Comics One Profile

by Isaac Alexander,
Anime News Network has completed an interview with Nicole Curry, who's in charge of Public Relations for the manga distributor Comics One.

ANN: Your company is now 2 years old? How has the Industry changed for you and your company since you were founded in October 2000?

Nicole: We came into this without any prior publishing experience, just a love for comics. We have had many ups and downs and we learn new things and make changes daily.

ANN: How many people are employed now in your company verses when you started out?

Nicole: We began with 20+ people. Now we have a lean 12.

ANN: Is ComicsOne considering going public with an IPO?

Nicole: Not anytime soon.

ANN: Comics One when it started, was only releasing manga titles over the web using software from Adobe. Can you tell us what led to your company originally doing this and then moving away from it?

Nicole: We originally felt ebooks were the next big thing. They had many benefits: portable, easy distribution, no warehousing issues, cheap sales, price, etc... Unfortunately, after a few months of low sales, we knew we were ahead of our time and we began publishing hardcopy books. We now only use ebooks for promotional purposes.

ANN: What are your plans for releasing graphic novels of manga series? How many issues do you plan to release in 2003? I noticed you company has published over 33 different manga titles.

Nicole: Right now we have 13 new series (5 manga, 8 kung fu). We will release at least 50 volumes in 2003. We are also looking to announce a couple new properties this summer.

ANN: What's been your biggest sellers from the 2002?

Nicole: Two of our first releases Kazan and Maico 2010 did well in 2002 and continues to do well. At the end of the year we released the first volume of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon by Andy Seto. It has also done well for us so far.

ANN: Do you have time to read all the manga that your company releases?

Nicole: No. I don't have time, but I make time. I personally try to read at least the first couple volumes of every series. If there is a series I really enjoy, then I read all the volumes.

ANN: Does Comics One plan to be active in attending anime conventions and festivals this year? Which events?

Nicole: Every year we make sure to attend Fanime, Anime Expo and San Diego Comic-con. Sometimes we get to a few others.

ANN: Besides TokyoPop, you're the only manga company that posts ratings of the content of the titles you publish. Can you talk about what led you to do this?

Nicole: Because some manga can get a little racy we thought ratings were necessary to help people pick. Especially when we were doing ebooks its difficult to tell what kind of content is inside since you can't physically flip through it.

ANN: Do you believe that all the manga companies, and for that matter, anime companies should all standardize on one ratings system?

Nicole: It would probably be a good idea.

ANN: Do you believe this would help the industry
as a whole?

Nicole: It could but everyone would have to agree on the ratings system and that might be difficult.

ANN: Can you talk about how your cross promotion campaign is going with Bandai in relation to Onegai Teacher (Please Teacher!)?

Nicole: It is going well. We will provide a mini-manga for the Limited Edition DVD, a website will launch soon and we will possibly do some promotion at upcoming cons. We were very happy to be able to work with Bandai on this property. This is our first manga that has an Anime released in the US at the same time. We hope we have more opportunities to work with them in the future.

ANN: Do you plan to do more cross promotional deals in the future with other manga titles you publish?

Nicole: We would love to. The more cross promotion the better!

ANN: The end of 2002 brought 2 new manga anthologies to North America. Does your company have plans to possibly expand into creating an anthology magazine for North America?

Nicole: No, not at this time.

ANN: What is your opinion about the competition in the Manga publication market? How big do you estimate the market to be?

Nicole: The competition has increased dramatically over the last year. People see how popular it has become and now everyone wants to get into the game. That is one of the reasons we began publishing Hong Kong Kung Fu comics this year. It has become very difficult to acquire any decent Japanese licenses.

ANN: What sets your manga titles out from other companies?

Nicole: I think we have always tried to release titles that are not what you typically see in the US like Iron Wok Jan!, Crayon Shinchan and Tomie.

ANN: Any last comments you wish to share with our readers?

Nicole: We want to thank everyone that has supported ComicsOne over the last 3 years. We hope we can continue to bring you new and exciting manga. Check out our website for updates on new series and if you have suggestions for things you want to see log on to our forum and let us know. We like to hear your opinions.

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