Vertical update, Dark Horse discussion

The big news broke last night: Kodansha and Dai Nippon have each bought a 46% share (Kodansha’s is slightly larter) in Vertical. The deal was originally described as a purchase but it seems more like an investment; details are still emerging, but Vertical marketing director Ed Chavez has already reassured worried readers via Twitter that their manga publishing plans won’t be affected. Stay tuned!

Yesterday, I mentioned that Diamond had given its Gem Award for best manga publisher to Dark Horse. Johanna Draper Carlson pushed back on that a bit, pointing out that other companies publish more and more varied manga (it’s only a small part of Dark Horse’s line). In yesterday’s interview at MTV Geek, Dark Horse director of Asian licensing Michael Gombos reminded readers of the company’s long history of publishing manga and their commitment to the series they do publish, and at The Beat, Heidi MacDonald discusses Dark Horse’s success in the direct market.

The truth is, as Johanna notes, that Dark Horse rules the LCS manga lists because (drum roll) manga just never sold in comics shops the way its bookstore numbers would indicate. I will come right out and say, now that it’s been a decade, that the idea of just plunking manga into a comics store and expecting it to sell just because NARUTO was selling at the Borders down the street was never going to work, and I was wrong to think it would.

Heidi argues that this is because manga was a social scene and bookstores lend themselves to that. I think the reasons are a bit more complex—the manga audience was already going to bookstores, and that’s where they discovered manga, while most people, especially teenagers, don’t know that comics stores even exist. Aside from that, though, I think Dark Horse has succeeded so well because they publish manga that appeals to the typical comics store customer, an adult male who likes action stories with plenty of battles and some scantily clad ladies on the side. That’s what Dark Horse publishes: Seinen manga. Their books are more mature and less stylized than Shonen Jump and Shoujo Beat manga; I once described them as “manly manga for manly men,” and since that sort of story sells well in the direct market as American comics, it’s not surprising it sells well as manga as well. Dark Horse went where the customers were, while the other publishers created new customers. Both are legitimate ways of building an audience.

The latest Manga Out Loud podcast winds up the Manga Moveable Feast with a discussion of Barefoot Gen.

Kate Dacey rounds up seven short manga series that are worth a look at The Manga Critic.

Freelance manga editor Daniella Orihuela-Gruber discusses why publishers keep licenses under wraps until they are ready to announce them.

David Welsh reaches the letter D in his Josei Alphabet.

Contest time! Ash Brown is giving away a copy of vol. 2 of Hetalia: Axis Powers. To enter, post a comment about which manga you would (or would not) like to see made into an anime. And Deb Aoki has the details on the official Bakuman fan art contest.

Reviews: Kristin takes a look at some Harlequin manga in her Bento Bako Lite column at Comic Attack.

Carlo Santos on vol. 3 of 7 Billion Needles (ANN)
Rob McMonigal on After School Nightmare (Panel Patter)
David Welsh on vol. 3 of Bakuman (The Manga Curmudgeon)
Greg McElhatton on vols. 1 and 2 of Cross Game (Read About Comics)
A Library Girl on vol. 9 of Emma (A Library Girl’s Familiar Diversions)
Sean Gaffney on vols. 1-3 of Gunslinger Girls (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Bill Sherman on vol. 3 of Millennium Prime Minister (Blogcritics)

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  1. Dear Dark Horse,
    Seeing as how you are the bestest publisher in the world, can I just say one thing?



  1. […] I thought direct market retailers were with manga fans, not to pick on Dark Horse as a publisher. Brigid follows up by saying I think Dark Horse has succeeded so well because they publish manga that appeals to the […]