Part three of my opinions of manga publishers. Today it’s yaoi publishers: DMP, 801Media, BLU and Yaoi Press.
Digital Manga Publishing/June (website)
Digital Manga, undeniably the boys’ love giant of the English manga industry. They’ve put out lots of great titles (both boys’ love and not) and a good chunk of my manga collection consists of their titles. I love the size of their books, which are notably larger than most, and the colourful cover slips which occasionally hide little treats from the artist underneath. For all the books of theirs I’ve read, I’ve come across few issues with translation work so quality is something I’ve come to expect and look forward to from them.
One downside of having a library of titles so large is that DMP’s titles are often hit or miss with me. I’m not saying that all titles published here will be great, but I find a lot of varying quality in work chosen for publication by DMP. Needless to say they’ve cornered the market on boys’ love, to the point of often being referred to as flooders. Despite this however, they seem to be doing really well and having no visible problems with the number of titles and their sales, even recently announcing another imprint of titles.
Add in their large convention presence, manga reviews constantly seen on blogs all over the web, and their connections to groups like Pop Travel Japan (themed tour group trips to Japan), I’d say DMP is going strong and despite some of the wavering quality of their material, I’ll be buying lots from them for a long time yet.
801 Media (website)
Seen as DMP’s hardcore branch, 801Media is a smaller publisher of boys’ love whose staff pride themselves in bringing readers the raunchiest and sexist titles they can find. It’s certainly undeniable that they’re more deserving of the 18+ labels than books by DMP or BLU most of the time.
From 801Media, I know I’m going to get a quality book even if I don’t end up liking the actual story or artwork. The books are much smaller cut than DMP’s but most often on nice paper, with clean work on the interior and great colour print work such as the cover slips and interior colour spreads.
What is undoubtedly my favourite part of 801Media however is their attention to their target market. Staff members frequent their online forums and blog, engaging visitors with fun conversation and always ready to answer any questions or concerns. It’s great having a company to feels so connected to its readers and really shows they’re making these books for us, the fans, over just reaching profit quotas. They’re a fun group of people and I think it enhances them as a company.
BLU is the boys’ love imprint of Tokyopop. Readers are much less likely to hear license announcements from them as we do from publishers like DMP or 801Media, but they’ve none the less put together a fine assortment of titles. While their books don’t come with much in the way of frills or anything too notable, they’re still of good quality and I know when I get a book them that I’ll get exactly what they advertised it as, plain and simple.
With Tokyopop’s recent restructuring, BLU has taken a couple hits including a lay off of some staff and pushed back release dates (as well as the possibility of a few series cancellations). While they’re future is up in the air, I’d say they’re still going to be here a while yet and the boys’ love industry is well off with it that way as it brings a lot of great titles that I don’t think would otherwise have seen North American shores (such as the longer character drama, Love Mode).
Yaoi Press (website)
Yaoi Press is a small nearly one-person run publisher that specializes in publishing boys’ love from up and coming artists around the world.
While admittedly I found much of their earlier work less than appealing, they’ve really come around and assembled an impressive line up of artists. They’re stories branch lots of different genres, having a little something for everyone, and I personally love having someone to go to for some fantasy.
The quality of the books themselves has also come a long way, though are sometimes still hit or miss graphic design wise on the exterior work. I like that they’ve finally started tightening up the choices for books so I don’t purchase a title only to find that a mere one third is the title story and the rest is unrelated work from a totally different artist. I often felt like I was being tricked in purchasing these other works, which wasn’t something I liked much. The anthology series are a good idea and where that kind of stuff should stay (yet I shall forever question the thought behind the title Happy Yaoi Yum Yum).
They receive a lot of scrutiny over not being as high quality as boys’ love from Japan and I don’t often find the allegations entirely fair. Many of the artists are fairly new to this and I personally think it’s great they have such a publisher to go to for publication and publicity. I don’t get books from Yaoi Press to find a carbon copy of boys’ love from overseas; I have the million and one existing yaois from over there already for that. I go to Yaoi Press for something that’s different and I always get it, be it for better or worse.
To be continued one last time! Part four: GoComi, DelRey, Kitty Media, DramaQueen and Aurora Publishing.(Part 01 | Part 02)