. The barrier to entry isn't as enormous as creating an animated series, so you can get something very high quality out to the fan base without spending the same budgets that you would spend on an animated series which would necessitate a studio to get behind. That's really the long and the short of it.
Daryl: For any sort of comic book endeavor, a key question among fans is the creative team behind it. You mentioned it'd be based off of a script from the original author, Hideyuki Kikuchi. Who are the writers and artists on this project?
Kurt: Both the writer and the artist, unless something unforeseen changes, will be at Anime Expo. We will have a booth at 4924 and 4925, so if fans are curious they will be able to come meet Michael Broussard as the artist (videogames such as Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead and Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2, comics such as Witchblade, Civil War: The Initiative) and Brandon Easton (M.A.S.K., Civil War II: Choosing Sides) as the writer. They've worked for Top Cow, IDW, DC, and Marvel. They've got a long list of credits for comic books, and Brandon has also written for television (2011's Thundercats, Agent Carter).
Daryl: A writer like Brandon is certainly informed about Japanese animation, but typically when I see successful crowdfunding efforts they're generally driven by nostalgia for past creator successes: “hey, I'm the person who made this thing in the past that was well-received, and now I want to bring it back or make something stylistically similar.” As was brought up last year, you guys are roughly the same age as I am which is to say we're about twice the age of your average anime convention attendee…
Daryl: The last high-profile work for Vampire Hunter D was from before many current anime fans were even born. With less potential for a large group of people to have nostalgia for the character, and the hands-on creative team likely to be unknown names to this fan base, how do you think you'll be able to convince potential backers to support this and have it meet its funding goals?
Scott: Good storytelling is good storytelling. In seeing the success last year of the Blu-Ray remasters of both the 1985 film and the 2000 Bloodlust by Sentai and Discotek along with the continued sales of the novels from Dark Horse, I think that very much shows there is an active and loyal fan base. So if we put something new out there, especially with this being a story that has never been translated such that this will be its first time ever seeing large-scale publication in any language, we think that will be something which isn't restricted necessarily to a specific age group or gender.
Kurt: Kickstarter can be a great medium to introduce somebody to something new, or in this case renew to somebody. What we're really trying to gauge using the platform itself is “how broad is that interest? Who is our market?” We have an idea, of course, that it is “guys like us that are of this age group.” We know what that is and how that market exists to some degree; older-school fans. The younger generations, I think, can be introduced to this through something that's inexpensive to pick up, widely available, and tell good stories that get you to know the entire character base at a deeper level than an older single feature film may do for you. So long story short: I think we're using Kickstarter for what it was created to do: take a good idea, bring it to a large audience, propose it to them, and see what the reaction is. We believe that it will do incredibly well. What we are hoping to do is create something that is artistically sound and viable while at the same time reintroducing this to a very broad market.
Daryl: On the subject of market broadness and the success of the Blu-Rays, what's your perceived distribution for this comic such that people will be able to get it beyond the backers? What level of “objectionable” content are we looking at, since you previously noted the animated series would be aimed at a more mature audience level?
Kurt: It's an adult drama. To do this right, we felt from the very beginning that we needed to find a good group of storytellers that had a live interest in making this happen from scratch, essentially. Our production partners in this is LA-based Stranger Comics, so the distribution chain will be the traditional one. It will be in every comic book store coast to coast. The added benefit to Kickstarting an early issue and to give the fans something unique and novel is to show your average retailer that it is a high caliber thing, there is a market for it, and to pick this book up and put it on the shelf in big numbers. So it's sort of preceding a larger market, if you will.
Anime fans are the 10% tastemakers. These folks are people that are early adopters. They are willing to go outside of the box to find a good story. For all of those reasons we feel that announcing this at Anime Expo is the right time, using Kickstarter as a vehicle is the right thing to do, and then offering it to that fan base at the booth directly at the booth and with invitations will allow us to instill that confidence in them to back the project, to then instill that confidence in a retailer to purchase 10 copies for his or her shelf, and then to get it to a very wide audience.
Scott: The Kickstarter backers will also get the book a good chunk of time before the retail version is available.
Daryl: What you've effectively described is the direct market, Diamond Comic style of comic book distribution. Perhaps a majority of manga readers doesn't utilize the direct market outlets as a means of picking up their titles or finding new ones. They tend to focus on retail chains as well as digital distribution. Will those be pursued?
Scott: Yes and yes to all of it, but over the next year we plan to attend many other conventions for which the books will be available as they become for the retail version. The Kickstarter version will be by itself, so if you want that particular variant of the cover art, Kickstarter will be the only way to get it. Going forward, there will be retail chain and digital afterwards so if you'd rather read on your tablet or phone that'll be an option as well.
