Viz Media’s Shonen Jump panel is happening as I type here at San Diego Comic Con. My first industry panel so forgive that I only have time to share so much right away ;) This post will be updated with a full overview of the panel later this afternoon. Edit: Post updated! See under the cut for the rest of the panel information.
The big announcements of the panel were two new licenses:
Toriko by Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro
Originally serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump in 2008
Toriko a “gourmet hunter” knows that “food tastes better when you have to gather it with blood, sweat and tears.”
Bakuman by Takeshi Obata and Tsugumi Ohba
Originally serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump in 2008
“The mystery behind manga-making revealed!”
The first guest of the panel is Hiroyuki Takei, creator of Shaman King and artist of the currently running Ultimo. Second guest is Stan Lee, the King of American comics himself (creator of such popular series as the X-Men and Spiderman). Excuse me while I try to catch my breath and get back to you!
Starting from the beginning, the panel was staffed by several staff members including the Senior Manager and Sales Manager of Shonen Jump.
Viz Media considers 2008-2009 a very strong year thanks to some solid sales, the Naruto speed-up and strong new titles. They hope to continue speeding up Naruto in order to catch up with Japan and are very excited about the One Piece speed-up: 30 volumes in 6 months starting in January. At this point we were also treated to a dramatic reading in the form of an amusing montage of book cover synopsises :)
The December issue of Shonen Jump will see lots of One Piece bonuses to celebrate the speed-up including a special alternate story connected to the series. You can read more information about One Piece at Viz’s official One Piece website, onepiece.viz.com. On this website the entirety of volume one of One Piece will also be released for free preview over a number of weeks.
Naruto has officially been around in Japan for 10 years (scary, no?) and the November issue of Shonen Jump will have extra Naruto goodies including online participation for readers, double-sided full colour pin-up and several features on the series.
Viz also announced a Bleach contest:
“Two chances to win a limited edition BLEACH guitar signed by creator Tite Kubo!”
– Purchase a DVD copy of episode 20, 21, oe Bleach movie 2 and find out how to enter to win the Fire Soul guitar (Sep 8 – Oct 31)
– Purchase a copy of uncut box set 3 from suncoast or FYE and recieve a code to enter to win the KON guitar (July 12-August 10)
One of the two guitars in the contest is on display at Viz Media’s SDCC booth. The guitars are battery powered: “you don’t need to plug in so you can rock on anywhere.”
YuYu Hakusho, by Yoshihiro Togashi, is coming to an end of its complete run in Shonen Jump. The only other series that has ever done this in North America is Akira Toriyama’s Sand Land.
Following the news, Viz Media staff opened the panel floor to tackle some attendee questions. Below are a selection of them. Unless in quotations, none of the Q & A below are direct quotes but still reflect the exchanges.
Q: Will Viz be working closer with Funimation because of their overlapping licensing properties?
A: Viz wants to grow closer relation to Funimation because of the overlap of their series and have worked together in the past. Currently SDCC attendees can go to Viz booth for a One Piece pencil case and then head over to the Funimation booth for One Piece pencil board.
Q: Any plans to make Shonen Jump a weekly release?
A: “My staff might be very upset if I kept them there any longer…” Viz Media currently has no plans for making Shonen Jump a weekly release, “…but you never know for the future.”
Q: Any other series going to VizBIG versions?
A: Several possibly, though none ready to confirm.
Q: Will there ever be a fan release of Shonen Jump; where fans vote for what they want to see?
A: Viz would love more audience and reader feedback/participation and would like to get more in touch with their fans. Future issues of Shonen Jump hope to reflect this more and more.
Q: Does Viz have plans for original manga?
A: “At this point we have nothing to announce… but it has been discussed.” Viz Media currently sees their current acquistions as in the best interest of their readers and the company but are open to possibilities.
Q: Any plans for interview interactions on a digital level, maybe on TV?
A: Viz says there are no such plans at this point, but regular interviews with creators will continue through Shonen Jump magazine.
Q: What happened with Shoujo Beat?
A: Sadly the market wasn’t good for it at this time, along with several complications. Unfortunate but neccessary that it couldn’t continue.
The panel guests Stan Lee and Hiroyuki Takei were given time for an Q & A and discussion. While I wasn’t able to get a complete transcript of the event, below are a few select excerpts (HT = Hiroyuki Takei):
“Why not make it a Japanese motif for a series that’s a duel release between NA and Japan? …art style originally inspired by Astro Boy; what if Astro Boy was in Japanese style?” – HT
“Vice isn’t exactly evil… he’s just not good.” – Stan Lee
“Artist does most of the hard work, I get a lot of the credit. I love it.” – Stan Lee
“I like to do things in their native tongue so I took a crash course in Japanese, but I haven’t gotten it yet. I’m still up to ‘you put the last name and -san everywhere’.” – Stan Lee
Q: Would you like to see more collaboration between American and Japanese creators?
“It’s really hard… so I don’t know. It’s really hard to negotiate what’s appropriate for the different audiences.” – HT
“Hardest part of working together is trying to curb this man’s enthusiasm.” – Stan Lee (about HT)
“He’s great to work with because even he says something bad about me… I don’t know it!” – Stan Lee
“I’m not saying anything about that.” – HT
“I’m beginning to like him more and more.” – Stan Lee
Q: Did Stan Lee have any creative input over the design of the characters in Ultimo?
“Yeah, I had a lot of creative input. I said – “Hey, Takaki-sensei, design ’em good!” ” – Stan Lee
Q: Will Dustan be killled off in the series after this panel (ie: thanks to Stan Lee)?
“Uh… …Dustan is the final boss. *laugh* ” – HT
Q: What’s your favorite part of this collaboration together?
“The fact that we’re so many miles apart.” – Stan Lee
“Hmm… my favourite part is that I can see Stan Lee working 100%. Making him active or not is not up to me.” – HT
“The great thing about it is that we work together on video conferences…. when we’re communicating the connection will go dead so I can’t understand what he’s saying, though I wouldn’t be able to understand him anyway. But he doesn’t care what I’m saying so it’s a great relationship.” – Stan Lee
“I listen to you.” – HT
Q: Takaki-sensei, now that you hear Stan Lee, does the voice of Dunstan change in your head?
“Don’t make him sound like this!!” – Stan Lee (has a sore throat and rough voice due to multiple speeches this weekend)
“You think this is just a comic strip, but what it is, is the first step in unifying the entire world.” – Stan Lee
Q: When you saw Ultimo, was it what you imagined it would be?
“I didn’t really think they’d be little puppets like that.” – Stan Lee
“Ultimo is such a combination of the best of the East and West so you know it’s gonna be a great thing…. the United Nations should give us an award.” – Stan Lee
Q: What do you want readers to take away from reading Ultimo?
“It’s all about the good and the vast evil.” – HT
“It’s all about selling a lot of copies.” – Stan
… and that was it for the Shonen Jump panel! Viz Media had another panel for an overview of their manga & anime later that afternoon which you can read about here: Viz Media Manga & Anime.