TOKYOPOP Deflates, Will Cease Publishing in May

North American publisher of manga, TOKYOPOP, has announced the shuttering of the publishing arm of the company by May 31st.

[At left, TOKYOPOP's current website home page with a prescient advertisement left over from wintertime.] has stated that the corporate bankruptcy, and closing, of most Borders Books, Music, and Movies retail locations is partially to blame.

TOKYOPOP was among the largest, most varied, and financially successful publishers of Asian comics in the US. It was the second US publisher to enter the market (after VIZ Media) and, to this journalist's mind, the one with the highest profile throughout the initial manga craze of the first years of the new century.

The company was among the first to offer manga as "100% Authentic Manga", i.e. comics translated into English but designed to be read right to left and thus not photographically 'flipped', retaining a unique element of a comic from a non-English culture. The novelty of this format was part of what attracted young teens to the work in the first place.

The founder's final message to the community he helped create takes quite beautiful and sad turns: "I’m laying down my guns."

[via @comicsalliance via via TOKYOPOP founder message]

The comments below the message seem full of entirely unneeded vitriol:

-"I am really sad to read this...but it seems you are selling up when the tough times come. Greatness is measured in endurance and you sir will be nothing but a ink stain in manga history." said a user with the handle SORAPKER.

-"you just gave up." said another going by MARIAUR.

Unquestionably, this is a community scorned.

This story is scary, yes. And not just for manga fans/publishers. The idea that one of the biggest producers of not just comics, but manga which fill shelves and shelves at big box stores, could up and close shop presumably for financial reasons portends an unhealthy future of print comics. The sales of manga were in the HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS in 2oo3. I know people who now read comics at all because of a young start on titles like "Sailor Moon". (And let's be honest, I'm talking about FEMALE readership. Traditionally/generally, manga has it & American comic-books don't.)

So I've said it before and I'll say it again: If any company gets anybody who wouldn't have discovered the medium, to read good comics? It's a win in my book.

~ @JonGorga

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