Kurt: The larger retailers, the Barnes & Nobles of the world that still carry a good supply of manga and graphic novels now, we will use them as a retail outlet when the time is right, which will be when the anthology is published as a multi-issue binding. That will have some additional pages and backstory, potentially the short story itself in text format. But we are first going to do this at the traditional comic level, which are small, bite-sized pieces that we can get out quickly.
Daryl: Variant covers and single-chapter issues distributed through the direct market: this is effectively the full American comic book format approach. Is the crowdfunding effort for the entire comic or just that first issue?
Kurt: It depends upon the receipt of the Kickstarter campaign. We have a lower initial goal number which is to execute the first issue at its highest level of quality. We're well into production of that now, so we'll be finished with the book and it'll be to the printer in 60 days. However, if the fan base likes what they see, they like the concept and want to have a front row at that, we have stretch goals that will encompass everything up to the entire binding of the multi-issue anthology. So it's like Kickstarter asks, really. If you believe in something, get behind it. Help the makers accomplish their goal and get it back to you.
We do have some larger rewards.
Daryl: Physical item backer rewards at the higher tiers.
Scott: This is a pose of the Left Hand that as you can see, is fully painted with tons of detail to it. There will only be a select number of these made, and besides the one here in my hand Kickstarter will be the only way to get these.
Daryl: That looks reminiscent of the Yutaka Minowa Bloodlust design. Is this a preview of the general visual design of the comic or series, or is this its own thing?
Kurt: It's a bit of a hybrid simply because it's in 3D as a sculpt, so to get it into that space you're not able to take the license that you may have taken in 2D. There is full volume to this, so you have to make choices—
Scott: This isn't exactly light!
Kurt: —such as what's going on with the tongue and mouth. There are things in here that you're having to realize for the first time in 3D. This is part of a larger sculpt of D himself that we have in three dimensions. However, the final version that exists for the TV series will be some hybrid of a CG under-drawing frame if you will and a 2D over-drawing on top of that. So we will use a technique that Digital Frontier is versed in doing that gives life to the line. It is not a cel-shaded 3D so it will not look like an inexpensive, machine-rendered thing. Adding that extra life in the line that only a human artist can add will place this into somewhere very unique.
The comic is…I guess I would best describe it as a very Western style “strong pose” layout with the dynamism of some anime/manga in its stylings. In a manga you can very inexpensively add action and energy to a panel by simply drawing some bold black lines to its background. This is taking some cues from that but adding in enough of what we feel is a Western comic book take to bridge that gap and hopefully not end up right in the middle of the water between East and West
Daryl: Just to clarify, is the comic going to be in full color or black and white?
Kurt: The comic is full-color and not in the manga format. It is in the larger single-issue style American comic format, so it won't be in the smaller…what is it, a 5” x 7” format or whatever it is manga is published in? 8” x 5”? So it is a little larger page format so we can get a little more detail in it. When you blow it up on the page to that scale, if you're not adding color and some detail it seems a little limited.
[Note: Japanese tankoban are generally 5” x 7” and the American editions of those are typically 5” x 7.5” --Daryl]
Scott: Coinciding with the press releases and Kickstarter launch, we'll also be including various black-and-white roughs, color tests, and full-color concept pieces from our artists so that people can see a bit more. We'll have pictures and video of the Left Hand so people can see it, and we'll be taking this with us to AX. That way people can have a solid idea of what is it they'll be expecting to see in the finished product.
Daryl: Since you mentioned this is to gauge interest in Vampire Hunter D: you noted that the comic's artwork will be in a different style than that of the proposed series which is still being worked on. Is the goal of getting fans to back this Kickstarter to evaluate what they would like the television series to resemble? If so, then why the contrasting styles?
Kurt: I don't actually think it's a visual thing; good story transcends any one particular set of visuals. So if a fan were to look at the comic and say “this is going to be the style of the series,” I don't think that would be accurate. The question we're really posing is “is this character and this universe compelling?” We believe it is; it's taken off through 30 novels that Kikuchi has written. It's exhibiting a story in a medium that fits on the page but what we have for animation on the screen is a different set of visuals entirely. It will be reminiscent of and be influenced by Yoshitaka Amano's work as well as by Bloodlust and the original Vampire Hunter D film. Yoshiaki Kawajiri is our supervising director in Japan, so he won't let it go too far and we don't want it to go too far.
