- TOKYOPOP, which was once the second largest distributor of English translated manga in North America with titles such as SAILOR MOON and FRUITS BASKET (alongside MIXX MAGAZINE), soon crumbled in later years to the announcement back in spring 2011 that they would no longer publish manga and closed their offices in L.A. While the company still existed, it was reduced to one small office in Manhattan. However, over the weekend TOKYOPOP relaunched their website and formed an alliance with Right Stuf!, a long time internet and catalog based seller of anime and manga. Their return to translating manga is currently limited to HETALIA, and most of their back catalog includes "original English language" manga (or, basically, American comics published by them in trade collection form) such as PSY-COMM and BIZENGHAST. As reported by MTV, their website offers some 125 titles, many of them incomplete comics offered by many creators (such as Becky Cloonan) in print and e-book form (via Graphicly). They're also shilling merchandise like t-shirts. Stu Levy, the CEO of TOKYOPOP noted the transition of the company to being "virtual" and the next step is attempting to reclaim old manga licenses, or gain new ones. The other North American based manga distributors include VIZ and Dark Horse Comics, in addition to Japanese companies that now have offices in the states. Sales for manga peaked at the start of the 21st century, and the industry seems plagued by the scourge of illegal internet downloads perhaps more so than traditional mainstream comics.
- Sohaib Awan, host of the radio show "FICTIONAL FRONTIERS", is set to launch his own creator owned series at IDW called JINNRISE, which focuses on the Middle Eastern pantheon of jinn - better known as "genies". The basic concept is that aliens have invaded the earth and the jinn return to the mortal plane due to this; but whether they are there to help or hurt depends on which one it is. Awan's aim is to introduce some Middle Eastern mythology into the annals of comic book lore in much the same way the myths of the Greeks, Romans, Norse and Europeans still live in many comics and pop culture. The lead for the series is Andrew Marcus, an "international student", and the art for the series will be provided by many artists, and Tom Taylor will also co-write several issues. IDW will release the series as two six issue mini series, starting this month.
- Joe Casey, current writer of HAUNT and creator of BUTCHER BAKER and GODLAND at Image Comics, is set to launch his latest ongoing series, called SEX, in March. He teams with artist Piotr Kowalski to bring a European flare for a series which explores a retired superhero who has to learn to adjust to normal life - and in particular a sex drive which has been repressed much of his life. Casey waxes about the potential fetish nature of the superhero genre, which was brought up in works of the 80's such as WATCHMEN and to a degree has always been a power fantasy. While lead character Simon Cooke may have retired from being the defender of Saturn City, his enemies are still around, and Casey promises a very graphic and "head first" dive into the taboo of sex. Casey has often been an off the wall talent and Image Comics is a good home for all of his wide ranging ideas.
- Production Weekly announced that the filming of "NINJA TURTLES" will begin in April. The film is set to be produced by Michael Bay and directed by Jonathan Liebesman, and released by Paramount on May 16th, 2014. The revelation that the teenage mutant ninja turtles would in fact be aliens created bad buzz around the internet, although co-creator Kevin Eastman claims that was an old script and the newer one has been drafted. It will remain to be seen how well or poorly the fifth TMNT film will fare, but it will ride off the success of a new cartoon on NICK.
Read last week's Indie comics news here!