Comic-Con International 2007
Del Rey Manga
by Mikhail Koulikov,
Company representatives: Dallas Middaugh, Tricia Narwani, Mitsumi Miyazaki, Ali Kokmen
As the Del Rey Manga panel opened, associate publisher Dallas Middaugh had to stall for time while some technical issues were being worked out. Therefore, before proceeding with licensing announcements and release details, he answered several questions from the audience. Del Rey's omnibus editions, which package together three individual volumes of Negima, Tsubasa and xxxHolic have been selling extremely well, so this kind of repackaging will be expanded to more series. On the other hand, releasing a hard-cover edition of the first volume of Q-ko Chan did not elicit a strong enough response to repeat this with the second volume. Another fan asked about the origin of the name Del Rey. Del Rey Books, of which Del Rey Manga is an imprint, was launched in 1977 by Judy-Lynn and Lester del Rey.
As the technical difficulties were cleared up, Middaugh and the other panelists introduced Del Rey Manga's new titles, all of which will be launching in the spring of 2008. From Rave Master creator Hiro Mashima comes the supernatural adventure Fairy Tail, which is currently being serialized in Weekly Shonen Magazine. Del Rey has also acquired Miyuki Etoo's Hell Girl, the anime adaptation of which is being released in the US by Funimation, and the official four-volume adaptation of the hit Nintendo DS game Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. Del Rey has also gone far outside the type of books it usually publishes, and will be translating Me and the Devil Blues. Written and drawn by Akira Hiromoto, this manga, published originally in Afternoon, explores the legend of American blues musician Robert Johnson acquiring his talent by selling his soul to the devil.
Moving beyond original Japanese titles, Del Rey has signed a contract with Nina Matsumoto, whose "Manga Simpsons" fanart posted on DeviantArt earlier this year has already earned her gigs from both Matt Groening's Bongo Comics and 20th Century Fox. For Del Rey, Matsumoto will be creating an original manga-style comic entitled Yokaiden. Another non-Japanese comic they are working on is The Reformed, which combines the talents of American writer Chris Hart and Indonesian artist Anzu. And going beyond manga entirely, Del Rey has acquired Hideyuki Kikuchi's novel Dark Wars: Meiji Dracula, which finds Count Dracula escaping to Japan at the conclusion of Bram Stoker's original novel, only to face some of the Meiji era's greatest martial artists. In addition, they will be publishing the light novel adaptation of Psycho Busters. The Genshiken manga has been a consistent strong seller, and next summer, Del Rey plans to also bring out the Genshiken Fan Book, which is packed with information about both the characters of Genshiken itself, and about the anime and manga they follow within the story.
As Dallas moved on to talk about the various books Del Rey will be publishing in the late summer and fall, such as Shiki Tsukai, Psycho Busters, Aventura, Yagyu Ninja Scrolls and Pumpkin Scissors, Jason Thompson, the editor of the upcoming Manga: The Complete Guide joined the panel. He introduced the book, and asked attendees to test his work by naming various obscure manga. The three that were called out were Firefighter: Daigo of Fire Company M; Hotel Harbour View; and the Four Shojo Stories collection. Entries on all three exist in the book.
Since the period between when Del Rey first announces a manga license and when they are actually able to begin publishing a given title has grown as the company has acquired more properties, they are now developing "manga trailers" to promote some of them. As the panel drew to a close, Middaugh demonstrated several of these and then, once again opened the floor to questions. Beyond the usual "when is volume x of manga y" coming out inquiries, one question asked the panelists to talk about their college majors. Between the five people up on the stage at this point, three majored in English, one in fine art, and one in communication. At least one mentioned that being a manga fan was a big bonus when she was being considered for a job in the manga industry, but Middaugh emphacised that simply being a manga fan would never be enough, and that any prospective hire, at this or any other manga company, would be made on the strength of an applicant's full resume.