Scott: He'll see all the material for the approval process for feedback as well, so we're confident in our feedback from Japan that we're not going to do anything that is going to offend strident fans. Also largely because everybody working on this project counts Vampire Hunter D as one of their inspirations for what got a lot of us into the entertainment industry to begin with. Michael Broussard is a huge Amano and Vampire Hunter D fan. So is Brandon. So is Christopher [Garner]. Everyone on this project, when we contacted them and told them for the first time, mostly face-to-face, “this is what we're doing; would you be interested in working on this?” they lit up like kids looking at a Christmas tree, which was my reaction when we were first presented this opportunity last year. So we're fairly confident that our passion as fans will help guide us in making the right decisions, and that those decisions will then be vetted by the people who created the whole thing is even more reassuring for us.
Daryl: You've mentioned the importance of story quality and the broadness of appeal. I know you stated it's being adapted from one of Hideyuki Kikuchi's short stories, but can you let us know a bit more with regards to what this particular story is about?
Scott: It's a very interesting take directly from Kikuchi. We're not inventing this: the story is NOT set on Earth, so that's one of the things that make it unique among Kikuchi's Vampire Hunter D stories. It gives a different perspective. It also gives…not like, the origin of D, but it does show a bit of his earlier years and his beginnings of being a vampire hunter. It gives us a glimpse to the rise of the vampires from a human perspective. So there are a couple elements in this story that address things that have been referenced throughout the franchise in a slightly different way. That is why we think it is such an entertaining and well-told story, because of the way it adds those elements in.
Kurt: There are things that precede this in canon; the spacecraft in Bloodlust, that sort of idea that the vampires could be interstellar was more than teased but never really explored. This short story explores a little more of that. It's a pretty robust Greek tragedy in its format, so it doesn't end well for the humans involved. It works out great for D! But it's an interesting analysis for humanity, with a bit of sacrifice, and a bit of wanting to control our own destiny. Our human protagonist tries very hard to make that happen, and so the story will tease out the result of that goal of hers. That's one element, and we intentionally chose something sort of bite-sized to make that work because I think it fits well in a graphic novel. There are probably 125 pages of good content from that.
It is not what we're developing for the series. The series has broader season-long arcs where, look, if we can get 10 hours of show time that's our goal. There's a lot that can be done within that ten hours to develop character and arcs, and then the multi-season arcs as to what's happening in the overall show. We're developing all of that in parallel with this, and each facet helps the next. As we develop this story and D's personality in one single image, that influences what he can be in animation. It is a very tricky process to look at the whole package of Kikuchi's work as one holistic thing, and tease out of it wonderful arcs that are rewarding on the episode, season, and multi-season level.
Daryl: Ultimately, this comic seems like a means to an end, which is the production of a series, the success of which you can take and then show potential investors and distribution outlets what you've got. What do you envision as being the threshold volume you'd want to hit to be able to confidently say to those interested parties “look, this is viable”?
Kurt: I actually wouldn't say that. I would say that first off, the comic is a standalone piece. We're pouring a lot of energy into this to make it a great comic and a great book. We're stridently trying to find the best artists and writers we can in the most fan-friendly way. It is reintroducing the fan base to D again, and potentially giving them a new facet of what he's doing, but I wouldn't call it a means to an end. The comic needs to live on its own. It needs to serve the community and be a great piece of work without it being a marketing piece.
I would say that I believe we will probably be in a high five-digit range with our fan base. I believe that's where most of the novels have been. I think we'll be there if not exceed it simply because of the caliber of the work, and that will go some way towards showing a studio or a broadcaster that there is a fan base. We know it, and they know there's a fan base as well, by the way. This is just making that decision easier on their part. In terms of the fans, they will want to come out and back this in a way to say to the US broadcasters that there's a larger spectrum of entertainment than what we normally receive from them. So it's a little bit of a challenge to the fan base to be honest, to say “I know you like this, but let's create a message that allows a broadcaster to agree to make a very big financial investment into something to give back to the fans.”
Scott: The other motivation for making this as a comic book is when you read a story, some stories you can “this would make a great feature film” or “this would make a great television episode.” With this being a short story, we read it and loved the story but didn't think it could fit either as the basis for a film or as a full television episode. So that's part of what got us thinking “well, what could we do with it?” and one of our writers suggested “well, what about a comic book?” which is what got us started on this path. By starting with Kickstarter, we know that will only be a small percentage of what Kurt mentioned is the overall potential sales of a full cycle of distribution with physical and digital retailers. But we think it's enough that helps us start that path to show “the small percentage that backs the Kickstarter, they're the first adopters.” Then we'll walk in through the whole channel as that gives us that show of support and fan passion. As passionate fans ourselves, this is something we are feeling so privileged to get to do that we want to get to make more of it and build upon what Kikuchi-san has entrusted us with here.
