Comic-Con International 2007 Yen Press
by Mikhail Koulikov,
Company representatives: Kurt Hassler, Rich Johnson, Ju-Youn Lee, Tania Biswas
North America's youngest manga publisher's first public presentation featured Yen's two co-publishers, Kurt Hassler and Rich Johnson, newly-hired senior editor Ju-Youn Lee, and editorial assistant Tania Biswas. Both of Yen's co-publishers bring extensive experience in the graphic novel market, since Johnson previously was the vice president of book trade sales at DC Comics, while Hassler worked as the graphic novels buyer for Borders Books, Inc. Lee, who recently joined the company, was formerly a senior editor with the manhwa publisher ICE/Kunion. Biswas, who designed the Yen Press logo, comes to the company from Simon & Schuster.
Yen Press is an imprint of Hachette, the world's third-largest publishing company. This relationship will allow Yen to leverage its connections to, for example, work closely with the French manga publisher Pika Editions, which Hachette recently acquired. Yen will also be uniquely able to simultaneously launch its manga in both North America and in the UK.
Since first announcing the launch of Yen Press late last year, they have announced six titles. Four of them Japanese (Spiral, Zombie-Loan, Alice on Deadlines and With the Light: Raising an Autistic Child), one is created by a Korean team based on a Japanese property (Black God), and the last one (Y-Square), a translation of a manga-style comic originally published in Germany. The first volumes of all of those will be published between September and December of this year.
Going beyond the launch titles, Yen Press is able to announce three new licenses. The first of these, acquired from Akita Shoten, is Kazuto Okada's high school sex comedy Sundome. The title will not be translated for the US release, but according to the panelists, it can most accurately be represented in English as "stopping just before..." Sundome is scheduled for January. In April, it will be followed by Kieli, also from Akita Shoten, and by Kaze no Hana, Yen's first acquisition from Media Works. The manga anthology that Yen mentioned earlier in the year is still being considered for a Summer 2008 release. No other details are available at this time, but once they are finalized, this anthology will most likely follow a release similar to those of anthologies in Korea, with a combination of translated and original titles.
As Yen goes forward, it does not want to limit itself to publishing any specific types or genres of manga. States Johnson: "If it is a good book, and we think there is an audience for it, we are going to publish it."
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