Anime Expo 2006
Dark Horse

by Carlo Santos,
The Dark Horse panel was headed by editor Carl Horn as well as other staff members. Early on they announced their latest licenses, Dame Dame Saito Nikki and Satsuma Gishiden. Sample pages of these series were passed around the audience to give them an idea of each title's content. They also plan to publish the Samurai Champloo Roman Album, a fan guide to the Samurai Champloo anime series.

Some questions arose about specific titles: Hellsing was delayed because of its release schedule in Japan; Blade of the Immortal would continue to be published "flipped" because it was still selling well in that format. However, the panel quickly became a discussion about the manga industry in general, with Horn commenting on changes within the past several years, differences between the U.S. and Japan in comics publishing, and Dark Horse's particular approach to publishing comics and manga.

Horn commented on the changing attitude towards manga, with Japanese cultural elements now being retained instead of "cleansed" as they used to in the past. When asked about the possibility of manga taking over as a mainstream force in the U.S., he said that inherent differences between American and Japanese comic markets would make it difficult.

Horn noted that Dark Horse releases lacked age ratings because "books without pictures don't have them, so why should books with pictures?" With that in mind, however, he also acknowledged that manga's growing presence in bookstores made it a continuing challenge with regards to explicit material.

Unlike most other publishers, Dark Horse takes the approach of developing personal relationships with manga artists and creators. While this does allow them to produce high quality translations and releases, it also causes some highly desirable titles to remain unlicensed.

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