One of the biggest pieces of manga news at Anime Expo earlier this month came from Digital Manga Publishing, who announced that they’ve called official dibs on Osamu Tezuka’s entire available library for publication – to put it simply.
I’m rarely surprised to see companies grab onto a Tezuka title, but having someone step up to lay claim on them all was a bit of a shocker. There aren’t a lot of details on what this deal – which partners Digital Manga with Tezuka Productions – entails, but we do know it encompasses both series that have never been published in English and titles that have.
This, of course, is no small task. As the well-earned bearer of the title God of Manga, Tezuka has (according to Wikipedia) over 700 titles under his beat, equating to thousands and thousands and thousands of individual pages. Digital Manga couldn’t confirm any specific series, despite the umbrella of ‘all’, but did say they were now the official distributor of his titles in English.
Digital Manga has released a few of Osamu Tezuka’s titles including Unico, Barbara and Swallowing the Earth. The majority of Tezuka titles released in English have been done by Vertical Inc. including Princess Knight, Black Jack and Buddha. Viz Media previously released a few Tezuka books, including Phoenix, while Dark Horse published series including Astro Boy and Metropolis. Recently a new company, Kansai Club, had a successful Kickstarter to fund Tezuka’s The Crater, which they had hoped would be the first of more Tezuka titles they release. Might not be so after this.
Currently the majority of titles will be released digitally – likely through DMP’s website, eManga – while the occasional book may see print via more Kickstarter campaigns. I’ll cross that moral-highroad again when we come to it. Digital Manga has said that any title already released in English will not be considered for print editions. Fortunately there’s little shortage of those previously printed (Amazon CAN/US) that are still available, and more still upcoming such as Vertical Inc’s release of Twin Knight.
So where does that leave Tezuka readers now? Had Vertical Inc. not already stated they had no plans to license more older titles, I’d lament this DMP news as it’d mean no more Tezuka titles in Vertical’s more than capable hands. Now, however, there is some comfort in knowing that many of Tezuka’s yet-to-be-published work could yet be made be available in English. With the majority of his best known titles already released in English, it’s also good that his titles now rest in the hands of a company with a fairly well established digital distribution set-up. I don’t see a market big enough to support print for most of the titles we’ve yet to see, and boy are there a lot of them, so digital seems the way to go. Plus, as much as I love adding to the bookshelves, the potential for hundreds and hundreds more from one creator? I think that’s a job better suited to my iPad.
Digital Manga says more news about this massive acquisition will be coming in the next few weeks, so we’ll see what new details and title-specific news comes with it.