Daryl: Setting the projected sales at a high five figures is certainly a lofty goal, given that just a small handful of Marvel and DC publications meet or exceed that every month. You noted this estimate was based on sales of the Dark Horse novels and sales of the anime Blu-Rays. Are you working with Discotek and Dark Horse just to get the word out to the fans that this exists?
Scott: We've spoken with them in the past—Sentai, for example, about the Blu-Rays—and felt there was a good camaraderie there among people who are involved with the Vampire Hunter D franchise. So while we hope so, that's something we'll see over the next while. We've all had, I would say, fairly friendly relations over the last year.
Kurt: It's sort of a big-tent approach. The community is very fraternal, and so you want to work together to make something greater than the sum of its parts, which is kind of what we're attempting to do here.
Daryl: The first thing I think of when I hear about American creators doing a modern comic book adaptation of a less recent Japanese title is from about ten years ago when Wildstorm did a 12-issue sequel to Ninja Scroll, the original anime for which is from many of the same people that made Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust. Have you heard of that comic and were you aware of the reception to that?
Kurt: I actually got to see some of the viz dev and test footage of Ninja Scroll for the Hollywood remake, so I know that's been swirling around here for some amount of time as a proposed live-action film. The comic itself we haven't seen yet; it's now on the to-buy list as of 30 seconds ago! [laughs]
Scott: What did you think of it?
Daryl: Honestly, it wasn't really that well-received. In terms of sales it only maybe sold about 17K for its first issue, and by the final issue it was down to about 4.6K. And that was for a title put out by Wildstorm, an imprint of DC which—as far as American comics publishers with market penetration and direct market visibility is concerned—is one of the biggest. The fans looked at the artwork, designs, and page layout styles and saw that it was not very much in keeping with Japanese-style conventions. They looked at the story and saw that it was effectively a retread of what they'd already seen. They looked at the creative team and saw it wasn't anyone who worked for or with the original creators. It was the perfect storm of the American geek media fans thinking “too Japanese” and the Japanese media fans thinking “this isn't authentic enough.”
Last year you acknowledged all of these things as being known risks. Can you tell me about your approach to this?
Kurt: It's a very complicated process. I'm actually looking at the cover art for this American Ninja Scroll comic now, and if the cover art's indicative of the interiors it's not terribly inspired. So, this wasn't a full-color book was it? It was in black and white?
Daryl: No, it was a full-color American style comic book.
Kurt: I can see, of course, developing something with trying to keep a Western sensitivity and an Eastern style is not fall-down easy. You've got to work for it. That's been a lot of what we've been doing over the last year, and some things have intentionally skewed a little Western while other things intentionally skewed more Eastern. I think our visual development for the show is a little more Western, whereas the comic hits a much closer key to a manga-inspired look with a little bit of American spice thrown in. By that I mean the character posing is very strong, so coming from animation when you see the limited animation side of most anime and the strong pose holding that they do? We're trying to imbue that into the comic and so far with the test pages we have received, I think we're there. Now, it can always get better but it's a very good indicator of where we'll end up being.
Scott: To add to that, we have received quite a bit of positive feedback from Kikuchi-san. He's been very happy with the artwork we've sent to him from the two artists we've been working with. So it's always nice to know that he is happy with what they have created.
Kurt: He's actually in the approval chain with us for these books, so we are not on an island. We are not working cheek to jowl and having him actually do the writing, but we are submitting pages to him and his publishing group for review. So he's acutely aware of what's happening and he's already made some suggestions to make things better. It isn't going to be a couple of Americans getting together and saying “we should take this property in this direction,” and it's also not a retread of something everyone's seen. This is a brand-new story about D that brings up some very interesting questions about vampires, their lifespan, their ambitions, and the breadth of what it would mean to live forever.
Daryl: We have had Vampire Hunter D comics released in the US before. Around 5-10 years ago, DMP released manga versions of the first six or so novels as handled by someone other than Kikuchi or Amano. The artwork was drastically different from Amano's illustrations as well as the anime, and Kikuchi's feedback was essentially that he was fine with it being drawn any way at all so long as D's character wasn't changed. How would you say this upcoming comic compares to what's presented in those?
Kurt: Those books I would say wandered fairly far from the source material. I don't think they were particularly authentic to Amano's original designs. I think that they were done on a slim budget and yes, they were telling stories that someone may have already read in one of the novels. I would say that for a sophisticated US audience that has a broad awareness of what's happening in Japan and here, we have to hit a very high bar. That's the reason we have worked so hard on making sure that this is as high-caliber as can be. Because I don't want to get us into a place where people look at and say “you could have made this look better. You didn't work hard enough.”
