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Otakon 2010
Vertical, Inc. Industry Panel with Felipe Smith

by Crystalyn Hodgkins,

Marketing Director Ed Chavez, Peepo Choo creator Felipe Smith and Welcome Datacomp writer and Vertical, Inc. intern Ko Ransom led the Vertical, Inc. industry panel early on Friday morning. Chavez started the panel off by explaining what Vertical, Inc. is and what kind of manga Vertical publishes. Chavez then launched into a list of upcoming releases. The first title on the list was Osamu Tezuka's Apollo's Song, which is being re-released in a smaller print size with new cover designs. Each volume will be priced at $10.95, and both will be released on August 17.

The next title discussed was Kanata Konami's cat manga Chi's Sweet Home, which is actually a co-production project with Kodansha. The first two volumes are on sale now. Chavez noted that readers should be "seeing a lot of Chi online as well as in print in the near future." He also noted that he has been talking with Kodansha about DVD rights to the anime adaptation, and said that if the property gets more support, it could be a possibility.

The following upcoming manga releases were also mentioned:

  • Twin Spica volume 3 (09/17/2010)
  • Black Jack volume 13 (09/21/2010)
  • Peepo Choo volume 2 (09/14/2010)
  • 7 Billion Needles volume 1 (09/21/2010)
  • Ayako omnibus (10/19/2010)
  • Chi's Sweet Home volume 3 (10/26/2010)
  • Twin Spica volume 4 (11/02/2010)
  • Black Jack volume 14 (11/16/2010)
  • 7 Billion Needles volume 2 (11/23/2010)
  • Peepo Choo volume 3 (12/14/2010)
  • Chi's Sweet Home volume 4 (12/21/2010)
  • Black Jack volume 15 (01/18/2011)
  • Chi's Sweet Home volume 5 (02/22/2011)
  • 7 Billion Needles volume 3 (February 2011)
  • Twin Spica volume 6 (March 2011)
  • Black Jack volume 16 (3/15/2011)
  • Lychee Light Club (04/19/2011)
  • Twin Spica volume 7 (April 2011)
  • Black Jack volume 17 (05/17/2011)
  • 7 Billion Needles volume 4 (05/24/2011)
  • Twin Spica volume 8 (June 2011)

When Chavez noted the release date for Peepo Choo volume 2, Felipe Smith was on hand to discuss his work. Smith discussed the plot of Peepo Choo and its themes of misconceptions that Americans have about Japan and vice-versa. Smith mentioned Peepo Choo is a title that a "smart, mature, responsible reader will enjoy."

Regarding Black Jack, Chavez said there were currently "a lot of little things happening around Black Jack." Chavez then mentioned the recently announced commercial collaboration between Black Jack and Hugh Laurie's "House" character. Chavez said that Black Jack "is going to be a household name relatively soon we hope." He also noted that volume 17 is the last planned volume, and it will get special treatment with some extras. And Chavez said he hopes that he will be able to release an 18th volume and include essays written about Black Jack in that volume.

Chavez then introduced three new "mystery" titles that will be announced down the line. The first one is "Manga Title: T" that will be released on 7/19/2011. It will be 436 pages. And "Manga Series M," from the same publisher as "Manga Title T." Manga Series M will be released on 09/20/2011 and will be 216 pages. Manga Series M will be released bi-monthly. Chavez said he hopes to officially announce both of those titles at New York Comic Con. There is also a mystery Tezuka series that will be released on 07/26/2011. There is no news yet as to when that Tezuka title will be officially announced.

Chavez also talked about upcoming releases in their Sudoku books, craft books, and novels, including City of Refuge by Kenzō Kitakata, Pro BONO by Seicho Matsumoto, A Guru is Born by "Beat" Takeshi Kitano, and Fallout by Tetsuo Takashima.

Chavez noted that 2008 and 2009 saw a little bit of growth, and Vertical went into 2010 with 18 percent growth. Chavez then thanked the readers for all their support.

Chavez then hosted a Q&A session. In response to a question about digital publishing, Chavez said that Vertical hasn't directly experimented with it, but Vertical's Tezuka translations are available on the Astro Boy Magazine on the iPhone and iPad. After looking at the Astro Boy Magazine experience, Vertical has decided that it will pursue some digital distribution, starting with its prose titles first, with five titles in 2011. Vertical would like to see The Guin Saga manga available through digital distribution soon though. Chavez also noted that Vertical will be releasing more Usamaru Furuya works in the future, but nothing has been confirmed yet. He also announced that Vertical is launching a kids line after its success of Chi's Sweet Home and its craft books. When asked about releasing some 1970's shojo titles, Chavez revealed that Vertical is currently in talks with three of the "Forty-Niners" shojo manga creators, and hopes to have a title from one of those creators out next year. Chavez said it will happen; that he "will make it happen." At the end of the panel the audience was treated to free Chi's Sweet Home coasters.

Update: Ransom is a writer at Welcome Datacomp, not the webmaster.

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