Dark, But Shining talks with Michael Gambos, Dark Horse’s manga licensing director, about the company’s big push into horror manga with titles like Scary Book, Museum of Terror, Octopus Girl, School Zone and one of my new favorites, The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service:
Part of this was the traditional success we had with titles like The Ring and the Vampire Hunter D novels (which I am classifying as horror, because there is Gothic Horror within these novels — and are included as ‘manga’, since they’re racked with manga in the stores). In the scheme of Japanese horror, both of these pieces are fairly recent, and we wanted to trace back and show English-speaking audiences where things started, and their linear progression up to and through the releases of the modern horror. Hideshi Hino’s Lullabies From Hell, Kazuo Umezu’s Scary Book and Junji Ito’s Museum of Terror are all perfect examples of this. Octopus Girl is famous because the creator, Toru Yamazaki, is an openly gay TV celebrity that has to be the most all-around talented person I could imagine — from writing books to acting to creating manga, this guy can do anything. School Zone was written by the Queen of Horror, Kanako Inuki, who started doing horror when there weren’t many female horror manga-ka on the scene. Since we did The Ring, Ju-on (both the manga and the novels) seemed like a natural move. We didn’t aim to just get horror titles, as that is a tactic sans any deeper thinking; we wanted to bring titles to English-speaking audiences that had something special about them — be it a renowned creator, something that was intrinsically comedy but iced with horror, etc. In a way, we weren’t trying to introduce a ‘true horror’ genre to English-speaking audiences, but doing what we have been doing all along … introducing the biggest talents of Japan. This time around, we happened to pick horror. So, think of it less as, “We’re doing a horror line,” and more of, “We’re introducing the greatest manga-ka, as we always have, and here is a look at the ones associated with Horror.”
There’s also some interesting discussion of the license-acquisition process.