Scott: This is one of Michael [Broussard]’s rough draft test pages sent over for Kikuchi-san to review.
This is a couple of panels with D in the middle of a battle, so this is the caliber of art that we're looking at. It's dynamic, and D has a bit of a Western sort of posing style from time to time in that he's maybe a little more energetic. However, it doesn't stray terribly far from who he is. This is NOT our final model, by the way. We believe that D's countenance will become slightly more effeminate than he is here; thinking a 5-8% shift. But the anatomy, the posing, the dynamism and color work in these panels: Michael knocked these out of the park and he's bringing his A-game to the entire thing. So as you can see, this is not pedestrian-level stuff.
Daryl: Okay, that's good that this isn't the final design because the main reaction people would have to that was going to be regarding how different D's facial design looks. It's definitely utilizing modern retail American comic book digital coloring methods, and the paneling is also quite Western.
Kurt: Again, this isn't a final page that will be published. I would say that as the writer gave Michael a very broad brief, we were making sure that as we develop this it's in the right spot. I bet that the paneling will be a little more modern, a little more dynamic, a little less proscenium if you will—
Daryl: I'll have a hell of a time transcribing that one.
Kurt: [laughs] Every once in a while you'll see I use a filmmaker term that gets prepped in the wrong spot! But Michael's camera language in this is very tight. He has a consistent language that is familiar to any filmgoer. Some comic artists are less disciplined when it comes to that so it seems less theatrical. In that regard we will probably be able to gain quite a bit of mileage in terms of influencing what the series is, in maybe some of its camera language. Maybe not in its exhibition of color, line, and style because of course the animation will be different. But camera can be somewhat similar. You can learn a lot.
Daryl: Are there any plans to attend American comic book or otherwise Western media conventions with this? Between the target audience for Vampire Hunter D being older and more likely to attend those conventions and the comic's aesthetic, it seems that you might find a lot of potential interest there.
Kurt: I don't think a fan base is an exclusive thing. I think there are quite a few fans of anime that are also comic fans that are also game fans—
Scott: I'm all three of those!
Daryl: Sure, the majority of Japanese animation fans are also fans of other media, often above their interest in anime.
Kurt: Stranger Comics does 24 conventions a year and knows how to make this work. Joshua [Cozine] and Sebastian [A. Jones], they organize this coast to coast and are really fan-centric, so when we take this to conventions it is going to be across the board. I think that's a good thing. The idea that you can keep a good story insular to one small fan base is nice for a limited thing, but if it's something that people are interested in seeing in a broader context, such as a broadcast or something otherwise more accessible, then it's going to have to cross over in some capacity. That's part of why I mentioned a slightly higher sales figure projection, because I do think it also works in a straight comic market because a comic fan is a fan of good story.
Daryl: They may be fans of particular brands above that. To wrap this up, what's the duration of the Kickstarter campaign?
Scott: We will be launching the Kickstarter campaign on June 30th at 10 AM Eastern Standard Time coinciding with the launch of Day 0 for Anime Expo, and we will be running through the end of Gencon on August 7th. We thought Anime Expo was an appropriate place to start and Gencon was an appropriate place to finish. Those two conventions will be our bookmarks to the campaign. We'll leave out for people to guess until they see the campaign WHY we're ending at Gencon!
Kurt: Barring any unforeseen explosions in the engine room, that's the goal as we head to Anime Expo. That Left Hand statue will be with us at Anime Expo, at the booth in a nice little glass case. We'll have some one-sheets as well, a nice piece of collectible art of D that one of our artists from the viz dev team as created, plus details for the Kickstarter.
Scott: We'll probably also give away some VHD merch at booth. They'll just be prizes where you drop your name in the hat and we'll give a couple of things away every day. It'll be some fun stuff.
Kurt: Yeah, we're working hard with the Japanese team to see if we can get some nice little pieces. Last year we were able to donate a couple pieces to the charity auction that Digital Frontier and Kawajiri had generously provided, so we'll see what we can do here to add a little bit of flavor to things. Stranger Comics will also be there with some of their wares that, while being good content, is not all anime. So I hope the folks at Anime Expo treat them gently as well, but we'll be at the booth talking about D.
Scott: Anime conventions are typically let's say 70-80% anime then 20-30% videogames and comic books, then comic book conventions are 70-80% comic books and 20-30% videogames and anime. That's part of why we think there's a decent crossover market. The conventions show that well.
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