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

Weekly Process Roundup 4/11/11

The weekly process roundup is a collection of sketches, pencils, inks, thumbnails, everything other than finished product, from The Long and Shortbox of It's favorite artists and illustrators, hitting every Friday.

Last Weekend's MoCCA Festival Got The Voice

If you happen to be a comics creator and a comics journalist you probably got the same weird experience I did from reading the latest issue of The Village Voice, "The Comics Issue". The main article is about how underpaid comicsmiths really are. The article is quite good from a journalistic point-of-view: honest and comprehensive. But tremendously depressing from an artistic one. The article is well worth checking out if for no other reason than to hear in first-hand quotes how hard it is for even fairly well-established comics creators to make some money.

On a lighter note, just try and tell me that cover isn't hilarious! Wonder Woman as if drawn by Lynda Barry! Charlie Brown as if drawn by Jack Kirby! The Thing as if drawn by the SpongBob SquarePants... guys. Dilbert as if drawn by Dan Clowes! Dagwood as if drawn by Chris Ware! Archie as if drawn by Peter Bagge staring at the ass of an Olive Oyl as if drawn by R. Crumb!

I love it. It's wrong and disgusting and clever and true all at the same time.

MoCCA Festival 2o11 - The Floor
On a MUCH more positive note, this year's MoCCA Festival was great! The Voice issue was obviously timed to coincide with the Festival and they were smart to do so as the The Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art's (@MoCCAnyc) annual fund-raiser has grown to be the premier event of the New York City indie comics year. It also drives in loads of alternative/indie/hipster/zinester/curious types who may have never picked up a comic in years. And this makes me feel good about the health of the industry in general, and the print and independent elements in specific. Jon Lewis, creator of some very cool comics, [pictured at the left below] and I talked about that specifically. Underground people making comics intended to be PRINT comics, as I wrote about for the blog here.

I met, re-met, bumped into, and passed by more people than I can remember.

Jason Little (@beecomix) was there, as was Josh Neufeld (@joshneufeld). Comicsmiths Danny Lewis (@dannydoodar) and Jen Overstreet (@streetoverjen) shared a table. I met Melvin Ylagan, who was once an assistant to Joe Quesada, former EiC of Marvel Comics. Near him was a very talented artist and new friend to me in comics, Miguel Guerra (@SamuraiElf). Steve Seck and Sara Lindo rocked me with their mini-comics making knowledge as usual. They tabled with Lance Hansen of Kettle Drummer Books this time around. Morgan Pielli (@UltraMorgnus) was in the back, holding the fort with his awesome comics [he's one of the fuzzy heads in the phtoto below!] The very talented Mike Cavallaro and Dean Haspiel (@deanhaspiel) were in attendance representing the ACT-I-VATE folk! Plus the always lovely Gabrielle Bell (@luckygab) was selling her minis near the Pizza Island Collective (@Pizza_Island) booth.

The two most exciting moments for me (other than actually working behind a table a little bit for the first time!) were: A sighting of the true gentlemen of comics, Jerry Robinson. And meeting Julia Wertz (@Julia_Wertz) creator of the wonderful autobiographical series "The Fart Party" and graphic novel "Drinking at the Movies", which feels very much like what it is to be in your twenties, living in New York City in a recession, making comics but no money. (I know from experience.)

I wrote some shout-outs right after leaving the convention on the @LongandShortbox Twitter account! Check them out.

MoCCA Festival 2o11 - Jon Lewis Tabling
I also picked up a SLEW of comics, some of which I will review over the next few weeks here on The Long and Shortbox Of It.

~ @JonGorga