Everyone else has been talking about it, but Kurt Hassler is doing it: Hassler told me today that Yen Press is planning to publish a manga anthology, probably beginning in 2008. The format: black and white, chapters of 6 to 8 stories per month, some additional editorial content, and yes, there will be ads.
“Were looking at taking worldwide content and putting it all together in a single magazine,” Hassler said. “So many magazines focus on specific types of titles or specific demographics or specific nationalities of creators. We really are looking to create more of a smorgasboard, if you will.”
The lead story will be Svetlana Chmakova’s Nightschool, but Hassler says he is looking at European, Japanese, and Korean titles as well. “We’re really casting a wide net for really good content and material and throwing it all together to satisfy a wide variety of audiences,” he said.
Hassler said the plan is to release tankoubons, or collected volumes, of the works that appear in the magazine, but he added that some stories may not run in their entirety in the magazine, while others may be featured only every other month. “It all depends on the needs of the individual property,” he said. “Not every license is the same.”
And there may be more: “A webcomic,” he said, “is within the realm of conversation.”
A number of manga magazines have failed over the past ten years, and some publishers have dismissed the idea as unworkable because of the large investment needed to start up a magazine, but Hassler was sanguine about the risks. “I see lots of magazines out there, yet somehow they deal with overhead costs,” he said. “I deal with our P and Ls [profit and loss statements] and I think we can make it work. What I’m looking at says this is actually viable.” Having the muscle of parent company Hachette behind him probably doesn’t hurt; Hassler said he has had “a significant conversation” with magazine group Hachette Filipacci but would not reveal further details.
We also talked a bit about Nightschool, which will likely debut in fall 2008. It’s the story of a school that runs night classes for vampires, demons, and a type of witch called weirns. The lead character is a weirn named Alex who enrolls in the school to look for her missing sister. Hassler said the title is slated for three volumes but could go longer if Chmakova is so inclined.
Yen has also announced four titles from Square Enix, including Spiral, a title that Tokyopop licensed and then dropped, and Zombie-Loan, by Peach-Pit. Here’s Hassler’s capsule description of the third title, Black God: “It’s a story about a young man who runs into a battle between the gods where he is injured, and a goddess, sort of to save his life, gives him her arm. He acquires half of her power and they have to team up to stay alive. Gorgeous art, very fast paced adventure story. It really sucks you in.” The last title, Alice on Deadlines, is about a shinigami (a death god) who gets in trouble for reading too much porn on the job and is sent to earth to be taught a lesson. “They plan on putting him into a skeleton, but somehow he ends up in the body of this gorgeous teenage girl who ends up getting put into the skeleton’s body,” Hassler explains.
UPDATE: PWCW had a story on Yen last week; I’m linking now in case you were as muddle-headed as I was and missed it the first time.