[MA-SOC] NYTimes.com Article: Girl Power Fuels Manga Boom in U.S.
animecomicsfan at yahoo.com
Wed Dec 29 20:59:50 EST 2004
I read it today. A very intresting article.
saihitei at earthlink.net wrote:
The article below from NYTimes.com
has been sent to you by saihitei at earthlink.net.
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Girl Power Fuels Manga Boom in U.S.
December 28, 2004
By GEORGE GENE GUSTINES
Look out, boys. There's a new kid in town.
Sales of Japanese comics - more familiarly known as manga
(pronounced MAHN-gah) - are exploding in the United States,
and much of the boom is due to efforts by comic book
publishers to extend their reach beyond young male readers.
Beyond all males, in fact.
"Manga producers in the United States have tapped into a
new audience for comics - the female consumer," said Milton
Griepp, the publisher and founder of ICv2, an online trade
publication that covers pop culture for retailers.
In bookstores, the colorful, digest-size manga collections
are usually next to the shelves of graphic novels, which
feature iconic domestic characters like Batman and
Spider-Man. Manga often celebrates strong female characters
in adventure yarns or stories focusing on love and
relationships. Titles are sometimes even categorized: for
girls (shojo manga) or for boys (shonen manga).
Part of manga's appeal, Mr. Griepp suggested, can also be
attributed to the country's acceptance of Japanese pop
culture in anime, video games and films. He said that manga
sales were $50 million to $60 million in 2002, and climbed
to $90 million to $110 million in 2003. This year showed
"strong double-digit growth," he added.
The American pioneers of manga publishing are Viz and
Tokyopop, but the boom in sales has attracted a new wave of
publishers, including Del Rey, Hyperion Books for Children
and Penguin Group USA.
In the comics business Dark Horse already publishes manga,
and DC Comics has just entered the field. "There's going to
be something like 1,000 trade paperback volumes being
released this year," Mr. Griepp said.
Penguin Group USA formed a three-year partnership with the
Los Angeles-based Digital Manga and plans to publish 8 to
10 titles in the spring. Doug Whiteman, the president of
Penguin Young Readers Group, said that deciding to publish
manga was easy. "We publishers are always looking for ways
to grow," he said. "When we find something that strikes a
chord with a very broad section of today's children, we
feel compelled to take our publishing in that direction."
Mr. Whiteman said that manga titles aimed at girls would
make up 75 percent of the initial titles.
American comic books for young girls have not been popular
since the late 50's, said Trina Robbins, the author of
"From Girls to Grrlz: A History of Women's Comics"
(Chronicle Books, 1999). Girls once had their pick of
titles like "Millie the Model," "Patsy Walker" and "Betty &
Veronica" to enjoy.
"Manga is bringing back the very same subjects, but with a
twist, a 21st-century Japanese sensibility," she said. "The
girls are cute, they're never insulting, and they never
have big breasts," Ms. Robbins said, referring to the
overly endowed young women drawn in superhero comics.
Ms. Robbins knows her manga, and is providing the dialogue
for four shojo titles published by Viz. Founded in 1986 and
distributed by Simon & Schuster, Viz publishes boy manga
like "Dragon Ball Z" and "Yu-Gi-Oh!" (both of which are
also cartoons, trading cards and toys) and a slew of titles
with female stars, including "Boys Over Flowers," about
life at a prestigious academy, and "Imadoki," about
navigating the perils of friendship, dating and high
The success of Tokyopop, founded in 1996 by Stuart Levy,
started with "Sailor Moon," a manga series and a cartoon
about a 14-year-old girl with magical powers.
While manga has been produced in Japan for more than 50
years, Mr. Levy said that Tokyopop generally prints
material from the last five. The company recently published
"Princess Ai," a new series created in part by the rock
singer Courtney Love that is somewhat based on her life.
In May, Del Rey, an imprint of Random House, began its
manga line with four series. Two more were added in
October, and seven will begin next year. The line includes
"The Wallflower," about four boys who befriend a shy girl.
The Del Rey series are still being produced in Japan by
Kodansha, one of that country's largest publishers of
Hyperion Books for Children, a division of Disney
Publishing Worldwide, will publish its first original manga
next year. It is being written and drawn by Misako
Takashima, a Japanese artist now living in the United
American comic book companies could not be happier about
manga's popularity. It helps make people comic book
conscious. "It's very exciting to us because it's helped
grow a readership base and a distribution chain," said Dan
Buckley, the publisher of Marvel Comics. Mr. Buckley said
that manga's appeal to girls was exciting "because it means
that graphic fiction is something they want to look at."
Marvel has experimented with enticing girl readers,
including issuing manga-size collections of "Emma Frost"
and "Mary Jane," its series with strong female leads.
Even the home of Batman and Superman, DC Comics, created a
separate imprint for its manga line, CMX, which began in
John Nee, the vice president for business development at
DC, said that "the biggest challenge we see is carefully
growing the imprint." To that end, CMX has staggered its
releases. Three titles began in October, two last month and
the next wave will not begin until February. Unlike
Tokyopop, CMX plans to dig deep into the past. "Manga has
been published so long in Japan and only a successful
category in the U.S. for five years," Mr. Nee said. "We
haven't even touched the tip of the iceberg in terms of the
"Swan," a 1979 coming-of-age story about a ballerina, is
one of the titles that Mr. Nee is most excited about. The
series was so popular in Japan that enrollment in ballet
schools rose. "We've been stunned about how well young
female readers respond to this title," he said. "They're
finding it just as fresh as when it was introduced in
"I think the most appealing thing for DC with manga is that
it's been decades since comics have been a meaningful
medium for females," Mr. Nee added. "We're reaching readers
that we're currently not reaching with our regular comics,
and it's great."
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