New York Anime Festival 2008
by Mikhail Koulikov,
Coming as late as it did in the weekend, Yen Press's New York Anime Fest presentation was brief and wonderfully to the point. In no more than twenty minutes, Rich Johnson, Kurt Hassler, and the rest of the Yen staff went through pretty much all of the activities that could be expected of an anime convention industry panel, including an update on an eagerly awaited upcoming book, a burst of licensing announcements, and giveaways for those in attendance.
Johnson, one of Yen's co-publishing directors, launched the presentation by bringing out a full box's worth of the initial volume of the Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya manga. Throughout the panel, all four speakers (Johnson and Hassler were joined by Ju-Youn Lee and Tania Biswas) gave out copies of the book. Haruhi's first volume will be launching next month, with a special bonus excerpt from the first Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya novel. The novel series itself will be handled by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, which like Yen is a unit of the Hachette publishing group. April 2009 is the publication date.
Since entering the monthly manga magazine space earlier in the summer, Yen has put out four issues of its Yen Plus anthology. The overall strategy is to use Yen Plus to introduce new manga to audiences; collected volumes for the manga titles featured there would appear several months later. As a smaller company, competing against the likes of Viz and Tokyopop, Yen is particularly aware of the need to keep fans interested by acquiring and translating new and unexpected books. Thus, the newest addition to the Yen Plus line will be Hero Tales, a Square Enix manga based on Chinese folklore that is drawn by Full Metal Alchemist's Hiromu Arakawa. October 2009 is the expected publication date for Hero Tale's first collected volume after its Yen Plus serialization. Chako Abeno, who created the Sola manga, will be joining Yen's line-up with Welcome to Wakaba-Soh. And, starting in December of 2009, Yen will begin publishing the Spice and Wolf sequence of fantasy novels. Yen has also been quite active as a publisher of Korean comics in the U.S., and two new titles it has now picked up are Sangeun Lee's 13th Boy and GooGoo Gong's Sugarholic.
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