2008 Year-end Special

Panelosophy - 2008 Year-end Special
by Chloe Ferguson

With 2009 bearing down upon us, the imminent end of the year brings signals a time of resolutions, sparkling wine and, of course, exhaustive, year-end cumulative lists. Here to oblige you with a look back at this year's headlines-in-manga-publishing is this month's Panelosophy.

January 2008

  • Viz was quick out the gate around this time last year with new omnibuses and aggressive marketing of their licenses
  • Newtype USA announced plans to shutter operations and begin publishing a new magazine, PiQ. Fans, subscribers' reactions are mixed. At the other end of the magazine spectrum, Otaku USA entered its first full year.
  • Iris Print and their planned OEL BL magazine hit the skids as funding runs out. Conversely, Yaoi Magazine (published by S.A.Payne) begins putting out issues.
  • Del Rey begins soliciting submissions from would-be OEL creators.

February 2008

  • The Manga Bible hits stores, an early indicator of the new trend to channel academic subjects (Shakespeare, high school testing) through manga and hope cash comes out the other side.
  • Market stats- and ICV2- draw attention to the slowing growth of the manga market, despite the large uptick in the number of books hitting shelves every week. (For the record, it was 33.)
  • Infinity and Iris publishing turn to an e-book, online publishing format in lieu of printed books.

March 2008

  • Tokyopop signs and widely publicizes its creator-publisher deal with Hee Jung Park.
  • PiQ magazine's first issues hit the stands. The verdict? Mixed to disappointed, but many point out that PiQ is a bit too broad in the material it covers.
  • News that Borders is in dire straits sends many speculating that a B&N takeover could spell bad news, as B&N's graphic novel buying policy is not as open as Borders'.

April 2008

  • Tokyopop puts it Scrapped Princess light novels on hold as the market for light novels proves more limited than it first appeared. After much back and forth on the part of Tokyopop, Kino's Journey vanishes from shelves as well.
  • New publisher Udon announces plans to release a manhwa anthology called Apple.
  • Sales numbers reveal greater market stratification; in other words, the top third is succeeding rather soundly even as the bottom two-thirds are not.
  • Manga publishers announce forays into new, more global mediums: Tokyopop plans several full color, global graphic novels, Del Rey plans OEL X-Men titles, and Viz officially debuts their Stan Lee-Japanese publisher crossover series and a plan for original manga.

May 2008

  • Tokyopop announces its "Manga Pilot" program; creators and commentators react negatively to the program's restrictive contractual agreements and dearth of creator rights.
  • An evasive ADV Manga can neither confirm nor deny its existence; despite an Eisner nomination for one of its titles, activity remains minimal.

June 2008

  • DramaQueen publishing shows signs of financing problems and closure as investors fail to materialize.
  • Tokyopop announces wide restructuring, with a myriad of positions cut, merged and moved as well as a 50% production cut and a reduction in title output. Additionally, the company splits its media and publishing entities into separate branches.
  • An anonymous internet rumor surfaces attesting that Kodansha plans to enter the US market through formation of their own publishing imprint.
  • PiQ magazine folds largely due to lack of support from its parent company ADV.
  • Iris Print finally announces an official shuttering after creators propose a boycott due to unpaid royalties.

July 2008

  • The anonymous internet rumor is validated as Kodansha plans for a U.S. publishing subsidiary.
  • More Tokyopop news continues to trickle out in the form of creators left waiting and lists of dropped titles.

August 2008

  • Shogakukan and Shueisha publicize plans to start publishing manga in Spain, France, Britain, and other European countries beginning in the fall.

September 2008

  • Early market numbers show steady sales in 2008 and the occasional successful new title; other point out that announced cuts in production output by publishers may hurt these numbers in the latter half of the year.
  • Minx, DC's line of graphic novels for girls (and attempted foray into the same market shojo manga taps) folds after difficulty snagging YA shelf space in stores.

October 2008

  • Digital Manga Publishing announces staff cuts and a reduced production schedule, prompting inquiry into its stability.
  • Iowa resident Christopher Handley is prosecuted under the PROTECT act for owning manga deemed "obscene" by the government. He faces 20 years in prison; the CBLDF begins a campaign to raise awareness and funding.
  • Hachette combines its Yen Press manga subsidiary and Orbit sci-fi/fantasy imprint into a single entity.

November 2008

  • An internal B&N memo notes that sales are down and graphic novel buys will be be cut 30-60% in the coming months.
  • Vertical admits to some tightening when it comes to finances, but shrugs off earlier accusations that the company is in the red.
  • Broccoli USA is dissolved due to increased competition in the US manga market.

December 2008

  • Broccoli facilitates the easy transition of their titles to other publishers, with Cigarette Kisses transitioning from Broccoli to Deux Press in record time
  • Tokyopop announces yet another round of internal layoffs and a slowing release schedule
  • In a diversifying move, Udon reveals plans for a line of kids manga aimed at the under-12 set.