I wasn’t too optimistic going into NYAF, because the manga presence was rather slim, but it turned out to be a good weekend anyway. Only two publishers, Del Rey and Vertical, had booths on the floor, but Tokyopop and Viz flew people out for panels. Bandai, which is best known as an anime publisher, devoted part of its panel to manga, and editor Robert Napton made it a point to meet with manga bloggers, which was very nice.
Yen Press, on the other hand, was conspicuous by its absence. Yen is new to the scene, but at NYCC they had a big booth and wowed the congoers with their announcement that they had picked up the license to Yotsuba&!. Although Kurt Hassler was at the con (he tweeted from one of the panels), the company as a whole was not represented at all, which was odd. Go Comi was also missed, and fans expressed some concern that the company’s big manga sale may be a sign of troubles there.
The folks who were there, though, had lively panels with new titles and plenty of enthusiasm from fans. One trend that was very notable was that publishers are playing it safe, licensing work by established creators or producing their own tie-ins to already successful book, movie, and TV properties. Vertical took a slightly different tack with licenses of Peepo Choo and Chi’s Sweet Home, two works that were already getting a lot of attention from American bloggers despite being available only in Japanese. Still, there were plenty of new licenses, and the efforts made by publishers suggest that for the big outfits, at least, the worst times may be over. Certainly everyone seemed to be in a good mood.
Of course, there was plenty of anime at the con, and the big star was Gundam director Yoshiyuki Tomino. The anime industry has been having difficulties of its own, but as with manga, several publishers had booths, others had panels, and fans turned out with great enthusiasm for both.
The absolute worst thing about NYAF was the venue. The Javits is a terrible convention center for a number of reasons: It’s ugly and poorly laid out, it lacks basic amenities such as electric outlets, and it’s located in an urban desert. The panel rooms, with their bare concrete walls, look just dismal. These deficiencies are accentuated at a small con like NYAF, which was relegated to a hall on the lower level. Frankly, it looked like an expanded version of someone’s basement. Most of the booths were vendors, not publishers, and they just tossed up some wire grids, put cloth over them, and set out boxes and racks of merchandise. Publishers tend to put up slicker booths, but there were so few of them that the vendors really took over and the exhibit floor looked like a low-end yard sale. Inadequate and ugly fluorescent lighting didn’t help. Furthermore, while everyone complains about the high price of food at the Javits, it’s even worse when the food court and (gasp!) the Starbucks don’t open at all, because there are no restaurants or coffee shops nearby. In that respect, I think the combination of NYCC and NYAF next year will be an improvement, if only because a larger con means the exhibit halls will be upstairs, where there is natural light, and the food vendors will deign to open.
Ok, rant over. New licenses and a few links are below the cut.
Priest: Purgatory, a tie-in with the upcoming movie
The Cabin in the Woods, set in the world of the feature film
Shutter Island, based on the Dennis Lehane novel
Seekers, a series based on Erin Hunter’s middle-grade novels
Warcraft: Mage, one of a series based on the different classes of characters in Warcraft
Songs and Laughter (short manga by Fruits Basket creator Natsuki Takaya)
Ratman, “kind of a Japanese superhero story,” by Inui Sekihiko
.hack//Link, by Megane Kikuya
Qwasar of Stigmata, by Hiroyuki Yoshino, the creator of My-Hime. Lillian DP described this as “Lots of T&A, lots of references to Russian religion, random Cyrillic text, and boobs.” Sounds like a winner!
Cute Demon, by Hiro Madarame
Love Story in the Isolated Island, by Duo Brand
Croquis, by Hinako Takanaga
Blood Honey, by Sakyo Yozakura
Love Knot, by Lemon Ichijo
Peepo Choo, by Felipe Smith. Smith is an American artist, the creator of MBQ, who has been working in Japan. Peepo Choo was first published in Japanese in Morning 2.
Needle, a sci-fi manga by Nobuaki Tadano
Twin Spica, another sci-fi manga, by Kou Yaginuma
Chi’s Sweet Home, an all-ages cat manga, by Kanata Konami. Vertical’s edition will be flipped and in full color to make it more accessible to readers outside the traditional manga fandom.
Here I Am, by Ema Toyama (Pixie Pop)
Yokai Navi Runa, by Michiyo Kikuta (Mamotte! Lollipop) and Miyoko Ikeda
Arisa, Natsumi Ando (Kitchen Princess)
Rave Master, formerly published by Tokyopop. Del Rey will publish the last three volumes as an omnibus edition.
Ben 10, written by Peter David, illustrated by Dan Hipp (Gyakushu)
Bakugan Battle Brawlers, written by Nunzio deFillippis and Christina Weir (Amazing Agent Luna), illustrated by Kriss Sison
Del Rey has had these Cartoon Network licenses for a while, but instead of using screen grabs of existing stories, the new books will have original art and new stories set in the world of the cartoon.
The Last Airbender movie adaptation and prequel. Dave Roman (Astronaut Academy, X-Men: Misfits, Nickelodeon magazine) and Alison Wilgus will write both books; Nina Matsumoto (Yokaiden) will illustrate the prequel and Joon Choi will handle art for the movie adaptation.
Gente, a followup to Ristorante Paradiso, by Natsume Ono
Library Wars, by Kiiro Yumi, adapted from Hiro Arikawa’s novels
Grand Guignol Orchestra, by Kaori Yuki
Nice to Meet You Kamisama, by Julietta Suzuki (Karakuri Odette)
What’s the Answer? (new title on the SIGIKKI website)
Bob and His Funky Crew (another SIGIKKI title)
Erica Friedman has some general notes on NYAF at Okazu.
ICv2 has more on Tokyopop’s planned Shutter Island graphic novel.