Otakon 2005

by Christopher Macdonald,
Representatives: Rob Valois and Lillian M. Diaz-Przybyl

While Tokyopop had no new licenses to announce, they did have one new Original English Language title to announce. “My Cat Loki,” a new series by Bettina Kurkoski, winner of the Rising Stars of Manga 2 competition, will be released by Tokyopop in 2006.

They also re-iterated recent license announcements, including titles like Beck, Loveless, Dazzle (Hatenko Yugi) Sakura Taisen, The World Exists for Me (The World of S&M) and Rozen Maiden.

The single volume manga Smuggler, by Shohei Manabe, the creator of Dead End, will be released in January.

For their upcoming release of Shonan Junai Gumi, the GTO prequel, there is talk about releasing it in the 14-volume version. Shonan Junai Gumi was originally released as 25 volumes in Japan, but later released in 14 volumes with higher page-count. If Tokyopop were to release the higher-page-count version, it would be priced somewhat higher than the $9.99 standard format, possibly around $11.99. At $11.99 the entire 14-volume release would cost under $168, while at $9.99 the25-volume release would cost just under $250.

They spoke a bit about the “Blu” line of yaoi graphic novels, which will debut in November. Officially, Tokyopop doesn't publish Blu, they only distribute it, but this doesn't stop them from talking about it a bit. In November the "Blu" line will release Earthian, Shinobu Kokoro and Love Mode. In January they will release Wild Rock. More announcements about Blu properties may be made at Yaoi Con in October. Earthian will be published in a 400 page per volume deluxe format that will retail for $14.99

Another big step for Tokyopop is their upcoming line of novels. While Tokyopop has already published some novels, including the just released .hack//ai buster, they will be expanding in this area. Upcoming novel series will include Kino's Journey, Gravitation, Gundam SEED and Scrapped Princess. There will be “big” novel news later this year.

Takuhai is a huge initiative for Tokyopop right now; their second quarterly issue is coming out. Takuhai is meant to wear many hats, it is an anthology, a preview and a forum for original editorial content. The second issue includes a “big preview” of Drama Con. The online version of Takuhai includes more original editorial content and previews, including full chapters of Tokyopop originals. They're still ironing out how past Takuhai material will be archived and if it will remain available on the site.

During the second half of their Panel, Tokyopop focused on their original creators and properties. Creators such as M. Alice LeGrow (Bizengast), Jen Lee Quick (Off Beat), Svetlana Chmakova (Dramacon), Pop Mhan (Blank) and Christy Lijewski (Re:Play) took to the stage to talk about their projects and answer questions.

Many of their original properties are from winners or runners up of the Rising Stars of Manga competition, which they called their “Best Recruiting Tool.” Many people ask Tokyopop what kind of submissions they're looking for, and the answer is “new and original material.” The best way to see examples of the kind of work they like is to look at previous Rising Stars anthologies. Diaz-Przybyl explained, “We're not looking for another Naruto. I like Naruto, I think it's great, but it's already been done and Kishimoto did it better.”

As for how to build one's skills, they said it that there was no one right way to become a manga artist. Going to art school, becoming an animator, and numerous other methods were suggested as acceptable routes to take. The industry is too new in America for there to be a single established, tried and true method, according to the panel.

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