After checking this months Diamond Previews, I noticed that there were no new solicitations for DelRey manga. All that was listed were reoffered volumes of their previously published Avatar the Last Airbender and Ben10 graphic novel adaptations.
When I checked Amazon.ca for a sign of future books, no new titles were listed after November 2010 – a month which sees the final volume of Tsubasa and the brand-new series I Am Here!, as solicited in the previous edition of Diamond Previews. In fact, the only titles past November of this year appear to be a handful of titles curiously now listed for March 2013, such as Night Head Genesis (Vol. 03), Arisa (Vol. 02) and Sayonara Zetsubou-Sensei (Vol.09). The CLAMP in America book by Shaenon K. Garrity remains on schedule, though now delayed again until February 2011.
DelRey has been slowing their output lately, while still launching new series and putting out a fair number of titles each month. The recent layoff of marketing manager Ali Kokmen and their declining profile at conventions has had many fans worried about their status. The lack of new solicitations in the major comic distributors monthly catalogue is yet another addition to this uncertain situation.
The October 2010 Diamond Previews does include a volume of the Random House distributed Akira (Vol. 05) published by Kodansha Comics, who operate separately from DelRey Manga. Kodansha Comics’ current offerings are reprinted versions of Dark Horse’s translations of Akira and the Ghost in the Shell graphic novels. Akira (Vol. 06) appears on Amazon.ca as an April 2011 release. Kodansha USA, under which the fairly recently emerged Kodansha Comics is an imprint, has a panel scheduled at the upcoming NYAF convention, it’s possible some of our questions regarding the status of DelRey titles and the future of Kodansha’s manga licensing plans in North America may be answered there.
Please keep in mind that until official word about the situation emerges, the following is entirely speculation. It could be that DelRey simply had no titles to offer for that month, and are taking time off from publication to work out a different release schedule. Or, it might be that Kodansha has decided to suspend licenses and have different plans for their titles, similar to how they rescinded Tokyopop’s also popular Kodansha licenses in the recent past. With Del Rey handling a few of Tokyopop’s unfinished series like Samurai Deeper Kyo and Rave Master’s final volumes, one wonders who will finish DelRey’s unfinished and ongoing titles like I Am Here!, xxxHolic and Negima should they stop.
Del Rey has published a lot of fan favourites over the years, from the still bestselling Negima, xxxHolic and Tsubasa in addition to some excellent original works, such as the cult original-story Yokaiden and an endearing shojo manga take on Marvel’s X-men franchise. They took chances on some more offbeat choices, though their manga line primarily depended on Kodansha for their manga licenses. Some of their titles appeared to be doing successfully too, with those like Tsubasa and Negima regularly appearing on the New York Times bestselling manga list, and surprise hits like Kitchen Princess showing up as well. DelRey has always kept a fairly standardized approach to all their releases, with each volume receiving translation notes, and were among the earlier manga publishers to attempt omnibus editions as a means of making the publication of less popular titles more feasible (and appeared to be approaching more titles in this format with their current releases). Since the line’s launch, they’ve been a standard part of the manga landscape, and seemed poised to survive the shake-ups that closed smaller manga publishers. One hopes the situation will sort itself out, and that their excellent group of freelancers and editorial team members manage the storm well.
DelRey Manga’s April Flores was contacted regarding this situation, but could only reply:
“Thanks for your e-mail. I’m sorry, but we have no comment at this time.”
It appears we’ll have to wait and see exactly what connotations this lack of solicitations has on the future of manga and DelRey’s publishing plans. Given their existing original graphic novel line and their extensive manga catalogue, as well as their recently refurbished website still highlighting “graphic novels and manga“, it appears for the time being, comics are still part of their product line – what that means exactly for their future manga line-up however, and the meaning these lack of solicitations could have, will remain unclear for the time being. Just more food for thought.
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