Thursday, October 28, 2010

TokyoPop Hires former CMX Exec

We all are aware of the declining fortunes of manga publisher TokyoPop. They have gone from a 40 issue a month company to a 10 issue a month company over the past 3 years, and have recently allowed much of their manga back catalog - even for ongoing series - to go out of print (to the consternation of fans and retailers alike). ICv2's Q3 2010 list of top selling manga properties show TokyoPop had only 2 out of the top 25 spots, with Alice in the Country of Hearts coming in at #11, and Fruits Basket at #15.

We'll, they have just announced that they have hired Asako Suzuki, who was formerly the Director of Manga for the now defunct CMX imprint, to be their Manga Line Editor. Suzuki will be handling most of the new Japanese licensing work at Tokyopop, including acquisitions. She will apparently also be involved in marketing as well, and will communicate with fans via Facebook and Twitter - you know, because there is no other freaking way to do it anymore. My suggestion is that she also talk to a retailer or two from time to time too, because up until now, TokyoPop has mostly ignores us - or at least tries to. Coming from working for a real company, hopefully she won't have too much trouble getting acclimatized to working for TokyoPop's schizophrenic culture and for DJ Milky (seen above) - who's ideas about manga (in spite of his massive ego) have always been well meaning but usually not well thought out.

WTF is up with your hair Stu? Dude...

So what does this all mean? How will things change at TokyoPop? When asked by ICv2 if TokyoPop might try to rescue some of CMX's unfinished properties, the answer didn't look good:

'Hopefully there’s something that will fit into Tokyopop’s line' Diaz-Przybyl said. 'We’ve had a very mixed track record with rescuing series, like the ADV titles we picked up: Tactics, Peace Maker Kurogane, Aria and Aqua. Fans loved it and we were really hoping to make some hay with them. They did fine, and there are different reasons why each performed a little differently. But those have not always been hugely successful.'

That's industry speak for 'no, re-releases don't sell well, so stop asking me...'

She also said something that I think sums up what TokyoPop is all about now:

'We need to pick the right titles at the right point in their life cycles.'

In other words, they will probably not pickup many new licenses in the future unless they think they will be big sellers. The days of a small percentage of hit titles subsidizing lots of marginal ones are over, and that's a real downer for fans who don't want to just read mainstream series like Fruits Basket.


Ben said...

It should probably be noted that Tokyopop hasn't published a new volume of Aria since November 2009 (v.5, for those of you keeping score).

Looks like another title to add to my list of series where the publisher couldn't close the series out. This list includes:

-Those Who Hunt Elves (ADV Manga)
-Ninin Ga Shinobuden (a.k.a. 2x2 = Shinobden- Infinity Studios)
-Mamoru The Shadow Protector (a.k.a. Kage Kara Mamoru- DR Master)
-Lunar Legend Tsukihime (DR Master)
-07-Ghost (Go Comi!)
-Galaxy Angel II (Broccoli Books)
-Two Flowers For The Dragon (CMX)

Man, where's a third-tier manga publisher when you need them?!

I only hope that Asako Suzuki can do a better job than Stu's BS crew (hey, that rhymes).

Ben said...

As for what's up with Stu's hair, well, let's just say he's trying to copy Vic Mignogna's frosted tips and come off as a "cool old dude". Well, he's certainly got the "old" part down pat. (And that mugshot- yikes! Not a face I'd want to wake up to first thing in the morning.)

Robert said...

let's just say he's trying to copy Vic Mignogna's frosted tips and come off as a "cool old dude"

HEH. This is why I never show my face at events anymore. :-)

TokyoPop has been trying to come up with ways to bypass their retailer channels since around 2005, but they never seem to be able to accomplish it. They always seem to want to act like we don't exist, but always seem to need us in the end. Someone has been giving Stu bad advice for a long time.

Anonymous said...

They were given bad advice the moment they decided to publish more than they should be.

Unknown said...

I've said for a year that the publishers need to link up with OneManga in a Crunchyroll-like deal. This would put the marginal properties out there and get some money for them, but nobody was listening.

I think part of the problem was that OM wasn't proactive enough; they thought the industry might come to them with a deal; instead they should have started putting something together themselves. If Japanese and import companies have to do all the work, they might as well own it too, and they're not willing to take that risk.

Robert said...

I've said for a year that the publishers need to link up with OneManga

I think that sites like OneManga go the route they do specifically to avoid the huge expense of licensing. It cost's any business an awful lot of money up front to do legitimate business. This is, in essence, the big complaint about bootlegs.

I don't think it would be possible for Japanese publishers to cut revenue sharing deals with a pirate site, the logistics of it make it impossible as no one company could accept their licensed products being offered alongside unlicensed products.

The Cruchyroll model seems to have won the approval of a segment of the fan base, but I don't think it's doing the industry any good. No one is making money out there.

We now live in a world where the studios both try to sell their products and simultaneously give them always for free. Now they not only have to compete with bootlegs, they have to compete with their own licensed content. The Japanese compete directly with the Americans, and vice versa. Every channel competes with every other channel, and the end result is to drive that value of the product down to zero. Many of my business friends, upon hearing what has happened, ask me why anyone would want to stay in an industry where everyone's end game seems to be a race to the bottom. I don't really have any clear answer to that anymore, but the current situation where everyone is trying to compete with everyone, even themselves, is really quite absurd.