On Friday Digital Manga Publishing launched their second Kickstarter – a crowd-souring website that takes monetary pledges towards a goal. While DMP’s first project was to fund Osamu Tezuka’s Swallowing the Earth back for a second printing, this time they’re collecting pledges to go towards licensing and publishing a new Tezuka title – Barbara.
“Wandering the packed tunnels of Shinjuku Station, famous author Yosuke Mikura makes a strange discovery: a seemingly homeless drunk woman who can quote French poetry. Her name is Barbara. He takes her home for a bath and a drink, and before long Barbara has made herself into Mikura’s shadow, saving him from egotistical delusions and jealous enemies. But just as Mikura is no saint, Barbara is no benevolent guardian angel, and Mikura grows obsessed with discovering her secrets, tangling with thugs, sadists, magical curses and mythical beings – all the while wondering whether he himself is still sane.”
In only two days the company has received pledges totalling more than the $6500 they were asking for. Their press release states that additional rewards (extras for those who pledge more than the $25 cost of the book) will be released throughout the month leading up to the date they’ll be closing the drive and collecting the money (February 13th).
While those who pledge $25+ in this drive have been guaranteed copies of the book once it’s complete – scheduled for sometime in July 2012 – Digital Manga’s Ben Applegate has stated that copies will also be printed and distributed to bookstores as well. I’m grateful for this as it allows me to keep supporting my local businesses and avoid the $20+ I’d very likely end up paying just for the shipping of a single book to Canada through their service (which I’ve now learned is considered overseas? Choose a better word, USPS!). It also means those new to Tezuka or manga, or those curious but not willing to buy blindly, can still have a chance to flip through and make an informed decision. There’s no word on what size this print run will be though and it’s questionable how available this title will be when they need to seek outside funding from consumers just to finance it initially.
The last time Digital Manga used a Kickstarter drive to fund their operations I was skeptical and even after the first’s success, I still am. I’m thrilled to see another older title get a shot at English publication, let there be no question of that. But that Digital Manga is again using a system like Kickstarter – typically used by individuals or small groups without financial backers or partners that companies have – still just doesn’t sit right with me. While I shared my initial thoughts back in November, this second project prompted elaboration as I continue to try and pinpoint what this kind of move means to me and other manga readers.